This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

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 29 May 2022)

 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   46   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60   61   62   63   64   65 

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

SkP info: VII, 90-1

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

20 — Gamlkan Has 20VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 20’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 90-1.

Skjǫldungi róm skyldir
skýja tjalds ok aldar
greitt, sem gǫfgast mætti,
grandlausum stef vanda.
Ern skóp hauðr ok hlýrni
heims valdr sem kyn beima;
ǫrrs ok ǫllu dýrri
élsetrs konungr betri.

Róm skyldir vanda greitt stef, sem gǫfgast mætti, {grandlausum skjǫldungi {tjalds skýja}} ok aldar. {Ern valdr heims} skóp hauðr ok hlýrni sem {kyn beima}; {ǫrr konungr {élsetrs}} [e]s ǫllu betri ok dýrri.

We are [I am] obliged to fashion a free-flowing refrain, as excellent as may [be], {for the sinless prince {of the tent of the clouds}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] and of mankind. {The powerful ruler of the world} [= God] created earth and heaven as well as {the kinsfolk of men} [MANKIND]; {the generous king {of the storm-seat}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] is better and more precious than all.

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] mætti: ‘[...]tti’ B, ‘(m)ętt(e)’(?) 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]æ’)tt[...]’(?) BRydberg, ‘(m)e᷎tt(e)’(?) BFJ    [4] grand‑: ‘[...]nd’ B, ‘(gra)nd‑’(?) 399a‑bˣ, ‘(g)[...]nd‑’(?) BRydberg, (gra)nd‑ BFJ    [6] valdr: so all others, ‘ual[...]r’ B    [8] betri: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]ri’ B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 20: AI, 565, BI, 553, Skald I, 268, NN §2932; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 19, Kempff 1867, 6, Rydberg 1907, 23-4, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 257, Black 1971, 190, Attwood 1996a, 226.

Notes: [1-2] skjǫldungi tjalds skýja ‘for the prince of the tent of the clouds [SKY/HEAVEN = God (= Christ)]’: Black (1971, 191) compares Isa. XL.22, where God is described as qui extendit velut nihilum caelos et expandit eos sicut tabernaculum ad inhabitandum ‘he that stretcheth out the heavens as nothing, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in’. The identical heaven-kenning occurs in 65/5-6, where God is described as vǫrðr skýtjalds ‘warden of the cloud-tent’. — [1] róm ‘we are [I am]’: The short form, rather than B’s erum, must be adopted here, otherwise the l. is unmetrical. Cf. ANG §532.3 Anm. 1. — [3] greitt ‘free-flowing’: May be taken either adjectivally (as in the translation here) or adverbially. — [5-8]: That this is the refrain (stef) is indicated by an obelos in the left-hand margin (fol. 12v, l. 31). The first couplet of the refrain is similar in both sense and sound-structure to the opening of the second Leið refrain (25/5-6), which reads: Gramr skóp hauðr ok himna | hreggranns sem kyn seggja ‘the king of the gale-house made land and skies, as well as the race of men’. Lines 7-8 recall the final couplet of the first refrain in Leið (13/7-8): Einn er siklingr sunnu | setrs hvívetna betri ‘the king of the seat of the sun is alone better than everything else’. The sense of the couplets is identical, and both feature a cpd Christ-kenning including a heaven-kenning with the base-word setr. Both also exploit the setrs : betri rhyme. — [8] betri ‘better’: Jón Helgason (1935-6, 257) supposed that the two comparatives dýrri and betri cause difficulties of a stylistic kind. He therefore emended betri to letri, from letr ‘letter’, interpreting the final couplet as meaning that God is more holy (dýrri) than any description, but this seems not a good ground for emendation.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.