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skaldic

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Bersi Ólfl 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Bersi Skáld-Torfuson, Flokkr about Óláfr helgi 1’ 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. 791.

Bersi Skáld-TorfusonFlokkr about Óláfr helgi
12

Hróðrs ‘of praise’

hróðr (noun m.): encomium, praise

[1] Hróðrs: hróðr Holm2, Bb, ‘Horþar’ R686ˣ, ‘Hroðuss’ 325VI, ‘Hloðr’ 68

kennings

þenna hagkennanda hróðrs
‘this skilled conveyor of praise ’
   = POET = me

this skilled conveyor of praise → POET = me
Close

batt ‘You bade’

biðja (verb; °biðr; bað, báðu; beðinn (beiþ- Martin¹ 573‡, bỏþ- HákEirsp 661‰, cf. ed. intr. xl)): ask for, order, pray

[1] batt (‘baðtu’): bað R686ˣ, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 68, 61, 325V, Flat, Tóm, bar 325VII

Close

líða ‘to fare’

1. líða (verb): move, glide

[1] líða: borða Tóm

Close

hag ‘skilled’

2. hagr (adj.; °compar. -ari, superl. -astr): skilful < hagkennandi (noun m.)

kennings

þenna hagkennanda hróðrs
‘this skilled conveyor of praise ’
   = POET = me

this skilled conveyor of praise → POET = me
Close

kennanda ‘conveyor’

kennandi (noun m.; °-a; kennendr): bringer, conveyor, tester < hagkennandi (noun m.)

[2] ‑kennanda: ‑kennandi Holm2, 325V, Bb, ‘kennannanda’ Flat

kennings

þenna hagkennanda hróðrs
‘this skilled conveyor of praise ’
   = POET = me

this skilled conveyor of praise → POET = me
Close

þenna ‘this’

1. sjá (pron.; °gen. þessa dat. þessum/þeima, acc. þenna; f. sjá/þessi; n. þetta, dat. þessu/þvísa; pl. þessir): this

kennings

þenna hagkennanda hróðrs
‘this skilled conveyor of praise ’
   = POET = me

this skilled conveyor of praise → POET = me
Close

snarrœki ‘to the keen cultivator’

snarrœkir (noun m.): keen cultivator

[3] snarrœki: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 73aˣ, 68, Holm4, Bb, snarreki Kˣ, ‘snarøki’ Holm2, snarlæti 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ, snar rœkinn 61, sjá rekkr of 325V, svanbræði 325VII, ‘suarræde’ Flat, svaraði Tóm

kennings

snarrœki gunnar.
‘to the keen cultivator of battle. ’
   = WARRIOR = you, Óláfr

to the keen cultivator of battle. → WARRIOR = you, Óláfr
Close

slíku ‘in kind’

2. slíkr (adj.): such

[3] slíku: ‘slito’ R686ˣ

Close

svarat ‘to reply’

svara (verb): answer

[4] svarat unnum: ‘svartvnno’ 68, ‘suarann unn’ 325VII;    svarat: svarar 325V

Close

unnum ‘managed’

1. unna (verb): love

[4] svarat unnum: ‘svartvnno’ 68, ‘suarann unn’ 325VII;    unnum: unnu 73aˣ, 61, Holm4, Bb

Close

gunnar ‘of battle’

gunnr (noun f.): battle

kennings

snarrœki gunnar.
‘to the keen cultivator of battle. ’
   = WARRIOR = you, Óláfr

to the keen cultivator of battle. → WARRIOR = you, Óláfr
Close

Orð ‘words’

orð (noun n.; °-s; -): word

[5] Orð: auð 325VI, 75a, 78aˣ

Close

seldum ‘sold’

4. selja (verb): hand over, sell, give

[5] seldum: héldum við Tóm

Close

elda ‘of the fires’

eldr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-(HómÍsl¹‰(1993) 24v²⁴); -ar): fire

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

elda ‘of the fires’

eldr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i/-(HómÍsl¹‰(1993) 24v²⁴); -ar): fire

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

úthauðrs ‘of the outlying land’

úthauðr (noun n.): [outlying land]

[6] úthauðrs: úthauðs or úthauðrs Holm2, út haugs J1ˣ, úthaugs J2ˣ, ‘vravðs’ or ‘vtavðs’ 325VI, ‘ythavðs’ 75a, úthauðs 78aˣ, út hauðr 325VII, ‘vt hredrs’ Bb

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

úthauðrs ‘of the outlying land’

úthauðr (noun n.): [outlying land]

[6] úthauðrs: úthauðs or úthauðrs Holm2, út haugs J1ˣ, úthaugs J2ˣ, ‘vravðs’ or ‘vtavðs’ 325VI, ‘ythavðs’ 75a, úthauðs 78aˣ, út hauðr 325VII, ‘vt hredrs’ Bb

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

úthauðrs ‘of the outlying land’

úthauðr (noun n.): [outlying land]

[6] úthauðrs: úthauðs or úthauðrs Holm2, út haugs J1ˣ, úthaugs J2ˣ, ‘vravðs’ or ‘vtavðs’ 325VI, ‘ythavðs’ 75a, úthauðs 78aˣ, út hauðr 325VII, ‘vt hredrs’ Bb

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

boða ‘offerer’

boði (noun m.; °-a; -ar): messenger, breaker

[6] boða: blóða Bb, bjóða Tóm

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

notes

[6] boða ‘offerer’: This weak m. noun, and hence the warrior-kenning of which it is the base-word, is construed here as dat. sg., the indirect object of seldum ‘we [I] sold’ (l. 5). It could alternatively be gen. sg. qualifying þau orð (l. 5), hence ‘those words of the offerer ...’.

Close

trauðir ‘Reluctant’

trauðr (adj.): reluctant

[6] trauðir: rauða Tóm

notes

[6, 7] trauðir hapts ‘reluctant for hindrance’: Trauðir ‘reluctant’ is n. pl. qualifying vér ‘we [I]’, even though the reference is to the skald alone. (a) It is here construed, as in Skj B, with hapts, gen. sg. of hapt n., though this makes for a disjointed word order. The speaker’s reluctance must relate to the incident described retrospectively in the stanza, his exchange of greetings with King Óláfr, but the precise nature of the reluctance is uncertain. Hapt could mean ‘stasis, hindrance’ or ‘fetter’ (LP: hapt 1), perhaps referring to Bersi’s fear of being captured, which later materialised, or else to the rapidity with which he returned the king’s greeting (so Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901, IV, translating uden tøven ‘without delay’). (b) Trauðir could stand alone, referring to the speaker’s reluctance to return the greeting, in which case hapts (which has clearly baffled some scribes) would appear to have its alternative sense ‘deity’ and to be part of the man-kenning in ll. 5-7. This is the analysis preferred by Kock (Skald and NN §684, followed in ÍF 27), reading boði elda úthauðrs hapts knarrar ‘offerer of the fires of the outer land of the deity of the ship [SEAFARER > SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS RULER]’. This departs from normal kenning usage in several ways, however. Although hapt knarrar ‘deity of the ship’ resembles a known pattern of kenning (see Meissner 278), such kennings denote ‘man’ rather than specifically ‘seafarer’, and even if ‘seafarer’ is correct there do not appear to be other sea-kennings on the pattern ‘land of the seafarer’. ‘Sea’ is normally determined by names of sea-kings or maritime terms of various sorts, not by words for sailors (Meissner 95-7). Further, hapt is not otherwise recorded as a base-word, and when used in the sense ‘gods’ it is normally pl.

Close

knarrar ‘of the ship’

knǫrr (noun m.; °knarrar, dat. knerri; knerrir, acc. knǫrru/knerri): (a kind of) ship

[7] knarrar: knarrir J1ˣ, knarra Tóm

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

knarrar ‘of the ship’

knǫrr (noun m.; °knarrar, dat. knerri; knerrir, acc. knǫrru/knerri): (a kind of) ship

[7] knarrar: knarrir J1ˣ, knarra Tóm

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

knarrar ‘of the ship’

knǫrr (noun m.; °knarrar, dat. knerri; knerrir, acc. knǫrru/knerri): (a kind of) ship

[7] knarrar: knarrir J1ˣ, knarra Tóm

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

hapts ‘for hindrance’

haft (noun n.; °; *-): fetter

[7] hapts: ‘haptzt’ R686ˣ, ‘hap⸜d⸝z’ 325VI, ‘kaptz’ 78aˣ, happs 68, Flat, ‘kaps’ 325VII, hefsk Tóm

notes

[6, 7] trauðir hapts ‘reluctant for hindrance’: Trauðir ‘reluctant’ is n. pl. qualifying vér ‘we [I]’, even though the reference is to the skald alone. (a) It is here construed, as in Skj B, with hapts, gen. sg. of hapt n., though this makes for a disjointed word order. The speaker’s reluctance must relate to the incident described retrospectively in the stanza, his exchange of greetings with King Óláfr, but the precise nature of the reluctance is uncertain. Hapt could mean ‘stasis, hindrance’ or ‘fetter’ (LP: hapt 1), perhaps referring to Bersi’s fear of being captured, which later materialised, or else to the rapidity with which he returned the king’s greeting (so Finnur Jónsson in Hkr 1893-1901, IV, translating uden tøven ‘without delay’). (b) Trauðir could stand alone, referring to the speaker’s reluctance to return the greeting, in which case hapts (which has clearly baffled some scribes) would appear to have its alternative sense ‘deity’ and to be part of the man-kenning in ll. 5-7. This is the analysis preferred by Kock (Skald and NN §684, followed in ÍF 27), reading boði elda úthauðrs hapts knarrar ‘offerer of the fires of the outer land of the deity of the ship [SEAFARER > SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS RULER]’. This departs from normal kenning usage in several ways, however. Although hapt knarrar ‘deity of the ship’ resembles a known pattern of kenning (see Meissner 278), such kennings denote ‘man’ rather than specifically ‘seafarer’, and even if ‘seafarer’ is correct there do not appear to be other sea-kennings on the pattern ‘land of the seafarer’. ‘Sea’ is normally determined by names of sea-kings or maritime terms of various sorts, not by words for sailors (Meissner 95-7). Further, hapt is not otherwise recorded as a base-word, and when used in the sense ‘gods’ it is normally pl.

Close

keyptak ‘I had bought’

[7] keyptak (‘ec keypta’): keyptu 73aˣ

Close

kyn ‘to the kin’

1. kyn (noun n.; °-s; -): kin < kynstórr (adj.): high-born

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

stórs ‘mighty’

stórr (adj.): large, great < kynstórr (adj.): high-born

[8] ‑stórs: ‑stór 61, Holm4, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, ‘‑s(to)ra’(?) 325V

kennings

kynstórs boða elda úthauðrs knarrar,
‘to the kin-mighty offerer of the fires of the outlying land of the ship ’
   = GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr

the outlying land of the ship → SEA
the fires of the SEA → GOLD
to the kin-mighty offerer of the GOLD → GENEROUS MAN = you, Óláfr
Close

at ‘from’

3. at (prep.): at, to

[8] at við: á vit 73aˣ, 68, 61, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, vítt 325V

Close

við ‘the tree’

1. viðr (noun m.; °-ar, dat. -i/-; -ir, acc. -u/-i): wood, tree

[8] at við: á vit 73aˣ, 68, 61, 325VII, Bb, Flat, Tóm, vítt 325V

kennings

við brynju.
‘the tree of the mail-shirt.’
   = WARRIOR = you, Óláfr

the tree of the mail-shirt. → WARRIOR = you, Óláfr
Close

brynju ‘of the mail-shirt’

1. brynja (noun f.; °-u (dat. brynnoni Gibb 38⁹); -ur): mailcoat

kennings

við brynju.
‘the tree of the mail-shirt.’
   = WARRIOR = you, Óláfr

the tree of the mail-shirt. → WARRIOR = you, Óláfr
Close

Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

ÓH-Hkr describes how Bersi (not previously mentioned) is fighting in the fore-stem of Sveinn jarl’s ship in his battle at Nesjar against King Óláfr Haraldsson (1016). He is distinctive – handsome and well armed – and King Óláfr recognises him; they exchange shouted greetings. The three stanzas of Ólfl are then cited, with the explanation that Bersi composed a flokkr for Óláfr after he had come into his power and was sitting in fetters.

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