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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 24VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 24’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 93-4.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

Hlaut af yðr sem aðrir
auðbrjótr meginskjóta,
láðs, þeirs lǫstum eyða,
líkn, skepjandi ríkis.
Sókndeili* hézt sælu,
sannvíss, paradísar,
— gæf reyndusk þau þjófi
þín heit — friðar veitir.

{Auðbrjótr} hlaut meginskjóta líkn af yðr, {skepjandi {ríkis láðs}}, sem aðrir, þeirs eyða lǫstum. {Sannvíss veitir friðar} hézt {sókndeili*} sælu paradísar; þau heit þín reyndusk þjófi gæf.

{The destroyer of riches} [GENEROUS MAN] received very swift mercy from you, {creator {of the kingdom of the land}} [EARTH > = God (= Christ)], like those others who leave off sins. {Truly certain giver of peace} [= God (= Christ)] you promised {the battle-dealer} [WARRIOR] the bliss of Paradise; those promises of yours proved beneficial to the thief.

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [1] aðrir: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘adr[...]’ B    [3] láðs: ‘ladr’ B    [4] ríkis: ríki B    [5] ‑deili*: ‘‑deilerr’ B;    zt: ‘he[...]’ B, ‘het’ 399a‑bˣ, BFJ, ‘h(æt)’(?) BRydberg

Editions: Skj AI, 565, Skj BI, 555, Skald I, 269; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 20-1, Kempff 1867, 7, Rydberg 1907, 24, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 257, Black 1971, 200, Attwood 1996a, 90-1, 227.

Notes: [3] láðs ‘of the land’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note to 444ˣ and 1844, 20 n. 30) suggested emendation to gen. láðs, which has been adopted by all subsequent eds. — [4] ríkis ‘of the kingdom’: In his prose arrangement in 444ˣ Sveinbjörn Egilsson retains B’s reading, ríki, which he takes to be the weak m. nom. sg. form of ríkr ‘powerful’, qualifying skepjandi. Kempff (1867, 37) also adopts this interpretation. There is no other example of the weak form of the adj. in such a vocative expression elsewhere in Has. In MIcel., too, the strong form is invariably used, as, for example, in such expressions as almáttigur guð ‘Almighty God’ or guð minn góður ‘my good God’. This edn therefore follows Finnur Jónsson in taking the ms.’s ‘ríki’ to represent ríki n. ‘kingdom, empire’ and emends to ríkis, governed by skepjandi (l. 4). Although there is not an exact parallel to the resultant earth-kenning láðs ríki (LP: ríki), a similar concept is found in common expressions like himinríki ‘kingdom of heaven’ and in the God-kenning konungr fróns ‘king of earth’ in Líkn 33/1-2, and there is no difficulty in characterising God as the creator (skepjandi) of either heaven or earth. — [5] sókndeili* (dat. sg.) ‘the battle-dealer’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note to 444ˣ and 1844, 21 n. 31) first proposed this emendation of B’s sókndeilir, which has been followed by all subsequent eds. — [5] zt ‘you promised’: This edn follows Jón Helgason (1935-6, 257) in taking veitir friðar ‘giver of peace’ as vocative, rather than as the subject of the verb heita, and reconstructs to hézt 2nd pers. sg. pret. of heita ‘to promise’, rather than the 3rd sg. hét. This arrangement makes for a better parallel with the first helmingr, where the appellation – as commonly in Has – is again vocative. — [6] paradísar ‘of paradise’: The first occurrence of this loan word in skaldic poetry (see LP: paradís). — [8] þín heit friðar veitir: A strikingly similar l. – sín heit friðar veitir – occurs at Pl 31/8.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. 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.
  4. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  5. Black, Elizabeth L. 1971. ‘Harmsól: an edition’. B. Litt. thesis. University of Oxford.
  6. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Jón Helgason. 1935-6. ‘Til skjaldedigtningen’. APS 10, 250-64.
  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. George S. Tate (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Líknarbraut 33’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 264-6.
  12. Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Plácitusdrápa 31’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 200-1.
  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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