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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 42VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 42’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 109-10.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

text and translation

Ungr skyldi þat ǫldu
eyktemjandi fremja,
gífrs es gǫmlum hœfir
gunntjalds boða at halda.
Trauð verðr hǫnd, en hlýða
hrynvengis má engum
Gaut, nema gǫr verk bœti,
grundar mens, af venju.

{{Ungr eyk}temjandi ǫldu} skyldi fremja þat es hœfir {gǫmlum boða {gífrs {gunntjalds}}} at halda. Hǫnd verðr trauð, en {engum Gaut {hrynvengis {mens grundar}}} má hlýða, nema bœti verk gǫr af venju.
‘A young tamer of the horse of the wave [(lit. ‘horse-tamer of the wave’) SHIP > SEAFARER] should do what it befits an old messenger of the troll-wife of the battle-tent [SHIELD > AXE > WARRIOR] to keep doing. The hand becomes unwilling, but no Gautr <= Óðinn> of the ringing-land of the necklace of the earth [= Miðgarðsormr > GOLD > MAN] may be saved, unless he makes reparation for deeds done out of habit.

notes and context

Gamli’s injunction to his younger hearers recalls his confession of his own early sins in st. 7. The tone is reminiscent of Solomon’s advice to his son in Eccl. XII.1 memento creatoris tui in diebis iuventutis tuae antequam veniat tempus adflictionis et adpropinquent anni de quibus dicas non mihi placent ‘remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the time of affliction come, and the years draw nigh of which thou shalt say: They please me not’.



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 42: AI, 568, BI, 559, Skald I, 271; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 26, Kempff 1867, 13, Rydberg 1907, 27, Black 1971, 244, Attwood 1996a, 232.


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