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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 56VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 56’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 123-4.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

text and translation

Tregr emk ljót at láta
lastaverk til fasta
— mér bragar opt fyr augum —
æligs móðs fyr róða.
Þess ák mér at meira
margríkr jǫfurr, líknar,
fleygs ok foldar œgis,
friðar sjalfan þik biðja.

Emk tregr at láta til fasta ljót lastaverk æligs móðs fyr róða; mér bragar opt fyr augum. Þess ák at meira biðja þik friðar sjalfan mér, {margríkr jǫfurr líknar ok {fleygs œgis foldar}}.
‘I am reluctant to abandon the ugly sins of a vile soul too completely; it [i.e. sin] often glimmers before my eyes. Therefore I must beg you the more for peace for myself, very powerful king of mercy and of the swirling helmet of the land [SKY/HEAVEN > = God].

notes and context

[5-8]: Several interpretations of the second helmingr have been offered, none entirely satisfactory. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 261) suggests that at meiri should be emended to at meira, which he takes to be adverbial, amplifying ák biðja þik. He reads the God-kenning as having two determinants, jǫfurr líknar ok fleygs foldar ægis, and translates naadens og den rullende himmels konge ‘king of mercy and of the turbulent heaven’. Friðar (l. 8) is taken to be part of the main cl., and the helmingr is construed þess ák at meira biðja þik friðar sjalfan mér, margríkr jǫfurr líknar ok fleygs foldar ægis ‘therefore I must beg you the more for peace for myself, very powerful king of mercy and of the turbulent heaven’. This edn follows Jón’s interpretation. Kock (NN §2935) objects to this interpretation, claiming that God’s attributes of mercy (líkn) and heaven (fleygr foldar ægir) are too disparate to be governed by the same noun (jǫfurr). He (NN §1212) agrees with Finnur Jónsson that friðr ‘peace’, and líkn should be taken together as the object of biðja ‘to beg, pray’, but assumes that they are asyndetic. The conj. ok (l. 7) is thus freed, and Kock reads it in situ, linking fleygs and foldar. He then interprets ægir as a reference to the sea, and takes the complete God-kenning to be jǫfurr foldar ok fleygs ægis ‘king of the earth and the tumultuous sea’. A third interpretation is that of Sveinbjörn Egilsson, which is also followed by Finnur Jónsson and Kempff. Sveinbjörn (1844, 31 n. 70) concurs with Kock in taking both friðr and líkn as the object of biðja, but chooses to link them with the conj. ok. This separates ok from its syntactic environment and cannot be paralleled in the corpus of skaldic poetry.



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 56: AI, 570, BI, 562-3, Skald I, 273, NN §§174, 1212, 2935, 3014; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 31, Kempff 1867, 17, Rydberg 1907, 30, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 260-1, Black 1971, 279, Attwood 1996a, 236.


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