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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, 80

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — Gamlkan Has 8VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 80.

Oflǫskvan hǫfum œsku
aldr várn spanit sjaldan
— barkat blóm á verkum
bráðgǫrt — frá ódôðum,
ítr, þás opt á móti
ófríð risu blíðum,
mærðvinnandi manna,
mín verk boðum þínum.

Hǫfum sjaldan spanit várn oflǫskvan aldr œsku frá ódôðum — barkat bráðgǫrt blóm á verkum —, þás ófríð verk mín risu opt á móti þínum blíðum boðum, {ítr mærðvinnandi manna}.

We [I] have rarely enticed our [my] lazy age of youth away from misdeeds — I did not bear easily ripened fruit on account of my deeds —, when my ugly deeds often rose against your friendly commands, {glorious praise-winner of men} [= God].

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] hǫfum: ‘ho᷎f’ B    [2] sjaldan: so 399a‑bˣ, BRydberg, BFJ, ‘sialld[...]’ B    [3] blóm: ‘bl[...]’ B, ‘blọma’(?) 399a‑bˣ, (blom)(?) BRydberg, blom BFJ    [8] verk boðum þínum: ‘v[...]odum[...]’ B, ‘vẹṛḳ boðum þịṇụṃ’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘væ(rk) (b)odum (þi)[...]’(?) BRydberg, ‘ve(rk) bodum þ(inum)’(?) BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 8: AI, 563, BI, 550, Skald I, 267; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 15, Kempff 1867, 3, Rydberg 1907, 21-2, Black 1971, 157, Attwood 1996a, 223.

Notes: [1] hǫfum ‘we [I] have’: B reads ‘ho᷎f’, Rydberg (1907, 21 n. 11) noting the possible presence of a nasal stroke over ‘f’, and Skj A presuming its existence. 399a-bˣ, followed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Kempff, interprets the sign as an accent. Skj A suggests reconstruction to hǫfum, which is adopted by Skald, Black and here. — [3-4] barkat bráðgǫrt blóm á verkum ‘I did not bear easily ripened fruit on account of [my] deeds’: Finnur Jónsson emends B’s á (l. 3) to af and translates jeg høstede ikke tidlig modnet frugt af mine gærninger ‘I did not harvest early ripened fruit from my deeds’ (Skj B), though he indicates his uncertainty with a question mark. Jón Helgason’s interpretation, jeg bar ikke tidlig blomst paa mine gerninger [det vil sige] mine ungdomsgerninger var ikke skønne ‘I did not bear early flower on account of my deeds [that is to say] the deeds of my youth were not pretty’ (1935-6, 254) may be the more correct. There appears to be no direct source for the expression, though it is possible that the parable of the trees and fruit in Matt. VII.16-20 may have influenced Gamli’s thought here.

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