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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 37VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 37’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 105-6.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

text and translation

Gumar líta þá gæti
— gengr allt við kjǫr drengjum
heilags Krists — í hæstum
himinljóma guðdómi.
Oss skyldi sú aldri
unaðsgnótt fira dróttins
— þars ǫrsløngvi engum
angrsamt — ór hug ganga.

Gumar líta þá {gæti {himinljóma}} í hæstum guðdómi; allt gengr drengjum við kjǫr heilags Krists. Sú unaðsgnótt {fira dróttins} skyldi aldri ganga oss ór hug; þars {engum ǫrsløngvi} angrsamt.
‘Men will look then upon the guardian of the light of heaven [SUN > = God (= Christ)] in his highest Godhead; everything will go for men according to the decision of holy Christ. That abundant bliss [lit. bliss of abundance] of the men of the Lord [CHRISTIAN PEOPLE] should never pass out of our minds; no arrow-slinger [MAN] is sorrowful there.

notes and context

[1-4]: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) construes gumar líta þá gæti himinljóma í hæstum guðdómi heilags Krists; alt gengr drengjum við kør, which he translates mændene vil da se himmelglansens vogter i den hellige Kristus’ höjeste guddom; alt vil gå mændene efter ønske ‘men will then see the guardian of the light of heaven in the highest Godhead of the holy Christ; everything will go for men according to their wishes’. Despite the objections of Kock (NN §2926) and Black (1971, 235) that this is theologically untenable, Finnur may have meant only that good Christians will have their wish, to live in bliss. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 252) follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Kempff in arranging alt gengr drengjum heilags Krists við kjǫr ‘everything goes for the men of holy Christ according to choice’, suggesting that both drengjum heilags Krists ‘the men of holy Christ’ and dróttins fira ‘men of the lord’ refer to the chosen, that is, the saved. This arrangement is adopted by both Kock and Black. However, a more powerful argument is for kjǫr ‘choice, decision’ to be understood with heilags Krists to refer to Christ’s role in deciding whether the souls of the dead are saved and allowed to enter heaven or damned, as described in st. 38. This interpretation has the support of John V.22 and the Apostles’ Creed, which state that Christ is appointed to judge mankind: neque enim Pater iudicat quemquam sed iudicium omne dedit Filio ‘for neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgement to the Son’ (John V.22); Credo in Jesum Christum ... inde venturus (est) judicare vivos et mortuos ‘I believe in Jesus Christ ... thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead’ (Apostles’ Creed). — [5-8]: This helmingr is very similar to Leið 35/5-8, which also concerns the Second Coming.



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 37: AI, 567, BI, 557-8, Skald I, 270, NN §2926; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 25, Kempff 1867, 11, Rydberg 1907, 26, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 252, Black 1971, 234, Attwood 1996a, 230.


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