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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 29 January 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 105-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

37 — Gamlkan Has 37VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 37’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 105-6.

Gumar líta þá gæti
— gengr allt við kjǫr drengjum
heilags Krists — í hæstum
himinljóma guðdómi.
Oss skyldi sú aldri
unaðsgnótt fira dróttins
— þars ǫrsløngvi engum
angrsamt — ór hug ganga.

Gumar líta þá {gæti {himinljóma}} í hæstum guðdómi; allt gengr drengjum við kjǫr heilags Krists. Sú unaðsgnótt {fira dróttins} skyldi aldri ganga oss ór hug; þars {engum ǫrsløngvi} angrsamt.

Men will look then upon {the guardian {of the light of heaven}} [SUN > = God (= Christ)] in his highest Godhead; everything will go for men according to the decision of holy Christ. That abundant bliss [lit. bliss of abundance] {of the men of the Lord} [CHRISTIAN PEOPLE] should never pass out of our minds; {no arrow-slinger} [MAN] is sorrowful there.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Gumar: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]umar’ B    [5] Oss: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘o[...]’ B    [8] ganga: ‘[...]’ B, ‘g̣ạṇg̣ạ’(?) 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...](a)’(?) BRydberg, (gang)a(?) BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 37: AI, 567, BI, 557-8, Skald I, 270, NN §2926; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 25, Kempff 1867, 11, Rydberg 1907, 26, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 252, Black 1971, 234, Attwood 1996a, 230.

Notes: [1-4]: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) construes gumar líta þá gæti himinljóma í hæstum guðdómi heilags Krists; alt gengr drengjum við kør, which he translates mændene vil da se himmelglansens vogter i den hellige Kristus’ höjeste guddom; alt vil gå mændene efter ønske ‘men will then see the guardian of the light of heaven in the highest Godhead of the holy Christ; everything will go for men according to their wishes’. Despite the objections of Kock (NN §2926) and Black (1971, 235) that this is theologically untenable, Finnur may have meant only that good Christians will have their wish, to live in bliss. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 252) follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Kempff in arranging alt gengr drengjum heilags Krists við kjǫr ‘everything goes for the men of holy Christ according to choice’, suggesting that both drengjum heilags Krists ‘the men of holy Christ’ and dróttins fira ‘men of the lord’ refer to the chosen, that is, the saved. This arrangement is adopted by both Kock and Black. However, a more powerful argument is for kjǫr ‘choice, decision’ to be understood with heilags Krists to refer to Christ’s role in deciding whether the souls of the dead are saved and allowed to enter heaven or damned, as described in st. 38. This interpretation has the support of John V.22 and the Apostles’ Creed, which state that Christ is appointed to judge mankind: neque enim Pater iudicat quemquam sed iudicium omne dedit Filio ‘for neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgement to the Son’ (John V.22); Credo in Jesum Christum ... inde venturus (est) judicare vivos et mortuos ‘I believe in Jesus Christ ... thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead’ (Apostles’ Creed). — [5-8]: This helmingr is very similar to Leið 35/5-8, which also concerns the Second Coming. — [6] unaðsgnótt fira dróttins: An almost identical l. occurs at 27/8, which reads harms gnótt fira dróttinn; also similar is the last l. of the poem unaðsgnótt ok frið dróttinn (65/8).

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