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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 21VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 21’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 21-2.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

Endr vast barðr ok bundinn,
buðlungr, meginþungar,
hlýrnis elds, af hǫldum,
hár, fyr sekðir várar.
Enn lézt, ǫldu runna
angrstríðir, þik síðan,
viggs, meðal vándra seggja,
vegligr, á tré negla.

Endr vast barðr ok bundinn af hǫldum fyr várar meginþungar sekðir, {hár buðlungr {elds hlýrnis}}. Enn lézt síðan negla þik á tré meðal vándra seggja, {vegligr angrstríðir {runna {viggs ǫldu}}}.

Once you were beaten and bound by men because of our very heavy sins, {high king {of the fire of the sky}} [SUN > = God (= Christ)]. Further you allowed yourself afterwards to be nailed to a tree between wicked men, {magnificent sin-fighter {of the trees {of the steed of the wave}}} [SHIP > SEAFARERS > = God (= Christ)].

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [2] buðlungr: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...]udlu[...]’ B    [5] runna: ‘ru[...]a’ B, ‘runa’ 399a‑bˣ, runna BRydberg, BFJ    [6] angr‑: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘an[...]’ B

Editions: Skj AI, 565, Skj BI, 553, Skald I, 268; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 19-20, Kempff 1867, 6-7, Rydberg 1907, 24, Black 1971, 193, Attwood 1996a, 227.

Notes: [All]: This st. represents the thematic centre of the poem, and introduces a haunting evocation of, and meditation on, the Crucifixion (sts 21-7), which focusses on Christ’s merciful response to the penitent thief. Gamli’s mastery and manipulation of the skaldic genre is clear as he simplifies both his diction and his w.o. from this point to exploit the full pathos of the scene in a stark narrative reproduced almost verbatim from the account of the Passion in the Gospel of Luke. As Fidjestøl (1993, 223) points out, Has is very carefully structured, and st. 21 is the beginning of the 25-st. stefjabálkr, which carries the central meditation, in contrast to the surrounding sermon material. — [1] barðr ok bundinn ‘beaten and bound’: This theme is also present in Líkn’s account of the Crucifixion (15/7-8): píndr var hann berr ok bundinn barðr ‘bare he was tortured and beaten bound’. — [7] meðal vándra seggja ‘between wicked men’: The homiletic nature of the language is confirmed by comparison with the phraseology of HómÍsl’s Passio Domini sermon: Cristr lét sér sóma at deyia meþal vandra manna ‘Christ made it fitting for himself to die between wicked men’ (HómÍsl 1872, 68).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  4. Black, Elizabeth L. 1971. ‘Harmsól: an edition’. B. Litt. thesis. University of Oxford.
  5. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. HómÍsl 1872 = Wisén, Theodor, ed. 1872. Homiliu-bók: Isländska homilier efter en handskrift från tolfte århundredet. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. HómÍsl = Íslensk hómilíubók (The Icelandic Homily Book).
  8. Kempff, Hjalmar, ed. 1867. Kaniken Gamles ‘Harmsól’ (Sol i Sorgen): isländskt andligt qväde från medeltiden med öfversättning och förklaringar. Uppsala: Edquist & Berglund.
  9. 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.
  10. Internal references
  11. Not published: do not cite (DplV)
  12. George S. Tate 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Líknarbraut’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 228-86.
  13. Katrina Attwood 2007, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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