Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Halli stirði (Halli XI)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Russell Poole;

Flokkr (Fl) - 6

Skj info: Halli stirði, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 401-2, BI, 370-1).

Skj poems:

The poet who composed these sts is unidentified in the extant medieval sources. However, Johan Peringskiöld’s edn of Hkr (Hkr 1697, II, 143) contains an ascription to one ‘Halli stríði’ ‘the Stern’. This might have originated in a lost source (cf. Fidjestøl 1982, 145-6) but is more plausibly explained as a result of a misinterpretation of contracted svá sem hér segir ‘as is told here’ in Hkr as svá segir Halli stríði ‘as Halli stríði says’ or similar (ÍF 28, 160). This attribution might have been prompted by mention of an otherwise unknown Halli stirði ‘the Stubborn’, with nearly identical nickname, in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275) as one of the skalds of Haraldr harðráði. Possibly Peringskiöld was aware of this attestation. Halli stirði must be a separate identity from Haraldr’s well-known skald, Sneglu-Halli (SnH), since Skáldatal lists both Sneglu-Halli and Halli stirði among the poets who eulogised Haraldr. Also, the present sts indicate that their speaker was with Haraldr in 1064 when the events narrated took place, whereas, according to Sneglu-Halla þáttr (Snegl), Sneglu-Halli returned permanently to Iceland at an earlier date. Sneglu-Halli also composed encomiastic poetry, as indicated in Snegl (see Mork 1928-32, 234-47; ÍF 9, 261-95; Andersson and Gade 2000, 243-52).

Flokkr — Halli XI FlII

Russell Poole 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Halli stirði, Flokkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Brepols, Turnhout, pp. 337-43.

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Skj: Halli stirði: Flokkr, 1064 (AI, 401-2, BI, 370-1)

in texts: H-Hr, Hkr, HSig

SkP info: II, 337-43

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


The occasion for the poem (Halli XI Fl) comes at the point when, after years of mutually destructive warfare, Haraldr Sigurðarson of Norway and Sveinn Úlfsson (also styled Ástríðarson) of Denmark meet in 1064 on an island in the Götaälv to negotiate a peace. A flurry of diplomatic activity on the part of lower-status Danes and Norwegians ensues, designed to persuade the kings to settle their differences. The following sts, which are without title in our sources, commemorate that occasion and its successful outcome. According to Hkr (ÍF 28, 159), the sts were part of a flokkr, a longer poem without a refrain. The account of them in H-Hr (Fms 6, 331-3) does not differ significantly from that of Hkr (ÍF 28, 159-62). All six sts are cited in HSigHkr (ch. 71) and HSigH-Hr (ch. 88). The sts mingle praise for Haraldr and his royal rival Sveinn with critique of both kings and also of the bœndr ‘farmers’ class, while reflecting most unequivocal credit upon the mediators and peace-makers. In this respect, they appear to continue a type of political stance seen in Sigvatr’s Bersǫglisvísur (Sigv Berv). Stylistically the sts appear to belong to the flokkr category of semi-formal skaldic poetry. They can be compared in this respect with Liðsmannaflokkr (Anon LiðsI), Darraðarljóð (Anon DarrV), and a set of vv. ascribed to Torf-Einarr (TorfE LvI) (see Poole 1991). The key stylistic features are an alternation between pres. and pret. narration and between 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-pers. point of view. The sts are attested in the following mss: for Hkr, , 39, F, E, J2ˣ; for H-Hr, H and Hr. The text of this edn is where possible based upon that of , which however itself contains a few evident errors and possible scribal emendations. The H-Hr tradition contains not merely numerous patent errors but also numerous scribal ‘improvements’, extending to wholesale re-composition of a few ll. (see Louis-Jensen 1977, 152-4), and can be used only with caution in any attempt to advocate a reading that is not supported in the Hkr tradition.
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