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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 2 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, 961

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Bjbp Jóms 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 3’ 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. 961.

Dreng var dátt of svarra
(dorgar vangs) fyr lǫngu
(því hefr oss of unga
eldreið skapi haldit).
Þó hefk ort of ítra
allfátt mjaðar þellu;
vel samir enn of eina
ǫlselju mér þylja.

Dreng var dátt of svarra fyr lǫngu; því skapi hefr haldit oss of {unga {{dorgar vangs} eld}reið}. Þó hefk ort allfátt of {ítra þellu mjaðar}; vel samir mér enn þylja of {eina ǫlselju}.

The fellow [I] was charmed by the woman long ago; that mood has persisted in us [me] in relation to {the young chariot {of the fire {of the plain of the fishing-line}}} [(lit. ‘fire-chariot of the plain of the fishing-line’) SEA > GOLD > WOMAN]. Yet I have composed very little about {the excellent pine-tree of mead} [WOMAN]; it is still very fitting for me to recite about {a certain ale-willow} [WOMAN].

Mss: R(53r), 65ˣ(380r)

Readings: [4] eldreið: ‘elld[…]’ R, ‘elbreid’ 65ˣ, eldreið RCP, ‘elld (rei)ð’(?) RFJ    [5] hefk: ‘[…]fi ec’ R, hefi ek 65ˣ, RCP, RFJ    [7] eina: ‘ei[…]’ R, eina 65ˣ, RCP, RFJ    [8] þylja: ‘þy[…]’ R, om. 65ˣ, ‘þy[…]ia’ RCP, ‘þy(l)ia’(?) RFJ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 4: AII, 1-2, BII, 2, Skald II, 1, NN §3254; Fms 11, 163-4, Fms 12, 241-2, Jvs 1879, 104-5.

Notes: [All]: On the ordering of sts 2-5, see Introduction. — [1] dreng ‘the fellow [I]’: The noun is in the acc. sg., as part of an impersonal construction. The connotations of the word drengr here are elusive. It normally has a positive, even heroic, sense such as ‘(young) man, (manly) man, warrior’, as frequently in Jóms (e.g. st. 8/2, and cf. snyrtidrengja ‘fine young warriors’, drengmenn ‘fighting-men’ in st. 39/2, 8), but it also appears in mock-heroic contexts; see Notes to Anon Sveinfl 1/6, Sigv Austv 5/2. — [2, 4] dorgar vangs eldreið ‘the chariot of the fire of the plain of the fishing-line [(lit. ‘fire-chariot of the plain of the fishing-line’) SEA > GOLD > WOMAN]’: Eldreið ‘fire-chariot’ is also found in KormǪ Lv 48/3V (Korm 69), in a structurally similar woman-kenning; see O’Donoghue (1991, 139-40). — [2] dorgar ‘of the fishing-line’: Or more specifically, ‘trolling-line’, a fishing-line that is drawn through water in various ways. — [3, 4] því skapi hefr haldit oss ‘that mood has persisted in us [me]’: An impersonal use of haldit (see LP: halda C. 3). — [8] ǫlselju ‘ale-willow [WOMAN]’: The kenning also occurs in ÞBrún Lv 1/8V (Heið 6). Selja is a tree-name denoting ‘willow, sallow’ (cf. Þul Viðar 1/2III; Meissner 410; LP: 1. selja), and hence the kenning closely matches the woman-kenning þellu mjaðar ‘pine-tree of mead [WOMAN]’ in l. 6. — [8] þylja ‘to recite’: CVC: þylja glosses the verb as ‘to say, read, chant’, ‘to murmur’. It can have ritual, ceremonial, performative connotations; Poole (2010a) discusses the act of þylja in Jóms with reference to the Odinic material in st. 4, as well as elsewhere in Old Norse literature.

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