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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

13th century; volume 1; ed. Jonna Louis-Jensen;

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

Skj info: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Orknøsk biskop, d. 1222. (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10).

Skj poems:

Bjarni Kolbeinsson (Bjbp) was born into a powerful family in the Orkney Islands, possibly c. 1150-60 (af Petersens, Jvs 1879, 122). His father was the Norwegian-Orcadian chieftain Kolbeinn hrúga ‘Heap’ and his mother was Herborg, a great-granddaughter of Páll jarl Þorfinnsson on the maternal side (see Ættaskrár [Genealogies] II in ÍF 35). Bjarni was also very well connected: he was a close friend of Haraldr jarl Maddaðarson (ÍF 35, 289), sent precious gifts to Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson in Iceland on three occasions (Guðrún P. Helgadóttir 1987, 2-3), and had connections with the Oddaverjar (see further Einar Ól. Sveinsson 1937, 17-18, 34-9).

Bjarni was Bishop of Orkney from 1188 (ÍF 35, 289) until his death on 15 September 1223. Among his achievements as bishop were the exhumation and canonisation of Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (ÍF 35, 282; SkP II, 575) and the extension of St Magnús’s Cathedral in Kirkwall. Bjarni was also a diplomat and is known to have travelled to Norway for political reasons in 1194-5, 1208-9, 1210, 1218 and 1223 (see Bugge 1875, 244; Holtsmark 1937a, 2-3); he probably died in Norway (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8, 46).

Bjarni is introduced as Bjarni skáld ‘Poet’ in Orkn (ÍF 35, 193), but Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) is the only literary work attributed to him in medieval sources. Suggestions that he compiled Orkn (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8) and the þulur in SnE (Bugge 1875) have not been generally accepted; see Introduction to Jóms below on the attribution of Anon Mhkv to Bjarni.

my abbr.

Jómsvíkingadrápa (‘Drápa about the Jómsvíkingar’) — Bjbp JómsI

Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘ Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 954. <> (accessed 4 July 2022)

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Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson: Jómsvíkingadrápa (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4

SkP info: I, 982

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

26 — Bjbp Jóms 26I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 26’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 982.

Klauf með Yggjar eldi
ólmr Goll-Búi hjálma;
niðr lét hann í herðar
hringserkja bǫl ganga.
Hart nam hǫgg at stœra
Hávarðr liði fyrða;
við hefr illr at eiga
Áslákr verit fíkjum.

Ólmr Goll-Búi klauf hjálma með {eldi Yggjar}; hann lét {bǫl hringserkja} ganga niðr í herðar. Hávarðr nam at stœra liði fyrða hǫgg hart; Áslákr hefr verit fíkjum illr at eiga við.

Furious Gull-Búi (‘Gold-Búi’) split helmets with {the fire of Yggr <= Óðinn>} [SWORD]; he let {the bale of mail-shirts} [SWORD] drive down into shoulders. Hávarðr intensified [his] blows strongly upon the troop of men; Áslákr was extremely bad to deal with.

Mss: R(54r); 61(19vb), 53(16rb), 54(16ra), Bb(26rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] ólmr: álmr all others;    Goll‑: gall 61, 53, 54, gal Bb    [3] lét: om. Bb    [4] hring‑: hrann 53, hrím‑ 54, Bb    [5] nam: réð all others    [7] illr: so all others, illt R    [8] ‑lákr: so all others, ‑lák R

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 26: AII, 6, BII, 6, Skald II, 4; Fms 11, 170, Fms 12, 245, Jvs 1879, 112-13; Fms 1, 171-2, Fms 12, 42, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 188 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 26, 79.

Context: Two men who accompanied the Jómsvíkingar from Denmark are named: Hávarðr hǫggvandi and Áslákr hólmskalli. They are Búi’s stafnbúar ‘forecastle-men’, and are exceptionally tough and difficult to deal with; iron does not bite Áslákr. Búi’s blows are also described as very powerful.

Notes: [2] ólmr Goll-Búi ‘furious Gull-Búi (“Gold-Búi”)’: The ÓT reading álmr gall for ólmr Gull- gives ‘the elm-bow resounded’. This makes sense in itself (cf. Ótt Knútdr 8/2 almr gall hátt ‘the bow cried loudly’) but does not fit the remainder of the helmingr, and it produces aðalhending with hjálma where only skothending is normal in Jóms (see Introduction). Búi’s nickname Gull- ‘Gold-’ presumably alludes, albeit in anticipation at this point in Jóms, to his famous leap from his ship with a chest of gold in each hand, as described in sts 36-7; the nickname occurs in that context in st. 37/4. — [5] nam at stœra ‘intensified’: This could be more literally ‘started to intensify’, but nam is probably the pleonastic auxiliary here, as is suggested by the ÓT reading réð which has the same function. — [7-8]: (a) The ÓT readings illr and Áslákr produce a couplet in which Áslákr is the subject of the clause (so also Fms 12, 42; Skj B; Skald). Við ‘with’ is adverbial. (b) The R readings illt and Áslák produce good sense, ‘it was extremely difficult to deal with Áslákr’ (and are adopted in Fms 12, 245 and Jvs 1879), but við is then a prep. and detached from its object Áslák.

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