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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Kálf Kátr 43VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 43’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 958-9.

Kálfr HallssonKátrínardrápa

Reiðr gjörðiz þá ræsir skorðu
refla; beiddi lýða eflir
Hildar veðrs, að höggva skyldi
himna gætis ambátt mæta.
Blíðust fór þá björt og skærust
blessuð dyggust mæt og hyggin
fríð og fögr með píslarprýði
pella brík til himnaríkis.

Ræsir gjörðiz þá reiðr {skorðu refla}; {eflir {Hildar veðrs}} beiddi lýða, að skyldi höggva {mæta ambátt {gætis himna}}. {Blíðust, björt og skærust, blessuð, dyggust, mæt og hyggin, fríð og fögr brík pella} fór þá með píslarprýði til himnaríkis.

The king then became angry with {the prop of wallhangings} [WOMAN]; {the promoter {of Hildr’s <valkyrie> storm}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR] requested of his men that they should slay {the great handmaid {of the guardian of the heavens}} [= God > HOLY WOMAN]. {The gentlest, bright and most pure, blessed, most faithful, great and intelligent, fair and beautiful screen of velvet} [WOMAN] then went with the crown of martyrdom to the kingdom of the heavens.

Mss: 713(133), 399a-bˣ(23), 920ˣ(218r)

Readings: [1] skorðu: so 399a‑bˣ, ‘sk[...]u’ 713, ‘sk[...]’ 920ˣ    [5] þá björt: ‘[...]íort’ 713, björt 399a‑bˣ, ‘[...] (b)jört’ 920ˣ    [6] dyggust: dygg all    [7] píslarprýði: ‘píslar p[...]’ 713, píslarsigri 399a‑bˣ, ‘písla sp[...]’ 920ˣ

Editions: Skj AII, 525, Skj BII, 580, Skald II, 320, NN §3386C, Kahle 1898, 76, 108, Sperber 1911, 53, 82.

Notes: [All]: The poet deals succinctly with Catherine’s martyrdom in sts 43-4, while the prose text allows her a long prayer to Christ, a voice from heaven answering her prayer, and a description of her death indicating that milk flowed from her wounds in place of blood, and concluding with a passage stating that angels transported her body to a mountain þat er Syna heitir ‘which is called Sinai’, where she performs countless miracles (Unger 1877, I, 420-1; Wolf 2003, 140-1). — [1] skorðu (f. acc. sg.) ‘prop’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) read 713 as ‘sk[…]a’, but the ms. seems to have a ‘u’ here. — [5] þá: Kahle proposed the addition of this word, as the l. is one syllable too short. — [7] píslarprýði ‘[with] the crown of martyrdom’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj A) was able to read the first two letters of the second element of this cpd in 713 as ‘pr’, but only ‘p’ is visible now.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Unger, C. R., ed. 1877. Heilagra manna søgur. Fortællinger og legender om hellige mænd og kvinder. 2 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Bentzen.
  3. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  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. Wolf, Kirsten, ed. 2003. Heilagra meyja sögur. Íslenzk trúarrit 1. Reykjavík: Bókmenntafræðistofnun Háskóla Íslands.
  8. Kahle, Bernhard, ed. 1898. Isländische geistliche Dichtungen des ausgehenden Mittelalters. Heidelberg: Winter.

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