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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 23 January 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 126-7

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

60 — Gamlkan Has 60VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 60’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 126-7.

Vættik oss með ótta,
alskírt himins birti
hǫfuðmusteri ins hæsta
hildings, af þér mildi,
hauðrs, þvít hugga fríðir
hug minn siðir þínir,
grams kastali inn glæsti
glyggs, en várt líf hryggvir.

Vættik oss með ótta mildi af þér, alskírt hǫfuðmusteri {ins hæsta hildings {himins birti}}, þvít þínir fríðir siðir hugga hug minn, en líf várt hryggvir, inn glæsti kastali {grams {hauðrs glyggs}}.

I hope for us [for myself] with fear for mercy from you, altogether brilliant chief temple {of the highest prince {of heaven’s brightness}} [SUN > = God (= Christ)], because your fine virtues comfort my mind, but our [my] way of life distresses [it], splendid fortress {of the prince {of the land of the wind}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)].

Mss: B(13v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [3] ins hæsta: ‘e[...]hęs[...]’ B, ‘e(ns) hęsta’(?) 399a‑bˣ    [4] hildings: ‘h[...]’ B, ‘h(illdings)’(?) 399a‑bˣ    [8] glyggs: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]yggs’ B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 60: AI, 571, BI, 563-4, Skald I, 273; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 32, Kempff 1867, 18, Rydberg 1907, 30-31, Black 1971, 290, Attwood 1996a, 237.

Notes: [3] hǫfuðmusteri ‘chief temple’: The only other use of this cpd in skaldic poetry, also with reference to the Virgin Mary, is Mdr 14/3. — [4] hildings ‘prince’s’: Although the 399a-bˣ copyist is not certain of the reading, the reconstruction here is confirmed by aðalhending with mildi. — [5-8] kastali grams hauðrs glyggs ‘fortress of the prince of the land of the wind’: Cf. Mdr 1/7, where Mary is praised as God’s hæstr hǫfuðkastali ‘highest chief fortress’. It is possible that the Mdr poet consciously imitated the two appellations for Mary used in this st. Gamli’s use of kenning-types that compare the Virgin Mary to a building, especially a sacred or royal one, the receptacle for Christ’s incarnation, is among the earliest in skaldic verse and is based on Old Testament typology (templum Domini ‘the temple of the Lord’, solium Salomonis ‘the throne of Solomon’), whereby Solomon’s temple is a type or allegorical figure of the Virgin and she in turn is a type of the Church (Schottmann 1973, 47-51, 76).

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