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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 30 November 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, 954-5

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

38 — Kálf Kátr 38VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 38’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 954-5.

Æðin hljóp í plátu prýði;
pína bauð hann drotning sína;
brjóstin skáru blóta lystir
baugs spennandar lífs af henni.
Tiggi liet þá tróðu höggva
tálgjarnastur Iðja mála;
sálin giet eg, að hennar hvíli
himna Krists í dýrðarvistum.

Æðin hljóp í {prýði plátu}; hann bauð drotning sína pína; {blóta lystir spennandar baugs} skáru brjóstin af henni lífs. Tálgjarnastur tiggi liet þá {tróðu {mála Iðja}} höggva; eg giet, að sálin hennar hvíli í dýrðarvistum Krists himna.

Anger overtook {the adorner of harness} [WARRIOR]; he requested that his queen be tortured; {the sacrifice-keen squanderers of the ring} [GENEROUS MEN] cut the breasts off her while she was alive. The very deceit-inclined king then had {the stick {of the speech of Iði <giant>}} [GOLD > WOMAN] slain; I expect that her soul rests in the glorious abodes of Christ’s heavens.

Mss: 713(132), 399a-bˣ(21), 920ˣ(217v)

Readings: [1] plátu: ‘platons’ all    [6] Iðja: ‘idju’ all    [7] sálin: sálu 713, 399a‑bˣ, sálu 920ˣ

Editions: Skj: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV], [B. 11]. Katrínar drápa 38: AII, 523-4, BII, 578-9, Skald II, 319, Kahle 1898, 75, 108, Sperber 1911, 51-2, 82.

Notes: [1] plátu (f. gen. sg.) ‘harness, plate armour’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald) emend all mss’ ‘platons’ to plátu; Sperber takes the ms. form as a proper noun and regards Plátons prýðir (which he translates as ‘worshipper of Platon’, i.e. the Greek philosopher Plato, considered as a representative of heathen learning) as a kenning for ‘heathen’.  Pláta occurs elsewhere in poetry only in rímur, as a determinant in man (or warrior)-kennings (e.g. plátu runn ‘bush of armour’ in Friðþjófsrímur II, 13/1(Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, I, 420), a poem Finnur (LH, III, 52) considered likely to be composed by Vitulus vates). Plata f. is attested in prose (ONP word-list: plata; Fritzner: plata 2; Fritzner IV: pláta) and the form ‘Platonis’ occurs in the prose saga of S. Catherine (Unger 1877, 404; Wolf 2003, 126) to refer to Plato the philosopher. — [3-4] blóta lystir spennandar baugs ‘the sacrifice-keen squanderers of the ring [GENEROUS MEN]’: An ironic expression for Maxentius’s heathen followers, based on the kenning-type ‘distributor of gold/rings [GENEROUS MAN]’. — [5-6] tróðu mála Iðja ‘the stick of the speech of Iði <giant> [GOLD > WOMAN]’: The pers. n. Iði (Iðja gen. sg.) for mss’ ‘idju’ was first suggested by Kahle following Jón Þorkelsson. According to the Skm section of SnE (1998, I, 3), Iði was the name of a very rich giant who, along with his two brothers, measured out their inheritance in mouthfuls of gold. From that myth, according to Snorri, poets could construct kennings for gold that referred to it as ‘speech or words or talk’ of these giants. A similar kenning appears in st. 39/1-2 ýtir raddar Iðja (also by emendation, where the mss have the same form iðju, possibly understood by the scribes as from iðja f. ‘activity, work’). The poet appears to refer once more to the myth underlying these relatively uncommon kennings (cf. Meissner, 227) in 40/5-6 ýtar róms jötna ‘launchers of the speech of giants’ and again in 50/5-6 eigendur jötna róms ‘owners of the speech of giants’. The gold-kenning Iðja rödd ‘voice of Iði <giant>’ also appears in Völsungs rímur III, 20/4 (Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, I, 329). — [8] í dýrðarvistum himna Krists ‘in the glorious abodes of Christ’s heavens’: Possibly a kenning-like periphrasis for Paradise.

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