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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 6 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, 988

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

33 — Bjbp Jóms 33I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 33’ 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. 988.

Þar var þǫrfum meiri
þrekfǫrluðum jarli
(braut, hykk, hann at heldi)
hugraun (flota sínum).
Snara bað segl við húna
Sigvaldi í byr kǫldum;
gnúði hǫrð á hlýrum
hríð; fell byrr í váðir.

Þar var þrekfǫrluðum jarli þǫrfum meiri hugraun; hykk, at hann heldi flota sínum braut. Sigvaldi bað snara segl við húna í kǫldum byr; hǫrð hríð gnúði á hlýrum; byrr fell í váðir.

There for the strength-failing jarl it was a trial of courage greater than needed; I think that he directed his fleet away. Sigvaldi bade the sails be quickly hoisted to the mast-tops in the cold wind; the harsh storm roared against the bows; the wind blew on the sails.

Mss: R(54r); 61(20ra), 53(16va), 54(16va), Bb(26vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Þar: þá all others;    þǫrfum: ‘þorf hin’ 53;    meiri: meirr 54, meir Bb    [2] ‑fǫrluðum: ‑lundum 53, ‘‑lundudvm’ 54, ‘lyndodum’ Bb    [3] hykk: frá ek all others;    at: er Bb    [4] hug‑: haug‑ 54;    sínum: so all others, ‘[…]’ R    [6] í: om. all others;    kǫldum: kǫldu 61    [7] gnúði hǫrð á hlýrum: glumði hrǫnn á húfum all others    [8] byrr í: í bug all others;    váðir: váða all others, ‘v[…]’ R

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 33: AII, 7-8, BII, 7-8, Skald II, 5; Fms 11, 172, Fms 12, 246, Jvs 1879, 114-15; Fms 1, 176, Fms 12, 44, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 193 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 29, 81.

Context: Sigvaldi jarl makes to retreat with his ship but Vagn Ákason challenges him and throws a spear at him, hitting the helmsman by mistake; Sigvaldi manages to get away with some of his ships.

Notes: [1] þar ‘there’: The reading of R, the main ms. in this edn. Þá ‘then’ in the ÓT mss works as well or slightly better in terms of the poem’s narrative progress and is adopted in Fms 1, 176, Skj B and Skald. — [1] þǫrfum meiri ‘greater than needed’: Lit. ‘greater than needs’. — [2] þrekfǫrluðum jarli ‘for the strength-failing jarl’: Sigvaldi, as is made clear in l. 6. The second element of this hap. leg. is the p. p. of fǫrla ‘grow weak, fail’ (CVC: förla); cf. Máni Lv 5/3III kraptr þinn fǫrlask ‘your strength is waning’. The variant þreklynduðum ‘strong-’ or ‘courageous-minded’ does not provide skothending, and R’s reading is the lectio difficilior and more precisely apt in context. — [3] hykk ‘I think’: The ÓT reading frák ‘I have heard’ is equally possible. — [5] snara ‘be quickly hoisted’: Snara is ‘to move or turn quickly’ (LP: snara); here sails are hoisted to the mast-tops. — [5] við húna ‘to the mast-tops’: Húnn m. is strictly the block or knob at the top of the mast, often quadrilateral in shape, through which the halyards passed (Jesch 2001a, 160-1). — [6] Sigvaldi í byr kǫldum ‘Sigvaldi ... in the cold wind’: The line is metrically irregular, with elision of Sigvaldi í. — [7-8]: The ÓT readings differ significantly, and are also satisfactory, giving glumði hrǫnn á húfum; | hríð fell í bug váða ‘the wave resounded against hulls; the storm blew into the curve of the sails’; these are adopted in Skj B and Skald. For váð ‘cloth’ in the sense ‘sail’ see LP: vôð 4.

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