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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, 117-18

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

50 — Gamlkan Has 50VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 50’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 117-18.

Nítti einn við ótta
ítr postoli rítar
fróns musteris festi*
forðum þýjar orða.
Enn, þegars iðran sanna
aldrprýðir fekk lýða,
Pétr vann glœp með gráti
grandlauss þvegit vandla.

Einn ítr postoli nítti forðum {festi* {rítar {musteris fróns}}} við ótta orða þýjar. Enn þegars {aldrprýðir lýða} fekk sanna iðran, vann grandlauss Pétr þvegit vandla glœp með gráti.

One glorious Apostle long ago denied {the securer {of the shield {of the temple of the land}}} [HEAVEN > SUN > = God (= Christ)] for fear of a bondswoman’s words. But, as soon as {the adorner of the lives of men} [SAINT = Peter] [lit. life-adorner of men] experienced true repentance, the sinless Peter washed his wickedness away completely with weeping.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] musteris: so all others, ‘muster(i)[...]’(?) B;    festi*: festir B    [4] forðum: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘fo[...]um’ B    [5] þegars: þegar B;    iðran: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘idra[...]’ B    [8] grandlauss: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘grand[...]uss’ B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 50: AI, 569, BI, 561, Skald I, 272; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 29, Kempff 1867, 15, Rydberg 1907, 28-9, Black 1971, 263, Attwood 1996a, 234.

Notes: [All]: The Apostle Peter’s denial of Christ after the latter’s arrest is recounted in all four Gospels: Matt. XXVI.69-75, Mark XIV.66-72, Luke XXII.55-62 and John XVIII.16-18, 25-7. — [1] nítti ‘denied’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 29 n. 60) claims that this is his correction, from B’s ‘Hítte’. In fact, ‘Hítte’ is Jón Sigurðsson’s misreading (in the 444ˣ transcript) of 399a-b’s correct reading ‘Nitte’. — [2] ítr postoli rítar: The ítr : rítar rhyme is also exploited in 26/4 and in Leið 42/2: ítr túns himins rítar. — [2-3] festi* fróns musteris rítar ‘securer (dat.) of the shield of the temple of the land [HEAVEN > SUN > = God (= Christ)]’: This striking expression appears to be a conflation of two kenning-types found elsewhere in Has. In locutions like rítar ranns éla ‘(of the) shield of the house of storms’ (26/3-4), the sun is characterised as the shield of heaven. The lexical parallels noted above may indicate that Gamli intends his readers/hearers to recall that image here. He superimposes it on the concept of heaven as a shrine or temple, which occurs in skrín skýja ‘shrine of the clouds’ (19/7-8) and skrín skýstalls ‘shrine of the sky-platform’ (29/7-8). Gamli uses the OFr loanword musteri, which derives from Lat. monasterium (AEW: mustari) and is used to designate a Christian or Jewish temple or church, rather than a hof, a heathen temple (CVC: musteri). The word is used of a Christian church in Anon Vitn 15/3 and Anon Mv I 15/2. — [5] þegars ‘as soon as’: The emendation is necessary, as þegar functions here as a conj. (þegar er), rather than an adv. — [6] aldrprýðir ‘life-adorner [of men]’: This is hap. leg. Quite what the significance of this epithet is, in application to S. Peter, is uncertain, though there may be an oblique allusion to his traditional roles as founder of the church and holder of the keys to the gate of heaven.

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