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Runic Dictionary

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Bersi Skáld-Torfuson (Bersi)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

2. Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Bersi Skáld-Torfuson (or simply Torfuson; Bersi) is named from his mother, an otherwise unknown female skald Torfa, from Miðfjörður, Húnavatnsþing, northern Iceland. He is introduced as skáld gótt ‘a fine poet’ in Grettis saga (ÍF 7, 42); his birth would be placed c. 985-90 (LH I, 564). Bersi travelled abroad with Grettir Ásmundarson, gained the favour of Sveinn jarl Hákonarson (ÍF 7, 86) and seemingly fought with Sveinn at the battle of Nesjar (1016; see ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume for rulers and battles of the period). He is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 257, 258, 281, 282) as a skald to Sveinn and to Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great), but no court poetry for them by him survives (though see Bersi Ólfl 2). Some time after Nesjar he was taken captive by Óláfr Haraldsson, composed his flokkr (below) and found favour with the king. He is then named in the excerpts (articuli) from Styrmir Kárason’s Lífssaga among Óláfr’s Icelandic hirðmenn ‘retainers’ (see his Lv below). He went on a pilgrimage to Rome with Sigvatr Þórðarson (Sigv) and, learning of the king’s death (1030) as he left Rome, returned to S. Peter’s church in extreme anguish, died and was buried there (ÓH 1941, II, 830, in an interpolation).

Lausavísa — Bersi LvI

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘ Bersi Skáld-Torfuson, Lausavísa’ 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. 795. <> (accessed 2 July 2022)

stanzas:  1 

Skj: Bersi Skáldtorfuson: 2. Lausavísa, o. 1025 (AI, 277, BI, 256); stanzas (if different): [v]

in texts: Flat, Hkr, ÓH, ÓHHkr, ÓHLeg, ÓHÆ

SkP info: I, 795

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Note: The following transcriptions have been entered to aid the editing process. These may not have been fully reviewed and checked and may therefore not be reliable. You may wish to consult the manuscript images. Any corrections can be notified to the database editor.

1. Kx - 420v/1-420v/8
Sverð standa þar sunda | sárs leyfo ver árar | herstillis verþr hylli | hollust buin gulli | við tǫka ec víka | var ec endr með þer sendir | elldz ef þu eitthvert vildir | allvaldr gefa scáldi.
Holm2 - 54v/39-55r/1 (VEÞ)
Sverþ stan | da þar svnda sars leyfvm ver arar herstillir þarf ec hylli hollost bvin gulli við tǿca || ec víca var endr m þér sendir ellz efþv eiᴛ hvert villdir allvaldr gefa scalldi.
61 - 114ra/29-114ra/32 (VEÞ)
Sverd standa þar sunda sꜳrs leyfu vær ꜳrar | herstilli væri hylli holloz buín gulli vid tæka ek | vika var ek endr med þer sendir ellz ef þu eítt hvert v | illdir allvalldr gefa skalldi·
DG8 - 91r/24-91r/26 (VEÞ)
Sværð standa her sunda, sars læyuum ver arar, hærr still | is þarf ec hylli, holl rað buín gulli; við tꝍka ec vika, vil ec enn með þer | kænnir, ællz ef þu æitthvært villdir, allvalldr geva skallde,
NRA52 - 3r/10-3r/12 (VEÞ)
Sverþ standa her svnda sárs læyfom vér árar · | [...]ǫ́þ bvin golli · viþ tǿca ec [...]a vil ec ⸌eɴ⸍ meþ þér keɴir eldz | [...]ldir allvaldr ge[...]a scaldi
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