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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 8 December 2021)

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

SkP info: VII, 120-1

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

53 — Gamlkan Has 53VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 53’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 120-1.

Slík styrkja mik merki,
minn guð, … þinna,
þótt atferðin yrði
ór herfilig stórum,
leiptra hróts at láta
láðvaldr muni aldri
glaðr, ef glœpa iðrumk,
glóða mik fyr róða.

Slík merki þinna … styrkja mik, minn guð, þótt ór atferðin yrði stórum herfilig, at {{{{glaðr láð}valdr glóða} hróts} leiptra} muni aldri láta mik fyr róða, ef iðrumk glœpa.

Such tokens of your … strengthen me, my God, even though our [my] behaviour were to become very shameful, that {the glad ruler {of the land {of the fires {of the roof of lightnings}}}} [(lit. ‘land-ruler of the fires of the roof of lightnings’) SKY/HEAVEN > HEAVENLY BODIES > SKY/HEAVEN > = God] will never cast me to the winds, if I repent of my sins.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Slík: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘Sli[...]’ B    [2] þinna: ‘[...]nna’ B, ‘un[...](þi)nna’(?) 399a‑bˣ, ‘v(n)[...]inna’(?) BRydberg, ‘vn[...](þi)nna’(?) BFJ    [4] ór: ‘[...]o᷎r’ B, ‘vǫr’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘(v)o᷎r’(?) BRydberg, BFJ    [6] aldri: ‘a[...]’ B, ‘alldr[...]’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘a(lld)[...]’(?) BRydberg, ‘all[...]’ BFJ    [7] glaðr: ‘[...]dr’ B, ‘g̣ḷạðr’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]dr’ BRydberg, ‘(gla)dr’(?) BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 53: AI, 569-70, BI, 561-2, Skald I, 271, NN §§1210, 2926, 2934; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 30, Kempff 1867, 16, Rydberg 1907, 29, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 260, Black 1971, 270, Attwood 1996a, 235.

Notes: [2] : B is very badly worn here. The end of the word is completely obliterated by a hole, and only the vaguest traces remain of two (?) initial letters. Of these, only the very first downstroke is at all certain, and this might just as well represent the vestige of an <n> as a <u>. Sveinbjörn Egilsson adopts the suggestion made in a marginal note by the 399a-bˣ copyist (mediated to Sveinbjörn via Jón Sigurðsson’s 444ˣ transcript of 399a-bˣ) that the ms. reading should be undra, gen. pl. of undr ‘wonder, miracle’. In this, he is followed by Kempff and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B). Jón Helgason (1935-6, 260) comments that ‘the word undr fits very badly here, where the discussion does not concern God’s miracles but his mercy’. Jón reconstructs náða ‘mercies’, and is followed by Kock (NN §2926) and Black. — [4] ór ‘our’: The mss’ form, with initial ‘v’, must be normalised here to the earlier ór (ANG §467.2) to supply aðalhending with stór-. — [5, 8] at láta fyr róða ‘to leave, cast to the winds, abandon’: Cf. the prayer to the Virgin preserved in HómÍsl 1872, 195: eige mic fyr róþa láta í náuþsyn miɴe ‘do not abandon me in my need’. The phrase is common in both verse and prose (cf. Fritzner: róði), and it is clear that the essential meaning is ‘to abandon’. Several different interpretations of róði have been offered, perhaps the most satisfactory being Finnur Jónsson’s suggestion (LP: róði) that róði should be understood as a heiti for the wind. This certainly renders the phrase at once vivid and accessible, and fits extremely well with the image-structure of Has. — [7] glaðr ‘glad’: The beginning of this word is lost, though the two final letters are quite clear. The alliteration requires initial <g>. Previous eds have tended to agree that glaðr is the most acceptable reconstruction. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) construes this as part of the conditional cl. ef iðrumk glaðr glœpa ‘if I repent of my sins gladly’. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 260) objects that ‘it hardly accords with the sincerity of the penitent soul that the sinner should be glad’. He suggests that greiðr ‘willing’ would be a more appropriate adj. here. Kock (NN §2934) is not altogether convinced by this suggestion, but accepts that, if glaðr is understood to refer to the speaker-sinner, it strikes a wrong note. As Black (1971, 272) points out, there is some appropriateness in the suggestion that sinners should repent cheerfully, in the expectation of mercy. Kock suggests that glaðr be retained, but that it be construed as part of the main cl., rather than the conditional one. In this, he is anticipated by Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s prose arrangement in 444ˣ, which is adopted here.

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