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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Kálfr Hallsson (Kálf)

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

Kátrínardrápa (Kátr) - 51

not in Skj

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 28 May 2022)

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

SkP info: VII, 963-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

51 — Kálf Kátr 51VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 51’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 963-4.

Káterín, við óði mætum
efni gless með söguna þessa;
Vítulus gaf honum viðarins heiti
vátes †bernit†, en er hann fráter.
Líttu, maðr, á letrið þetta;
landi reit, segir óðar veitir;
Laufa þollr, í læstu briefi
leita máttu váru heiti.


Rejoice, Catherine, in the poem with costly materials with this story; Kálfur the poet †bernit† gave it the name of the tree, but now he is a monk. Look, man, at this writing; a countryman wrote it, says {the giver of the poem}; [POET] you can search, {fir-tree of Laufi}, [WARRIOR] for our [my] name in the closed letter.

notes: The word ‘Amen’ is added at the end of the poem in 713 and 399a-bˣ. — [2]: Jón Þorkelsson (1888, 235) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emend glers, gen. sg. of gler ‘glass’, to gless ‘rejoice’, otherwise there is no verb in ll. 1-2, assuming it is an independent cl. Kock (Skald; NN §1777) emends to gletts ‘amusement’ (which creates problems with the internal rhyme) and sees in við a form of the verb vinna ‘work, create’ the object of which is efni; accordingly, he proposes the following interpretation: Káterín, við óði mætum efni gletts með söguna þessa ‘Catherine, [create] with the great poem an amusement with this statement’. Sperber considers efni glers ‘material from which glass is made’) as an ofljóst kenning for ‘stone’ (= Hallur, the father of the poet Kálfr, see st. 1/8). — [7]: As suggested by Sperber and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), í læstu briefi presumably refers to the obscure meaning of the first half-st. The phrase must be an Icel. calque on Lat. litterae clausae, letters close, that is, private letters, addressed to one or two individuals only and closed or folded and sealed, by contrast with letters patent, open letters or documents affixed with a royal or other seal, issued by a monarch or government.

editions: Skj [Anonyme digte og vers XIV]: [B. 11]. Katrínar drápa 51 (AII, 526; BII, 582); Skald II, 321, NN §§1777, 2969; Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 235-6, Kahle 1898, 78, 109, Sperber 1911, 55, 83-4.


AM 713 4° (713) 134 - 134  transcr.  image  image  
JS 399 a-b 4°x (399a-bx) 27 - 27  
AM 920 4°x (920x) 219r - 219r  image  
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