This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

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)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60   61   62   63   64   65 

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

SkP info: VII, 119-20

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

52 — Gamlkan Has 52VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 52’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 119-20.

Hlaut Máría mætum
miskunn af gram sunnu,
víns þás virða reynis
Vôr þó fœtr með tárum.
Snjallr vann snót frá ǫllum
senn misgerðum hennar
gumna vǫrðr, þeims gerði,
— guði treystisk Bil — leysta.

Máría hlaut miskunn af {mætum gram sunnu}, þás {Vôr víns} þó fœtr {reynis virða} með tárum. {Snjallr vǫrðr gumna} vann senn leysta snót frá ǫllum misgerðum hennar, þeims gerði; Bil treystisk guði.

Mary received mercy from {the illustrious prince of the sun} [= God (= Christ)], when {the Vôr <goddess> of wine} [WOMAN = Mary Magdalene] washed the feet {of the tester of men} [= God (= Christ)] with her tears. {The wise guardian of men} [= God (= Christ)] immediately released the woman from all her sins, which she had committed; Bil <goddess> trusted in God.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] víns: ‘v[...]s’ B, ‘vịṇs’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘vi(ns)’(?) BRydberg, ‘vi(n)s’(?) BFJ    [4] fœtr með: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]ed’ B    [7] gumna: ‘[...]a’ B, ‘gụṃṇa’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...](n)a’(?) BRydberg, ‘(gumn)a’(?) BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 52: AI, 569, BI, 561, Skald I, 271, NN §1209; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 29-30, Kempff 1867, 15-16, Konrað Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson 1875-89, II, 356, Rydberg 1907, 29, Black 1971, 267, Attwood 1996a, 235.

Notes: [1] Máría ‘Mary [Magdalene]’: Bugge (1889a, 22) wrongly interprets this as a reference to the Virgin Mary. The identification of the repentant sinner who annoints Christ’s feet in Luke VII.36-9 with the woman who does the same thing, but is not described as a sinner, in Mark XIV.3-9 and Matt. XXVI.6-13 is a logical one. The identification of this conflated character with Mary Magdalene, which seems to date at least from C6th (Warner 2000, 226-8), is presumably due to a literal interpretation of Christ’s words mittens enim haec unguentum hoc in corpus meum ad sepeliendum me fecit ‘for she in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial’ (Matt. XXVI.12). Mary Magdalene’s repentance is also the subject of Anon Mey 11-13. Her cult is generally held to have begun after 1200 in Iceland; there was reportedly an image of her at Þykkvabær monastery, though its age cannot be determined, and may well have dated from after Gamli’s time (Cormack 1994, 130). — [2] miskunn af gram sunnu ‘mercy from the prince of the sun’: The miskunn:sunnu rhyme is also exploited at 65/4 miskunn jǫfurr sunnu. This l. also occurs in Leið 42/6. — [8] Bil ‘Bil <goddess>’: Kock (NN §1209) notes that previous eds have been reluctant to accept that Bil can stand alone as a half-kenning. There is, as he says, an undue concern for the plight of oklädda guddinor ‘naked goddesses’, that is, goddess names that are not qualified by a term for gold or treasure or some female attribute (cf. LP: Bil). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) attempts to provide such an attribute by emending gerði (l. 7) to gerðu, gen. sg. of gerða ‘feminine attire’, producing the woman-kenning Bil gerðu ‘goddess of clothing’. This necessitates the omission of þeim (l. 7). Rydberg (1907, lxxiv) approves Finnur’s emendation, and suggests that þá er could be substituted for the ms. reading here, taking the intercalated phrase to be þá er Bil gerðu treystisk guði ‘when the goddess of clothing trusted God’. As Kock (NN §§1209, 1072) suggests, this ‘prudery’ is a feature of Finnur’s edn: it is interesting to note that, of the four occurrences of gerða listed in LP, three appear in conjunction with a goddess-name, and two of those depend on emendation. There is no obvious reason why the ms. reading cannot be retained here, and Bil treated, as Kock (NN §1209) suggests, as a half-kenning for ‘woman’.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.