Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Refr Frag 5III

Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, Fragments 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 264.

Hofgarða-Refr GestssonFragments


This helmingr (Refr Frag 5) is found in mss R (main ms.), , W and U of Snorri Sturluson’s Ht (SnE). The poet, identified as Refr in all mss, expresses his satisfaction with his life as a skald.

text and translation

Sæll es hinn, es hranna
hádýri vel stýrir;
tíð erumk vitnis váða
víngerð; unir sínu.

Hinn, es stýrir {hádýri hranna} vel, es sæll; unir sínu; tíð erumk {{vitnis váða} vín}gerð.
‘The one who steers the tall animal of waves [SHIP] well is fortunate; he is content with his lot; I take pleasure in the production of the wine of the threat of the wolf [= Óðinn > POETRY].

notes and context

The helmingr is given in Ht (SnE) as an example of poetic licence (leyfi), in this case the repetition of er (es) ‘is’ or ‘who’ in l. 1.

Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) interpreted ll. 1-2, 4 of this helmingr as follows: Hinn hranna hádýra stýrir, es unir sínu vel, es sæll, which can be translated as ‘That commander of the tall animals of waves [SHIPS > SEAFARER], who is well content with his own condition, is happy’. That interpretation results in a tripartite l. 1 as well as a tripartite l. 2: Sæll es hinn, es, hranna | hádýra, vel, stýrir. Kock (NN §§1827Ec, 1837) justifiably objected to this tortuous word order, and he attempted to avoid a tripartite l. 2 by combining the last two words into a cpd (velstýrir lit. ‘well-steerer’). Kock’s suggestion is metrically acceptable, since l. 2 would then be an even E3-line which allows for such trisyllabic compounds in positions 3-6 (cf. Gade 1995a, 79-80). Kock (NN §1936G) himself also lists numerous lines of a similar metrical structure. The cpd velstýrir is problematic, however, because no cpd with vel- as the first element and a nomen agentis as the second is otherwise attested. According to the entries in Fritzner, the adv. vel- forms compounds with nomina actionis (e.g. velferð ‘wellbeing’), adjectives (e.g. velfœrr ‘easily traversed’) and participles (e.g. velborinn ‘wellborn’, velgerandi ‘well-doing’), but not with nomina agentis. Because Kock’s suggestion is untenable, the present edn emends hádýra (n. gen. pl.) ‘of tall animals’ to hádýri (n. dat. sg. and the object of the verb stýrir ‘steers’), which results in a simple syntax and a straightforward word order in ll. 1-2.



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: Hofgarða-Refr Gestsson, 3. Af et digt om en Þórsteinn 4: AI, 320, BI, 296, Skald I, 150, NN §§1827Ec, 1837, 1936G; SnE 1848-87, I, 612-13, II, 378, III, 113, SnE 1931, 219, SnE 2007, 8.


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.