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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson (BjHall)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Alison Finlay;

Kálfsflokkr (Kálffl) - 8

Skj info: Bjarni Hallbjarnarson gullbrárskáld, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 393-396, BI, 363-365).

Skj poems:

Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson (BjHall) is mentioned only in the passages in the kings’ sagas in which stanzas from Kálfsflokkr, his sole surviving poem, are cited. He is generally identified, however, with the Icelander Bjarni Hallbjarnarson named in Þorgríms þáttr Hallasonar, which is preserved in Hulda-Hrokkinskinna (H-Hr; Fms 6, 32; ÍF 9, 298-303). He is there said to be the son of Hallbjǫrn skefill ‘Scraper’ of Laxárdalur in Skagafjörður, northern Iceland, and to have a brother called Þórðr, neither of whom is known elsewhere. The þáttr represents Bjarni, early in the reign of King Magnús Óláfsson (1035-47), presenting a poem to Kálfr Árnason, which includes praise of his deeds at the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad, 1030), and being killed immediately by Þorgrímr Hallason, a follower of King Óláfr; see further Biography of Kolgrímr litli ‘the Small’ (KolgrII), and Kolg ÓlII. This cannot be true according to the evidence of the stanzas printed below, however, since those representing Kálfr’s loss of the friendship of King Magnús and his campaigning in Orkney must have been composed as late as the mid 1040s. It seems most likely that the author of the þáttr knew of a poem by Bjarni in honour of Kálfr, but was not familiar with its content.

In the U redaction of Skáldatal ‘biarni gvllbraskalld’ is listed as a poet of Kálfr Árnason, and also included among the poets of Óláfr Tryggvason (r. c. 995-c. 1000), which must be a mistake: in the 761aˣ redaction this poet is simply named Bjarni skáld (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 269).

Bjarni’s nickname (recorded both with and without inflectional ‑(a)r-; see Lind 1920-1, 123) suggests that Bjarni was identified as the poet of someone, presumably a woman, nicknamed gullbrá ‘Gold-eyelash’. The same nickname gullbrá or gullbráskáld is also associated with the elusive Gizurr svarti (Gizsv; see his Biography in this volume).

my abbr.

Kálfsflokkr (‘Flokkr about Kálfr’) — BjHall KálfflI

Alison Finlay 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson, Kálfsflokkr’ 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. 877.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Bjarni Hallbjarnarson gullbrárskáld: Kalfsflokkr, o. 1050 (AI, 393-6, BI, 363-5)

SkP info: I, 880

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — BjHall Kálffl 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson, Kálfsflokkr 2’ 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. 880.

Ǫld fekk illt ór deildum;
Erlingr vas þar finginn;
óðu blǫkk í blóði
borð fyr Útstein norðan.
Ljós es raun, at ræsir
ráðinn varð frá láði;
lǫgðusk lǫnd und Egða;
lið þeira frák meira.

Ǫld fekk illt ór deildum; Erlingr vas finginn þar; blǫkk borð óðu í blóði fyr norðan Útstein. Ljós es raun, at ræsir varð ráðinn frá láði; lǫnd lǫgðusk und Egða; frák lið þeira meira.

Men came off badly from the exchanges; Erlingr was captured there; black planks advanced through blood north of Utstein. The outcome is clear, that the ruler was deprived of his country; lands became subject to the Egðir; I heard that their host was larger.

Mss: Holm2(58r), 321ˣ(219), 73aˣ(180r), 68(57v), Holm4(56ra), 61(116vb), 75c(39r), 325V(69va), 325VII(32r), Bb(189va), Flat(119rb), Tóm(147r), 325XI 2 b(1ra) (ÓH); Kˣ(433v) (Hkr); FskAˣ(184), 301ˣ(67v) (Fsk, ll. 3-6)

Readings: [1] ór: af 325VII;    deildum: gjǫldum 61, 75c, Flat, Tóm, 325XI 2 b    [2] Erlingr: ‘er[…]gr’ Kˣ;    vas (‘var’): varð Flat;    þar: þá 321ˣ, 73aˣ, Holm4    [3] óðu: óðum Flat, ‘[…]o’ Kˣ;    blǫkk: bleik 61, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, 325XI 2 b, brún FskAˣ    [4] borð: ‘[…]orð’ Kˣ    [5] es (‘er’): varð FskAˣ;    raun: rann 73aˣ, Flat;    at: þar er Flat;    ræsir: ræsis 321ˣ, ræsi 325V    [6] varð: var 321ˣ, 73aˣ, Holm4, Tóm, 325XI 2 b, FskAˣ;    láði: liði Tóm    [7] lǫgðusk lǫnd: lagðisk land Kˣ;    lǫnd: ‘aund’ 321ˣ    [8] frák (‘fra ec’): frá frá ek 325VII, ⸜var⸝ Flat, ‘[…] ek’ 325XI 2 b

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Hallbjarnarson gullbrárskáld, Kalfsflokkr 2: AI, 394, BI, 363, Skald I, 182; Fms 5, 17-18, Fms 12, 96, ÓH 1941, I, 488 (ch. 173), Flat 1860-8, II, 311; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 410, IV, 158, ÍF 27, 321, Hkr 1991, II, 487 (ÓHHkr ch. 177); Fsk 1902-3, 176 (ch. 28), ÍF 29, 196 (ch. 33).

Context: The stanza follows immediately from st. 1.

Notes: [All]: Stanzas 1/1-4 and 2/3-6 form a unitary stanza in Fsk. — [1] fekk illt ‘came off badly’: Lit. ‘got (something) bad’. — [2] finginn ‘captured’: This form, rather than fenginn as in several mss, is required for the aðalhending with -ing-. — [3-4] blǫkk borð óðu í blóði ‘black planks advanced through blood’: Borð ‘plank’ (here nom. pl.) is frequently used as a pars pro toto expression for ‘ship’ (Jesch 2001a, 140), as it may be here, but the literal meaning is also possible, and would allow for reference to a single ship, perhaps specifically Erlingr’s, rather than generally to all those involved in the battle. The adj. blakkr ‘dark, black’ may suggest the tarring of the hull, as in Þloft Tøgdr 3/2, 4 kolsvartir viðir ‘coal-black ships’. Bleik ‘pale’ in several ÓH mss and brún ‘brown’ in Fsk are also metrically possible. — [4] Útstein ‘Utstein’: Við Útstein ‘near Utstein’ is also named in Sigv Erlfl 5/7 (see Note). — [6] ráðinn ‘deprived’: Or perhaps ‘betrayed’. This reference to the king losing control of the land appears to be to a later consequence of the battle of Bókn, which is predicted in the prose narratives when Óláfr recognizes Áslákr Fitjaskalli’s capture and killing of Erlingr Skjálgsson as ‘striking Norway out of my [Óláfr’s] hands’ (e.g. ÍF 27, 317; ÍF 29, 195). As Finnur Jónsson remarks (Hkr 1893-1901, IV), the poem was composed long after Óláfr’s death (1030). — [7] lǫnd lǫgðusk und Egða ‘lands became subject to the Egðir’: The exact political event or situation alluded to here is uncertain, though cf. Note to l. 6. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) suggests that the people of Agðir (Agder), the southernmost region of Norway, may stand for those of the whole of south-west Norway which resisted Óláfr. — [7] lǫnd lǫgðusk ‘lands became subject’: The sg. reading land lagðisk ‘land became subject’ in Hkr is also possible.

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