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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, 987

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

32 — Bjbp Jóms 32I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Emily Lethbridge (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni byskup Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 32’ 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. 987.

Þá frák él it illa
œða Hǫlgabrúði;
glumði hagl á hlífum
harða grimt ór norðri,
þar er í ormfrán augu
ýtum skýja grjóti
— því knátti ben blása —
barði hreggi keyrðu.

Þá frák Hǫlgabrúði œða it illa él; harða grimt hagl ór norðri glumði á hlífum, þar er {grjóti skýja}, keyrðu hreggi, barði í ormfrán augu ýtum; því knátti ben blása.

Then I have heard Hǫlgi’s bride [= Þorgerðr] stirred up the terrible blizzard; very cruel hail from the north resounded on shields, where {the gravel of clouds} [HAIL], driven by the storm, beat in the snake-flashing eyes of men; therefore wounds swelled.

Mss: R(54r); 61(20ra), 53(16va), 54(16rb), Bb(26vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] œða: œðask all others;    Hǫlga‑: haulda 53, 54, Bb;    ‑brúði: brúðar all others    [3] hlífum: hjálmum all others    [4] harða: harðla 53, Bb, ‘hadla’ 54    [5] þar er: þá er 53    [6] grjóti: gráti Bb    [7] því: þá 54, Bb;    knátti: náði all others

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Kolbeinsson, Jómsvíkingadrápa 32: AII, 7, BII, 7-8, Skald II, 5, NN §178; Fms 11, 172, Fms 12, 245, Jvs 1879, 114-15, 133; Fms 1, 175, Fms 12, 44, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 192 (ch. 90), Ólafur Halldórsson 2000, 28, 80.

Context: Hákon boards his ship again and rejoins the fray; he incites his troop and tells them that victory is assured. A great storm blows up against the Jómsvíkingar.

Notes: [2] Hǫlgabrúði (f. acc. sg.) ‘Hǫlgi’s bride [= Þorgerðr]’: This is Hákon jarl’s patroness, the giantess Þorgerðr. According to SnE (1998, I, 60), Hǫlgi was the eponymous ruler of Hálogaland (Hålogaland) and Þorgerðr was his daughter (and hence brúðr may have the more general sense ‘woman’ here, cf. LP: brúðr 3); sacrifices were made to both of them. The first element of Hǫlgabrúðr also occurs elsewhere as Hǫrga-, Hǫrða- and Hǫlða- and the second as ‑troll; see further Jvs 1962, 36-7, 51-2; McKinnell (2002); Røthe (2007). The R reading ‑brúði adopted here (as in Skj B and Skald) forms an acc. with inf. construction with (frák ...) œða ‘(I have heard ...) stirred up’, lit. ‘(I have heard ...) to stir up’, so that Hǫlgabrúðr is the agent who raises the storm. The ÓT reading f. gen. sg. -brúðar would qualify él ‘blizzard’ and œðask would be intransitive, hence ‘I have heard the terrible storm of Hǫlgi’s bride raged’. — [5] ormfrán augu ‘the snake-flashing eyes’: The collocation is also found in Sigv ErfÓl 13/7, 8, referring to Óláfr helgi, and in Hundk Lv 1/5, 6VIII (HjǪ 29). On the topos of the flashing eyes of the warlord, see Marold (1998a). — [7] knátti ben blása ‘wounds swelled’: Knátti, lit. ‘could’, is a pleonastic auxiliary. Blása ‘swell’ is used impersonally (see CVC: blása III), so ben ‘wound(s)’ is acc. and presumably pl. The same construction is assumed in Fms 12, 44, 245 and Skj B, but blása is taken to refer to a noise made by the wounds (also LP: blása 4, where it is the only example). An alternative construal is that the understood subject of knátti is the hail-storm and blása is transitive, with ben as its object, hence ‘it blasted wounds’.

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