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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamli kanóki (Gamlkan)

12th century; volume 7; ed. Katrina Attwood;

1. Harmsól (Has) - 65

Skj info: Gamli kanóki, Islandsk gejstlig og skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 561-72, BI, 547-65).

Skj poems:
1. Jóansdrápa
2. Harmsól

Gamli kanóki ‘canon Gamli’ (where the name Gamli, ‘the old one’ may itself be a nickname) is best known as the author of the poem Harmsól ‘Sun of Sorrow’, which is explicitly ascribed to him in a marginal note at the beginning of the poem on fol. 12r, l. 42 of the sole surviving ms., AM 757 a 4° (B): Harmsol er gamle orti kanokeHarmsól, which canon Gamli composed’. Gamli is also mentioned by name in Jóns saga postula (Jón4), where the author of the prose text prefaces the quotation of four sts from Gamli’s Jónsdrápa with the information: Annan mann til óðgirðar signaðum Johanni nefnum vér Gamla kanunk austr í Þykkvabœ, hann orti drápu dyrligum Johanni ‘As the second man to have composed a poem to blessed John we [I] name canon Gamli in the east at Þykkvabœr, he composed a drápa to S. John’ (Jón4 1874, 510). In a remark before the fourth st. Gamli is referred to as bróðir Gamli ‘Brother Gamli’ (Jón4 1874, 511). Þykkvabœr was an Augustinian monastery in south-eastern Iceland founded in 1168; Gamli was thus an Augustinian canon (or canon regular) of this community. His floruit can be inferred from the date of the foundation of Þykkvabœr as being in the mid- to late C12th.

file 2006-12-15 - Gamli kanoki w. MCR corrections

Harmsól (‘Sun of Sorrow’) — Gamlkan HasVII

Katrina Attwood 2007, ‘ Gamli kanóki, Harmsól’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 70-132. <> (accessed 23 January 2022)

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Skj: Gamli kanóki: 2. Harmsól, „er gamle orti kanoke“ (AI, 562-72, BI, 548-65)

SkP info: VII, 85-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

13 — Gamlkan Has 13VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 13’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 85-6.

Létk í ljós fyr gautum
láðs nǫkkurar dáðir
laxa fróns, en leyndak
lǫskum þôtt, sem máttak,
seggja kind at sýndisk,
(setrs) þokka mun betri,
(vísi hár) an værak
(vel kunnum því, sunnu).

Létk nǫkkurar dáðir í ljós fyr {gautum {fróns {laxa láðs}}}, en leyndak lǫskum þôtt sem máttak, at sýndisk {seggja kind} þokka mun betri an værak; vel kunnum því, {hár vísi {setrs sunnu}}.

I allowed certain deeds to come to light before {the men {of the land {of the land of the salmon}}} [SEA > GOLD > MEN], but I concealed my weaknesses as best I could, so that I should appear {to the race of men} [MANKIND] a great deal better than I was; we were [I was] well pleased with that, {high king {of the seat of the sun}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God].

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] leyndak (‘ek leynda’): so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]k ley[...]da’ B    [7] vísi: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘v[...]’ B;    værak: væri B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 13: AI, 564, BI, 551, Skald I, 267, NN §§2926, 2930; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 17, Kempff 1867, 4, Rydberg 1907, 22, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 255, Black 1971, 172, Attwood 1996a, 225.

Notes: [3] laxa fróns en leyndak: B’s reading produces an irregular skothending fróns : leynda. That fróns may be an interpolation is suggested by the context, since the gold-kenning frón laxa láðs ‘land of the salmon of the land’, is somewhat clumsy and repetitious. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 255) suggested emendation of fróns to brands gen. sg. of brandr ‘fire, flame’. This emendation gives a -nd : -nd rhyme and makes for a more conventional gold-kenning, gautar brands láðs laxa ‘men of the fire of the land of the salmon’. — [5-8]: There have been several attempts to interpret the second helmingr. This edn follows Finnur Jónsson in Skj B. Finnur emended væri (l. 7) to værak, and construed at sýndisk seggja kind þokka mun betri an værak, which he translated (jeg skulte min efterladenhed, sem jeg kunde,) for at jeg skulde syndes betydelig bedre end jeg var ‘[I covered my negligence as well as I could,] so that I might appear considerably better than I was’. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 255) retained væri (l. 7), taking seggja kind as the subject, translating jeg var fornøyet med at menneskene vilde synes betydelig bedre end de var, himlens høje kong ‘I was pleased that men wanted to appear considerably better than they were, high king of heaven’. Kock (NN §2930), perhaps following Kempff and Sveinbjörn Egilsson, objects to seggja kind as the subject, and interprets the helmingr in much the same way as Finnur does. — [6-8] hár vísi setrs sunnu ‘high king of the seat of the sun [SKY/HEAVEN > = God]’: Cf. the God-kennings harri setrs sunnu ‘ruler of the seat of the sun’ in 49/5-8 and siklingr setrs sunnu ‘prince of the seat of the sun’ in Leið 13/7-8.

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