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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, 78-80

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Gamlkan Has 7VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 7’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 78-80.

Ungr vǫndumk ek, yngvi,
opt djarf*liga at hvarfa,
(lítt gáðak þá) þjóðar,
(þín) ept vilja mínum.
Enn snørak jafnan inni,
illt ráð þás mik villti,
dýrðhittandi dróttinn
dáðrakkr, við þér hnakka.

{Yngvi þjóðar}, ungr vǫndumk ek opt djarf*liga at hvarfa ept mínum vilja; gáðak þá þín lítt. Enn snørak jafnan inni hnakka við þér, dáðrakkr dýrðhittandi dróttinn, þás illt ráð villti mik.

{Prince of the people} [= God], as a young man I often presumptuously developed the habit of wandering according to my desire; I paid you little heed then. Further I always turned my back on you inwardly, deed-bold, glory-finding Lord, when evil counsel led my heart astray.

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] djarf*liga: ‘erfilega’ B;    hvarfa: hverfa B    [3] gáðak (‘gáði ek’): so 399a‑bˣ, ‘ga[...]ek’ B, ‘ga(...)æk’(?) BRydberg, ‘ga(da) ek’(?) BFJ    [5] inni: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]ne’ B

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 7: AI, 563, BI, 550, Skald I, 267, NN §2928; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 15, Kempff 1867, 2, Rydberg 1907, 21, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 253-4, Black 1971, 153, Attwood 1996a, 223.

Notes: [All]: Repentance for sins committed in youth is a common feature of biblical confessions. Job, for example, mentions the possibility that his sufferings are intended as a punishment for youthful sins: scribis enim contra me amaritudines et consumere me vis peccatis adulescentiae meae ‘for thou writest bitter things against me, and wilt consume me for the sins of my youth’ (Job XIII.26). Perhaps a more likely source for Gamli’s inspiration is the Penitential Psalm XXIV, which contains the verse delicta iuventutis meae et ignorantias meas ne memineris secundum misericordiam tuam memento mei tu; propter bonitatem tuam Domine ‘the sins of my youth and my ignorances do not remember. According to thy mercy remember thou me: for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord’ (Ps. XXIV.7). — [1] yngvi: B’s text reads ‘yng’ with a superscript ‘i’ above the ‘g’, which may be understood as either yngvi or yngri. Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) understood it as yngvi, which makes sense in context, while Sveinbjörn Egilsson read yngri, which he emended to yngvi (note in 444ˣ and 1844 edn). — [2] djarf*liga ‘boldly, presumptuously’: It is not possible to make sense of B’s reading opt erfiliga ‘often with difficulty’ in this context, and various suggestions for emendation have been made. Finnur Jónsson modifies Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s ofderfilega (1844, adopted by Kempff 1867, 2) to ofderfil*a, hap. leg., which he glosses dristigt ‘boldly, audaciously’ (LP). Kock (NN §2928) suggests ofherfliga ‘very wickedly’, comparing Gamli’s confession of sinful behaviour in 53/3-4 þótt atferðin ór yrði stórum herfilig ‘even though my behaviour were to become very shameful’. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 253-4) observes that the poet often uses phrases with opt, and suggests a further emendation of Finnur’s text to opt derfila ‘often presumptuously’. Since derfila is not otherwise attested, he makes two alternative suggestions: óþerfila ‘useless, inconvenient’ and opt djarfliga ‘often presumptuously’. Although emendation to opt djarfliga necessitates a further emendation, to hvarfa, to satisfy the aðalhending in l. 2, this edn, with Black (1971, 154), follows Jón’s suggestion, on the ground that it preserves B’s opt. — [7] dýrðhittandi dróttinn ‘glory-finding Lord’: Cf. Anon Pl 18/1, where the epithet dýrðhittir ‘glory-finder’, used of Plácitus, alliterates with dróttinn. Although neither dýrðhittir nor dýrðhittandi is attested elsewhere, LP: dýrðhittir compares dáðhittir ‘finder of [good] deeds’, which is used of Bishop Páll Jónsson by ÁmÁrn Lv 3/1IV (see also Attwood 1996b, 227). Once again, the alliteration is with dróttinn. With Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), Kock (NN §2929), Kempff (1867, 26), Rydberg (1907, xxvi) and Sveinbjǫrn Egilsson (444ˣ) this edn takes dýrðhittandi as adjectival, paralleling dáðrakkr and qualifying dróttinn. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 254) objects to this interpretation on the grounds that dýrðhittir is not ‘a suitable expression’ for God and that, in Pl, the epithet denotes Plácitus, not God. Jón therefore emends dróttinn to drótta, gen. pl. of drótt ‘people, company’, asserting that dróttinn is a straightforward scribal error. Dýrðhittandi drótta is understood to mean ‘people who attain blessedness’, and is construed with an emended sinnir in l. 5, to give the God-kenning dáðrakkr sinnir dýrðhittandi drótta ‘valiant helper of men who are striving for glory’. Jón has, however, overlooked the epithet dýrðargjarn ‘glory-eager’ (st. 34/4), which is an exact parallel for dýrðhittandi.

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