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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 27 January 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 97-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

29 — Gamlkan Has 29VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 29’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 97-8.

Leitt í lopt upp, dróttinn
— litu gǫrla þat vitrir —
himins fylgjandi, helgu
holdi skrýddr, af foldu.
Áðr trúir ǫld ok síðan
aldýran þik stýra,
skríngeypnandi, skepnu,
skýstalls, sælu allri.

{Fylgjandi dróttinn himins}, leitt í lopt upp af foldu, skrýddr helgu holdi; vitrir litu þat gǫrla. {{{Skýstalls} skrín} geypnandi}, ǫld trúir áðr ok síðan þik aldýran stýra allri sælu skepnu.

{Helping lord of heaven} [= Christ], you rose up into the sky from earth, clothed with holy flesh; wise men saw that clearly. {Holder {of the shrine {of the cloud-platform}}} [(lit. ‘cloud-platform’s shrine-holder’) SKY/HEAVEN > SUN > = God (= Christ)], mankind believes, before and since, that you, altogether glorious, govern all the bliss of creation.

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] dróttinn: ‘drotte[...]’ B, ‘drotte(nn)’(?) 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, ‘drotten’ BFJ    [2] vitrir: vitrar B    [3] fylgjandi: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘f[...]de’ B    [4] skrýddr: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]yddr’ B    [7] ‑geypnandi: ‘‑geyp[...]e’ B, 399a‑bˣ, ‘‑gæyp[...](n)dæ’(?) BRydberg, ‘‑geyp(na)nde’(?) BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 29: AI, 566, BI, 555-6, Skald I, 269, NN §2111; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 22, Kempff 1867, 9, Rydberg 1907, 25, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 254, Black 1971, 213, Attwood 1996a, 229.

Notes: [1-4]: There have been various attempts to interpret this helmingr. Kempff (1867, 41) follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson (prose arrangement in 444ˣ) in taking vitrar from vitr ‘wise’. They construe this with fylgjandi (l. 3) to give the phrase fylgjandi vitrar ‘wise followers’, which Kempff interprets as a reference to the Apostles, who witnessed the Ascension. Finnur Jónsson appears to take fylgjandi as pres. part. of fylgja ‘to accompany’, adjectival in force, amplifying skrýddr in the expression skrýddr, fylgjandi helgu holdi, which he translates forklaret følgende dit hellige legeme ‘transfigured (or glorified) following your holy body’ (Skj B). As Kock (NN §2111) objects, Finnur’s meaning is elusive. Kock quotes parallels from Líkn and Lil (see following Note) in support of his reading of skrýddr helgu holdi ‘clothed with your holy flesh’ as a logical unit, and construes fylgjandi (which he translated as ‘helping’) as part of the God-kenning fylgjandi dróttinn himins ‘helping lord of heaven’. Black (1971, 213) adopts this arrangement, translating fylgjandi as ‘gracious’, an attempt to characterise the nature of Christ’s ‘help’. For uses of fylgja to mean ‘help, assist, show kindness’, which are by no means unusual, see Fritzner: fylgja. Kock’s interpretation has been followed here, although it and that in Skj B also require emendation to vitrir nom. pl. in l. 2. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 254) suggests that B’s ‘drotte…’ (l. 1) should be reconstructed dróttir nom. pl. of drótt ‘people’, which may be construed with B’s reading vitrar ‘wise’ (l. 2). This has the advantage of avoiding the need to emend in l. 2, but leaves a Christ-kenning, fylgjandi himins, where fylgjandi (pres. part.) has to function as a noun. — [3-4] skrýddr helgu holdi ‘clothed with holy flesh’: Cf. Líkn 12/3-4: skrýddi sik hjalmprýddan holdi ‘clothed himself, helmet-adorned, with flesh’. See also Lil 24/7-8. — [7-8] skýstalls skríngeypnandi ‘cloud-platform’s shrine-holder, holder of the shrine of the cloud platform [SKY/HEAVEN > SUN > = God (= Christ)]’: A similar concept lies behind the God-kennings umgeypnandi alls heims ‘holder in hand of the whole world’ in Geisl 16/7-8 and umgeypnandi allrar skepnu ‘holder in hand of all creation’ in Kálf Kátr 36/3. The concept of God’s holding creation in his hand also informs frónspennir fagrtjalda ‘clasper of the fair tents of the land’ in Has 44/5-6. The verb geypna derives from gaupn ‘hollow of the hand’ (see AEW: gaupn and Note to Mgr 2/5).

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