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Runic Dictionary

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Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson (Refr)

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

2. From a poem about Þorsteinn (Þorst) - 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).

From a poem about Þorsteinn — Refr ÞorstIII

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, From a poem about Þorsteinn’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 250. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1232> (accessed 24 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3 

Skj: Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson: 3. Af et digt om en Þórsteinn (AI, 320, BI, 296); stanzas (if different): 4

SkP info: III, 250

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Refr Þorst 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, From a poem about Þorsteinn 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. 250.

Grjótaldar ték gildi
geðreinar Þórsteini;
berg-Mœra glymr bára;
biðk lýða kyn hlýða.

k Þórsteini {gildi {geðreinar} {grjótaldar}}; {bára {berg-Mœra}} glymr; biðk {kyn lýða} hlýða.

I offer Þorsteinn {the drink {of the mind-land} [BREAST] {of the rock-people}} [GIANTS > POEM]; {the wave {of the mountain-Mœrir <people of Mœrr>}} [GIANTS > POEM] resounds; I ask {the kindred of men} [PEOPLE] to listen.

Mss: R(21v), Tˣ(21v), W(46), U(27r), B(4r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] k: rær R, tér Tˣ, W, B, tel ek U    [2] geð‑: goð‑ B    [3] berg‑Mœra: ‘ber[…]ra’ U    [4] lýða: so all others, lýða þá R

Editions: Skj: Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, 3. Af et digt om en Þórsteinn 1: AI, 320, BI, 296, Skald I, 150; SnE 1848-87, I, 246-7, II, 306, 521, III, 11, SnE 1931, 92, SnE 1998, I, 12.

Context: The helmingr is cited in SnE (Skm) among stanzas exemplifying kennings for ‘poetry’.

Notes: [1] k ‘I offer’: The emendation, which is in keeping with earlier eds, is necessary here because, though most of the other readings point to tér ‘you offer/he offers’ rather than rœr ‘you row/he rows’ (so R), neither makes sense in this context. — [1-2] gildi geðreinar grjótaldar ‘the drink of the mind-land [BREAST] of the rock-people [GIANTS > POEM]’: Gildi means ‘feast, banquet’, but it is taken here as a variation for ‘drink’. To the poem-kenning gildi grjótaldar ‘the drink of the rock-people’, which could stand on its own, Refr adds geðreinar ‘of the mind-land [BREAST]’. Such an addition only makes sense, however, with poem-kennings whose determinant is Óðinn, because Óðinn carried the mead of poetry out of the land of giants in his breast. The additional word, which does not fit here, indicates that a blending of the two kenning types ‘drink of giants’ and ‘liquid of Óðinn’s breast’ has occurred. — [3] bára berg-Mœra glymr ‘the wave of the mountain-Mœrir <people of Mœrr> [GIANTS > POEM] resounds’: The metaphor of the recitation of the poem as the rush of a wave of the mead of poetry is strongly reminiscent of the opening stanzas of Vellekla (Eskál Vell 1-4I).

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