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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 1 July 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, 964

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Bjbp Jóms 6I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 6’ 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. 964.

… vér sitja
(seima Guðr) at Jómi
(fǫgr rænir mik flaumi)
fimm hǫfðingja snemma.
Vel samir víst at telja
vinnur hreystimanna;
þar er of málmþings meiða
merkiliga at yrkja.

… vér … fimm hǫfðingja sitja snemma at Jómi; {fǫgr Guðr seima} rænir mik flaumi. Víst samir vel at telja vinnur hreystimanna; þar er at yrkja of {merkiliga meiða {málmþings}}.

We [I] … five chieftains once sat at Jómsborg; {the beautiful Guðr <valkyrie> of gold} [WOMAN] robs me of happiness. Certainly it is very fitting to recount the deeds of courageous men; in this case it is a matter of composing about {notable poles {of the weapon-assembly}} [BATTLE > WARRIORS].

Mss: R(53v)

Readings: [1] …: ‘S(v)[…]gv’(?) RCP, ‘S(v)[…]gvm’(?) RFJ;    sitja: ‘[…]’ R, sitja RCP, RFJ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 6: AII, 2, BII, 2, Skald II, 1; Fms 11, 164, Fms 12, 242, Jvs 1879, 106-7.

Notes: [1] vér sitja ‘we … sat’: The inf. sitja ‘sat’, lit. ‘to sit, sitting’ (the reading of Finnur Jónsson and af Petersens) would form an acc. with inf. construction with acc. pl. hǫfðingja ‘chieftains’, and would suggest that a verb of hearing or learning in the pret. tense is missing; cf. st. 7/1, 2 frák Harald heyja ‘I have heard that Haraldr fought (lit. ‘I have heard Haraldr to fight)’. Frágu/frágum ‘we have heard’ is accordingly supplied in Jvs 1879, 107, followed by CPB II, 303, Skj B and Skald. The same eds have also supplied the adv. suðr ‘south’ as the first word of l. 1, aptly referring to the location of Jómsborg on the Baltic coast. These editorial conjectures are acceptable metrically: suðr alliterates with sitja in l. 1 and seima ‘of gold’ in l. 2, and the phrase suðr frágu/frágum brings the syllable count in l. 1 up to the required six syllables; the munnvǫrp metre does not require hending in odd lines. — [2] Guðr seima ‘Guðr <valkyrie> of gold [WOMAN]’: Guðr/Gunnr is fairly common in woman-kennings (Meissner 406), but in the use of this valkyrie-name, the two thematic elements of the stanza and the poem as a whole, battle and women, are appropriately conjoined. Seima (gen. pl.) is perhaps strictly ‘of gold threads’ (cf. LP: seimr). — [2] at Jómi ‘at Jómsborg’: ON Jóm or Jómsborg is identified with present-day Wolin, set on an island at the mouth of the Oder on the Baltic coast. See Jvs 1969, 28-51 on Jómsborg and the Jómsvíkingar; also Note to st. 17/4 below. — [4] snemma ‘once’: So also Skj B and LP: snimma 3. The adv. could alternatively be construed with the intercalary clause about the poet’s unhappy experience in love, perhaps with its more common sense ‘early (in the day)’. — [7, 8] þar er at yrkja ‘in this case it is a matter of composing’: Lit. ‘there it is to compose’, but there is no clear reference to place, and þar frequently refers to abstract circumstances (Fritzner, LP: þar 2). — [8]: The line is metrically irregular: it appears that resolution does not operate in -liga, but elision operates in -a at.

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