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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Kálf Kátr 51VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Kálfr Hallsson, Kátrínardrápa 51’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 963-4.

Kálfr HallssonKátrínardrápa

text and translation

Káterín, við óði mætum
efni gless með söguna þessa;
Vítulus gaf honum viðarins heiti
vátes †bernit†, en nú er hann fráter.
Líttu, maðr, á letrið þetta;
landi reit, segir óðar veitir;
Laufa þollr, í læstu briefi
leita máttu að váru heiti.

Gless, Káterín, við óði efni mætum með söguna þessa; Vítulus vátes †bernit† gaf honum heiti viðarins, en nú er hann fráter. Líttu, maðr, á letrið þetta; landi reit, segir {veitir óðar}; leita máttu, {þollr Laufa}, að váru heiti í læstu briefi.
‘Rejoice, Catherine, in the poem with costly materials with this story; Kálfur the poet †bernit† gave it the name of the tree, but now he is a monk. Look, man, at this writing; a countryman wrote it, says the giver of the poem [POET]; you can search, fir-tree of Laufi <sword> [WARRIOR], for our [my] name in the closed letter.

notes and context

The word ‘Amen’ is added at the end of the poem in 713 and 399a-bˣ. — [2]: Jón Þorkelsson (1888, 235) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emend glers, gen. sg. of gler ‘glass’, to gless ‘rejoice’, otherwise there is no verb in ll. 1-2, assuming it is an independent cl. Kock (Skald; NN §1777) emends to gletts ‘amusement’ (which creates problems with the internal rhyme) and sees in við a form of the verb vinna ‘work, create’ the object of which is efni; accordingly, he proposes the following interpretation: Káterín, við óði mætum efni gletts með söguna þessa ‘Catherine, [create] with the great poem an amusement with this statement’. Sperber considers efni glers ‘material from which glass is made’) as an ofljóst kenning for ‘stone’ (= Hallur, the father of the poet Kálfr, see st. 1/8). — [7]: As suggested by Sperber and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B), í læstu briefi presumably refers to the obscure meaning of the first half-st. The phrase must be an Icel. calque on Lat. litterae clausae, letters close, that is, private letters, addressed to one or two individuals only and closed or folded and sealed, by contrast with letters patent, open letters or documents affixed with a royal or other seal, issued by a monarch or government.



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: [Anonyme digte og vers XIV], [B. 11]. Katrínar drápa 51: AII, 526, BII, 582, Skald II, 321, NN §§1777, 2969; Jón Þorkelsson 1888, 235-6, Kahle 1898, 78, 109, Sperber 1911, 55, 83-4.


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