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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gizurr svarti (gullbrárskáld) (Gizsv)

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

III. Fragment (Frag) - 1

Skj info: Gizurr gullbrárskáld, Islandsk skjald, d. 1030. (AI, 316, BI, 292-293).

Skj poems:
1. Af et fyrstedigt
2. Lausavísa

It is not certain whether Gizurr svarti ‘the Black’ (Gizsv) is the same man as Gizurr gullbrá(r) (‘Gold-eyelash’) or gullbrárskáld (‘Gold-eyelash’s poet’) or Gullbrárfóstri (‘Foster-kinsman of Gullbrá’, Flat 1860-8, II, 226). Skáldatal in the 761aˣ redaction (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 253) lists Gizurr svarti as poet to Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson and Gizurr Gullbrá as poet to Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson (S. Óláfr), while the U redaction (ibid., 261 and n. 2) lists ‘Gizurr gullbr.’ under Óláfr Tryggvason, which has been taken as an error. A helmingr preserved in SnE and edited in SkP III (Gizsv FragIII) is attributed merely to ‘Gizurr’ and celebrates ‘Óláfr’, which does not help to disentangle the Óláfrs but may suggest that there is only one Gizurr, and this is supported by the fact that Gizurr svarti in ÓHLeg equates with Gizurr gullbrár elsewhere, and that the chronology is compatible. Gizurr gullbrá is introduced in ÓHHkr (ÍF 27, 358) as the foster-father of Hofgarða-Refr, which, as Finnur Jónsson mentions (LH I, 567), would make him a man of at least fifty when he followed King Óláfr Haraldsson to Garðaríki (Russia) in the late 1020s (Flat 1860-8, II, 315) and fought for him at Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad) in 1030. Gizurr’s death in the battle is mentioned along with that of his fellow skald Þorfinnr munnr (ÓHHkr, ÍF 27, 381), and his heroic defence is commemorated in Refr Giz 1III.

Fragment — Gizsv FragIII

Diana Whaley 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Gizurr svarti (gullbrárskáld), Fragment’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 192.

 1 

Skj: Gizurr gullbrárskáld: 1. Af et fyrstedigt (AI, 316, BI, 292); stanzas (if different): [v]

in texts: Skm, SnE

SkP info: III, 192

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

This helmingr (Gizsv Frag), with its non-specific praise of deeds of battle cast in the present tense, could well belong in a drápa, perhaps as its stef ‘refrain’, but the source poem is lost. The identity and biography of the poet (Gizsv) are obscure, not least because it is uncertain whether Gizurr svarti ‘the Black’ and Gizurr gullbrár ‘Gold-eyelash’ or gullbrárskáld ‘Gold-eyelash’s poet’ were one and the same (see SkP I, 817-19 for skald Biography and his only other surviving composition, Gizsv LvI). The fragment below is attributed merely to ‘Gizurr’ (though ms. B and 761bˣ add svarti), which may suggest that only one well-known poet named Gizurr existed. The dedicatee named in l. 3 may well be Óláfr Haraldsson of Norway (later inn helgi, S. Óláfr), since Gizurr svarti is celebrated for serving him faithfully, and falling with him at the battle of Stiklestad (Stiklastaðir, 1030; see Ref Giz; also ÓHHkr chs 206 and 227, ÍF 27, 358, 381). However, since Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 252) also lists a Gizurr among the poets of Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson (d. c. 1021), that Óláfr cannot be ruled out (and SnE 1848-87, III, 334 tentatively assumes that). The fragment is preserved only in SnE (Skm; R as main ms., , B supplemented by 744ˣ, and C). A transcript in 761bˣ(124r) is clearly copied from SnE but since it is not evident which ms. was its exemplar its readings are included here.
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