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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 14VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 14’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 86-7.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól
131415

Hendak hverjar stundir,
Hlakkar borðs, es þorðak,
miskaráð fyr meiðum,
minn lífgjafi, at vinna.
Miðr óttuðumk yðra*
ósjaldan, gramr tjalda,
— því vasa hagskipt — hyrjar
heiðs, an gumna reiði.

Hendak hverjar stundir, es þorðak at vinna miskaráð fyr {meiðum {Hlakkar borðs}}, {lífgjafi minn}. Ósjaldan óttuðumk miðr yðra* reiði an gumna, {gramr {tjalda {hyrjar heiðs}}}; því vasa hagskipt.

I seized on all the times when I dared to commit misdeeds before {trees {of Hlǫkk’s <valkyrie> board}} [SHIELD > WARRIORS], {my life-giver} [= God]. Not seldom I feared your wrath less than men’s, {king {of the tents {of the fire of the clear sky}}} [SUN > SKY/HEAVEN > = God]; in that regard it was not a fair exchange.

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [5] yðra*: ‘ydrar’ B    [7] hagskipt: ‘h[...]g[...]ppt’ B, ‘hagṣḷẹppt’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘hag s(l)[...]pt’(?) BRydberg, ‘hagsleppt’ BFJ

Editions: Skj AI, 564, Skj BI, 552, Skald I, 267, NN §§2089, 2926; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 17, Kempff 1867, 5, Rydberg 1907, 22-3, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 255, Black 1971, 175, Attwood 1996a, 225.

Notes: [5] yðra* ‘your’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note to 444ˣ transcript) suggests emendation of B’s ‘ydrar’ to yðra, which has been accepted by all subsequent eds. — [7] hagskipt ‘a fair exchange’: B is very badly worn, and only ‘h[...]g[…]ppt’ can now be read with certainty. Although Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) does not indicate any uncertainty about his reading, previous transcribers of B are uncertain as to precisely what remains (see Readings). Skj B follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Kempff in reconstructing hagslept, from hagsleppr, adj. There are, however, some difficulties in assigning a meaning to hagsleppr here. Sveinbjörn (LP (1860)) suggests two possibilities: the first interprets hagsleppr as a cpd of hagr ‘state, condition’ and an adj. derived from the verb sleppa ‘to slip, miss, escape’. The n. form hagslept is glossed as amissio commodi ‘loss of advantage, profit’. The cl. því vasa hagslept would then mean ‘for that reason there was no loss of advantage’. For this to make sense in context, it would surely have to be understood ironically. Sveinbjörn’s second suggestion is that the adj. means ‘easily thrown away, abandoned’, with the sense that Gamli is declaring that he could not easily abandon his godless ways. In Skj B, Finnur Jónsson translates det kunde jeg ikke let holde op med ‘I could not easily stop that’, while LP: hagsleppr, gesturing towards hagr ‘advantage’, suggests det kunde jeg ikke med fordel slippe ‘I could not escape that with advantage’. Although this is a possible interpretation, it does seem, as Jón Helgason (1935-6, 255) contends, to be the opposite of Gamli’s intention here, since the sinner’s neglect of God’s anger in favour of men’s approval can only be to his advantage, at least in the short term. Jón therefore reconstructs hagskipt, which he derives from hagskipti ‘a fair or advantageous exchange’. Jón’s interpretation, which is followed by Kock (NN §2926), Black (1971, 176) and here, implies that the poet’s exchanging his concern for God’s wrath for a greater concern for men’s approval is not profitable for his soul.

References

  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  8. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  9. Black, Elizabeth L. 1971. ‘Harmsól: an edition’. B. Litt. thesis. University of Oxford.
  10. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Jón Helgason. 1935-6. ‘Til skjaldedigtningen’. APS 10, 250-64.
  12. Kempff, Hjalmar, ed. 1867. Kaniken Gamles ‘Harmsól’ (Sol i Sorgen): isländskt andligt qväde från medeltiden med öfversättning och förklaringar. Uppsala: Edquist & Berglund.
  13. Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1844. Fjøgur gømul kvæði. Boðsrit til að hlusta á þá opinberu yfirheyrslu í Bessastaða Skóla þann 22-29 mai 1844. Viðeyar Klaustri: prentuð af Helga Helgasyni, á kostnað Bessastaða Skóla. Bessastaðir: Helgi Helgason.
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