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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Kolb Jónv 5VII

Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2007, ‘Kolbeinn Tumason, Jónsvísur 5’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 226-7.

Kolbeinn TumasonJónsvísur

Frami gengr hátt, sás himna
herteitir þér veitir,
snardeilandi sólar
sunds, á margar lundir.
Hárs á hvern veg meiri
hyrbjóðr, an kyn þjóðar,
Alda garðs, með orðum
yðra dýrð geti skýrða.

Frami, sás {{himna her} teitir} veitir þér, gengr hátt á margar lundir, {snardeilandi {sólar sunds}}. {Hár {{ Alda garðs} hyr}bjóðr} [e]s meiri á hvern veg, an {kyn þjóðar} geti skýrða yðra dýrð með orðum.

That distinction which {the gladdener {of the host of the heavens}} [(lit. ‘host-gladdener of the heavens’) ANGELS > = God (= Christ)] grants you rises high in many ways, {speedy distributer {of the sun of the sound}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]. {The high offerer {of the fire {of the fence of Alden <island>}}} [(lit. ‘high fire-offerer of the Alden-fence’) SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] is greater in every way than {the family of people} [MANKIND] are able to expound your glory with words.

Mss: 649a(47v) (Jón4)

Readings: [5] Hárs: ‘hárr er’ 649a

Editions: Skj AII, 37, Skj BII, 46, Skald II, 29, NN §2165; Jón4 1874, 512, Bugge 1874, 936, GBpB, 570n.

Context: In Jón4 1874, 512 this st. is prefaced with the remark: Nærr enda sins verks setr Ko[l]beinn þessa visu af guðligum veitzlum ok verðleikum sęls Johannis; hann segir sva ‘Near the end of his poem Kolbeinn places this st. about the divine gifts and merits of blessed John; he says as follows’.

Notes: [6-7] hárs: The ms. reading is ‘háʀ er’. The reading ‘háʀ’ could be normalised to hárr ‘hoary, grey-haired’ (m. nom. sg.) or to hár ‘high’ (m. nom. sg.; <ʀ> appears in mss as a grapheme for [rr] or for [r], cf. Lindblad 1954, 73, 206-7). Since the adj. is part of an honorific term for S. John, all previous interpreters take ‘háʀ’ to be hár ‘high’. The reading er is evidently the predicate in the main cl., the 3rd pers. sg. indic. of vera ‘to be’. Since hár er produces a seven-syllable l., Skj B normalises to hárs. Kock (NN §2165) argues that it is implausible that John should be spoken of in the 3rd pers. in a sentence containing a subordinate cl. which addresses him in the 2nd pers. pl. (yðra dýrð ‘your glory’ 5/8) and in a st. whose first helmingr also addresses him in the 2nd pers. (þér ‘to you’ 5/2). He therefore emends the verb form to est/ert ‘you are’ (cf. the translation in Lange 1958b, 19). He indicates that the problem of the seven-syllable l. could be solved by the omission of the prep. á, which is not required by the syntax of the construction á hvern veg ‘in every way’. — [7] Alda: Interpreted as an island-heiti, the gen. sg. of a Norw. island named Aldi, Alden in Søndfjord (cf. LP: Aldi); the ‘fence of Aldi’ (garðr Alda) designates the surrounding sea.


  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. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. 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.
  6. Bugge, Sophus, ed. 1874. ‘Anmærkingar ved de til Jons saga IV henhørende viser’. In Unger 1874, 932-6.
  7. GBpB = Guðmundar saga biskups (“B”). In Bskp, 559-60426, 60822-136.
  8. Jón4 1874 = Jóns saga postula. In Unger 1874, 466-934, 47033-51322.
  9. Lange, Wolfgang. 1958b. Christliche Skaldendichtung. Kleine Vandenhoeck-Reihe 54. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht.
  10. Lindblad, Gustaf. 1954. Studier i Codex Regius av äldre Eddan, 1-3. Lundastudier i nordisk språkvetenskap 10. Lund: Gleerup.
  11. Internal references
  12. Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2007, ‘Níkulás Bergsson, Jónsdrápa postula 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 67.
  13. Beatrice La Farge (ed.) 2007, ‘Níkulás Bergsson, Jónsdrápa postula 2’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 68.

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