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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 19 May 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, 251

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Refr Þorst 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, From a poem about Þorsteinn 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. 251.

Alls bǫðgœðis bjóða
— bǫrr ræðr til þess hjǫrva —
ógnstǫðvar hefk ægi
einráðit Þórsteini.

Alls hefk einráðit bjóða Þórsteini {ægi {ógnstǫðvar} {bǫðgœðis}}; {bǫrr hjǫrva} ræðr til þess.

Since I have decided to offer Þorsteinn {the ocean {of the terror-place} [BREAST] {of the battle-promoter}} [= Óðinn > POEM]; {the tree of swords} [WARRIOR] [I] begins to work on this.

Mss: R(33v), Tˣ(35r), W(76-77), U(32r), A(10v), C(5r) (SnE); 2368ˣ(114) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Alls: so all others, ‘[…]llz’ R;    ‑gœðis: ‘‑ǫgþi’ R, ‑goði Tˣ, ‑gœði W, A, 2368ˣ, ‑geði U, ‘‑auglis’ C;    bjóða: so Tˣ, W, U, A, 2368ˣ, ‘giø̨þa’ R, galla C    [2] bǫrr: aurr C;    ræðr: hygg U;    hjǫrva: ‘hiórna’ 2368ˣ    [3] ógnstǫðvar: ‘ognstoðfar’ W, ‘[…]ngstoþvar’(?) U;    ægi: eigi Tˣ    [4] ein‑: ‘ei[…]’(?) U;    ‑ráðit: ‑ráðum Tˣ, ‑ráðinn W, U, A, 2368ˣ

Editions: Skj: Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, 3. Af et digt om en Þórsteinn 2: AI, 320, BI, 296, Skald I, 150; SnE 1848-87, I, 416-17, II, 326, 437, III, 76-7, SnE 1931, 148, SnE 1998, I, 66; LaufE 1979, 373-4.

Context: The helmingr is quoted in SnE (Skm) and LaufE among stanzas containing kennings for ‘man’.

Notes: [1] bǫðgœðis ‘of the battle-promoter [= Óðinn]’: The emendation (addition of -s) is necessary because a gen. is needed to integrate the word in the kenning for ‘poem’. The kenning ‘battle-promoter’ is a traditional warrior-kenning, but the context shows that it can only refer to Óðinn here, because ægi ógnstǫðvar ‘the ocean of the terror-place [BREAST]’ must be supplemented by ‘Óðinn’ to fit the pattern ‘liquid of Óðinn’s breast [POEM]’ (on the use of warrior-kennings for Óðinn, see Meissner 253). As the god of war, Óðinn continually ‘promoted’ battle by causing strife among warriors (cf. Hárb 24, HHund II, 34 and ARG II, 57 for more examples).

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