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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, 102-3

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

34 — Gamlkan Has 34VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 34’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 102-3.

Vér getk, fátt at fœrim
framm í orða glammi
at dáðgeymis mi
dýrðargjarns of varnir,
áðr ef eigi réðum
aldar kyns fyr synðir
— heldr reynisk þat hǫlðum
hætt — við gram til sættar.

Getk, at vér fœrim fátt framm of varnir í glammi orða at mi {dýrðargjarns dáðgeymis}, ef réðum eigi áðr til sættar fyr synðir við {gram {aldarkyns}}; þat reynisk hǫlðum heldr hætt.

I believe that we will advance our defences poorly in a babble of words at the Judgement {of the glory-eager deed-guardian} [= God (= Christ)], if previously we have not made peace for our sins with {the prince {of the race of men}} [MANKIND > = God]; that will prove rather dangerous for men.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] at: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]t’ B    [3] mi: ‘[...]e’ B, ‘(do)me’(?) 399a‑bˣ    [4] dýrðar‑: dýrð B;    varnir: so 399a‑bˣ, BFJ, ‘[...]’ B, (varnir)(?) BRydberg    [5] áðr ef: ‘[...]r ef’ B, ‘[...]dr ef’ 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, ‘(e)ndr ef’(?) BFJ;    réðum (‘re᷎dum’): ‘rẹndum’(?) 399a‑bˣ, ‘ræ᷎dum’ BRydberg, rendum BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 34: AI, 567, BI, 557, Skald I, 270, NN §2926; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 24, Kempff 1867, 10, Rydberg 1907, 26, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 258, Black 1971, 226, Attwood 1996a, 230.

Notes: [4] dýrðar: It has not been possible to make sense of B’s reading dýrð nom. sg. or acc. sing. of dýrð ‘glory’. Emendation to the gen. sg. dýrðar was suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 24), and has been adopted by all subsequent eds. — [5] áðr ef eigi réðum: The ms. is very badly worn at this point (fol. 13r, l. 7), and it has been very difficult to read this l. Although in Skj A he reads rendum with certainty, Finnur Jónsson in Skj B follows Kempff in adopting Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s suggestion (1844, 24 n. 25), that the l. should read endr ef eigi vendum. The endr : vendum reconstruction, however, gives an aðalhending, rather than the expected skothending. The final word, ‘re᷎dum’, is legible on ultra-violet photographs, and is confirmed by Rydberg’s transcription. Although the first word is now illegible, apart from the final r, Rydberg read ‘…dr’ with certainty, and believed he saw traces of an initial a (1907, 26 n. 4). Jón Helgason (1935-6, 258) accepts Rydberg’s reading, though he points out that ræðum (dat. pl.) ‘speeches’, which would be the usual interpretion of what appears to be hooked ‘e’, is hardly appropriate in the context. As Jón points out, however, there are several instances where the scribe writes a curved accent which is easily mistaken for a hook. If we take this to be the case here, the l. becomes áðr ef eigi réðum. Although the expression ráða til sætta við e-n ‘to make peace with someone’ is not found elsewhere, Jón Helgason cites ráða til saka við e-n (Fritzner: ráða til 4.) ‘to blame someone’ as a close parallel. The first word of l. 5 has been taken as either endr (so Kempff and Skj B), following a suggestion of Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 24 n. 45), or áðr (so Rydberg, Jón Helgason, Kock, Black, Attwood 1996a and here).

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