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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 20 May 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 131-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

65 — Gamlkan Has 65VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 65’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 131-2.

Án lát engan þína,
angrlestandi, mesta
mann — deilir þat máli
miskunn, jǫfurr sunnu.
Vǫrðr, laða skatna skírða,
skýtjalds, saman alla,
ítr, þars aldri þrjóti
unaðsgnótt ok frið, dróttinn.—

Lát engan mann án mesta miskunn þína, {angrlestandi jǫfurr sunnu}; þat deilir máli. Ítr dróttinn, {vǫrðr {skýtjalds}}, laða saman alla skírða skatna, þars aldri þrjóti unaðsgnótt ok frið.

Let no man [be] without your very great mercy, {sorrow-injuring prince of the sun} [= God (= Christ)]; that is of prime importance. Glorious Lord, {warden {of the cloud-tent}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God], invite together all baptised men, to where an abundance of happiness and peace will never end.

Mss: B(13v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] engan (‘o᷎nnguan’): so 399a‑bˣ, ‘o᷎nngua[...]’ B    [2] angrlestandi: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘anngrlestan[...]e’ B    [8] frið dróttinn: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘fri[...]rotinn’ B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 65: AI, 572, BI, 565, Skald I, 274; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 34, Kempff 1867, 20, Konráð Gíslason 1897, 253-4, Rydberg 1907, 32, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 262, Black 1971, 301, Attwood 1996a, 238.

Notes: [2-3]: Jón Helgason (1935-6, 262) expands B’s ‘mn’ (l. 3) to menn (acc. pl.) and assumes the intercalated phrase to be þat deilir menn mestu máli, taking þat deilir máli to mean ‘that settles the case, is of importance’. This requires emendation of the ms.’s mesta to mestu ‘great’, to agree with máli dat. sg. Although the intercalated phrase often encompasses the third l. of a helmingr in its entirety (as at 8/3, 17/3, 22/3 and 35/3), it does not always do so (cf., e.g., 61/3). The ms. reading mesta may be preserved here by taking it as qualifying miskunn ‘mercy’ (l. 4) and, in agreement with Sveinbjörn Egilsson, Finnur Jónsson and Black, expanding ‘mn’ to mann, and construing this as part of the main cl. — [4] miskunn, jǫfurr sunnu: The identical l. occurs at Leið 42/6. These are the only occurrences of the Christ-kenning jǫfurr sunnu ‘prince of the sun’, but the symbolic equation of God with the sun and Christ as the sun’s rays is central to Geisl (see Chase 2005, 21-5). — [6] skýtjalds saman alla: The tjalds : alla rhyme is dubious in a poem purporting to date from before C13th and is, indeed, one of the late linguistic features which led Finnur Jónsson (LH II, 115) to suggest that the poem can hardly be older than from c. 1200, if the reading does not involve error. Konráð Gíslason (and Eiríkur Jónsson 1875-89, II, 253-4) suggests that the original reading was skýstalls, gen. sg. of skýstallr m. ‘pedestal, altar of the sky’, but that a later copyist substituted tjalds. Rydberg (1907, lxvi) agrees that stallr, which is used by Gamli at 29/8 and 35/5, would fit well with vǫrðr ‘warden, guardian’ (l. 5). Jón Helgason (1935-6, 262) suggests that alla should be emended to alda, gen. pl. of ǫld f. ‘people’, the kenning skýtjalds aldir ‘people of the tent of cloud’ being a reference to the blessed, whose vǫrðr ‘guardian’ is God. The B scribe, however, has correctly rendered skýstalls in 29/8, where there is a full rhyme with allri. The tjald : alla rhyme again occurs in a strikingly similar l. in Líkn 25/4, heiðtjalds saman alla. As Kock (NN §2328) points out, the pronunciation of lds as lls can be exemplified from slightly later verse (Játg Lv 1/2II, Sturl Hákkv 18/5II) and a similar process accounts for the aðalhendingar vindsamt : finna in Halli XI Fl 3/8II (Skj B emends to vinnsamt here), considerably earlier than Gamli. This edn therefore follows Kock in assuming that tjalds : alla is an acceptable full rhyme, and retains the ms. reading.

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