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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 20VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 20’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 90-1.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

text and translation

Skjǫldungi róm skyldir
skýja tjalds ok aldar
greitt, sem gǫfgast mætti,
grandlausum stef vanda.
Ern skóp hauðr ok hlýrni
heims valdr sem kyn beima;
ǫrrs ok ǫllu dýrri
élsetrs konungr betri.

Róm skyldir vanda greitt stef, sem gǫfgast mætti, {grandlausum skjǫldungi {tjalds skýja}} ok aldar. {Ern valdr heims} skóp hauðr ok hlýrni sem {kyn beima}; {ǫrr konungr {élsetrs}} [e]s ǫllu betri ok dýrri.
‘We are [I am] obliged to fashion a free-flowing refrain, as excellent as may [be], for the sinless prince of the tent of the clouds [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)] and of mankind. The powerful ruler of the world [= God] created earth and heaven as well as the kinsfolk of men [MANKIND]; the generous king of the storm-seat [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] is better and more precious than all.

notes and context

[5-8]: That this is the refrain (stef) is indicated by an obelos in the left-hand margin (fol. 12v, l. 31). The first couplet of the refrain is similar in both sense and sound-structure to the opening of the second Leið refrain (25/5-6), which reads: Gramr skóp hauðr ok himna | hreggranns sem kyn seggja ‘the king of the gale-house made land and skies, as well as the race of men’. Lines 7-8 recall the final couplet of the first refrain in Leið (13/7-8): Einn er siklingr sunnu | setrs hvívetna betri ‘the king of the seat of the sun is alone better than everything else’. The sense of the couplets is identical, and both feature a cpd Christ-kenning including a heaven-kenning with the base-word setr. Both also exploit the setrs : betri rhyme.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 20: AI, 565, BI, 553, Skald I, 268, NN §2932; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 19, Kempff 1867, 6, Rydberg 1907, 23-4, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 257, Black 1971, 190, Attwood 1996a, 226.


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