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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Kálf Kátr 1VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 1’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 932-3.

Kálfr HallssonKátrínardrápa

Drottinn, gief þú, dýrr, að eg mætta
dæmistóls, í hróðri sæma
alhreinasta ambátt þína,
Jésús Kristr, af mærðar húsi.
Þar næst beiði * milda móður
mána þeingils frægs og eingla
eg nú hljóðs, að oss skuli mýkja
arfa Halls, svá stirðni valla.

{Dýrr drottinn dæmistóls}, Jésús Kristr, gief þú, að eg mætta sæma alhreinasta ambátt þína í hróðri af {húsi mærðar}. Þar næst beiði * eg nú {milda móður {frægs þeingils mána}} og eingla hljóðs, að skuli mýkja oss, arfa Halls, svá stirðni valla.

{Glorious Lord of the judgement seat} [= God (= Christ)], Jesus Christ, grant that I might honour your very purest handmaid in praise from {the house of encomium} [MOUTH]. After that I now ask {the gentle mother {of the famous king of the moon}} [= God (= Christ) > = Mary] and the angels for a hearing, that they will make it easier for us [me], the heir of Hallur, so that it hardly becomes difficult.

Mss: 713(129), 399a-bˣ(2), 920ˣ(213r), 444ˣ

Readings: [3] alhreinasta: at hreinasta all    [5] beiði *: beiði eg all    [6] eingla: eingils all

Editions: Skj AII, 516-17, Skj BII, 569, Skald II, 312, NN §1774; Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 235, Kahle 1898, 67, 105, Sperber 1911, 43, 77.

Notes: [All]: This st., with sts 2 and 3, form a conventional opening to a religious drápa, in which the poet calls upon Christ, the Virgin Mary and a host of other sacred beings for help in praising S. Catherine. — [1] drottinn ‘Lord’: The quantity of <o> in C14th poetry varies from poem to poem and within poems. Here it is given as short [o], except where internal rhyme requires a long vowel, e.g. 2/6. — [4] af húsi mærðar ‘from the house of encomium [MOUTH]’: This kenning has been construed here as ‘mouth’, but it could equally well be ‘breast’. — [8] arfa Halls ‘heir of Hallur’: The poet names himself here via his patronym, and towards the poem’s end gives his personal name Kálfr ‘calf’ in both Icel. and Lat. (49/1, 51/3). In 51/1-4 he arguably repeats his patronym, concealing it in word play. See Note ad loc. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends arfa Halls to orða hall ‘the hall of words [TONGUE]’ and considers it the object of mýkja (which can also mean ‘soften’); accordingly, he translates the phrase as follows: ‘that they will soften my tongue, so that it does not become stiff’. Kock (NN §1774; Skald) emends arfa Halls to örvar háls ‘arrows of the throat [WORDS]’. In view of the careful self-naming of sts 49 and 51, however, neither of these emendations carry conviction.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Sperber, Hans, ed. 1911. Sechs isländische Gedichte legendarischen Inhalts. Uppsala Universitets årsskrift, filosofi, språkvetenskap och historiska vetenskaper 2. Uppsala: Akademische Buchdruckerei Edv. Berling.
  6. Jón Þorkelsson [J. Thorkelsson]. 1888. Om digtningen på Island i det 15. og 16. århundrede. Copenhagen: Høst & søns forlag.
  7. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.

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