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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 November 2021)

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

SkP info: VII, 121-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

54 — Gamlkan Has 54VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 54’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 121-2.

Sôlu veittak, sættir,
— sárrs minn … —
bana hættligar benjar,
bragna kyns, fyr synðir.
Nú beiðum þik, þjóðar
þrekfœðandi, grœða
andar sôr, þaus óru
ósvífr glata lífi.

{Sættir {kyns bragna}}, veittak … sôlu hættligar benjar bana fyr synðir; sárrs minn …. Nú beiðum þik, {þrekfœðandi þjóðar}, grœða andar sôr, þaus ósvífr glata lífi óru.

{Reconciler {of the kindred of heroes}} [MEN > = God], I dealt … soul dangerous wounds of death because of my sins; bitter is my …. Now we [I] beg you, {strength-nourisher of the people} [= God], to heal the soul’s wounds which, relentless, destroy our [my] life.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] Sôlu: ‘Sals’ B    [2] …: ‘[...]re[...]’ B, 399a‑bˣ, ‘træ(g)i’(?) BRydberg, ‘(t)re[...]’ BFJ    [3] bana: ‘[...]na’ B, ‘[...]ana’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]na’ BRydberg, BFJ    [5] þik: om. B    [6] grœða: ‘gręd[...]’ B, 399a‑bˣ    [7] andar: ‘[...]ar’ B, ‘ạṇdar’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...](dar)’(?) BRydberg, (an)dar(?) BFJ    [8] lífi: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]’ B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 54: AI, 570, BI, 562, Skald I, 272; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 30, Kempff 1867, 16, Rydberg 1907, 29, Black 1971, 274, Attwood 1996a, 235.

Notes: [1] sôlu (dat. sg.) ‘soul’: B reads Sáls gen. sg. Sveinbjörn Egilsson suggests emendation to Sálu dat. (unsigned note in 444ˣ and 1844, 30 n. 64). That reading has been adopted by all subsequent eds. — [2-3] bana: B is very badly damaged, and traces of only one letter and a superscript re abbreviation are visible (fol. 13r, ll. 45-6). The 399a-bˣ copyist was able to read only one further letter in the second word ‘…ana’. Reconstruction of this word thus relies on this reading and on the fact that initial <b> is required for alliteration. Other eds have made valiant attempts to reconstruct the missing text here, which is likely to comprise two words. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (444ˣ and 1844) postulates sárr es minn hugr þinni | bana. He is followed by Kempff and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), who construes Slu þinni veittak benjar fyr bana hættiligar synðir, sættir bragna kyns; sárr es hugr minn ‘I dealt wounds to your soul by means of my deathly dangerous sins, reconciler of the kindred of heroes; my soul is wounded’. Rydberg (1907, xxiii) rejects this interpretation on the grounds that the remaining traces of the text will not sustain it. He asserts (1907, 29 n. 9) that he once was able to read a number of letter forms no longer visible in 1907, and reconstructs the text sarr er minn tregi varri bana, construing veittak várri slu hættiligar benjar bana fyr synðir; minn tregi es sárr ‘I dealt our [my] soul dangerous death-wounds because of [my] sins; my grief is bitter’. Sveinbjörn’s reconstruction requires þinni to be construed with slu, as in Finnur’s prose arrangement. The continuation of the theme through the st., however, suggests that, as in the second helmingr, the injured soul here is not likely to be Christ’s, but rather that of the sinner-narrator, who refers to himself in the 1st pers. throughout. — [5] þik ‘you’: B is short of an alliterating syllable here. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 30 n. 67) supplies the acc. sg. pron. þik, which has been adopted by all eds.

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