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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 22 January 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 95-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

26 — Gamlkan Has 26VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 26’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 95-6.

Hverr myndi s hendir
harðgeðr loga fjarðar,
éla ranns (ef ynni)
ítr … (þér) rítar,
at, þreknenninn, þinni
…, sættandi, mætti
ógrátandi, ýta,
ormlands hjá kvǫl standa?

{Ítr … {rítar {ranns éla}}}, {hverr hendir {loga fjarðar}} myndi s harðgeðr, ef ynni þér, at {… {ormlands}} mætti standa ógrátandi hjá þinni kvǫl, {þreknenninn sættandi ýta}?

{Glorious … {of the shield {of the house of storms}}} [SKY/HEAVEN > SUN > = God (= Christ)], {which distributor {of the fire of the fjord}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] could [be] so hard-minded, if he loved you, that [he], {a … {of the snake-land}} [GOLD > MAN] might stand unweeping by your Passion, {powerful reconciler of men} [= God (= Christ)]?

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] s hendir: ‘s[...]nnder’ B, ‘[...]h[...]nnder’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘(s)[...] [...](æ)nnder’(?) BRydberg, ‘s(va) [...]nndir’(?) BFJ    [4] …: ‘[...]’ B, 399a‑bˣ    [6] …: ‘[...]’ B, 399a‑bˣ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 26: AI, 565-6, BI, 555, Skald I, 269; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 21, Kempff 1867, 5-6, Rydberg 1907, 24-5, Black 1971, 205, Attwood 1996a, 228.

Notes: [1] s hendir: B is very dark and badly worn; <h> is confirmed by the alliteration. Reconstruction to svá hendir is suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson in a marginal note to 444ˣ, and has been adopted by all eds. — [4] : The ms. is badly torn. Traces of a tall letter, possibly an <f> and an abbreviation remain, but these are uncertain. Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s reconstruction to festir ‘fastener’, an agent noun from the verb festa ‘to fasten’ is perhaps inspired by the similar ll. at 50/2-3 ítr postoli rítar | fróns musteris festir. Rydberg (1907, lxxi) claims to see traces of a <g> here, and reconstructs gervir ‘creator’, which is adopted by Finnur Jónsson, Kock and Black. This seems unlikely, however, since the previous transcribers of the ms., those responsible for 399a-bˣ, record no trace of it. Rydberg compares Geisl 65/5, where God is referred to as gervir himna ‘maker of the heavens’, in support of his reconstruction. Clearly, there is a God-kenning here, but the base-word cannot be supplied with any certainty. — [5] þreknenninn ‘powerful’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note to 444ˣ), followed by Kempff, construes with his reconstruction Þrór ‘Óðinn’ in l. 6 (see following Note). — [6] : Once again, B is badly worn and no one has been able to discern any trace of the missing letters. The alliterative scheme requires a word with initial <þ>, which must serve as the base-word of a man-kenning with the determinant ormlands (‘of the land of the snake [GOLD]’). Man-kennings of this type elsewhere in the poem and generally suggest that a noun meaning ‘destroyer’ or ‘distributer’, a god-name or a tree-name would be appropriate choices. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 21 n. 35), followed by Kempff, suggests reconstruction to Þrór, an Óðinn-heiti. Skj B suggests reconstruction to þollr ‘tree’, which has been adopted by all subsequent eds. — [6-7] sættandi ýta ‘reconciler of men [= God (= Christ)]’: This is a particularly appropriate Christ-kenning, given that Gamli is here challenging his hearers to consider their responses to Christ’s attempt to make peace between themselves and God. Compare the similar assertion in st. 17, which seeks to manipulate the hearer’s response to Christ as peacemaker (see especially ll. 5-6).

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