This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

III. Hákonardrápa (Hákdr) - 9

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ‘Troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson (Hfr) was brought up in Vatnsdalur, northern Iceland, probably in the 960s. He is the subject of Hallfreðar saga (Hallfr), which survives both as a continuous text (ÍF 8, 133-200) and interpolated into ÓT. The main strands of the saga are Hallfreðr’s unhappy relationship with Kolfinna Ávaldadóttir, his travels as trader, fighter and poet, his conversion to Christianity and his devotion to Óláfr Tryggvason, and all these aspects of his life occasioned poetry which partially survives.

Fragments of an early drápa for Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (r. c. 970-c. 995) are extant (Hfr HákdrIII; ÍF 8, 151), but the greater part of Hallfreðr’s court poetry, and the poetry edited in this volume, concerns King Óláfr Tryggvason (c. 995-c. 1000): Óláfsdrápa (Hfr Óldr) and Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (Hfr ErfÓl). Like other Icelanders, Hallfreðr accepted Christian baptism under the influence of Óláfr. The difficulty, for a poet and pagan, of this switch of religious allegiance is the theme of Hfr Lv 6-10V, and is, according to the sagas, alluded to in his nickname vandræðaskáld, lit. ‘Poet of difficulties’. The sagas agree that the name was bestowed by the king, though they differ about the precise reason (ÓTOdd 1932, 125-6; Hkr, ÍF 26, 331-2; Hallfr, ÍF 8, 155; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 387). Hallfreðr is attributed with a lost Uppreistardrápa ‘Restoration drápa’ (?), supposedly composed to atone for his journey into pagan Gautland (Västergötland, ÍF 8, 178). He is also credited in Hallfr (ÍF 8, 194-5) with an encounter with Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson (r. c. 1000-c. 1014) and in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 257, 266, 280) with poetry for him; this is vestigially preserved in Eiríksdrápa (Hfr EirdrV). The saga also shows Hallfreðr presenting a flokkr to the Danish jarl Sigvaldi (ÍF 8, 168) and a poem to the Swedish king Óláfr Eiríksson (ÍF 8, 177-8), but no traces of these survive.

The marriage of Kolfinna, the love of Hallfreðr’s youth, to Gríss Sæmingsson provoked Hallfreðr both early and later in life to compose strikingly inventive stanzas which intertwine themes of yearning love and rivalry (Hfr Lv 1-3, 15-24V), and his níð against Gríss led to legal proceedings and indirectly to the killing of Hallfreðr’s brother Galti (Ldn, ÍF 1, 224; ÍF 8, 189-90). In the course of an adventure in Västergötland (Hfr Lv 12-14V), Hallfreðr met and married Ingibjǫrg Þórisdóttir, who died young, but not before bearing two sons, Auðgísl and Hallfreðr. According to Hallfr (ÍF 8, 196-9), Hallfreðr himself died at the age of nearly forty, from a combination of illness and injury as he sailed through the Hebrides; he was buried on Iona (cf. Hfr Lv 26-7V).

Hákonardrápa (‘Drápa about Hákon’) — Hfr HákdrIII

Kate Heslop 2017, ‘ Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Hákonardrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 212. <> (accessed 30 June 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

for reference only:  2x 

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld: 1. Hákonardrápa, omkr. 990 (AI, 155-6, BI, 147-8); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

in texts: LaufE, Skm, SnE

SkP info: III, 212

notes: refs from EM transcr.

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


1 Askþollum stendr Ullar
austr at miklu trausti
rœkilundr inn ríki
randfárs brumaðr hári.
The mighty heeding-tree of shield-harm [SWORD > WARRIOR], budded with hair, stands in firm support of firs of Ullr’s <god’s> ship [(lit. ‘Ullr’s ship-firs’) SHIELD > WARRIORS] in the east.
2 Ólítit brestr úti
unndýrs sumum runnum
hart á Hamðis skyrtum
hryngráp Egils vápna.
Þaðan verða fǫt fyrða
— fregnk gǫrla þat — Sǫrla
rjóðask bjǫrt í blóði
benfúr méilskúrum.
Not a little ringing hail of Egill’s <legendary archer’s> weapons [BOWS > ARROWS] crashes hard against Hamðir’s <legendary hero’s> shirts [MAIL-SHIRTS] of some bushes of the wave-beast [SHIP > SEAFARERS] out at sea. As a result the bright garments of Sǫrli <legendary hero> [MAIL-SHIRTS] must be reddened in the blood of men by wound-fire [SWORD] in missile-showers [BATTLE]; I learn clearly of that.
3 Ok geirrotu gǫtvar
gagls við strengjar hagli
hungreyðǫndum Hanga
hléðut járni séðar.
And garments of spear-downpour [BATTLE > MAIL-SHIRTS], seamed with iron, did not protect hunger-assuagers of the gosling of Hangi <= Óðinn> [RAVEN > WARRIORS] from the hailstone of the bowstring [ARROW].
4 Grams rúni lætr glymja
gunnríkr, hinns hvǫt líkar,
Hǫgna hamri slegnar
heiptbráðr of sik váðir.
The battle-powerful prince’s confidant [RULER], quick to enmity, the one who likes boldness, makes the clothes of Hǫgni <sea-king> [MAIL-SHIRT], pounded with the hammer, ring around him.
5 Sannyrðum spenr sverða
snarr þiggjandi viggjar
barrhaddaða byrjar
biðkvôn und sik Þriðja.
The swift receiver of the horse of the breeze [SHIP > SEAFARER] draws under himself the foliage-haired waiting wife of Þriði <= Óðinn> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)] by means of true words of swords [BATTLE].
6 Því hykk fleygjanda frægjan
— ferr Jǫrð und menþverri
ítran — eina at láta
Auðs systur mjǫk trauðan.
Because of that I think the renowned flinger [of riches] [GENEROUS MAN] is very reluctant to let Auðr’s <giant’s> sister [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)] alone; Jǫrð <goddess> submits to the glorious ring-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN].
7 Rôð lukusk, at sá síðan
snjallráðr konungs spjalli
átti eingadóttur
Ónars viði gróna.
The marriage was concluded, so that shrewdly-advising king’s intimate [RULER] afterward possessed the only daughter of Ónarr <giant> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)], grown with forest.
8 Breiðleita gat brúði
Báleygs at sér teygja
stefnir stǫðvar Hrafna
stála ríkismôlum.
The steerer of the Hrafnar <legendary horses> of the harbour [SHIPS > SEAFARER] managed to allure to himself the broad-faced bride of Báleygr <= Óðinn> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)] with sovereign speeches of swords [BATTLE].
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated