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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Steinn Herdísarson (Steinn)

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

3. Óláfsdrápa (Óldr) - 16

Skj info: Steinn Herdísarson, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 407-13, BI, 376-83).

Skj poems:
1. Nizarvísur
2. Ulfsflokkr
3. Óláfsdrápa

Steinn was the great-grandson of the Icel. poet Einarr skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ Helgason (EskálI) and a kinsman of Stúfr inn blindi ‘the Blind’ Þórðarson (Stúfr; see the genealogy in SnE 1848-87, III, 607 and Genealogy IV in ÍF 5). At the battle of the river Nissan in 1062 he was on board the ship of his kinsman, Úlfr stallari ‘the Marshal’ Óspaksson (Úlfr). Steinn was a court poet of Haraldr harðráði ‘Hardrule’ Sigurðarson and his son Óláfr kyrri ‘the Quiet’ Haraldsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275). Two poems, NizarvísurVísur about the Nissan’ (Steinn Nizv), and ÓláfsdrápaDrápa about Óláfr’ (Steinn Óldr) survive of his poetic oeuvre, and another st., ÚlfsflokkrFlokkr about Úlfr’ (Steinn Úlffl), is usually assigned to a poem about Úlfr Óspaksson.

Óláfsdrápa (‘Drápa about Óláfr’) — Steinn ÓldrII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Steinn Herdísarson, Óláfsdrápa’ 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. 367-81. <> (accessed 7 July 2022)

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Skj: Steinn Herdísarson: 3. Óláfsdrápa, o. 1070 (AI, 409-13, BI, 379-83); stanzas (if different): 1 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17

in texts: Flat, Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, HSig, MH, Mork, ÓlKyrr

SkP info: II, 367-81

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Sixteen sts survive of Steinn Herdísarson’s encomium to Óláfr kyrri Haraldsson, ÓláfsdrápaDrápa about Óláfr’ (Steinn Óldr). All sts are transmitted in Mork (Mork). H-Hr (H, Hr) contains fifteen sts (sts 1-8, 10-16), Flat (Flat) five (sts 1-5), FskAˣ has five (sts 1, 6/5-8, 7-8, 12), and FskBˣ has four (sts 6/5-8, 7-8, 12) (Fsk). Of the Hkr mss, F has six sts (sts 1, 7, 12-15), E four (sts 1, 7, 12-13), J2ˣ three (sts 7, 12-13), and and 39 have three sts (sts 1, 7, 12). The poem is said to be a drápa about Óláfr (in all versions directly after st. 1), and all sts are attributed to Steinn. The order of the sts varies in the different redactions. Fsk, Flat and the Hkr mss follow the sequence in Mork, but the redactor of H-Hr tried to reconcile the prose of Mork with that of Hkr. Hence the order of sts is changed in H-Hr, and new prose environments are often created from the content of the poetry. Skj and Skald reproduce the order of sts from H-Hr. The present edn gives the sequence presented in the earliest mss (i.e. Mork, FskBˣ, FskAˣ and the Hkr mss), which also restores the order of ll. of the klofastef ‘split refrain’ (see Note to st. 1/8 below). For a discussion of the sequence of sts, see Fidjestøl 1982, 147-9, 173. In the present version (in keeping with the prose witnesses), sts 1-3 commemorate the battle of Fulford in 1066, sts 4-5 document Óláfr’s and the Norw. army’s return to Norway via Orkney in 1067 and sts 7-12 illustrate Óláfr defending Norway against incursions from Sveinn Úlfsson of Denmark, including a battle that took place off the coast of Halland. Stanzas 13-16 bear witness to Óláfr’s munificence. It is possible, however, that some of the sts (notably sts 9-11) have been misplaced in their current prose environments, and that the original sequence of sts in Óldr was sts 9-11, 1-8, 12, 13-16 (see Notes to sts 9 and 11 below). Stanza 1 of Óldr in Skj, which is recorded only in SnE, cannot be attributed to that poem with any certainty, and it has been edited in SkP III as Steinn FragIII. Because all sts are recorded in Mork, it has been chosen as the main ms. Like Stúfr Stúfdr, Óldr is characterised by a split refrain (klofastef), in which l. 8 in sts 1, 4-6, 8, 12-14 forms an independent cl. that does not belong syntactically to the preceding seven ll. (see Note to st. 1/8 below).
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