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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 29VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 29’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 97-8.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

text and translation

Leitt í lopt upp, dróttinn
— litu gǫrla þat vitrir —
himins fylgjandi, helgu
holdi skrýddr, af foldu.
Áðr trúir ǫld ok síðan
aldýran þik stýra,
skríngeypnandi, skepnu,
skýstalls, sælu allri.

{Fylgjandi dróttinn himins}, leitt í lopt upp af foldu, skrýddr helgu holdi; vitrir litu þat gǫrla. {{{Skýstalls} skrín} geypnandi}, ǫld trúir áðr ok síðan þik aldýran stýra allri sælu skepnu.
‘Helping lord of heaven [= Christ], you rose up into the sky from earth, clothed with holy flesh; wise men saw that clearly. Holder of the shrine of the cloud-platform [(lit. ‘cloud-platform’s shrine-holder’) SKY/HEAVEN > SUN > = God (= Christ)], mankind believes, before and since, that you, altogether glorious, govern all the bliss of creation.

notes and context

[1-4]: There have been various attempts to interpret this helmingr. Kempff (1867, 41) follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson (prose arrangement in 444ˣ) in taking vitrar from vitr ‘wise’. They construe this with fylgjandi (l. 3) to give the phrase fylgjandi vitrar ‘wise followers’, which Kempff interprets as a reference to the Apostles, who witnessed the Ascension. Finnur Jónsson appears to take fylgjandi as pres. part. of fylgja ‘to accompany’, adjectival in force, amplifying skrýddr in the expression skrýddr, fylgjandi helgu holdi, which he translates forklaret følgende dit hellige legeme ‘transfigured (or glorified) following your holy body’ (Skj B). As Kock (NN §2111) objects, Finnur’s meaning is elusive. Kock quotes parallels from Líkn and Lil (see following Note) in support of his reading of skrýddr helgu holdi ‘clothed with your holy flesh’ as a logical unit, and construes fylgjandi (which he translated as ‘helping’) as part of the God-kenning fylgjandi dróttinn himins ‘helping lord of heaven’. Black (1971, 213) adopts this arrangement, translating fylgjandi as ‘gracious’, an attempt to characterise the nature of Christ’s ‘help’. For uses of fylgja to mean ‘help, assist, show kindness’, which are by no means unusual, see Fritzner: fylgja. Kock’s interpretation has been followed here, although it and that in Skj B also require emendation to vitrir nom. pl. in l. 2. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 254) suggests that B’s ‘drotte…’ (l. 1) should be reconstructed dróttir nom. pl. of drótt ‘people’, which may be construed with B’s reading vitrar ‘wise’ (l. 2). This has the advantage of avoiding the need to emend in l. 2, but leaves a Christ-kenning, fylgjandi himins, where fylgjandi (pres. part.) has to function as a noun.



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 29: AI, 566, BI, 555-6, Skald I, 269, NN §2111; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 22, Kempff 1867, 9, Rydberg 1907, 25, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 254, Black 1971, 213, Attwood 1996a, 229.


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