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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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BjHall Kálffl 7I

Alison Finlay (ed.) 2012, ‘Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson, Kálfsflokkr 7’ 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. 887.

Bjarni gullbrárskáld HallbjarnarsonKálfsflokkr

text and translation

Þér frák, Þorbergs hlýri,
— þess gerðusk ér verðir —
— helt, unz hann of spillti —
Haralds bróðurson góðan.
Vǫkðu ǫfundmenn ykkar
iðula róg á miðli
(óþǫrf lízk mér) arfa
Ôleifs (í þeim môlum).

Frák {bróðurson Haralds} góðan þér, {hlýri Þorbergs}; ér gerðusk þess verðir; helt, unz hann of spillti. Ǫfundmenn vǫkðu iðula róg á miðli ykkar {arfa Ôleifs}; lízk mér óþǫrf í þeim môlum.
‘I have heard that the son of Haraldr’s brother [= Magnús] was good to you, brother of Þorbergr [= Kálfr]; you made yourself worthy of that; that lasted until he damaged [it]. Envious men constantly stirred up strife between you and Óláfr’s heir [= Magnús]; that seems to me an unnecessary thing in those matters.

notes and context

Magnús, reminded by followers of the role played by Kálfr in the downfall of his father Óláfr, forces Kálfr to accompany him to the battle-site of Stiklastaðir (Stiklestad). Kálfr denies having dealt Óláfr his death blow, but has his belongings in readiness and flees the kingdom for the British Isles. 

In Hkr the stanza is identified as belonging to Kálffl. — [5]: The line has resolution of the syllables ǫfund- in the second lift, and represents a type that became popular in the C11th among Haraldr harðráði and his poets; see Kuhn (1983, 68) and Note to Hharð Gamv 2/1II. — [5-8]: This is construed here as in Skj B. Kock (NN §2039, followed by ÍF 28) argues that arfa Ôleifs ‘heir of Óláfr’, rather than being construed in apposition to ykkar ‘you (two)’, should be taken together with óþǫrf, here ‘an unnecessary thing’, which he interprets as ‘harm’ (cf. Fritzner: úþurft ‘(unnecessary) harm’), hence ‘it seems to me there was harm for the heir of Óláfr in these dealings’. While this gives a more natural word order, the implication of harm inflicted on Magnús seems to contradict the suggestion of his agency in hann of spillti ‘he damaged [it]’ (l. 3).



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 7: AI, 395-6, BI, 364-5, Skald I, 182, NN §2039Fms 5, 127Fms 12, 107ÓH 1941, I, 624 (ch. 259); Hkr 1893-1901, III, 28, IV, 187-8, ÍF 28, 25, Hkr 1991, II, 572 (MGóð ch. 14), F 1871, 176, E 1916, 16 .


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