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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, ‘ 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 30 June 2022)

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, 963

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Bjbp Jóms 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 5’ 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. 963.

annat þarf at yrkja
allstórum mun fleira.

… greppr of snertu
(þat berum upp fyr ýta)
óhljóð (sǫgukvæði).

… þarf at yrkja annat, allstórum mun fleira … . Greppr … of óhljóð snertu; berum upp þat sǫgukvæði fyr ýta.

… need to compose something other, more by a very great amount … . The poet … about the tumult of onslaught; we [I] shall present that narrative poem before men.

Mss: R(53v)

Readings: [8] ‑kvæði: ‘qv[…]’ R, ‘qv[…]þi’ RCP, RFJ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 5: AII, 2, BII, 2, Skald II, 1, NN §2161; Fms 11, 164, Fms 12, 242, Jvs 1879, 106-7.

Notes: [All]: On the ordering of sts 2-5, see Introduction. Given the poor state of preservation of the text, any interpretation is extremely tentative. However, the poet seems to return here to the principal subject of his poem: that of war. — [3-4]: The lines are here assumed to belong together syntactically, though with the caveat mentioned above. Þarf ‘need’ can only be a verb, and therefore mun is best taken not as the verb ‘will’ but as dat. sg. of munr m. ‘difference’, here ‘amount’ (so LP: munr). — [6] : The conjectured orti ‘composed’ is supplied before greppr ‘poet’ in the normalised text of Jvs 1879, and in Skald. — [7] fyr ýta ‘before men’: A reference to the audience that runs somewhat counter to st. 1 (see Note to st. 1 [All]). — [8] sǫgukvæði ‘narrative poem’: The meaning of this hap. leg. depends largely on which sense of sǫgu (nom. sg. saga f.) is relevant, out of the possible range of ‘something spoken, a story, narrative, history’ (cf. CVC, Fritzner: saga; AEW: saga 1; also Meulengracht Sørensen 1993a, 33-6, 50-1). LP glosses sǫgukvæði as historisk dikt ‘historical poem’ but Lindow (1982, 110) comments that Bjarni’s use of the term ‘has much to say about skaldic narrative [...] indicat[ing] the possibility of a skaldic poem intended not for ornament, praise, or lyric, but to tell a story’; see Introduction for further discussion of Bjarni’s intentions in composing Jóms.

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