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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 15VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 15’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 87.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

Hétk opt fyr lið láta
lasta verk til fasta
þér, en þekkjask dýrar,
þeyláðs konungr, dáðir.
Enn snørumk ey til minna
aptr, landreki krapta,
(esa vanði sá) synða
(sjaldreyndr kyni aldar).

Hétk þér opt til fasta láta lasta verk fyr lið, en þekkjask dýrar dáðir, {konungr {þeyláðs}}. Enn snørumk ey aptr til minna synða, {landreki krapta}; sá vanði esa sjaldreyndr {kyni aldar}.

I often promised you firmly to lay sinful acts [lit. acts of vices] aside and be content with good deeds, {king {of the thawing wind’s land}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God]. I always again turned back to my sins, {land-governor of powers} [= God]; that custom is not infrequently tested {by the kinsfolk of men} [MANKIND].

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] lasta: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘l[...]sta’ B    [3] þekkjask: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘þ[...]’ B    [7] synða: ‘sy[...]’ B, ‘synnḍạ’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘sy(nn)[...]’(?) BRydberg, ‘syn(da)’(?) BFJ

Editions: Skj AI, 564, Skj BI, 552, Skald I, 268, NN §§2070, 2338B, 3125, 3242; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 18, Kempff 1867, 5, Rydberg 1907, 23, Black 1971, 178, Attwood 1996a, 225.

Notes: [1] láta fyr lið ‘to lay aside’: Kock (NN §3242) cites several examples of this phrase in Fritzner: hlið 2, and compares the German and English equivalents ‘beseitigen’ and ‘to put aside’. He concludes that lið here is likely to be a variant of hlið ‘side’ (on the loss of initial <h>, see ANG §289). Finnur Jónsson’s interpretative translation at opgive lastefulde gærninger ‘to give up sinful deeds’ seems to anticipate Kock here. — [6] landreki krapta ‘land-governor of powers [= God]’: Kempff (1867, 31) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) take kraptr to mean ‘a work of power, a miracle’ (so Fritzner: kraptr 3), and take the kenning to mean ‘king of miracles’. Kock (NN §§3073, 3125) suggests that krapta is gen. pl. of kraptr ‘supernatural power’, here, by extension, ‘the heavenly host’. In NN §2134, he compares the God-kenning stýrir engla in Pl 25/1, and the biblical Dominus Sabaoth (Rom. IX.29 and passim).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  6. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  7. Black, Elizabeth L. 1971. ‘Harmsól: an edition’. B. Litt. thesis. University of Oxford.
  8. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  9. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  10. Kempff, Hjalmar, ed. 1867. Kaniken Gamles ‘Harmsól’ (Sol i Sorgen): isländskt andligt qväde från medeltiden med öfversättning och förklaringar. Uppsala: Edquist & Berglund.
  11. 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.
  12. Internal references
  13. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Máríudrápa 2’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 480.
  14. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Drápa af Máríugrát 44’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 790.
  15. Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Plácitusdrápa 25’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 197.

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