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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bersi Ólfl 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Bersi Skáld-Torfuson, Flokkr about Óláfr helgi 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 791.

Bersi Skáld-TorfusonFlokkr about Óláfr helgi

text and translation

Hróðrs batt heilan líða
hagkennanda þenna,
en snarrœki slíku
svarat unnum vér gunnar.
Orð seldum þau elda
úthauðrs boða trauðir
knarrar hapts, sem keyptak,
kynstórs, at við brynju.

Batt {þenna hagkennanda hróðrs} líða heilan, en vér unnum svarat slíku {snarrœki gunnar}. Trauðir hapts seldum þau orð {kynstórs boða {elda {úthauðrs knarrar}}}, sem keyptak at {við brynju}.
‘You bade this skilled conveyor of praise [POET = me] to fare well, and we [I] managed to reply in kind to the keen cultivator of battle [WARRIOR = you, Óláfr]. Reluctant for hindrance, we [I] sold those words to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship [SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr] just as I had bought [them] from the tree of the mail-shirt [WARRIOR = you, Óláfr].

notes and context

ÓH-Hkr describes how Bersi (not previously mentioned) is fighting in the fore-stem of Sveinn jarl’s ship in his battle at Nesjar against King Óláfr Haraldsson (1016). He is distinctive – handsome and well armed – and King Óláfr recognises him; they exchange shouted greetings. The three stanzas of Ólfl are then cited, with the explanation that Bersi composed a flokkr for Óláfr after he had come into his power and was sitting in fetters.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Bersi Skáldtorfuson, 1. En flok om kong Olaf 1: AI, 275-6, BI, 255, Skald I, 131, NN §684; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 73-4, IV, 123, ÍF 27, 65-6, Hkr 1991, I, 294-5 (ÓHHkr ch. 50); Fms 4, 101, Fms 12, 80, ÓH 1941, I, 95 (ch. 40), Flat 1860-8, II, 45.


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