This interface will no longer be publicly available from 1 September 2020. 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.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

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

1. Óláfsdrápa (Óldr) - 14

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).

files
file 2002-03-21 - York Hfr paper notes
file 2002-03-27 - York Hfr paper draft

Óláfsdrápa (‘Drápa about Óláfr’) — Hfr ÓldrI

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa’ 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. 387.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6 

for reference only:  1x   1y   2x   2y   4x   4y   8z   9z 

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld: 2. Óláfsdrápa, 996 (AI, 156-9, BI, 148-50); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 2, 7 | 3 | 3, 4/1-4 | 4/1-4 | 4/5-8, 5 | 4/5-8 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8/1-4, 9/5-8 | 8/5-8, 9/1-4

in texts: Flat, Fsk, Hkr, ÓT, ÓTC, ÓTOdd

SkP info: I, 387

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Svá frák hitt, at hôva
hǫrgbrjótr í stað mǫrgum
(opt kom hrafn at heipta)
hlóð valkǫstu (blóði).
Endr lét Jamta kindir
allvaldr í styr falla
(vanðisk hann) ok Vinða
végrimmr (á þat snimma).
Thus I have learned this, that the shrine-destroyer piled up high corpse-heaps in many a place; the raven often came to the blood of strife. The mighty ruler, fierce against heathen temples, formerly caused the kin of the Jamtr and Wends to fall in the mêlée; he became accustomed to that early.
2 Hættr vas hersa dróttinn
hjǫrdjarfr Gota fjǫrvi;
gollskerði frák gerðu
geirþey á Skáneyju.
Bǫðserkjar hjó birki
barklaust í Danmǫrku
hleypimeiðr fyr Heiða-
hlunnviggja -bý sunnan.
The sword-bold lord of hersar [RULER] was dangerous to the life of the Gotar; I have learned that the gold-diminisher [GENEROUS MAN] made spear-breeze [BATTLE] in Skåne. The impelling tree of the roller-steeds [SHIPS > SEAFARER] cut down the barkless birches of the battle-shirt [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIORS] in Denmark south of Hedeby.
3 Tíðhǫggvit lét tyggi
Tryggva sonr fyr styggvan
Leiknar hest á lesti
ljótvaxinn hræ Saxa.
Vinhróðigr gaf víða
vísi margra Frísa
blǫkku brúnt at drekka
blóð kveldriðu stóði.
The ruler, Tryggvi’s son [= Óláfr Tryggvason], had the corpses of Saxons cut down often, finally, before the edgy, ugly-grown horse of Leikn <troll-woman> [WOLF]. Far and wide the friend-exulting prince gave the black stud of the evening-rider [TROLL-WOMAN > WOLF] the dark blood of many Frisians to drink.
4 Hilmir lét at Holmi
hræskóð roðin blóði
— hvat of dylði þess hǫlðar? —
hǫrð ok austr í Gǫrðum.
Rógs brá rekka lægir
ríkr Valkera líki;
herstefnir lét hrǫfnum
hold Flæmingja goldit.
The prince caused hard corpse-harmers [SWORDS] to be reddened in blood at Hólmr and east in Russia; why should men conceal that? The powerful subduer of the strife of men [JUST RULER] spoiled the bodies of the Valkerar; the army-commander [RULER] caused the flesh of the Flemings to be doled out to ravens.
5 Gerðisk ungr við Engla
ofvægr konungr bægja;
naddskúrar réð nœrir
Norðimbra sá morði.
Barði brezkrar jarðar
byggvendr, en hjó tyggi
— grôðr þvarr geira hríðar
gjóði — kumrskar þjóðir.
The young, overwhelming king proceeded to contend against the English; that nourisher of the missile-shower [BATTLE > WARRIOR] determined the killing of the Northumbrians. The prince beat the inhabitants of the British land and cut down the Cumbric peoples; hunger diminished for the osprey of the storm of spears [BATTLE > RAVEN/EAGLE].
6 Gerði seims (með sverði)
sverðleik í Mǫn skerðir
(eyddi ulfa greddir
ógnblíðr Skotum víða).
Ýdrógar lét œgir
eyverskan her deyja
— Týr vas tjǫrva dýrra
tírargjarn — ok Íra.
The diminisher of gold [GENEROUS MAN] made sword-sport [BATTLE] in Man; the battle-glad feeder of wolves [WARRIOR] destroyed the Scots widely with the sword. The terrifier of the bow-string [WARRIOR] caused the army from the Isles and the Irish to die; the Týr <god> of precious spears [WARRIOR] was eager for glory.
© 2008-