Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gamlkan Has 9VII/5 — þinn ‘your’

Gerðak opt í orðum,
eljunsterkr, sem verkum,
hreggs bjartloga, ok hyggju,
hróts, í gǫgn þér, dróttinn.
Þræll hefr þinn í allan
þann, lífgjafi manna,
ófs grǫndugrar andar
ástsnauðr hratat dauða.

Gerðak opt í gǫgn þér í orðum, sem verkum ok hyggju, eljunsterkr dróttinn bjartloga hróts hreggs. Lífgjafi manna, ástsnauðr þræll þinn hefr hratat í allan þann dauða ófs grǫndugrar andar.

I often acted against you in words, as in deeds and thought, energy-strong lord of the bright flame of the roof of the storm [SKY/HEAVEN > SUN > = God]; lifegiver of men [= God], your love-bereft servant has stumbled into the total death of an excessively sinful soul.


[5] þræll þinn ‘your servant’: The figure of the Christian as God’s servant or slave has its origin in Rom. VI.22 nunc vero liberati a peccato servi autem facti Deo habetis fructum vestrum in sanctificationem finem vero vitam aeternam ‘but now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting’. It occurs several times in ON-Icel. Christian poetry. By far the most famous use is in the so-called ‘death-song’ of Kolbeinn Tumason (d. 1208), the first st. of which ends with the couplet ek em þrællinn þinn, | þú’st dróttinn minn ‘I am your servant, you are my master’ (Kolb Lv 8/7-8IV). In Geisl 61/8, S. Óláfr is referred to as goðs þræll ‘God’s servant’, while men are called þrælar konungs fróns ‘servants of the king of the land’ in Líkn 33/1-2. Gamli repeats this concept in 10/3 and 58/8.



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