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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Kálf Kátr 34VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 34’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 952.

Kálfr HallssonKátrínardrápa

Stef, þau er eg með stuðla knífi
smíðað hefi *, munu verða að líða;
skjöldungs er víst nú skýja veldis
slæmrinn gjörr um háleitt dæmi.
Öll hafði þá odda spillir
orðin söm við falda skorðu;
blóta fægir bauðz að eiga
bragnings meyju sólar vagna.

Stef, þau er eg hefi * smíðað með {knífi stuðla}, munu verða að líða; slæmrinn er nú víst gjörr um háleitt dæmi {skjöldungs {veldis skýja}}. {Spillir odda} hafði þá öll söm orðin við {skorðu falda}; {fægir blóta} bauðz að eiga {meyju {bragnings {vagna sólar}}}.

The refrains, which I have * constructed with {the knife of stuðlar} [TONGUE], will be coming to an end; the conclusion will now certainly be made about the sublime example {of the king {of the realm of the clouds}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God]. {The destroyer of swords’ points} [WARRIOR] had then spoken all the same words to {the prop of headdresses} [WOMAN]; {the performer of sacrifices} [HEATHEN MAN] offered to marry {the maiden {of the prince {of the wagons of the sun}}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God > HOLY WOMAN].

Mss: 713(132), 399a-bˣ(19), 920ˣ(217r)

Readings: [2] hefi *: hefi eg og all;    munu: mun all

Editions: Skj AII, 523, Skj BII, 577-8, Skald II, 318, NN §§3386A, 3387, Kahle 1898, 74, 107, Sperber 1911, 51, 81.

Notes: [1-4]: Sperber (1911, v), using this st. as an example, draws attention to the fact that the poet lets s alliterate with sk (and sp). Kálfr uses three technical terms here for parts of a drápa, stef (n. nom. pl.) ‘refrains’, stuðla (m. gen. pl.) from stuðill ‘prop, support, alliterating stave in the odd lines of a st.’, and slæmrinn (m. nom. sg.), name for the third and final section of a poem with three parts. — [1] með stuðla knífi ‘with the knife of [alliterating] staves’: The meaning of this kenning is not entirely clear. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) translates med digtningens kniv ‘with the knife of poetry’, assuming perhaps that stuðlar are metonymous for poetry generally. In LP, however, he interprets the kenning to refer to the tongue, and this may be the more plausible surmise, if the image underlying the kenning is of a sharp instrument that cuts the (wooden) props that support the poem. — [5-6] öll söm orðin ‘all the same words’: Viz. as Maxentius had addressed to Catherine before when he asked her to marry him (18/5-8). — [8] vagna sólar ‘the wagons of the sun’: See Note to 20/6.


  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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. Sperber, Hans, ed. 1911. Sechs isländische Gedichte legendarischen Inhalts. Uppsala Universitets årsskrift, filosofi, språkvetenskap och historiska vetenskaper 2. Uppsala: Akademische Buchdruckerei Edv. Berling.
  7. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.

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