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Runic Dictionary

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Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson (BjHall)

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

Kálfsflokkr (Kálffl) - 8

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.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

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

SkP info: I, 885

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — BjHall Kálffl 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson, Kálfsflokkr 5’ 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. 885.

Jǫrð rétt vígi at varða
vígreifr fyr Ôleifi;
brauzt við bragning nýztan
bág; þat kveðk mik frôgu.
Fyrr gekkt á stað Stiklar
stór verk, en óð merki;
satts, at sókn of veittir
snjallr, unz gramr vas fallinn.

Vígreifr, rétt at varða jǫrð vígi fyr Ôleifi; brauzt bág við nýztan bragning; þat kveðk mik frôgu. Fyrr gekkt stór verk á Stiklarstað, en merki óð; satts, at of veittir snjallr sókn, unz gramr vas fallinn.

War-cheerful, you set about defending the land with war against Óláfr; you raised hostility against the most excellent king; I declare that I heard that. Before, you achieved great deeds at Stiklestad, and the standard surged; it is true that you kept up the attack, brave, until the king had fallen.

Mss: Holm2(68r), J2ˣ(227v), 321ˣ(257), 73aˣ(202r), Holm4(63vb), 61(125vb), 325V(81rb), 325VII(38v), Bb(199ra), Flat(124vb), Tóm(156r) (ÓH); Kˣ(471v) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] Jǫrð: ‘ad’ 321ˣ, ‘Jardr’ 73aˣ, ‘Jorðr’ or ‘Jarðr’ 325V;    rétt: rétti 73aˣ;    at: om. J2ˣ    [3] brauzt (‘brauztu’): bauztu Kˣ;    nýztan: nýzta J2ˣ, nýztum 325VII    [4] bág: dag Bb;    kveðk (‘kveð ec’): kveð 325VII    [5] Fyrr: fram Flat;    gekkt (‘gecctv’): gekksk þú 61, Bb;    á stað Stiklar: í styr strǫngum 61, Flat, Tóm, styrs unz stilli Bb;    Stiklar: Stikla 73aˣ, Holm4, 325V, 325VII, Kˣ    [6] stór‑: stóð 61, Bb, Flat, Tóm;    óð: orð J2ˣ, at 73aˣ    [7] satts at (‘satt er at’): so 73aˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Kˣ, satt er Holm2, satt var at J2ˣ, satt var Tóm    [8] unz: ‘vyz’ 73aˣ;    gramr: framr J2ˣ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni Hallbjarnarson gullbrárskáld, Kalfsflokkr 5: AI, 395, BI, 364, Skald I, 182Fms 5, 83-4, Fms 12, 101ÓH 1941, I, 575 (ch. 226), Flat 1860-8, II, 357; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 494, IV, 171, ÍF 27, 385-6, Hkr 1991, II, 534 (ÓHHkr ch. 228). 

Context: The stanza is cited at the point where King Óláfr Haraldsson is killed in the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad). ÓH-Hkr record uncertainty as to whether one of the three decisive blows was struck by Kálfr Árnason or his kinsman Kálfr Arnfinnsson (and see ÍF 27, 385 n. 2).

Notes: [4] frôgu ‘heard’: This is the past inf. of fregna ‘to hear, learn by enquiry’ forming an inf. with acc. construction with (kveðk) mik ‘me’, hence ‘(I declare that) I heard’. — [5-8]: (a) The construal here follows Skj B. It requires treating gekkt, normally ‘you went’, as a transitive verb meaning ‘achieved’, which is unusual but possible (Fritzner: ganga 10). (b) ÍF 27 reads Gekktu á Stiklastað fyrr an merki óð; satt stórverk es, at of veittir ... ‘You advanced at Stiklestad before the standard surged; it is a truly [lit. true] great deed, that you kept up ... ’, but this assumes a contorted syntax. (c) Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, II, 249; followed in Hkr 1893-1901, II) hazarded an emended form stórverkr, which he took as either a substantive (stordådsmand ‘man of great deeds’) or an adj. (‘doing great deeds’) qualifying the understood subject þú ‘you’. But the element ‑verkr in compounds is more usually nominal, with the sense ‘pain’. — [5] Stiklarstað ‘Stiklestad’: The p. n. elements are reversed in the text in a mild form of tmesis, as often with place names in skaldic lines; Sigv ErfÓl 10/7 is a direct parallel (see Note). On the p. n. Stikla(r)staðir, here sg. rather than the normal pl., see Note to Þorm Lv 23/3-4, and on the battle see ‘Óláfr inn helgi Haraldsson’ in ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [8] snjallr ‘brave’: This is taken as applying to Kálfr, the addressee of the 2nd pers. verb veittir ‘you kept up’ (l. 7), just as vígreifr ‘war-cheerful’ (l. 2) qualifies the 2nd pers. rétt ‘you set about’ (l. 2). Snjallr could alternatively qualify gramr ‘the king’ in l. 8 (so Hkr 1991).

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