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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 58VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 58’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 125-6.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

text and translation

Hvar megim oss, inn ǫrvi
ýta kyns, fyr synðir
sôr eða sekðir órar,
sættir, skjóls of vætta,
nema lastauknum líkna,
logskríns, vilir þínum
sjalfr, þeims synðir skelfa,
sæll gervandi, þræli?

Hvar megim of vætta oss skjóls fyr synðir, sôr eða sekðir órar, {inn ǫrvi sættir {kyns ýta}}, nema vilir sjalfr líkna þínum lastauknum þræli, þeims synðir skelfa, {sæll gervandi {logskríns}}?.
‘Where may we expect shelter because of our sins, griefs or guilts, generous reconciler of the kinsfolk of men [HUMANS > = God], unless you yourself desire to have mercy on your sin-laden servant, whom sins cause to tremble, blessed creator of the flame-shrine [SKY/HEAVEN > = God]?

notes and context

[1-4]: The first helmingr has been variously interpreted and corrected. At the heart of the problem are the difficulties eds have encountered in deciphering the beginning of l. 3. This edn agrees with Rydberg (1907, 30) in reading ‘sár e᷎’, interpreted as sr eða. The hooked <e> is often used to abbreviate eða in the prose section of B (as, for example, at fol. 5r, l. 27 and 8v, l. 35), and is quite unlike the er-abbreviation. Lines 2 and 3 may therefore be read as a straightforward paralleling of acc. pls, synðir ‘sins’ sár ‘griefs’ and sekðir ‘guilts’, without the need for emendation, though it is syntactically odd, as eða in a group of three nouns is unusual. Other eds have suspected scribal error. Jón Helgason (1935-6, 261) reads sár er here, normalising to sárir. This he takes to be the f. acc. pl. of sárr adj. ‘sore, aching’, qualifying sekðir. Sárir sekðir órar ‘our aching guilts’ is then taken as parallel to synðir ‘sins’ and the verb is emended to megim (subj.). The helmingr is thus construed hvar megim of vætta oss skjóls fyrir synðir, sárir sekðir órar ‘where might we expect to find a refuge in the face of our sins, our aching guilts’. Kock (NN §2926) approves this change. Finnur Jónsson (followed by Kock in Skald) normalises to sárar, which he assumes to be adjectival, qualifying synðar sekðir órar, which he translates vore synders svære skyld ‘our sins’ heavy guilt’.



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 58: AI, 570, BI, 563, Skald I, 273, NN §2926; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 31-2, Kempff 1867, 17-18, Rydberg 1907, 30, Black 1971, 285, Attwood 1996a, 236.


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