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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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5 

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

SkP info: III, 248

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Refr Ferðv 5III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, Ferðavísur 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. 248.

Hrynja fjǫll á fyllar;
framm œsisk Glamma
skeið vetrliði skíða;
skaut bjǫrn Gusis nauta.

 

Mountains fall into the sea; now {the bear of planks} [SHIP] rushes forward on {the race-course of Glammi}; [SEA] {the bear {of the gifts of Gusir}} [ARROWS > = Ǫrvar-Oddr] shot.

context: The stanza is cited in Skm (SnE) to exemplify fyllr being used as a heiti for ‘sea’.

notes: The present interpretation, which relates this stanza to an episode from Ǫrvar-Odds saga (Ǫrv 1888, 40-8), namely Ǫrvar-Oddr’s voyage to Bjarmaland, follows Marold (2006a). According to that interpretation, which adheres to the straightforward syntax and involves no over-determined kennings, the stanza depicts the events which resemble an episode described in the prose of Ǫrvar-Odds saga: mountains (the massive rocks hurled by giants) fall into the sea, creating tremendous waves, and the ship rushes forward. Later the hero, standing behind a bear decoy made of the hide of the killed animal, shoots at a threatening giantess with the famous arrows of Gusir (see Note to l. 4 below). For other attempts at interpretations, see Notes below.

texts: Skm 367, SnE 369

editions: Skj Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson: 4. Et rejsedigt 5 (AI, 321; BI, 297); Skald I, 151, NN §§785, 2988H, 3197B; SnE 1848-87, I, 502-3, II, 452, 535, 601, III, 105, SnE 1931, 176, SnE 1998, I, 96.

sources

GKS 2367 4° (R) 38v, 14 - 38v, 15 (SnE)  image  image  image  
Traj 1374x (Tx) 40r, 23 - 40r, 23 (SnE)  image  
AM 748 I b 4° (A) 13v, 11 - 13v, 12 (SnE)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 757 a 4° (B) 6r, 13 - 6r, 14 (SnE)  image  image  image  image  
AM 744 4°x (744x) 36v, 9 - 36v, 12 (SnE)  image  
AM 748 II 4° (C) 7v, 28 - 7v, 30 (SnE)  image  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 278r, 2 - 278r, 5  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated