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Runic Dictionary

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Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson (Refr)

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

3. Poem about Gizurr gullbrárskáld (Giz) - 3

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).

Poem about Gizurr gullbrárskáld — Refr GizIII

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, Poem about Gizurr gullbrárskáld’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 254. <> (accessed 28 June 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3 

Skj: Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson: 2. Et digt om Gizurr Gullbrárskáld, o. 1031 (AI, 319, BI, 295)

SkP info: III, 254

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Refr Giz 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, Poem about Gizurr gullbrárskáld 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. 254.

Einn háði gný Gunnar
— gall bál Hôars — stála
rimmu askr við rǫskva
regndjarfr tváa þegna.
Dalsteypir hjó Draupnis
dǫgg-Frey banahǫggvi,
— hann rauð járn — en annan
ôr strauma vann sáran.

{Askr rimmu}, {stála regn}djarfr, háði einn {gný Gunnar} við tváa rǫskva þegna; {bál Hôars} gall. {Dalsteypir} hjó {{Draupnis dǫgg}-Frey} banahǫggvi, en vann {annan ôr strauma} sáran; hann rauð járn.

{The ash-tree of battle} [WARRIOR], bold {in the rain of steel weapons} [(lit. ‘rain-bold of steel weapons’) BATTLE], engaged alone {in the din of Gunnr <valkyrie>} [BATTLE] against two brave men; {the fire of Hárr <= Óðinn>} [SWORD] resounded. {The bow-destroyer} [WARRIOR] dealt {the Freyr <god> {of the dew of Draupnir <ring>}} [(lit. ‘Draupnir’s dew-Freyr’) GOLD > MAN] his deathblow and inflicted a wound {upon another messenger of currents} [SEAFARER]; he reddened iron-blades.

texts: Flat 614, ÓH 160 (156), ÓHHkr 153 (II 153), Hkr 354 (II 153)

editions: Skj Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson: 2. Et digt om Gizurr Gullbrárskáld 1 (AI, 319; BI, 295); Skald I, 150, NN §§784, 839; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 491, IV, 168-9, ÍF 27, 382 (ÓH ch. 227); ÓH 1941, I, 572 (ch. 225), Flat 1860-8, II, 355.


AM 36 folx (Kx) 470r, 11 - 470r, 18 (Hkr)  image  
Holm perg 2 4° (Holm2) 68r, 3 - 68r, 5 (ÓH)  image  
Thott 972 folx (972x) 527va, 23 - 527va, 23 (ÓH)  image  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 226r, 32 - 226v, 7 (ÓH)  image  
AM 321 4°x (321x) 255, 12 - 255, 15 (ÓH)  image  
AM 73 a folx (73ax) 201r, 17 - 201r, 17 (ÓH)  image  
Holm perg 4 4° (Holm4) 63va, 3 - 63va, 7 (ÓH)  image  
AM 61 fol (61) 125va, 2 - 125va, 6 (ÓH)  image  image  
AM 325 V 4° (325V) 80vb, 12 - 80vb, 17 (ÓH)  image  
AM 325 VII 4° (325VII) 38r, 22 - 38r, 23 (ÓH)  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 124vb, 9 - 124vb, 12 (ÓH)  image  image  image  
GKS 1008 fol (Tóm) 155v, 41 - 155v, 44 (ÓH)  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 547v, 5 - 547v, 12  image  
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