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.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

Bjarni ...ason (Bjarni)

12th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

Fragments (Frag) - 5

Nothing is known about the life of the skald Bjarni …ason (Bjarni) who is credited in SnE and LaufE with four helmingar and one couplet. His patronymic is either not given or is rendered variously as ‘.a.son’ in SnE (W(169)), or ‘A: s(on)’ (LaufE 1979, 354) or ‘A. sk.’ (743ˣ(88v)), the latter of which could be interpreted as Bjarni A(patronymic) skáld (SnE 1848-87, II, 631). Bjarni ‘ason’ could be identical with a Bjarni skáld who composed poetry in honour of the Norwegian king Óláfr Tryggvason (d. 1000) according to Skáldatal A (SnE 1848-87, III, 253) and the Bjarni who is referred to in Hst Rst 34/8I along with Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ‘Troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson (Hfr). Conceivably, he could also be the same Bjarni who flung a horn in the face of Hákon jarl (HaukrV Ísldr 16IV). But he is not identical with Bjarni gullbrárskáld ‘Gold-eyelash Poet’ Hallbjarnarson (BjHall), who is also named as a skald of Óláfr Tryggvason in Skáldatal B (SnE 1848-87, III, 261, 274), because that skald is known to have composed poetry for the Norwegian magnate Kálfr Árnason, staying with him during the winter of 1050/51. Hence the lifetime of Bjarni gullbrárskáld cannot be congruent with that of the Bjarni of Skáldatal A (SnE 1848-87, III, 495-8; LH I, 544).

Fragments — Bjarni FragIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘ Bjarni ...ason, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 20. <> (accessed 25 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5 

Skj: Bjarni ason (el. a sk).: Brudstykker af digte (AI, 542, BI, 523); stanzas (if different): 4

SkP info: III, 21

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Bjarni Frag 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Bjarni ...ason, Fragments 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 21.

This stanza (Bjarni Frag 1), recorded in SnE (ms. W), may refer to the blinding of Magnús blindi by his uncle, Haraldr gilli; cf. Magnúss saga blinda ok Haralds gilla (MbHgHkr ch. 8, ÍF 28, 287).

Varð, þats fylkis fœrðu,
fárverk, bráa merki
— gǫr varð heipt — ór hjǫrvi
Heimdalls viðir seima.

Fárverk varð, þats {viðir seima} fœrðu {merki bráa} ór {hjǫrvi Heimdalls} fylkis; heipt varð gǫr.

A terrible deed came to pass, when {trees of gold} [MEN] stabbed {the stars of the eyelashes} [EYES] out of {the sword of Heimdallr <god>} [HEAD] of the ruler; [an act of] hatred was accomplished.

Mss: W(169) (SnE)

Readings: [3] hjǫrvi: corrected from ‘hǫfví’ W

Editions: Skj: Bjarni ason (el. a sk)., Brudstykker af digte 1: AI, 542, BI, 523, Skald I, 255; SnE 1848-87, II, 499, III, 178.

Context: The helmingr is cited in W to exemplify the kenning ‘sword of Heimdallr’ meaning ‘head’.

Notes: [3-4] hjǫrvi Heimdalls ‘the sword of Heimdallr <god> [HEAD]’: See also the similar kenning in Grett Lv 26/8V (Gr 58) and Note there. So far it has not been explained satisfactorily. Even Snorri’s remark (SnE 2005, 26) Heimdalar sverð er kallat hǫfuð ‘the head is called Heimdallr’s sword’ is more a statement than an explanation. This kenning, and the diverse information found in Old Icelandic literature concerning the deity Heimdallr, has led to a flood of theories and explanations which will not be discussed here. The most likely explanation to date is that Heimdallr was a god in the shape of a ram, or that he assumed the features of such a ram-god; cf. Þul Hrúts ll. 6, 8, where Heimdali and Hallinskíði, another name for the god, are both listed as heiti for ‘ram’ (see also Note to Glúmr Gráf 14/1, 2I). The kenning ‘sword of Heimdallr’ for ‘head’ would then correspond to the pattern ‘sword of the bull’ for ‘horn’ (a ram’s weapon is its head with which it butts an opponent). On Heimdallr as a god in the form of a ram, see Hellquist (1891, 172), Much (1930), de Vries (1935, 59; 1955, 260), Ohlmarks (1937, 147) and Lindquist (1937b, 98). It is impossible to establish whether such a ram-god was part of the Germanic pantheon, but such deities and cults are known from other parts of the world (see Schröder 1967, 15-16).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated