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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamli kanóki (Gamlkan)

12th century; volume 7; ed. Katrina Attwood;

1. Harmsól (Has) - 65

Skj info: Gamli kanóki, Islandsk gejstlig og skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 561-72, BI, 547-65).

Skj poems:
1. Jóansdrápa
2. Harmsól

Gamli kanóki ‘canon Gamli’ (where the name Gamli, ‘the old one’ may itself be a nickname) is best known as the author of the poem Harmsól ‘Sun of Sorrow’, which is explicitly ascribed to him in a marginal note at the beginning of the poem on fol. 12r, l. 42 of the sole surviving ms., AM 757 a 4° (B): Harmsol er gamle orti kanokeHarmsól, which canon Gamli composed’. Gamli is also mentioned by name in Jóns saga postula (Jón4), where the author of the prose text prefaces the quotation of four sts from Gamli’s Jónsdrápa with the information: Annan mann til óðgirðar signaðum Johanni nefnum vér Gamla kanunk austr í Þykkvabœ, hann orti drápu dyrligum Johanni ‘As the second man to have composed a poem to blessed John we [I] name canon Gamli in the east at Þykkvabœr, he composed a drápa to S. John’ (Jón4 1874, 510). In a remark before the fourth st. Gamli is referred to as bróðir Gamli ‘Brother Gamli’ (Jón4 1874, 511). Þykkvabœr was an Augustinian monastery in south-eastern Iceland founded in 1168; Gamli was thus an Augustinian canon (or canon regular) of this community. His floruit can be inferred from the date of the foundation of Þykkvabœr as being in the mid- to late C12th.

files
file 2006-12-15 - Gamli kanoki w. MCR corrections

Harmsól (‘Sun of Sorrow’) — Gamlkan HasVII

Katrina Attwood 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Gamli kanóki, Harmsól’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 70-132.

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Skj: Gamli kanóki: 2. Harmsól, „er gamle orti kanoke“ (AI, 562-72, BI, 548-65)

SkP info: VII, 86-7

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Gamlkan Has 14VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Gamli kanóki, Harmsól 14’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 86-7.

Hendak hverjar stundir,
Hlakkar borðs, es þorðak,
miskaráð fyr meiðum,
minn lífgjafi, at vinna.
Miðr óttuðumk yðra*
ósjaldan, gramr tjalda,
— því vasa hagskipt — hyrjar
heiðs, an gumna reiði.

Hendak hverjar stundir, es þorðak at vinna miskaráð fyr {meiðum {Hlakkar borðs}}, {lífgjafi minn}. Ósjaldan óttuðumk miðr yðra* reiði an gumna, {gramr {tjalda {hyrjar heiðs}}}; því vasa hagskipt.

I seized on all the times when I dared to commit misdeeds before {trees {of Hlǫkk’s <valkyrie> board}} [SHIELD > WARRIORS], {my life-giver} [= God]. Not seldom I feared your wrath less than men’s, {king {of the tents {of the fire of the clear sky}}} [SUN > SKY/HEAVEN > = God]; in that regard it was not a fair exchange.

Mss: B(12v), 399a-bˣ

Readings: [5] yðra*: ‘ydrar’ B    [7] hagskipt: ‘h[...]g[...]ppt’ B, ‘hagṣḷẹppt’ 399a‑bˣ, ‘hag s(l)[...]pt’(?) BRydberg, ‘hagsleppt’ BFJ

Editions: Skj: Gamli kanóki, 2. Harmsól 14: AI, 564, BI, 552, Skald I, 267, NN §§2089, 2926; Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1844, 17, Kempff 1867, 5, Rydberg 1907, 22-3, Jón Helgason 1935-6, 255, Black 1971, 175, Attwood 1996a, 225.

Notes: [5] yðra* ‘your’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson (note to 444ˣ transcript) suggests emendation of B’s ‘ydrar’ to yðra, which has been accepted by all subsequent eds. — [7] hagskipt ‘a fair exchange’: B is very badly worn, and only ‘h[...]g[…]ppt’ can now be read with certainty. Although Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) does not indicate any uncertainty about his reading, previous transcribers of B are uncertain as to precisely what remains (see Readings). Skj B follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson and Kempff in reconstructing hagslept, from hagsleppr, adj. There are, however, some difficulties in assigning a meaning to hagsleppr here. Sveinbjörn (LP (1860)) suggests two possibilities: the first interprets hagsleppr as a cpd of hagr ‘state, condition’ and an adj. derived from the verb sleppa ‘to slip, miss, escape’. The n. form hagslept is glossed as amissio commodi ‘loss of advantage, profit’. The cl. því vasa hagslept would then mean ‘for that reason there was no loss of advantage’. For this to make sense in context, it would surely have to be understood ironically. Sveinbjörn’s second suggestion is that the adj. means ‘easily thrown away, abandoned’, with the sense that Gamli is declaring that he could not easily abandon his godless ways. In Skj B, Finnur Jónsson translates det kunde jeg ikke let holde op med ‘I could not easily stop that’, while LP: hagsleppr, gesturing towards hagr ‘advantage’, suggests det kunde jeg ikke med fordel slippe ‘I could not escape that with advantage’. Although this is a possible interpretation, it does seem, as Jón Helgason (1935-6, 255) contends, to be the opposite of Gamli’s intention here, since the sinner’s neglect of God’s anger in favour of men’s approval can only be to his advantage, at least in the short term. Jón therefore reconstructs hagskipt, which he derives from hagskipti ‘a fair or advantageous exchange’. Jón’s interpretation, which is followed by Kock (NN §2926), Black (1971, 176) and here, implies that the poet’s exchanging his concern for God’s wrath for a greater concern for men’s approval is not profitable for his soul.

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