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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 17 May 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 104-5

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

36 — Gamlkan Has 36VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 36’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 104-5.

Dómsorði lýkr dýrðar
dróttar valdr á aldir,
þars greinisk lið ljóna
loks í tvenna flokka.
Spǫnð lætr ǫll til ynðis
óttlaust af því móti
sunnu hvéls ok sælu
sín bǫrn konungr fjǫrnis.

{Valdr {dróttar dýrðar}} lýkr dómsorði á aldir, þars {lið ljóna} greinisk loks í tvenna flokka. {Konungr {fjǫrnis {hvéls sunnu}}} lætr spǫnð ǫll bǫrn sín óttlaust af því móti til ynðis ok sælu.

{The ruler {of the company of glory}} [ANGELS > = God] will pass judgement on men, where {the host of men} [MANKIND] will finally divide into two groups. {The king {of the helmet {of the wheel of the sun}}} [SUN > SKY/HEAVEN > = God] causes all his children to be drawn without fear from that gathering to joy and bliss.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 36: AI, 567, BI, 557, Skald I, 270, NN §§2112A, 2113; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 24-5, Kempff 1867, 11, Rydberg 1907, 26, Black 1971, 231, Attwood 1996a, 230.

Notes: [All]: The division of men into two groups at the Last Judgement is a commonplace of Christian eschatology. The locus classicus is the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matt. XXV.32: et congregabuntur ante eum omnes gentes et separabit eos ab invicem sicut pastor segregat oves ab hedis ‘and all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats’. The same idea is expressed in Arnórr jarlaskáld’s helmingr on the Last Judgement mentioned in the Note to st. 33/2-3. — [1] dómsorði ‘judgement’: The cpd refers specifically to Christ’s Judgement of humanity. Cf. Fritzner: dómsorð; Lange 1958a, 148. — [1-2] valdr dróttar dýrðar ‘the ruler of the company of glory [ANGELS > = God]’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) understands this phrase as han som giver mennesken hæder ‘he who gives men glory’. This seems dubious, since the cl. as a whole relates to God’s passing judgement on men. Kock (NN §2112A) prefers to take both dýrðar and dróttar as gen., forming an angel-kenning meaning ‘company of glory’ or (if dýrð ‘glory’ can be used metaphorically, as in Modern English, to mean ‘heaven’) ‘company of heaven’. The valdr ‘ruler’ of this company is God. — [5] spǫnð lætr ǫll til ynðis: Cf. Pl 54/5, spanði ítr til ynðis. — [6] óttlaust af því móti: See Note on 32/4. Kock (NN §2113) suggests that óttlaust ‘without fear’ in this context acts as a meaningless filler-word, with the sense ‘certainly, assuredly’. — [8] sín bǫrn ‘his children’: The tone and phraseology recall Malachi’s prophecy of the Day of the Lord: et erunt mihi ait Dominus exercituum in die qua ego facio in peculium et parcam eis sicus parcit vir filio suo servienti sibi ‘and they shall be my special possession, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do judgement: and I will spare them, as a man spareth his son that serveth him’ (Mal. III.17).

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