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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, 984

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

29 — Bjbp Jóms 29I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 29’ 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. 984.

Vagn hefr orðit ýtum
ǫrfengr at bǫð strangri;
með fullhuga frœknum
framm gengu vel drengir,
þar er í Yggjar éli
Áka sonr inn ríki
brátt, frák, hann at hlœði
hugprúðum Ármóði.

Vagn hefr orðit ǫrfengr ýtum at strangri bǫð; drengir gengu vel framm með frœknum fullhuga, þar er frák, at hann, {inn ríki sonr Áka}, hlœði brátt hugprúðum Ármóði í {éli Yggjar}.

Vagn became quickly dominant over men in the severe battle; warriors pressed forward well with the daring one full of courage, where I have heard that he, {the powerful son of Áki} [= Vagn], soon felled the staunch-hearted Ármóðr in {the storm of Yggr <= Óðinn>} [BATTLE].

Mss: R(54r); 61(19vb), 53(16rb), 54(16ra), Bb(26rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] strangri: strengja Bb    [4] gengu: í gegn Bb;    drengir: drengjum Bb    [7] hann at: at hann Bb

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 29: AII, 6-7, BII, 7, Skald II, 4; Fms 11, 171, Fms 12, 245, Jvs 1879, 114-15; Fms 1, 172, Fms 12, 42, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 189 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 26, 79.

Context: Vagn Ákason unleashes a fierce attack on the troop of Sveinn Hákonarson, who takes to flight. Eiríkr Hákonarson takes up the fight against Vagn, who retreats but nevertheless fights with great valour and kills many of Eiríkr’s men, including Ármóðr, a powerful man and a great champion.

Notes: [2] ǫrfengr ‘quickly dominant’: LP: ǫrfengr glosses this rare cpd as rask erhværvende, som er hurtig til og rask i at erhværve (sig noget), dygtig ‘brisk in gaining, who is quick and bold in getting (oneself something), effective’, and ǫrfengr ýtum here as som vinder fordele (sejre) overfor mænd ‘who wins advantages (victories) over men’. The cpd is composed of ǫrr ‘brisk, bold’ and fengr, which is related to the p. p. of ‘to get’ and is found in compounds including harðfengr ‘valiant, tenacious, getting with force’ (with which Fms 12, 245 glosses ǫrfengr in this stanza, and see LP: harðfengr). — [4] gengu : drengir: Aðalhending in an even line is not normal in Jóms; see Note to st. 24/2. — [5] þar er ‘where’: The subordinate clause is here taken with drengir gengu framm ‘warriors pressed forward’. Alternatively, it could be taken with Vagn hefr orðit … ‘Vagn became …’ (ll. 1-2), in which case the clause in ll. 3-4 is intercalary and the stanza is a unified whole. — [8] hugprúðum Ármóði ‘the staunch-hearted Ármóðr’: This is presumably Ármóðr of Ǫnundarfjǫrðr who was said to have been positioned opposite Sigurðr kápa: see Context to st. 20, st. 21/6 and Note.

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