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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, 128-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

62 — Gamlkan Has 62VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 62’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 128-9.

Hvern biðk hald ok árnan
helgan mann ins sanna,
(trús) við tírar ræsi
(trausts leitak) mér veita,
svát óbœttan ættim
engi kost, þás drengja
jǫfurr vill andar krefja
ástnenninn hal þenna.

Biðk hvern helgan mann veita mér hald ok árnan við ræsi ins sanna tírar — leitak trús trausts —, svát ættim engi kost óbœttan, þás {ástnenninn jǫfurr drengja} vill krefja þenna hal andar.

I ask every holy man to grant me support and intercession with the king of the true glory — I am seeking certain protection —, so that we [I] might have no circumstance unatoned for when {the love-disposed prince of men} [= God (= Christ)] will ask this man for his soul.

Mss: B(13v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] helgan: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘h[...]lgan’ B;    mann: ‘[...]’ B, m(ann)(?) 399a‑bˣ    [6] engi: ‘ein[...]’ B, ‘eịṇgị’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘æin[...](i)’(?) BRydberg, ‘ein(gi)’(?) BFJ;    þás: ‘þa[...]’ B, 399a‑bˣ, þá (er)(?) BRydberg, þá (e)r(?) BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 62: AI, 571, BI, 564, Skald I, 273, ; NN §3126; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 33, Kempff 1867, 19, Rydberg 1907, 31, Jón Helgason 1935-36, 262, Black 1971, 294, Attwood 1996a, 237.

Notes: [1-2] hvern helgan mann ‘every holy man’: That is, every saint. — [2-3] við ræsi ens sanna tírar ‘with the king of true glory’: A kenning-like periphrasis for Christ, probably based on Lat. rex gloriae ‘king of glory’. — [4] mér ‘to me’: As Kock (NN §3126) observes, the dat. sg. pers. pron. may be construed with either veita ‘to grant’ (l. 1) or leita ‘to seek’ (l. 4), giving either the prose order above or the intercalated phrase ek leita mér trús trausts ‘I am seeking certain protection for myself’. — [6] kost ‘circumstance’: Jón Helgason (1935-6, 262) objects to the ms. reading here, on the ground that kostr ‘condition, circumstance’ is usually only used of positive circumstances. He suggests an emendation to lǫst, acc. sing. of lǫstr m. ‘fault, flaw’. However, as Black (1971, 295) notes, Fritzner: kostr gives examples of the morally neutral meaning ‘situation, circumstance’, which is followed in the translation here. — [8] ástnenninn ‘love-disposed, -inclined’: B is quite clear at this point, and the reading is confirmed by all transcribers of the ms. Sveinbjörn Egilsson adopts this form, the m. nom. sg. of the hap. leg. adj. ástnenninn ‘love-disposed’ in his 1844 edn, but suggests emendation to a m. sg. acc. form ástnennin in a note in 444ˣ, which produces a prose rearrangement þás jǫfurr drengja vill krefja þenna ástnennin hal andar ‘when the prince of men will ask this love-disposed man for his soul’. This reading is adopted by Kempff. Ms. evidence apart, ástnenninn ‘love-disposed’, would seem more suitable as an appellation for the merciful Christ than for the sinful poet and his hearers in the context of this st.

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