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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, 887

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — BjHall Kálffl 7I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson, Kálfsflokkr 7’ 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. 887.

Þér frák, Þorbergs hlýri,
— þess gerðusk ér verðir —
— helt, unz hann of spillti —
Haralds bróðurson góðan.
Vǫkðu ǫfundmenn ykkar
iðula róg á miðli
þǫrf lízk mér) arfa
Ôleifs þeim môlum).


I have heard that {the son of Haraldr’s brother} [= Magnús] was good to you, {brother of Þorbergr}; [= Kálfr] you made yourself worthy of that; that lasted until he damaged [it]. Envious men constantly stirred up strife between you and {Óláfr’s heir}; [= Magnús] that seems to me an unnecessary thing in those matters.

context: Magnús, reminded by followers of the role played by Kálfr in the downfall of his father Óláfr, forces Kálfr to accompany him to the battle-site of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad). Kálfr denies having dealt Óláfr his death blow, but has his belongings in readiness and flees the kingdom for the British Isles. 

notes: In Hkr the stanza is identified as belonging to Kálffl. — [5]: The line has resolution of the syllables ǫfund- in the second lift, and represents a type that became popular in the C11th among Haraldr harðráði and his poets; see Kuhn (1983, 68) and Note to Hharð Gamv 2/1II. — [5-8]: This is construed here as in Skj B. Kock (NN §2039, followed by ÍF 28) argues that arfa Ôleifs ‘heir of Óláfr’, rather than being construed in apposition to ykkar ‘you (two)’, should be taken together with óþǫrf, here ‘an unnecessary thing’, which he interprets as ‘harm’ (cf. Fritzner: úþurft ‘(unnecessary) harm’), hence ‘it seems to me there was harm for the heir of Óláfr in these dealings’. While this gives a more natural word order, the implication of harm inflicted on Magnús seems to contradict the suggestion of his agency in hann of spillti ‘he damaged [it]’ (l. 3).

texts: MGóð 24 (III 24), ÓH 203 (198), Hkr 403 (III 24)

editions: Skj Bjarni Hallbjarnarson gullbrárskáld: Kalfsflokkr 7 (AI, 395-6; BI, 364-5);

Skald I, 182, NN §2039Fms 5, 127Fms 12, 107ÓH 1941, I, 624 (ch. 259); Hkr 1893-1901, III, 28, IV, 187-8, ÍF 28, 25, Hkr 1991, II, 572 (MGóð ch. 14), F 1871, 176, E 1916, 16



Holm perg 2 4° (Holm2) 74r, 15 - 74r, 17 (ÓH)  transcr.  image  
Thott 972 folx (972x) 583va, 34 - 583va, 41 (ÓH)  image  image  
AM 321 4°x (321x) 281, 22 - 281, 25 (ÓH)  image  
AM 73 a folx (73ax) 215v, 25 - 215v, 32 (ÓH)  image  
Holm perg 4 4° (Holm4) 69vb, 10 - 69vb, 14 (ÓH)  image  
AM 61 fol (61) 130rb, 14 - 130rb, 17 (ÓH)  image  image  
AM 325 V 4° (325V) 89rb, 18 - 89rb, 23 (ÓH)  image  
AM 325 VI 4° (325VI) 42ra, 14 - 42ra, 17 (ÓH)  image  
AM 325 VII 4° (325VII) 41v, 11 - 41v, 12 (ÓH)  image  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 206r, 14 - 206r, 19 (ÓH)  image  
GKS 1008 fol (Tóm) 161r, 23 - 161r, 25 (ÓH)  image  
AM 63 folx (Kx) 503r, 23 - 503v, 2 (Hkr)  image  
AM 39 fol (39) 14rb, 27 - 14rb, 30 (Hkr)  image  
AM 45 fol (F) 38vb, 8 - 38vb, 10 (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 244v, 20 - 244v, 27 (Hkr)  image  
AM 47 fol (E) 5r, 34 - 5v, 1 (Hkr)  image  
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