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Gamli kanóki (Gamlkan)

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

1. Harmsól (Has) - 65

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 4 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   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, 21-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Gamlkan Has 21VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 21’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 21-2.

Endr vast barðr ok bundinn,
buðlungr, meginþungar,
hlýrnis elds, af hǫldum,
hár, fyr sekðir várar.
Enn lézt, ǫldu runna
angrstríðir, þik síðan,
viggs, meðal vándra seggja,
vegligr, á tré negla.


Once you were beaten and bound by men because of our very heavy sins, {high king {of the fire of the sky}}. [SUN > = God (= Christ)] Further you allowed yourself afterwards to be nailed to a tree between wicked men, {magnificent sin-fighter {of the trees {of the steed of the wave}}}. [SHIP > SEAFARERS > = God (= Christ)]

notes: This st. represents the thematic centre of the poem, and introduces a haunting evocation of, and meditation on, the Crucifixion (sts 21-7), which focusses on Christ’s merciful response to the penitent thief. Gamli’s mastery and manipulation of the skaldic genre is clear as he simplifies both his diction and his w.o. from this point to exploit the full pathos of the scene in a stark narrative reproduced almost verbatim from the account of the Passion in the Gospel of Luke. As Fidjestøl (1993, 223) points out, Has is very carefully structured, and st. 21 is the beginning of the 25-st. stefjabálkr, which carries the central meditation, in contrast to the surrounding sermon material.

editions: Skj Gamli kanóki: 2. Harmsól 21 (AI, 565; BI, 553); Skald I, 268; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 19-20, Kempff 1867, 6-7, Rydberg 1907, 24, Black 1971, 193, Attwood 1996a, 227.


AM 757 a 4° (B) 12v, 32 - 12v, 34  transcr.  image  image  image  image  
Lbs 444 4°x (444x) -  
JS 399 a-b 4°x (399a-bx) -  
AM 757 a 4° (BRydberg) -  
AM 757 a 4° (BFJ) -  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated