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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 28 November 2021)

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, 25

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Bjarni Frag 5III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Bjarni ...ason, Fragments 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 25.

This stanza (Bjarni Frag 5) is recorded in LaufE (mss 2368ˣ (main ms.) and 743ˣ), and it is also found in RE 1665(Jj), which has no independent value (copied from a LaufE Y ms.). The stanza seems to belong to the same narrative context as Frag 4. If so, the woman in the present stanza is the person who removes the tortured man from the erected wheel. Yet, this description of Sigurðr slembidjákn’s death does not agree with the prose sources (see Introduction above), according to which his arms and legs were broken by blows from axe-heads, whereupon he was beaten with whips and hanged (HarsonaHkr ch. 12, ÍF 28, 319-20; ÍF 24, 208-9). If it is assumed that he was hanged only, the woman could also have taken him down from the gallows.

Ok liðhraustan leysti
Lofn, es herr vas sofnaðr,
landrifs lengi píndan
lagdýrs ofan stýri.

Ok {Lofn {landrifs}} leysti ofan {liðhraustan stýri {lagdýrs}}, lengi píndan, es herr vas sofnaðr.

And {the Lofn <goddess> {of the land-rib}} [STONE > WOMAN] released {the troop-bold commander {of the sea-beast}} [SHIP > SEAFARER], long tormented, from above when the army had fallen asleep.

Mss: 2368ˣ(116), 743ˣ(88v) (LaufE)

Readings: [2] herr: so 743ˣ, ‘hertt’ 2368ˣ    [3] píndan: ‘pnndan’ 743ˣ

Editions: Skj: Bjarni ason (el. a sk)., Brudstykker af digte 4: AI, 542, BI, 523, Skald I, 255, NN §3235; SnE 1848-87, II, 631, III, 195-6, LaufE 1979, 376.

Context: This helmingr is cited to exemplify that stones and terms for ‘stone’ can be used as determinants in woman-kennings.

Notes: [1] liðhraustan ‘troop-bold’: Kock (NN §3235) deliberates whether lið- might be from liðr ‘joint, limb’ rather than from lið n. ‘troop, army’. If so, liðhraustan would mean, according to him, med kraftig arm, (kroppsligt) stark ‘with a strong arm, (physically) strong’. No known cpd adj. has that word as its first element, however, whereas such adjectives as liðgegn ‘helpful to men’, liðdrjúgr ‘strong in number’ and liðstórr ‘great of help’ (all LP) are quite common. The adj. liðhraustr also appears in Mark Eirdr 26/2II (on the meaning, see Note there). — [1, 4] leysti ofan ‘released … from above’: Lit. ‘unfastened from above’. The sense is that the woman unties the man from the wheel and lowers him to the ground. — [2, 3] Lofn landrifs ‘the Lofn <goddess> of the land-rib [STONE > WOMAN]’: Cf. also Ólhelg Lv 2/1, 2I. Lofn is a goddess whose name is frequently used in woman-kennings, but very little is known about her (see Note to Þul Ásynja 1/6).

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