Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hallar-Steinn (HSt)

12th century; volume 1; ed. Rolf Stavnem;

1. Rekstefja (Rst) - 35

Skj info: Hallar-Steinn, Islandsk skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 543-53, BI, 525-35).

Skj poems:
1. Rekstefja
2. a. Af et digt om en kvinde
2. b. Af et digt om Skáldhelgi(?)

Nothing is known about this skald (HSt) except what can be deduced from his nickname, which has been identified with the farm-name Höll, in Þverárhlíð, Mýrasýsla, western Iceland (Finnur Jónsson 1907, 185), and from the poetry attributed to him. His main extant work is the drápa Rekstefja (HSt Rst), whose ambitious praise of Óláfr Tryggvason might well point to Iceland at the end of the twelfth century or somewhat later (see Skj, and Introduction to the poem below). Hallar-Steinn has been identified (e.g. by Wisén 1886-9, I, 143) with the eleventh-century poet Steinn Herdísarson (SteinnII), but this is implausible. HSt Frag 1, of uncertain origin but probably attributable to this poet, may also commemorate Óláfr Tryggvason, while HSt Frag 2-5III represent a love-lorn poet. These fragments are preserved only in treatises on poetics and grammar, and are therefore edited in SkP III, as are two further fragments, HSt Frag 6-7III.

Rekstefja (‘Split-refrain’) — HSt RstI

Rolf Stavnem 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja’ 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. 893.

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Skj: Hallar-Steinn: 1. Rekstefja (AI, 543-52, BI, 525-34); stanzas (if different): 3 | 4 | 5

SkP info: I, 897

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — HSt Rst 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 1’ 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. 897.

Hǫrs gnótt hrunda sléttum
hljóðs kveðk mér at óði
randhvéls rennu Þundi;
Rekstefju tekk hefja.
Skýrunn* skjaldar linna
skalk fríðum lof smíða
þing-Baldr Þróttar mildum,
þeims fremstr varð beima.

Kveðk mér hljóðs gnótt {hrunda hǫrs} at sléttum óði {Þundi {rennu {randhvéls}}}; tekk hefja Rekstefju. Skalk smíða lof {fríðum {{skjaldar linna} ský}runn*}, {mildum {Þróttar þing-}Baldr}, þeims varð fremstr beima.

I ask silence for myself from the great number {of valkyries of linen} [WOMEN] for the smooth poem {about the Þundr <= Óðinn> {of the rush {of the rim-wheel}}} [SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Óláfr Tryggvason]; I commence Rekstefja (‘Split-refrain’ (?)). I will forge a praise-poem {for the handsome tree {of the cloud {of the snakes of the shield}}} [(lit. ‘cloud-tree of the snakes of the shield’) SWORDS > SHIELD > WARRIOR = Óláfr], {for the generous Baldr <god> {of the assembly of Þróttr <= Óðinn>}} [(lit. ‘assembly-Baldr of Þróttr’) BATTLE > WARRIOR = Óláfr], who was the best of men.

Mss: Bb(111va)

Readings: [1] Hǫrs: hers Bb    [5] Skýrunn*: ‘skvrvnzst’ Bb    [7] þing‑: ‘þig‑’ Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 1: AI, 543, BI, 525, Skald I, 255, NN §§1167, 1853H, 2543A; SHI 3, 244-5, 271, CPB II, 295, Wisén 1886-9, I, 46, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 185-9.

Context: This stanza and sts 7-8, 10-11, 24 and 32-5 are not preserved in a narrative context.

Notes: [1] hǫrs ‘of linen’: (a) Ms. hers ‘of the troop’ is emended here, as in previous eds (Konráð Gíslason 1895-7; Skj B; Skald) to hǫrs, which combines with hrunda, gen. pl. of the valkyrie-name Hrund, to form a standard woman-kenning; cf. Meissner 407, 415, and cf. herr prúðr hǫrvi ‘troop adorned with linen’ referring to women in st. 35/7. (b) The ms. reading hers could be retained, giving gnótt hers hrunda ‘the great number of the army of valkyries’, which would presumably be a kenning or informal genitival expression meaning ‘women’. However, this would be without parallel, and gnótt ‘great number’ with hers ‘of the army’ would be somewhat tautological. Emendation to hǫrs therefore seems preferable, especially given that Bb is the only ms. for the stanza. — [1, 2] kveðk mér hljóðs gnótt hrunda hǫrs ‘I ask silence for myself from the great number of valkyries of linen [WOMEN]’: The skald’s request for silence is surprisingly directed towards women, who are addressed again at the close of the poem, st. 35/7-8, though a male audience seems to be indicated by st. 24/1, 3. There is no obvious explanation for this. — [3] Þundi rennu randhvéls ‘about the Þundr <= Oðinn> of the rush of the rim-wheel [SHIELD > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Óláfr Tryggvason]’: (a) This kenning can be construed with óði ‘poem’ as in the interpretation above (and in Skj B and Skald). (b) It could alternatively be construed with Rekstefju, thus, ‘I commence Rekstefja about the warrior’. Either case involves the use of the dat. case to mean ‘about’, which is unusual, but cf. lof ‘praise-poem’ with a kenning in the dat. in the second helmingr. — [4] RekstefjuRekstefja (“Split-refrain” (?))’: On the meaning of the title, see Introduction. — [5] skýrunn* ‘tree of the cloud (lit. ‘cloud-tree’)’: (a) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B, partly following SHI 3, 271, emends the incomprehensible ms. reading ‘skurunzst’ to skýrunns (gen. sg.) ‘cloud-tree’, and assumes that the warrior-kenning of which runn- ‘tree’ is base-word forms a gen. with lof, hence ‘praise-poem about the warrior’. (b) The present edn, with Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) and Kock (NN §1167), prefers to take skýrunn as a dat. sg. with lof and to assume that two kennings stand in apposition. Both Konráð and Kock point to a parallel for endingless dat. sg. -runn rather than the more usual -runni. — [7] þing- ‘assembly’: An unavoidable emendation introduced by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 3, 244). — [7] Þróttar þing-Baldr ‘Baldr <god> of the assembly of Þróttr <= Óðinn> [(lit. ‘assembly-Baldr of Þróttr’) BATTLE > WARRIOR = Óláfr]’: Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) interprets this as the skald addressing a man, possibly the one who commissioned the poem, whereas Kock and this edn prefer to construe it as a parallel phrase to the warrior-kenning based on runn ‘tree’. On the form Baldr as dat., cf. Finnur Jónsson (1901, 7-8).

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