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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 25 June 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 125-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

58 — Gamlkan Has 58VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 58’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 125-6.

Hvar megim oss, inn ǫrvi
ýta kyns, fyr synðir
sôr eða sekðir órar,
sættir, skjóls of vætta,
nema lastauknum líkna,
logskríns, vilir þínum
sjalfr, þeims synðir skelfa,
sæll gervandi, þræli?


Where may we expect shelter because of our sins, griefs or guilts, {generous reconciler {of the kinsfolk of men}}, [HUMANS > = God] unless you yourself desire to have mercy on your sin-laden servant, whom sins cause to tremble, {blessed creator {of the flame-shrine}}? [SKY/HEAVEN > = God]

notes: [1-4]: The first helmingr has been variously interpreted and corrected. At the heart of the problem are the difficulties eds have encountered in deciphering the beginning of l. 3. This edn agrees with Rydberg (1907, 30) in reading ‘sár e᷎’, interpreted as sr eða. The hooked <e> is often used to abbreviate eða in the prose section of B (as, for example, at fol. 5r, l. 27 and 8v, l. 35), and is quite unlike the er-abbreviation. Lines 2 and 3 may therefore be read as a straightforward paralleling of acc. pls, synðir ‘sins’ sár ‘griefs’ and sekðir ‘guilts’, without the need for emendation, though it is syntactically odd, as eða in a group of three nouns is unusual. Other eds have suspected scribal error. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 261) reads sár er here, normalising to sárir. This he takes to be the f. acc. pl. of sárr adj. ‘sore, aching’, qualifying sekðir. Sárir sekðir órar ‘our aching guilts’ is then taken as parallel to synðir ‘sins’ and the verb is emended to megim (subj.). The helmingr is thus construed hvar megim of vætta oss skjóls fyrir synðir, sárir sekðir órar ‘where might we expect to find a refuge in the face of our sins, our aching guilts’. Kock (NN §2926) approves this change. Finnur Jónsson (followed by Kock in Skald) normalises to sárar, which he assumes to be adjectival, qualifying synðar sekðir órar, which he translates vore synders svære skyld ‘our sins’ heavy guilt’.

editions: Skj Gamli kanóki: 2. Harmsól 58 (AI, 570; BI, 563); Skald I, 273, NN §2926; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 31-2, Kempff 1867, 17-18, Rydberg 1907, 30, Black 1971, 285, Attwood 1996a, 236.


AM 757 a 4° (B) 13v, 2 - 13v, 4  transcr.  image  image  image  image  
Lbs 444 4°x (444x) -  
JS 399 a-b 4°x (399a-bx) -  
AM 757 a 4° (BRydberg) -  
AM 757 a 4° (BFJ) -  
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