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Runic Dictionary

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Kálfr Hallsson (Kálf)

14th century; volume 7; ed. Kirsten Wolf;

Kátrínardrápa (Kátr) - 51

The name of the poet of Kátrínardrápa can be deduced from sts 1, 49 and 51 as Kálfr Hallsson (Kálfr would have been Kálfur in C14th). In st. 1/8 he describes himself as ‘the son of Hallur’ (arfi Halls) and at the end of the poem gives his name in both Icelandic (Kálfr [= ‘calf’] 49/1) and Lat. (Vitulus [= Kálfur] 51/3) and says he is now a monk (frater, st. 51/4). The implication of sts 45-51 is that Kálfr had previously led a sinful secular life, but this may be stereotypical self-deprecation. The Lat. phrase Vítulus vátes ‘the poet Kálfr’ by which the poet refers to himself in st. 51/3-4 also appears in Völsungs rímur hins óborna and this has led some scholars to propose that Kálfr Hallsson was the author of both poems (see Note to st. 51). Nothing is known of Kálfr’s monastic affiliation nor his precise dates, though the mid-C14th seems a likely floruit (Vésteinn Ólason 1993, 316).

Kátrínardrápa (‘Drápa about S. Catherine’) — Kálf KátrVII

Kirsten Wolf 2007, ‘ Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 931-64. <> (accessed 19 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   48   49   50   51 

Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV]: [B. 11]. Katrínar drápa (AII, 516-26, BII, 569-82)

SkP info: VII, 932-3

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Kálf Kátr 1VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 932-3.

Drottinn, gief þú, dýrr, að eg mætta
dæmistóls, í hróðri sæma
alhreinasta ambátt þína,
Jésús Kristr, af mærðar húsi.
Þar næst beiði * milda móður
mána þeingils frægs og eingla
eg nú hljóðs, að oss skuli mýkja
arfa Halls, svá stirðni valla.

{Dýrr drottinn dæmistóls}, Jésús Kristr, gief þú, að eg mætta sæma alhreinasta ambátt þína í hróðri af {húsi mærðar}. Þar næst beiði * eg nú {milda móður {frægs þeingils mána}} og eingla hljóðs, að skuli mýkja oss, arfa Halls, svá stirðni valla.

{Glorious Lord of the judgement seat} [= God (= Christ)], Jesus Christ, grant that I might honour your very purest handmaid in praise from {the house of encomium} [MOUTH]. After that I now ask {the gentle mother {of the famous king of the moon}} [= God (= Christ) > = Mary] and the angels for a hearing, that they will make it easier for us [me], the heir of Hallur, so that it hardly becomes difficult.

Mss: 713(129), 399a-bˣ(2), 920ˣ(213r), 444ˣ

Readings: [3] alhreinasta: at hreinasta all    [5] beiði *: beiði eg all    [6] eingla: eingils all

Editions: Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV], [B. 11]. Katrínar drápa 1: AII, 516-17, BII, 569, Skald II, 312, NN §1774; Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 235, Kahle 1898, 67, 105, Sperber 1911, 43, 77.

Notes: [All]: This st., with sts 2 and 3, form a conventional opening to a religious drápa, in which the poet calls upon Christ, the Virgin Mary and a host of other sacred beings for help in praising S. Catherine. — [1] drottinn ‘Lord’: The quantity of <o> in C14th poetry varies from poem to poem and within poems. Here it is given as short [o], except where internal rhyme requires a long vowel, e.g. 2/6. — [4] af húsi mærðar ‘from the house of encomium [MOUTH]’: This kenning has been construed here as ‘mouth’, but it could equally well be ‘breast’. — [8] arfa Halls ‘heir of Hallur’: The poet names himself here via his patronym, and towards the poem’s end gives his personal name Kálfr ‘calf’ in both Icel. and Lat. (49/1, 51/3). In 51/1-4 he arguably repeats his patronym, concealing it in word play. See Note ad loc. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends arfa Halls to orða hall ‘the hall of words [TONGUE]’ and considers it the object of mýkja (which can also mean ‘soften’); accordingly, he translates the phrase as follows: ‘that they will soften my tongue, so that it does not become stiff’. Kock (NN §1774; Skald) emends arfa Halls to örvar háls ‘arrows of the throat [WORDS]’. In view of the careful self-naming of sts 49 and 51, however, neither of these emendations carry conviction.

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