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.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson (Refr)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

1. Ferðavísur (Ferðv) - 5

Hardly anything is known about the life of Hofgarða-Refr (Refr). He came from a family long residing in Western Iceland (the farm Hofgarðar lies on the south side of Snæfellsnes). The family seems to have held a goðorð ‘chieftaincy’ in that district, because Refr’s great-grandfather Helgi Hofgarðagoði ‘Priest of Hofgarðar’ is mentioned in Eyrbyggja saga (Eb ch. 16, ÍF 4, 30) as a witness in a legal dispute between Snorri goði ‘the Priest’ Þorgrímsson and Arnketill goði ‘the Priest’ Þórólfsson. His mother was Steinunn Refsdóttir or Dálksdóttir, who is known for the stanzas she composed about the shipwreck of the missionary Þangbrandr (Steinunn LvV). In the stanzas she credits Þórr, whom she considers more powerful than Christ, with the shipwreck. From this one might infer that the family only hesitantly converted to Christianity. Nothing in Refr’s poetry indicates he was a Christian; on the contrary, it is clear that he considers poetry a gift from Óðinn (Refr Giz 2 and 3; see Kuhn 1983, 305; ARG I, 262; Kreutzer 1977, 190). His name, Hofgarða-Refr, indicates that he lived on his family’s farm. He was a foster-son of the skald Gizurr gullbrár ‘Gold-eyelash’ (who may be the same as Gizurr svarti ‘the Black’, Gizsv), who was killed at the battle of Stiklestad (Stiklastaðir; 29 July 1030), and in whose memory he composed several stanzas (on Gizurr, see his Biography in SkP I). In Skáldatal Refr is listed as a skald honouring the kings Óláfr inn helgi (S. Óláfr) Haraldsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 274) and his son, Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275), as well as the Norwegian magnate Hárekr ór Þjóttu ‘from Tjøtta’ Eyvindarson and his son Einarr fluga ‘Fly’ (SnE 1848-87, III, 269, 285). Refr’s surviving oeuvre consists of the following poems and stanzas: the above mentioned ‘Poem about Gizurr gullbrárskáld’ (Refr Giz, three extant stanzas); three stanzas ‘From a poem about Þorsteinn’ (Refr Þorst, possibly for a son of Snorri goði ‘the Priest’ Þorgrímsson); a poem about a sea-voyage, called Ferðavísur by modern editors (Refr Ferðv, five extant stanzas); five fragments on various subjects (Refr Frag).

Ferðavísur (‘Stanzas about journeys’) — Refr FerðvIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘ Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, Ferðavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 243. <> (accessed 5 July 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5 

Skj: Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson: 4. Et rejsedigt, Ferðavísur (AI, 320-1, BI, 296-7)

SkP info: III, 245

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Refr Ferðv 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, Ferðavísur 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 245.

Fœrir bjǫrn, þars bára
brestr, undinna festa
opt í ægis kjapta
úrsvǫl Gymis vǫlva.

{Úrsvǫl vǫlva Gymis} fœrir opt {bjǫrn undinna festa} í kjapta ægis, þars bára brestr.

{The spray-cold vǫlva <seeress> of Gymir <sea-giant>} [= Rán] often leads {the bear of twisted moorings} [SHIP] into the jaws of the sea, where the wave breaks.

texts: LaufE 154 (388-9), LaufE 154 (388-9), Skm 127, Skm 351, SnE 129, SnE 353

editions: Skj Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson: 4. Et rejsedigt 2 (AI, 320; BI, 296); Skald I, 151; SnE 1848-87, I, 326-7, 494-7, II, 316, 450, 529, 599, III, 52, SnE 1931, 116, 174, SnE 1998, I, 37, 93; LaufE 1979, 388-9.


GKS 2367 4° (R*) 26v, 7 - 26v, 8 (SnE)  image  image  image  
GKS 2367 4° (R*) 38r, 21 - 38r, 22 (SnE)  image  image  image  
Traj 1374x (Tx*) 27r, 28 - 27r, 28 (SnE)  image  
Traj 1374x (Tx*) 39v, 31 - 39v, 31 (SnE)  image  
AM 242 fol (W) 57, 15 - 57, 15 (SnE)  image  image  image  
DG 11 (U) 29v, 16 - 29v, 17 (SnE)  image  
AM 748 I b 4° (A) 13r, 17 - 13r, 19 (SnE)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 744 4°x (744x) 31r, 15 - 31v, 1 (SnE)  image  
AM 757 a 4° (B) 5r, 30 - 5r, 31 (SnE)  image  image  image  image  
AM 748 II 4° (C) 7r, 33 - 7v, 1 (SnE)  image  image  
GKS 2368 4°x (2368x) 126, 8 - 126, 9 (LaufE)  image  
AM 743 4°x (743x) 94v, 22 - 94v, 25 (LaufE)  image  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 277v, 7 - 277v, 10  image  
© 2008-