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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:

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.

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, 980

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

24 — Bjbp Jóms 24I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 24’ 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. 980.

Sigvaldi bað sína
sóknstranga vel ganga
— hann varat samr á sáttir
sveit Hákuni á móti.
Haralds arfi klauf hjálma
hildarǫrr ok skjǫldu;
framm gekk hann fyr hlífar
hart nakkvara snertu.

Sigvaldi bað sóknstranga sveit sína ganga vel á móti Hákuni; hann varat samr á sáttir. {Hildarǫrr arfi Haralds} klauf hjálma ok skjǫldu; hann gekk framm hart fyr hlífar nakkvara snertu.

Sigvaldi bade his attack-strong band advance strongly against Hákon; he was not willing for settlement. {The battle-keen heir of Haraldr} [= Sigvaldi] split helmets and shields; he pressed forward strongly before shields in a certain short attack.

Mss: R(54r), 65ˣ(381v)

Readings: [1] Sigvaldi: ‘[…]gvalldi’ R, Sigvaldi 65ˣ, ‘S[…]gvalldi’ RCP, RFJ    [3] sáttir: ‘satt[…]’ R, RCP, RFJ, ‘sett’ 65ˣ    [4] sveit: ‘[…]’ R, ‘[…]eit’ 65ˣ, sveit RCP, RFJ;    Hákuni: ‘[…]’ R, harri 65ˣ, ‘hak[…]i’ RCP, RFJ;    á móti: ‘[…]’ R, á mót 65ˣ, ‘a m…’ RCP, RFJ    [8] snertu: ‘sn[…]’ R, sínum 65ˣ, ‘sn(er)t(v)’(?) RCP, snertu RFJ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 24: AII, 5-6, BII, 6, Skald II, 4; Fms 11, 169-70, Fms 12, 244, Jvs 1879, 112-13.

Notes: [2] ganga (inf.) ‘advance’: This produces aðalhending with -strang-, which is irregular for this poem (see Introduction). Konráð Gíslason (1877, 35-6) accordingly emended to 3rd pers. pres. subj. gengi, and Skj B followed by Skald similarly reads gingi. Similarly, in st. 29/4 gengu has been printed in some eds as gingu to avoid aðalhending with drengir. — [3] sáttir ‘settlement’: The word stands at the end of a line where the vellum has been torn away in R (and already was at the time of 65ˣ and the early eds), but the ending, here -ir, can safely be assumed on the basis of metre and sense. — [4] Hákuni ‘Hákon’: The situation is the same as for l. 3 sáttir. — [6] hildarǫrr ‘battle-keen’: This is treated as a cpd here (as also in Fms 12); cf. LP: hildardjarfr ‘battle-bold’, hildarramr ‘battle-powerful’. It could alternatively be seen as a phrase.  — [8] nakkvara snertu ‘in a certain short attack’: (a) Snerta in prose means ‘a short stretch of time or place’, i.e. a short time or distance (Fritzner: snerta 1, 2); in poetry it most often means a sharp, relatively short attack, or a whole battle (LP: snerta 1, 2), and the sense ‘attack’ is appropriate here. Nakkvara snertu makes a f. acc. sg. phrase which appears to be quasi-temporal and used adverbially, cf. expressions such as fara dag ok nótt ‘to travel day and night’ (NS §98a). (b) Jvs 1879 notes that the abbreviation at the end of the word is unclear but that the reading is not ‘sinnum’. Fms 11 prints sinnum ‘at times’, dat. pl. of sinn ‘time’; so also Wisén (1870, 82). This is grammatically incompatible with the preceding word nakkvara ‘some, a certain’, which must be m. acc. pl. or f. acc. sg. Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s gloss nokkrum in Fms 12 equates this with dat. pl., but this is doubtful.

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