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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, 81-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Gamlkan Has 9VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 9’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 81-2.

Gerðak opt í orðum,
eljunsterkr, sem verkum,
hreggs bjartloga, ok hyggju,
hróts, í gǫgn þér, dróttinn.
Þræll hefr þinn í allan
þann, lífgjafi manna,
ófs grǫndugrar andar
ástsnauðr hratat dauða.

Gerðak opt í gǫgn þér í orðum, sem verkum ok hyggju, {eljunsterkr dróttinn {bjartloga {hróts hreggs}}}. {Lífgjafi manna}, ástsnauðr þræll þinn hefr hratat í allan þann dauða ófs grǫndugrar andar.

I often acted against you in words, as in deeds and thought, {energy-strong lord {of the bright flame {of the roof of the storm}}} [SKY/HEAVEN > SUN > = God]; {lifegiver of men} [= God], your love-bereft servant has stumbled into the total death of an excessively sinful soul.

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [4] þér: ‘[...]’ B, þ(ér)(?) 399a‑bˣ    [6] lífgjafi: lífgjafa B    [7] ófs: oss B    [8] ástsnauðr: ‘asts[...]udr’ B, ‘astsnạudr’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘ast s[...](a)udr’(?) BRydberg, ‘ast s(n)audr’ BFJ;    dauða: ‘da[...]’ B, ‘dau(da)’(?) 399a‑bˣ, ‘da(uda)’ BRydberg, ‘da(u)da’ BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 9: AI, 563, BI, 550-1, Skald I, 267; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 16, Kempff 1867, 3, Rydberg 1907, 22, Black 1971, 160, Attwood 1996a, 224.

Notes: [1-4] gerðak opt í gǫgn þér í orðum, sem verkum ok hyggju ‘I often acted against you in words, as in deeds and thought’: Confession of sins in thought, word and deed is an article of the Confiteor: Confiteor Deo omnipotenti … quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opera, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa ‘I confess to almighty God … that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault’ (Lefebure 1924, 7). Gamli’s re-ordering of the articles of confession, which is required by the alliterative demands of his st., informs the subject-matter of the three following sts: in st. 10, he confesses to swearing oaths, a sin ‘in word’, st. 11 concerns his sins ‘in deed’, and st. 12 his sinful thoughts, which rendered him technically unfit to take part in the Eucharist. — [5] þræll þinn ‘your servant’: The figure of the Christian as God’s servant or slave has its origin in Rom. VI.22 nunc vero liberati a peccato servi autem facti Deo habetis fructum vestrum in sanctificationem finem vero vitam aeternam ‘but now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting’. It occurs several times in ON-Icel. Christian poetry. By far the most famous use is in the so-called ‘death-song’ of Kolbeinn Tumason (d. 1208), the first st. of which ends with the couplet ek em þrællinn þinn, | þú’st dróttinn minn ‘I am your servant, you are my master’ (Kolb Lv 8/7-8IV). In Geisl 61/8, S. Óláfr is referred to as goðs þræll ‘God’s servant’, while men are called þrælar konungs fróns ‘servants of the king of the land’ in Líkn 33/1-2. Gamli repeats this concept in 10/3 and 58/8. — [6] lífgjafi ‘lifegiver’: It has not been possible to make sense of B’s reading lífgjafa. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note in 444ˣ transcript and 1844 edn) suggested emendation to lífgjafi, nom., which has been adopted by all subsequent eds. — [7] ófs ‘excessively’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note in 444ˣ transcript and 1844 edn) suggested emendation to ófs, adverbial gen., which has been adopted by all subsequent eds. — [8]: B is very badly worn, and the 399a-bˣ transcriber was unable to make complete sense of either the first or last word. That his reconstruction is correct is confirmed by the auð-aðalhending, of which sufficient traces remain.

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