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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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BjHall Kálffl 5I

Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson, Kálfsflokkr 5’ 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. 885.

Bjarni gullbrárskáld HallbjarnarsonKálfsflokkr

text and translation

Jǫrð rétt vígi at varða
vígreifr fyr Ôleifi;
brauzt við bragning nýztan
bág; þat kveðk mik frôgu.
Fyrr gekkt á stað Stiklar
stór verk, en óð merki;
satts, at sókn of veittir
snjallr, unz gramr vas fallinn.

Vígreifr, rétt at varða jǫrð vígi fyr Ôleifi; brauzt bág við nýztan bragning; þat kveðk mik frôgu. Fyrr gekkt stór verk á Stiklarstað, en merki óð; satts, at of veittir snjallr sókn, unz gramr vas fallinn.
‘War-cheerful, you set about defending the land with war against Óláfr; you raised hostility against the most excellent king; I declare that I heard that. Before, you achieved great deeds at Stiklestad, and the standard surged; it is true that you kept up the attack, brave, until the king had fallen.

notes and context

The stanza is cited at the point where King Óláfr Haraldsson is killed in the battle of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad). ÓH-Hkr record uncertainty as to whether one of the three decisive blows was struck by Kálfr Árnason or his kinsman Kálfr Arnfinnsson (and see ÍF 27, 385 n. 2).

[5-8]: (a) The construal here follows Skj B. It requires treating gekkt, normally ‘you went’, as a transitive verb meaning ‘achieved’, which is unusual but possible (Fritzner: ganga 10). (b) ÍF 27 reads Gekktu á Stiklastað fyrr an merki óð; satt stórverk es, at of veittir ... ‘You advanced at Stiklestad before the standard surged; it is a truly [lit. true] great deed, that you kept up ... ’, but this assumes a contorted syntax. (c) Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, II, 249; followed in Hkr 1893-1901, II) hazarded an emended form stórverkr, which he took as either a substantive (stordådsmand ‘man of great deeds’) or an adj. (‘doing great deeds’) qualifying the understood subject þú ‘you’. But the element ‑verkr in compounds is more usually nominal, with the sense ‘pain’.



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: Bjarni Hallbjarnarson gullbrárskáld, Kalfsflokkr 5: AI, 395, BI, 364, Skald I, 182Fms 5, 83-4, Fms 12, 101ÓH 1941, I, 575 (ch. 226), Flat 1860-8, II, 357; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 494, IV, 171, ÍF 27, 385-6, Hkr 1991, II, 534 (ÓHHkr ch. 228). 


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