This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

Bersi Skáld-Torfuson (Bersi)

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

1. Flokkr about Óláfr helgi (Ólfl) - 3

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).

Flokkr about Óláfr helgi — Bersi ÓlflI

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘ Bersi Skáld-Torfuson, Flokkr about Óláfr helgi’ 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. 790. <> (accessed 22 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3 

Skj: Bersi Skáldtorfuson: 1. En flok om kong Olaf, o. 1020 (AI, 275-6, BI, 255)

SkP info: I, 791

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Bersi Ólfl 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Bersi Skáld-Torfuson, Flokkr about Óláfr helgi 1’ 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. 791.

Hróðrs batt heilan líða
hagkennanda þenna,
en snarrœki slíku
svarat unnum vér gunnar.
Orð seldum þau elda
úthauðrs boða trauðir
knarrar hapts, sem keyptak,
kynstórs, at við brynju.

Batt {þenna hagkennanda hróðrs} líða heilan, en vér unnum svarat slíku {snarrœki gunnar}. Trauðir hapts seldum þau orð {kynstórs boða {elda {úthauðrs knarrar}}}, sem keyptak at {við brynju}.

You bade {this skilled conveyor of praise} [POET = me] to fare well, and we [I] managed to reply in kind {to the keen cultivator of battle} [WARRIOR = you, Óláfr]. Reluctant for hindrance, we [I] sold those words {to the kin-mighty offerer {of the fires {of the outlying land of the ship}}} [SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr] just as I had bought [them] from {the tree of the mail-shirt} [WARRIOR = you, Óláfr].

texts: Flat 459, ÓH 51 (49), ÓHHkr 46 (II 46), Hkr 247 (II 46)

editions: Skj Bersi Skáldtorfuson: 1. En flok om kong Olaf 1 (AI, 275-6; BI, 255); Skald I, 131, NN §684; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 73-4, IV, 123, ÍF 27, 65-6, Hkr 1991, I, 294-5 (ÓHHkr ch. 50); Fms 4, 101, Fms 12, 80, ÓH 1941, I, 95 (ch. 40), Flat 1860-8, II, 45.


AM 36 folx (Kx) 253r, 7 - 253r, 14 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  
Holm perg 2 4° (Holm2) 13r, 6 - 13r, 8 (ÓH)  transcr.  image  
UppsUB R 686x (R686x) 26r, 3 - 26r, 7 (ÓH)  image  image  
Thott 972 folx (972x) 88va, 5 - 88va, 12 (ÓH)  image  image  
AM 37 folx (J1x) 159v, 14 - 159v, 17 (ÓH)  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 135v, 18 - 135v, 25 (ÓH)  image  
AM 325 VI 4° (325VI) 11rb, 22 - 11rb, 25 (ÓH)  image  
AM 73 a folx (73ax) 35v, 35 - 35v, 35 (ÓH)  image  
AM 75 a fol (75a) 1va, 23 - 1va, 23 (ÓH)  image  
AM 321 4°x (321x) 54, 21 - 54, 24 (ÓH)  transcr.  
AM 78 a folx (78ax) 33r, 23 - 33r, 30 (ÓH)  image  
AM 68 fol (68) 12r, 15 - 12r, 15 (ÓH)  image  
AM 61 fol (61) 84vb, 30 - 84vb, 33 (ÓH)  transcr.  image  image  
Holm perg 4 4° (Holm4) 5ra, 13 - 5ra, 17 (ÓH)  image  
AM 325 V 4° (325V) 16va, 17 - 16va, 22 (ÓH)  image  
AM 325 VII 4° (325VII) 5r, 35 - 5r, 37 (ÓH)  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 135rb, 33 - 135rb, 33 (ÓH)  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 83vb, 17 - 83vb, 20 (ÓH)  image  image  image  
GKS 1008 fol (Tóm) 102v, 7 - 102v, 7 (ÓH)  image  
© 2008-