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Hallar-Steinn (HSt)

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

1. Rekstefja (Rst) - 35

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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 8 December 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35 

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

SkP info: I, 913

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

15 — HSt Rst 15I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 15’ 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. 913.

Ǫrbjóðr átta skeiðum
efsta sinn ok þrinnum
(byrr varð) beita þorði
(brýnn) ór Þrándheims mynni.
Ormr skreið (árar knúði)
ǫlna vang inn langi
(hirð prúð); hilmir stýrði.
Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna.

{Ǫrbjóðr} þorði beita efsta sinn átta ok þrinnum skeiðum ór mynni Þrándheims; byrr varð brýnn. Ormr inn langi skreið {vang ǫlna}; prúð hirð knúði árar; hilmir stýrði. Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna …

{The arrow-offerer} [WARRIOR] dared a final time to sail eight and three warships to windward out from the mouth of Trondheimsfjorden; the wind became sharp. Ormr inn langi (‘the Long Serpent’) slithered over {the field of fish} [SEA]; the valiant retinue thrust on the oars; the ruler steered. He was the mightiest of royal men …

Mss: Bb(112ra); 61(66va), 53(63va), 54(62ra), Bb(97va), Flat(63va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Ǫr‑: auð‑ 53, ‘Orr‑’ Flat;    ‑bjóðr: ‑rjóðr 61, 53, 54, Bb(97va)    [2] þrinnum: þrennum 53, Flat    [3] varð: var Bb(97va)    [4] brýnn: ‘brynnt’ Flat;    ór Þrándheims: at Svǫlðrar all others;    mynni: so 61, minni all others    [5] knúði: so 61, 53, Flat, kníðu Bb(112ra), gnúði 54, gnúðu Bb(97va)    [6] ǫlna: so all others, ‘ótna’ Bb(112ra);    vang: so 61, 53, 54, Bb(97va), vagns Bb(112ra), menn Flat    [7] prúð: prúðr Flat;    stýrði: so all others, stúrði Bb(112ra)    [8] vas (‘var’): er all others;    ríkstr: ‘rikaszstr’ 53;    konung‑: kóng 54

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 15: AI, 547, BI, 528-9, Skald I, 257; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 253 (ch. 247), Flat 1860-8, I, 476; SHI 3, 254-5, CPB II, 297, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 238-41.

Context: The sea battle in the vicinity of Svǫlðr is about to begin and King Óláfr is approaching the island with his eleven ships.

Notes: [All]: The departure of Óláfr and his fleet marks the beginning of the sequence of stanzas (sts 15-23) depicting his final battle at Svǫlðr (c. 1000). For the battle, see also Hfr ErfÓl 1-24, Skúli SvǫlðrIII, Stefnir Lv 1 (cf. OSnorr Lv), Eþsk Couplet, Hókr Eirfl, ÞKolb Eirdr 8, and the non-contemporary Anon Óldr 17-24; see further the entry on Óláfr Tryggvason in ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [1] ǫrbjóðr ‘the arrow-offerer [WARRIOR]’: Bjóðr ‘offerer’ is a common base-word in kennings (Meissner 330). Ǫrrjóðr ‘the arrow-reddener [WARRIOR]’, the reading in most ÓT mss, is also feasible. — [1, 2] átta ok þrinnum skeiðum ‘eight and three warships’: The numbers of enemy ships are also detailed in the poem: fifteen (st. 16/5), sixty (st. 18/4) and a further five (st. 21/2); see also McDougall and McDougall (1998, 74) on the size of fleets in the battle. — [3] beita ‘to sail ... to windward’: A technical term; see Jesch (2001a, 174). — [4] brýnn ‘sharp’: Konráð Gíslason (1895-7), followed by Skj B, reads brynn ‘sharp’ to provide an exact rhyme with mynni ‘mouth’, but the hendingar in Rst are not perfectly regular (see Introduction to Rst) and unequal vowel length is found sporadically in hendingar throughout the skaldic corpus (see ‘Normalisation resulting from linguistic changes’ in General Introduction). — [4] mynni Þrándheims ‘the mouth of Trondheimsfjorden’: Þrándheimr refers to the region of Trøndelag, and here to the fjord that is its principal waterway, and not to the city now called Trondheim, but formerly Nidaros (ON Niðaróss). This reading is compatible with the seafaring description in the stanza, while at mynni Svǫlðrar ‘to the estuary of Svǫlðr’ in the ÓT mss names the ultimate battle-site of Svǫlðr, and tallies well with a near-identical phrase in Skúli Svǫlðr 2/7III (and see Note). This and other evidence could suggest that Svǫlðr was a river or inlet (see McDougall and McDougall 1998, 74-5). It is not clear which is the original reading. — [5, 6] Ormr inn langi skreið ‘Ormr inn langi (“the Long Serpent”) slithered’: Óláfr’s famous warship; see also Note to st. 18/2, and see Hókr Eirfl 3/4. The ‘snake’ metaphor is extended into the verb. — [5] knúði ‘thrust’: 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of knýja; the older form kníða seems to be preserved in 3rd pers. pl. pret. indic. kníðu in Bb(112ra): see LP: knýja. — [6] ǫlna ‘of fish’: The species is uncertain; LP: ǫlunn and CVC: ölun suggest mackerel. — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated