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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 25 May 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 99-100

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

31 — Gamlkan Has 31VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 31’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 99-100.

Enn mun ǫðru sinni
ǫðlingr koma hingat
mána tjalds inn mildi
meðr til dóms at kveðja.
Geisar eldr ok œsisk
ǫlna fold; ór moldu
ferð vaknar þá fyrða
flest við ugg inn mesta.


Again {the gentle ruler {of the tent of the moon}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] will come here a second time to call men to judgement. Fire will rage and {the land of the mackerel} [SEA] will surge; most of the troop of men will awaken then from the grave [lit. from the soil] with the greatest terror.

notes: The turmoil associated with the Second Coming and Last Judgement is a recurrent theme in medieval eschatological literature and art. It is difficult to find precise parallels with Gamli’s account. The locus classicus is Rev. XX, where the account includes mention of punishing fire and of the resurrection of the dead (Rev. XX.12, 15). The account of the ‘Day of the Lord’ in the Second Epistle of Peter (2 Pet III.10-11) stresses that destruction will be by fire, not by water, as in the days of Noah. The raising of the dead is also a tenet of Pauline eschatology (1 Cor. XV.52). Turville-Petre (1953, 163) and Lange (1958a, 146) note that there are some parallels between this st. and the account of Ragnarǫk in Vsp 54. — [1-4]: B fol. 13r, l.1 is dark and badly worn (partly as a result of earlier restoration attempts). It has therefore been necessary to rely heavily on previous transcriptions of the ms., most notably that of 399a-bˣ, to reconstruct the text. Where earlier eds are uncertain of the reading (notably with kveðja in l. 4), rhyme and alliteration have been used as guides for confirmation of their reconstructions.

editions: Skj Gamli kanóki: 2. Harmsól 31 (AI, 566; BI, 556); Skald I, 270; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 23, Kempff 1867, 9-10, Rydberg 1907, 25, Black 1971, 218, Attwood 1996a, 229.


AM 757 a 4° (B) 13r, 1 - 13r, 2  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) -  
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