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Runic Dictionary

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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).

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

SkP info: I, 393

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Hfr Óldr 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 2’ 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. 393.

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.

{Hjǫrdjarfr dróttinn hersa} vas hættr fjǫrvi Gota; frák {gollskerði} gerðu {geirþey} á Skáneyju. {Hleypimeiðr {hlunnviggja}} hjó {barklaust birki {bǫðserkjar}} í Danmǫrku fyr sunnan Heiðabý.

{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.

Mss: (146v) (ll. 1-4), (149v) (ll. 5-8), 39(6ra) (ll. 5-8), F(24rb) (ll. 1-4), F(25ra) (ll. 5-8), J1ˣ(86r) (ll. 1-4), J1ˣ(88v) (ll. 5-8) (Hkr); 61(14vb) (ll. 1-4), 61(15rb) (ll. 5-8), 53(13ra) (ll. 1-4), 54(9va) (ll. 1-4), 54(10rb) (ll. 5-8), Bb(19vb) (ll. 1-4), Bb(20va) (ll. 5-8), 62(7rb) (ll. 1-4), 62(8ra) (ll. 5-8), Flat(14v) (ll. 1-4), Flat(15rb) (ll. 5-8) (ÓT); FskBˣ(33r), FskAˣ(120) (Fsk); 310(98) (ÓTOdd)

Readings: [1] vas: om. Flat;    hersa: Hǫrða FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310    [2] ‑djarfr: ‘darfr’ J1ˣ    [3] ‑skerði: ‑skerðir J1ˣ, ‘sker[…]’ 62, ‘skeyde’ Flat;    gerðu: ‘geyrðo’ F, ‘g[…]u’ 62, ‘garðꝍy’ FskBˣ    [4] ‑eyju: eyri F, 54, Bb, Flat    [5] hjó: lét 62, Flat;    birki: ‘birk[…]’ 39    [6] bark‑: bǫrk‑ Bb;    ‑laust: ‑rjóðr J1ˣ;    í: til Flat;    ‑mǫrku: ‑markar Flat    [7] ‑meiðr: ‘mꝍyðrs’ FskAˣ    [8] ‑viggja: viggja fyr J1ˣ, ‑veggja 54, Bb;    bý: bú 54

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 2. Óláfsdrápa 4/5-8, 5: AI, 157, BI, 149, Skald I, 81; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 298, 305, IV, 80, 84, ÍF 26, 255, 263, Hkr 1991, I, 171, 176 (ÓTHkr chs 25, 28), F 1871, 111, 114; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 138, 145 (ch. 70), Flat 1860-8, I, 110, 114; Fsk 1902-3, 109 (ch. 21), ÍF 29, 142 (ch. 23); ÓTOdd 1932, 247.

Context: See Introduction.

Notes: [All]: The pairing of helmingar follows Fsk and 310 (see Introduction); in Hkr and ÓT, st. 1/5-8 and st. 2/1-4 form a stanza, while st. 2/5-8 stands as an isolated helmingr.  — [1] dróttinn hersa ‘lord of hersar [RULER]’: I.e. of noblemen, district chieftains. The reading of Fsk and 310, dróttinn Hǫrða ‘lord of the Hǫrðar’, is equally viable. — [2] Gota ‘of the Gotar’: The people of the large island of Gotland, south-east Sweden. — [5-8]: The title of the source poem is given as ÓláfsdrápaDrápa about Óláfr’ in Hkr and ÓT; cf. Note to st. 4/1-4. — [5, 6] barklaust birki bǫðserkjar ‘the barkless birches of the battle-shirt [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIORS]’: Birki n. is a collective noun, hence the sg. refers in this kenning to several warriors. The epithet barklaust ‘barkless’ helps to clarify the referent: not trees but men, but it may also imply that the victorious Óláfr strips the enemy of their armour like a tree of its bark (so ÍF 26; ÍF 29; Hkr 1991).  — [7, 8] Heiðabý ‘Hedeby’: A major Viking trading centre in the south of Jutland. This is an early example of the skalds’ practice of fitting place names into the dróttkvætt lines using tmesis; cf. Þfagr Sveinn 1/3, 4II for a similar tmesis on this p. n., and for another example see Þloft Tøgdr 1/5, 6 and Note; also Kuhn (1983, 111-12).

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