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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 28 January 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 127-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

61 — Gamlkan Has 61VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 61’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 127-8.

Verðrat, blíðr, fyr borði
brjótr, hǫfðingi snóta,
— mjǫk treystumk því — Mistar
myrkleygs, sás þik dýrkar,
þvít vegskjótum* veita,
veðrs landreka strandar,
vilt, svinn, ok mátt mǫnnum,
móðir, allt it góða.

{Brjótr {Mistar myrkleygs}}, sás dýrkar þik, blíðr hǫfðingi snóta, verðrat fyr borði — mjǫk treystumk því —, þvít vilt ok mátt veita vegskjótum* mǫnnum allt it góða, {svinn móðir {landreka {strandar veðrs}}}.

{The destroyer {of Mist’s <valkyrie> dark flame}} [SWORD > WARRIOR], who worships you, gentle chief of women, will not be lost — we [I] greatly rely on that — because you are willing and able to grant men, swift in glory, all that is good, {wise mother {of the land-ruler {of the shore of the wind}}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ) > = Mary].

Mss: B(13v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [5] vegskjótum*: ‘vegskiotumz’ B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 61: AI, 571, BI, 564, Skald I, 273; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 32-3, Kempff 1867, 18, Rydberg 1907, 31, Black 1971, 292, Attwood 1996a, 237.

Notes: [1] blíðr ‘blessed’: The m. nom. sg. of the adj. blíðr ‘blessed, happy’, which could be construed as qualifying either brjótr (l. 2) or hǫfðingi snóta ‘chief of women’ (l. 2). It is most plausibly regarded as part of the kenning-like periphrasis for the Virgin Mary, probably modelled on Lat. regina virginum ‘queen of virgins’ (cf. Paasche 1914a, 115; Lange 1958a, 224). Cf. konungr vífa lit. ‘king of women’, Mdr 5/2. — [2-4] brjótr Mistar myrkleygs ‘the destroyer of Mist’s <valkyrie> dark flame [SWORD > WARRIOR]’: Cf. the man-kenning slǫngvir Mistar elda ‘slinger of Mist’s fires’ in 2/1. There are thematic and dictional echoes here of st. 5, where men, characterised as viðir Mistar linns ‘trees of Mist’s snake’, are promised sannri líkn ok sýknu fyr vás ok galla ‘true mercy and acquittal for sinfulness and flaws’, by Christ. — [5] vegskjótum* ‘swift in glory’: B reads ‘vegskiotumz’. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends to vegskjótust, f. nom. sg. of the superlative adj. vegskjótastr. He construes this as qualifying the periphrasis for the Virgin, and glosses rask til at give hæder ‘swift to give honour’. Finnur’s interpretation is accepted without comment by Kock and Black. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844) takes B’s ‘vegskiotumz’ as an error for vegskjótum, which he understands as the m. dat. pl. of vegskjótr, qualifying mǫnnum (l. 7). In either case, the first element of the cpd is understood as vegr ‘glory, renown, honour’, Sveinbjörn’s gloss for vegskjótr in LP (1860) being ad gloriam promptus, honoris cupidus ‘ready for glory, desirous of honour’. Sveinbjörn’s interpretation requires least emendation, and Gamli’s use of coinages on this model is confirmed by the similar adjectival form þrifskjótr ‘swift to prosperity’, in a God-kenning in 12/6.

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