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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 36VII

Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 36’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 104-5.

Gamli kanókiHarmsól

Dómsorði lýkr dýrðar
dróttar valdr á aldir,
þars greinisk lið ljóna
loks í tvenna flokka.
Spǫnð lætr ǫll til ynðis
óttlaust af því móti
sunnu hvéls ok sælu
sín bǫrn konungr fjǫrnis.

{Valdr {dróttar dýrðar}} lýkr dómsorði á aldir, þars {lið ljóna} greinisk loks í tvenna flokka. {Konungr {fjǫrnis {hvéls sunnu}}} lætr spǫnð ǫll bǫrn sín óttlaust af því móti til ynðis ok sælu.

{The ruler {of the company of glory}} [ANGELS > = God] will pass judgement on men, where {the host of men} [MANKIND] will finally divide into two groups. {The king {of the helmet {of the wheel of the sun}}} [SUN > SKY/HEAVEN > = God] causes all his children to be drawn without fear from that gathering to joy and bliss.

Mss: B(13r), 399a-bˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 567, Skj BI, 557, Skald I, 270, NN §§2112A, 2113; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 24-5, Kempff 1867, 11, Rydberg 1907, 26, Black 1971, 231, Attwood 1996a, 230.

Notes: [All]: The division of men into two groups at the Last Judgement is a commonplace of Christian eschatology. The locus classicus is the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matt. XXV.32: et congregabuntur ante eum omnes gentes et separabit eos ab invicem sicut pastor segregat oves ab hedis ‘and all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats’. The same idea is expressed in Arnórr jarlaskáld’s helmingr on the Last Judgement mentioned in the Note to st. 33/2-3. — [1] dómsorði ‘judgement’: The cpd refers specifically to Christ’s Judgement of humanity. Cf. Fritzner: dómsorð; Lange 1958a, 148. — [1-2] valdr dróttar dýrðar ‘the ruler of the company of glory [ANGELS > = God]’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) understands this phrase as han som giver mennesken hæder ‘he who gives men glory’. This seems dubious, since the cl. as a whole relates to God’s passing judgement on men. Kock (NN §2112A) prefers to take both dýrðar and dróttar as gen., forming an angel-kenning meaning ‘company of glory’ or (if dýrð ‘glory’ can be used metaphorically, as in Modern English, to mean ‘heaven’) ‘company of heaven’. The valdr ‘ruler’ of this company is God. — [5] spǫnð lætr ǫll til ynðis: Cf. Pl 54/5, spanði ítr til ynðis. — [6] óttlaust af því móti: See Note on 32/4. Kock (NN §2113) suggests that óttlaust ‘without fear’ in this context acts as a meaningless filler-word, with the sense ‘certainly, assuredly’. — [8] sín bǫrn ‘his children’: The tone and phraseology recall Malachi’s prophecy of the Day of the Lord: et erunt mihi ait Dominus exercituum in die qua ego facio in peculium et parcam eis sicus parcit vir filio suo servienti sibi ‘and they shall be my special possession, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do judgement: and I will spare them, as a man spareth his son that serveth him’ (Mal. III.17).


  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. 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. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  9. Kempff, Hjalmar, ed. 1867. Kaniken Gamles ‘Harmsól’ (Sol i Sorgen): isländskt andligt qväde från medeltiden med öfversättning och förklaringar. Uppsala: Edquist & Berglund.
  10. Lange, Wolfgang. 1958a. Studien zur christlichen Dichtung der Nordgermanen 1000-1200. Palaestra 222. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
  11. 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.
  12. Internal references
  13. Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Plácitusdrápa 54’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 215-16.

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