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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson (Bjbp)

13th century; volume 1; ed. Jonna Louis-Jensen;

Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) - 45

Skj info: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Orknøsk biskop, d. 1222. (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10).

Skj poems:
Jómsvíkingadrápa

Bjarni Kolbeinsson (Bjbp) was born into a powerful family in the Orkney Islands, possibly c. 1150-60 (af Petersens, Jvs 1879, 122). His father was the Norwegian-Orcadian chieftain Kolbeinn hrúga ‘Heap’ and his mother was Herborg, a great-granddaughter of Páll jarl Þorfinnsson on the maternal side (see Ættaskrár [Genealogies] II in ÍF 35). Bjarni was also very well connected: he was a close friend of Haraldr jarl Maddaðarson (ÍF 35, 289), sent precious gifts to Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson in Iceland on three occasions (Guðrún P. Helgadóttir 1987, 2-3), and had connections with the Oddaverjar (see further Einar Ól. Sveinsson 1937, 17-18, 34-9).

Bjarni was Bishop of Orkney from 1188 (ÍF 35, 289) until his death on 15 September 1223. Among his achievements as bishop were the exhumation and canonisation of Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson (ÍF 35, 282; SkP II, 575) and the extension of St Magnús’s Cathedral in Kirkwall. Bjarni was also a diplomat and is known to have travelled to Norway for political reasons in 1194-5, 1208-9, 1210, 1218 and 1223 (see Bugge 1875, 244; Holtsmark 1937a, 2-3); he probably died in Norway (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8, 46).

Bjarni is introduced as Bjarni skáld ‘Poet’ in Orkn (ÍF 35, 193), but Jómsvíkingadrápa (Jóms) is the only literary work attributed to him in medieval sources. Suggestions that he compiled Orkn (Jón Stefánsson 1907-8) and the þulur in SnE (Bugge 1875) have not been generally accepted; see Introduction to Jóms below on the attribution of Anon Mhkv to Bjarni.

notes
my abbr.

Jómsvíkingadrápa (‘Drápa about the Jómsvíkingar’) — Bjbp JómsI

Emily Lethbridge 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa’ 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. 954.

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Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson: Jómsvíkingadrápa (AII, 1-10, BII, 1-10); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4

SkP info: I, 971

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Bjbp Jóms 14I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 14’ 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. 971.

Vagn kvað hitt inn hrausti;
Hamðis gunnar tǫmðum
sá lézk frœkn at fylgja
faldruðr Búa skyldu.
Þá réð heit til hvítrar
hringa meiðr at strengja
— mér kømr harmr at hendi
hættr — Þorketils dóttur.

Inn hrausti Vagn kvað hitt; {sá frœkn {Hamðis fald}ruðr} lézk skyldu at fylgja Búa, tǫmðum gunnar. Þá réð {meiðr hringa} at strengja heit til {hvítrar dóttur Þorketils}; hættr harmr kømr mér at hendi.

The bold Vagn spoke another [oath]; {that brave bush {of the hood of Hamðir <legendary hero>}} [(lit. ‘hood-bush of Hamðir’) HELMET > WARRIOR = Vagn] declared it his duty to follow Búi, accustomed to battle. Then {the tree of rings} [MAN = Vagn] made a vow concerning {the bright daughter of Þorkell} [= Ingibjǫrg]; dangerous grief comes upon me.

Mss: R(53v)

Readings: [6] hringa: ‘hriga’ R

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 14: AII, 4, BII, 4, Skald II, 2Fms 11, 166-7, Fms 12, 243, Jvs 1879, 108-9, 132.

Notes: [2] tǫmðum ‘accustomed’: This is the m. dat. sg. of tam(i)ðr, adjectival p. p. of temja ‘tame, train, accustom’. Here the gen.-case gunnar ‘battle’ specifies to what Búi is accustomed, though a phrase using við ‘to’ would be more usual with temja, tam(i)ðr; see NS §136 for comparable constructions of adj. + gen. — [3, 4] lézk skyldu ‘declared it his duty’: Lit. ‘declared it [to be] a duty for himself’. It appears that m. v. lézk is to be read as lét sér, ‘declared for himself’, and skyldu is acc. sg. of the noun skylda ‘duty’, with vera ‘to be’ understood; cf. NS §153a for m. v. forms in which the enclitic refl. pron. functions as a dat. of respect. Alternatively, skyldu could be verbal: lézk, at [þeir] skyldu fylgja Búa ‘declared that they should follow Búi’; cf. st. 11/2, 4. — [3] frœkn ‘brave’: On the strong adj. here, see Note to st. 7/3, 4. — [5, 6] réð ... at strengja ‘swore’: Réð, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of ráða ‘advise, determine’ etc., is here a pleonastic auxiliary. — [5] heit ‘a vow’: Vagn, according to Jvs (1879, 57), vows that he will bed Þorkell leira’s daughter, Ingibjǫrg, and kill Þorkell. See sts 42-5 for the outcome. — [6] meiðr hringa ‘the tree of rings [MAN = Vagn]’: ‘Hriga’ in R must be a scribal error for hringa; all eds emend here. — [7-8] hættr harmr kømr mér at hendi ‘dangerous grief comes upon me’: The reappearance of the unhappy love motif, which contains verbal echoes of st. 2/3-4, chimes with Vagn’s oath about Ingibjǫrg in this stanza and with the theme of the stef in the following one. — [8] dóttur Þorketils ‘daughter of Þorkell [= Ingibjǫrg]’: Þorkell leira ‘Clay’ is one of the leading men in Hákon jarl’s army.

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