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Runic Dictionary

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Kálfr Hallsson (Kálf)

14th century; volume 7; ed. Kirsten Wolf;

Kátrínardrápa (Kátr) - 51

The name of the poet of Kátrínardrápa can be deduced from sts 1, 49 and 51 as Kálfr Hallsson (Kálfr would have been Kálfur in C14th). In st. 1/8 he describes himself as ‘the son of Hallur’ (arfi Halls) and at the end of the poem gives his name in both Icelandic (Kálfr [= ‘calf’] 49/1) and Lat. (Vitulus [= Kálfur] 51/3) and says he is now a monk (frater, st. 51/4). The implication of sts 45-51 is that Kálfr had previously led a sinful secular life, but this may be stereotypical self-deprecation. The Lat. phrase Vítulus vátes ‘the poet Kálfr’ by which the poet refers to himself in st. 51/3-4 also appears in Völsungs rímur hins óborna and this has led some scholars to propose that Kálfr Hallsson was the author of both poems (see Note to st. 51). Nothing is known of Kálfr’s monastic affiliation nor his precise dates, though the mid-C14th seems a likely floruit (Vésteinn Ólason 1993, 316).

Kátrínardrápa (‘Drápa about S. Catherine’) — Kálf KátrVII

Kirsten Wolf 2007, ‘ Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 931-64. <> (accessed 27 October 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   48   49   50   51 

Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV]: [B. 11]. Katrínar drápa (AII, 516-26, BII, 569-82)

SkP info: VII, 952

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

34 — Kálf Kátr 34VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 34’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 952.

Stef, þau er eg með stuðla knífi
smíðað hefi *, munu verða að líða;
skjöldungs er víst nú skýja veldis
slæmrinn gjörr um háleitt dæmi.
Öll hafði þá odda spillir
orðin söm við falda skorðu;
blóta fægir bauðz að eiga
bragnings meyju sólar vagna.

Stef, þau er eg hefi * smíðað með {knífi stuðla}, munu verða að líða; slæmrinn er nú víst gjörr um háleitt dæmi {skjöldungs {veldis skýja}}. {Spillir odda} hafði þá öll söm orðin við {skorðu falda}; {fægir blóta} bauðz að eiga {meyju {bragnings {vagna sólar}}}.

The refrains, which I have * constructed with {the knife of stuðlar} [TONGUE], will be coming to an end; the conclusion will now certainly be made about the sublime example {of the king {of the realm of the clouds}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God]. {The destroyer of swords’ points} [WARRIOR] had then spoken all the same words to {the prop of headdresses} [WOMAN]; {the performer of sacrifices} [HEATHEN MAN] offered to marry {the maiden {of the prince {of the wagons of the sun}}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God > HOLY WOMAN].

Mss: 713(132), 399a-bˣ(19), 920ˣ(217r)

Readings: [2] hefi *: hefi eg og all;    munu: mun all

Editions: Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV], [B. 11]. Katrínar drápa 34: AII, 523, BII, 577-8, Skald II, 318, NN §§3386A, 3387, Kahle 1898, 74, 107, Sperber 1911, 51, 81.

Notes: [1-4]: Sperber (1911, v), using this st. as an example, draws attention to the fact that the poet lets s alliterate with sk (and sp). Kálfr uses three technical terms here for parts of a drápa, stef (n. nom. pl.) ‘refrains’, stuðla (m. gen. pl.) from stuðill ‘prop, support, alliterating stave in the odd lines of a st.’, and slæmrinn (m. nom. sg.), name for the third and final section of a poem with three parts. — [1] með stuðla knífi ‘with the knife of [alliterating] staves’: The meaning of this kenning is not entirely clear. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) translates med digtningens kniv ‘with the knife of poetry’, assuming perhaps that stuðlar are metonymous for poetry generally. In LP, however, he interprets the kenning to refer to the tongue, and this may be the more plausible surmise, if the image underlying the kenning is of a sharp instrument that cuts the (wooden) props that support the poem. — [5-6] öll söm orðin ‘all the same words’: Viz. as Maxentius had addressed to Catherine before when he asked her to marry him (18/5-8). — [8] vagna sólar ‘the wagons of the sun’: See Note to 20/6.

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