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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 28 June 2022)

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

SkP info: I, 983

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

27 — Bjbp Jóms 27I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 27’ 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. 983.

Ein drepr fyr mér allri
— él gnúði mjǫk stála —
— álmr spann af sér odda —
ítrmanns kona teiti.
Góð ætt of kemr grimmu
— gripu þeir í bug snœrum
gunnrakkastir gumnar —
gœðings at mér stríði.

Ein kona ítrmanns drepr allri teiti fyr mér; {él stála} gnúði mjǫk; álmr spann odda af sér. Góð ætt gœðings of kemr grimmu stríði at mér; þeir gunnrakkastir gumnar gripu í bug snœrum.

A certain nobleman’s wife kills all joy for me; {the storm of steel weapons} [BATTLE] roared greatly; the elm-bow kicked arrow-points from itself. The good kinswoman of a chieftain brings cruel torment upon me; those extremely battle-bold men gripped on the curve of the spear-thongs.

Mss: R(54r)

Readings: [5] kemr grimmu: abbrev. as ‘k̄ gri’ R

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 27: AII, 6, BII, 6, Skald II, 4; Fms 11, 170, Fms 12, 245, Jvs 1879, 112-13.

Notes: [All]: Lines 1, 4, 5 and 8 form the fourth appearance of the stef ‘refrain’; see Introduction. — [3] spann ‘kicked’: The 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of sperna ‘spurn, kick with the feet’. Ms. spann is retained here, as an assimilated by-form of sparn (see CVC: sperna; ANG §272. 2 Anm. 2). A minor emendation produces the more familiar form sparn (so LP (1860): sperna; also Jvs 1879; Skj B; Skald). Line 3 is discussed in the Note to RvHbreiðm Hl 28/6III. — [6] í bug snœrum ‘on the curve of the spear-thongs’: Bugr is ‘bend, bight, (inner) curve, concave side’, e.g. í bug hringinum ‘the inside curve of the ring’ (CVC: bugr). Snœri is related to snœra ‘to tie, twist’ (AEW: snœra), and denotes a cable, cord or thong of various sorts. In battle contexts, it normally denotes the thongs by which spears are held (ÞjóðA Magnfl 17/6II, and cf. the compounds snœrispjót, snœridarr ‘thonged spear’, LP: snœri), so that this seems the most likely sense here, and it is assumed in Fms 12 and Skj B. Contextually, though, a bow-string would also be an attractive possibility. — [7] gunnrakkastir ‘extremely battle-bold’: Cf. st. 10/6 ógnrakkastir ‘extremely terror-bold’ or ‘battle-bold’, of the Jómsvíkingar. On the strong adj. here, see Note to st. 7/3, 4.

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