Þormóðr Bersason’s (Þorm) story is told in Fóstbrœðra saga
‘Saga of the Sworn Brothers’ (Fbr
), and on its witness he may be supposed to have been born c. 998 and to have died of a wound received in the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The saga, however, is untrustworthy as to particulars, as the author seems to have derived most of his information about the poet from the poetry available to him. According to the saga, in childhood he and his friend Þorgeirr Hávarsson each swore that he would avenge the killing of the other if he lived. The latter, at the age of fifteen, avenged the killing of his father, initiating a string of thirteen killings commemorated in Þormóðr’s poem celebrating his sworn brother, Þorgeirsdrápa
about Þorgeirr’ (Þorgdr
). Even though their friendship ended when Þormóðr was about fifteen, Þormóðr travelled to Greenland after Þorgeirr was killed (c. 1024), to take vengeance on the perpetrator Þorgrímr trolli (‘Troll’? see Note to Fbr 29
/1) and three of his sons. The poet earned his nickname kolbrúnarskáld ‘Coal-brow’s Poet’ for having composed poetry in praise of Þórbjǫrg kolbrún Glúmsdóttir, though none of these survive (probably for reasons of a moral nature; see Boyer 1990
, 80). According to Þormóðar þáttr
; see Þorm Lv 10
) he served King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great) in Denmark before returning to Norway, where he spent the last part of his short life in the service of the king, Óláfr Haraldsson (S. Óláfr). According to a memorable passage in Hkr
, on the morning of the battle of Stiklestad he recited Bjarkamál in fornu
(Anon Bjark 1
) to rouse the king’s troops. For further biographical information, see Finnur Jónsson (1932-3
, 31-3), ÍF 6
, lii-lxx and Schach (1993).
- Boyer, Régis. 1990a. La poésie scaldique. Paris: Editions du Porte-Glaive.
- ÍF 6 = Vestfirðinga sǫgur. Ed. Björn K. Þórólfsson and Guðni Jónsson. 1943.
- Finnur Jónsson. 1932-3. ‘Þórmóðr Kolbrúnarskald’. APS 7, 31-82.
- Internal references
- Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
- Not published: do not cite (FbrV)
- Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2017, ‘Anonymous Poems, Bjarkamál in fornu 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 497.
- Not published: do not cite (ÞormI)
- R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, Lausavísur 10’ 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. 823.
- Not published: do not cite (Þorm Lv 13V (Fbr 29))