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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
414243

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.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [6] hrynvengis: ‘hrǫn[...]engiss’ B, ‘hro᷎nvengiss’ 399a‑bˣ    [8] af: á B

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

Notes: [All]: 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’. — [3] gífr ‘hag, troll-woman’: Commonly used as a heiti for a troll or, more often, a trollwife (see Vsp 52/6). By extension, gífr is often used, as here, to convey the notion of ‘enemy’, ‘danger’ or ‘bane’ and is frequently the base-word of kennings for the battle-axe (see LP: gífr). — [4] gunntjalds ‘of the battle-tent [SHIELD]’: Cf. 41/4. The cpd also occurs in Sturl Hrafn 20/4II. — [6] hrynvengis ‘of the ringing-land [GOLD]’: 399a-bˣ is certain that B’s reading (now worn) was ‘hro᷎nvengis’ ‘of the wave-land [SEA]’. It is difficult to make sense of this cpd here, and this edn follows all others in adopting Kempff’s emendation (1867, 49) to hrynvengis, giving the cpd hrynvengi ‘resounding, ringing land’, which, with a determinant denoting a serpent (here the Miðgarðsormr or World-Serpent) means ‘gold’. Such kennings refer to legendary dragons lying on gold to guard it; cf. RvHbreiðm Hl 36/4III hrynvengi sefþvengjar ‘ringing-land of the sedge-thong [SERPENT > GOLD]’. — [7-8] gǫr af venju ‘done out of habit’: Here this phrase is taken with the cl. nema bœti verk ‘unless he makes reparation’. Other eds (Skj B, Skald) take it with hǫnd verðr trauð ‘the hand becomes unwilling out of habit’ (l. 5), and this interpretation is also possible. It suggests that, because it is difficult to break a habit, one should begin to perform good deeds while young. — [8] mens grundar ‘of the necklace of the earth [= Miðgarðsormr]’: Finnur Jónsson offers two possible interpretations in LP. In the entry on grund, this phrase is listed among the kennings for ‘sea’, presumably based on the assumption of ON myth that the round earth was encircled by the sea. In this case it is difficult to understand what might be meant by the sea’s hrynvengi ‘ringing land’. In the entry on hrynvengi, the translation slangens klingende land ‘the serpent’s ringing-land’ is suggested. This is close to the kenning from RvHbreiðm HlIII cited above. In this case, men grundar may either be a kenning for a snake or, more likely in terms of the ON myth that placed the World Serpent in the ocean surrounding the earth, a specific allusion to Miðgarðsormr. It has been interpreted in the latter sense here. — [8] af: B is undamaged here, and ‘a’ is clear. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1844, 27 n. 52) suggests af, which has been adopted by all subsequent eds.

References

  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. 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.
  5. Attwood, Katrina. 1996a. ‘The Poems of MS AM 757a 4to: An Edition and Contextual Study’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Leeds.
  6. Black, Elizabeth L. 1971. ‘Harmsól: an edition’. B. Litt. thesis. University of Oxford.
  7. Rydberg, Hugo, ed. 1907. ‘Die geistlichen Drápur und Dróttkvættfragmente des Cod. AM 757 4to.’. Ph.D. thesis. University of Lund. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Kempff, Hjalmar, ed. 1867. Kaniken Gamles ‘Harmsól’ (Sol i Sorgen): isländskt andligt qväde från medeltiden med öfversättning och förklaringar. Uppsala: Edquist & Berglund.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. 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.
  11. Internal references
  12. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  13. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Separate Saga of S. Óláfr / Óláfs saga helga in sérstaka (ÓH)’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. clxxvi-clxxix.
  14. Judith Jesch 2017, ‘(Biography of) Sigvatr Þórðarson’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 347.
  15. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1001.
  16. Judith Jesch 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Sigvatr Þórðarson, Óláfsdrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 614.
  17. Not published: do not cite ()
  18. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 36’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1044.
  19. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sturla Þórðarson, Hrafnsmál 20’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 744-5.
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