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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

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

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45 

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

SkP info: I, 995

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

42 — Bjbp Jóms 42I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 42’ 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. 995.

Ok með fjǫrnis fálu
fór Þorketill leira,
þá er menbroti mælti
mansǫng of Gná hringa.
Gerðisk hann at hǫggva
hauklyndan son Áka;
Vagn gat heldr at hánum
heiptǫrr vegit fyrri.

Ok Þorketill leira fór með {fálu fjǫrnis}, þá er {menbroti} mælti mansǫng of {Gná hringa}. Hann gerðisk at hǫggva {hauklyndan son Áka}; heiptǫrr Vagn gat heldr vegit at hánum fyrri.

And Þorkell leira (‘Clay’) advanced with {the giantess of the helmet} [AXE], when {the neck-ring-breaker} [GENEROUS MAN = Vagn] spoke a love-song about {the Gná <goddess> of rings} [WOMAN = Ingibjǫrg]. He [Þorkell] made to strike {the hawk-tempered son of Áki} [= Vagn]; strife-keen Vagn managed instead to slay him first.

Mss: 61(20va), 54(17ra), Bb(27va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] með fjǫrnis: ‘[...]’ 54    [2] fór: fór þá Bb;    Þorketill: Þorkell 54, Þorkel Bb    [3] mælti: ‘[...]’ 54    [4] man‑: ‘[…]’ 54;    of: ‘[...]’ 54    [6] ‑lyndan: ‑lundan 54, Bb;    Áka: ‘[...]’ 54    [8] heiptǫrr: heiptar Bb;    fyrri: ‘þ[…]’ 54, þeiri Bb

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 42: AII, 9, BII, 9, Skald II, 6; Fms 1, 181, Fms 12, 45, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 198 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 32, 83-4; Fms 11, 175, Jvs 1879, 118-19.


Þorkell leira is displeased when Sigurðr, the handsome and bold natural son of Búi, is granted his life by Eiríkr jarl. He states that Vagn Ákason will not come away alive and charges at him with his axe but is tripped by Bjǫrn inn brezki ‘the British’. Vagn gets hold of Þorkell’s axe and strikes Þorkell a death-blow.

Notes: [All]: On the text of sts 41-5, see Note to st. 41 [All]. — [All]: The verse-form fjórðungalok ‘couplets’ closure’ is used here (cf. Note to st. 2 [All]), though the clause in ll. 3-4 is subordinate to ll. 1-2. — [2] Þorketill ‘Þorkell’: The uncontracted form of the pers. n. works metrically; the contracted form Þorkel(l) is used in Bb, where the additional adv. þá ‘then’ completes the required count of six syllables, and in 54, which is metrically deficient. — [4] mansǫng ‘a love-song’: This is an important attestation of the generic term for the kind of love-poetry whose composition and circulation was banned in Iceland according to Grágás (Grg Ib, 184). The term also occurs in Anon Mhkv 20/3III and is one of the important features shared by the two poems (see Introduction). For discussion of the term and genre, see Marold (2007). — [4] Gná hringa ‘the Gná <goddess> of rings [WOMAN = Ingibjǫrg]’: Daughter of Þorkell leira; see Note to st. 14/5. — [6] hauklyndan ‘hawk-tempered’: Used of Vagn also in st. 8/8, and see Note.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated