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Sneglu-Halli (SnH)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 11

Sneglu-Halli (SnH) came from a poor family from Fljót near Svarfaðardalur in northern Iceland. The meaning of his nickname (Sneglu-) is unclear, but it could have referred to his slender stature (Flat 1860-8, III, 416; Finnur Jónsson 1907, 297) or to his irascibility (Andersson and Gade 2000, 442). In later literature he was given the nickname Grautar-Halli ‘Porridge-Halli’ because of his fondness for porridge (ÍF 9, cxii n. 1; ÞjóðA Lv 7). Around 1053 Halli arrived at King Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson’s court in Norway, and after a trip to Denmark and England he returned to Iceland, where he must have died prior to 1066. According to Flat, King Haraldr received the news of Halli’s death with the following comment (ÍF 9, 295): Á grauti myndi greyit sprungit hafa ‘The bitch must have burst with porridge’. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275) lists Halli as a court poet of Haraldr harðráði, and he is said to have composed a poem in his honour (ÍF 9, 275, 280). A half-st. in fornyrðislag metre (SnH FragIII) attributed to Halli in TGT (TGT 1884, 20, 80) has been assigned to that poem by some eds. See Introduction, SnH FragIII. Otherwise, only the lvv. below have been preserved of his poetic oeuvre, which is also said to have included Kolluvísur ‘the Cow’s Vísur’, a poem composed about cows in Iceland, and a panegyric to an Engl. earl (see SnE 1848-87, III, 599-604; LH 1894-1901, I, 635-7). In H, Hr and Mork, ÞjóðA Lv 8 is erroneously attributed to Halli (see Mork 1928-32, 238; Fms 6, 364).

Lausavísur — SnH LvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Sneglu-Halli, Lausavísur’ 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. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 323-32. <> (accessed 25 September 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   5   6   7   8   9   10   11 

cross-references:  4 = Hharð Lv 9II 

Skj: Sneglu- [Grautar-] Halli: 2. Lausavísur, o. 1054 (AI, 388-90, BI, 358-60)

in texts: Flat, H-Hr, Mork, Snegl

SkP info: II, 323-32

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


1 Fœrðr sýndisk mér frændi
Frísa kyns í brynju;
gengr fyr hirð í hringum
hjalmfaldinn kurfaldi.
Flœrat eld í ári
úthlaupi vanr Túta;
sék á síðu leika
sverð rúghleifa skerði.
The kinsman of the Frisians’ clan [= Túta] showed himself to me dressed in a coat of mail; the helmet-clad dwarf prances before the retinue in a ring-byrnie. Túta, accustomed to furtive raids, does not flee the kitchen-fire early; I see a sword dangling by the side of the cleaver of rye-loaves [MAN].
2 Hirðik eigi,
hvat Haraldr klappar;
lætk gnauða grǫn;
gengk fullr at sofa.
I do not care how Haraldr knocks; I let my mouth crunch; I go full to sleep.
3 Selja munk við sufli
sverð mitt, konungr, verða
ok, rymskyndir randa,
rauðan skjǫld við brauði.
Hungrar hilmis drengi;
heldr gǫngum vér svangir;
mér dregr hrygg at hvôru
— Haraldr sveltir mik — belti.
I shall have to sell my sword for meat, king, and, hastener of the noise of shield-rims [(lit. ‘noise-hastener of shield-rims’) BATTLE > WARRIOR], the red shield for bread. The lord’s men are hungry; we walk around quite famished; the belt truly pulls at my spine; Haraldr is starving me.
5 Grís þá greppr at ræsi
gruntrauðustum dauðan;
Njǫrðr sér bǫrg á borði
bauglands fyr sér standa.
Runa síður lítk rauðar;
ræðk skjótgǫrvu kvæði;
rana hefr seggr af svíni
— send heill, konungr! — brenndan.
The poet got a dead pig from the most deceit-shy monarch; the Njǫrðr <god> of the shield-boss land [SHIELD > WARRIOR] sees a boar standing before him on the table. I see the red sides of the pig; I produce a quickly composed poem; a man has singed the snout off the swine; thanks for the helping, king!
6 Hrangs, þars hôvan þǫngul
heldk umb, síz fjǫr seldak;
sýnts, at sitk at Ránar;
sumir ’ró í búð með humrum.
Ljóst es lýsu at gista;
lǫnd ák út fyr strǫndu;
því sitk bleikr í brúki;
blakir mér þari of hnakka;
blakir mér þari of hnakka.
There is tumult where I’m grasping the tall seaweed stalk, since I lost my life; it’s clear that I’m living at Rán’s <sea-goddess>; some share their residence with lobsters. It is light when one visits the whiting; I own land off the shore; hence I sit pale in the pile of seaweed; kelp is flapping around my neck; kelp is flapping around my neck.
7 Ortak eina
of jarl þulu;
verðrat drápa
með Dǫnum verri;
fǫll eru fjórtán
ok fǫng tíu;
opits ok ǫndvert,
ǫfugt stígandi:
svá skal yrkja,
sás illa kann!
I composed a þula about an earl; a drápa cannot be worse among the Danes; there are fourteen dips and ten lifts; it is open-ended and twisted, moving backwards: that’s how he shall compose who is poorly skilled!
8 Gótt es Gulaþing þetta;
gilju vit, hvats viljum.
This Gulaþing is good; we both seduce as we please.
9 Þjón gerik þann at sveini;
Þjóðolf lætk mat sjóða.
I make that slave [my] boy; I let Þjóðólfr cook food.
10 Þú est makligust miklu
— munar stórum þat, Þóra, —
flenna upp af enni
allt leðr Haralds reðri.
Þóra, you are by far the most deserving—there is a great difference—to pull all the skin of Haraldr’s prick up from the head.
11 Sýr es ávallt;
hefr saurugt allt
hestr Þjóðolfs erðr;
hanns dróttins serðr.
There is always a sow; Þjóðólfr’s horse has a completely filthy prick; he is a master-fucker.
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated