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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.

 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, 915

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — HSt Rst 16I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 16’ 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. 915.

Raunskjótt ræsir hitti
— rít vasa friðr at líta —
— sól rauð Svǫlnis éla —
senn dǫglinga þrenna.
Fimtán fjǫrnis mána
fleygjendr at gram renndu
Ekkils ýtiblǫkkum.
Óláfr und veg sólar.

Raunskjótt hitti ræsir senn þrenna dǫglinga; friðr vasa rít at líta; rauð {sól {éla Svǫlnis}}. {Fleygjendr {mána fjǫrnis}} renndu {fimtán ýtiblǫkkum Ekkils} at gram. Óláfr und {veg sólar} …

Rapidly indeed the ruler encountered three princes at the same time; peace was not to be seen for the shield; [he] reddened {the sun {of the storms of Svǫlnir <= Óðinn>}} [BATTLES > SWORD]. {Throwers {of the moon of the helmet}} [SWORD > WARRIORS] steered {fifteen surging steeds of Ekkill <sea-king>} [SHIPS] against the king. Óláfr under {the path of the sun} [SKY] …

Mss: Bb(112ra); 53(64rb-va) (ll. 5-8), 54(64va) (ll. 1-4), 54(64rb) (ll. 5-8), Bb(100ra) (ll. 1-4), Bb(99vb-100ra) (ll. 5-8), Flat(64ra) (ll. 1-4), Flat(64va) (ll. 5-8) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Raun‑: Rann‑ 54, Bb(100ra);    hitti: mátti 54, Bb(100ra), Flat    [2] friðr: frið Bb(100ra), ferð Flat    [4] þrenna: corrected from ‘(tv)enna’ (?) Bb(112ra), tvenna 54, Bb(100ra), þrennra Flat    [5] fjǫrnis: fjǫrvíss Bb(99vb);    mána: so 53, manna all others    [6] fleygjendr: ‘fley(gn)dr’(?) 53;    renndu: ‘ren rendu’ Bb(99vb)    [7] Ekkils: ‘eskils’ Bb(99vb);    ýti‑: úti 54, Bb(99vb)    [8] Óláfr: so 54, Ólaf Bb(112ra), ‘Ol’ 53, Bb(99vb), Flat;    veg sólar: om. 53

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 16: AI, 547, BI, 529, Skald I, 257, NN §1177; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 269, 271 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, I, 479, 484; SHI 3, 254-5, CPB II, 297, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 241-4. 

Context: The embedding of the stanza in ÓT varies across mss, but in 54 and Bb(99vb-100ra), the second helmingr is cited as Hallar-Steinn’s account of the Swedes attacking Ormr inn langi with fifteen ships. The first is cited later, when the Swedes have suffered heavy losses.

Notes: [All]: In ÓT the helmingar are separated and in 54 and Bb(99vb-100ra) they are in reverse order; cf. Context above. — [1-4]: Hitti ‘encountered’ in l. 1, the reading of the main ms., is adopted here, and at líta ‘to see’ in l. 2 is taken with the rest of that line. The ÓT reading mátti ‘was able to’ in l. 1 is adopted instead by Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald; NN §1177) and taken with at líta ‘to see’. Otherwise, however, Finnur Jónsson and Kock differ over the interpretation of ll. 1-4. (a) Skj B has Raunskjótt mátti ræsir at líta senn þrenna dǫglinga; sól Svǫlnis éla rauð rít; vasa friðr ‘Very rapidly the ruler was able to see three princes at the same time; the sun of Svǫlnir’s storms [BATTLES > SWORD] reddened the shield; there was no peace’. However, this involves assigning the words of l. 2 to three different clauses (cf. Gade 1995a, 216) and assumes that the verb rauð ‘reddened’ is preceded by its object as well as part of its subject, which is possible but not usual (see Note to st. 7/1-4). (b) These problems are avoided by taking rít ‘shield’ with vasa friðr, as in the present edn, hence sól Svǫlnis éla rauð; rít vasa friðr ‘the sun of Svǫlnir’s storms was reddened; there was no peace for the shield’; Kock (NN §1177) favours this, citing the contemporary parallel ÞGísl Búdr 7/7 hauks vasat friðr fjǫllum ‘there was no peace for the mountains of the hawk [ARMS]’. Rauð ‘reddened’ is taken by Kock as impersonal; see Note to l. 3. — [3] rauð ‘[he] reddened’: As in other cases (Ótt Hfl 9/3, Arn Þorfdr 9/1II and Notes) there may be an understood pron. The usage could alternatively be impersonal, hence ‘(the sword) grew red’ or ‘was reddened’ (so NN §1177). In this edn the sword-kenning, also in l. 3, is taken as the object of rauð. Rít ‘shield’ in l. 2 would also supply a logical object to rauð (so Skj B), but that analysis produces a difficult word order (see Note to ll. 1-4). — [4] þrenna ‘three’: The beginning of the word is unclear in Bb(112ra), but the scribe appears to have corrected tvenna ‘two’ to þrenna ‘three’ (cf. also Flat ‘þrennra’). The three enemy princes are King Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson, the Danish King Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ Haraldsson and the Norwegian Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson, and with this helmingr Rst commences the account of the action at Svǫlðr by summarising the events. Presumably the tvenna ‘two’ in 54 and Bb(100ra) refers to the first two attacking fleets, since in those mss the stanza is placed just before the third opponent, Eiríkr jarl, launches his attack; this therefore appears to be an alteration serving the needs of the prose narrative (Heslop 2006a, 386). — [5-7]: The fleet of fifteen ships is clearly identified as that of the Swedes in the ÓT context, and this matches the continuous text of Bb(112ra), which puts the Swedish attack first (st. 17/5 sœnskr herr ‘Swedish army’), followed by the Danish (st. 18/5 danskr herr ‘the Danish army’). ÓT (1958-2000, II, 263, 265) confirms that Hallar-Steinn’s poem describes Óláfr sœnski engaging first with Óláfr Tryggvason’s ships, but explains that Snorri Sturluson and most others say that it was the Danish king who launched the first attack. — [5] mána fjǫrnis ‘of the moon of the helmet [SWORD]’: This is best taken as a sword-kenning (so Meissner 151; LP: máni), though fleygjendr ‘throwers’, the base-word of the warrior-kenning, might otherwise have indicated a spear-kenning, and máni ‘moon’ is also frequent in shield-kennings due to the analogy of shape. The kenning complements the sword-kenning with sól ‘sun’ as base-word in l. 3. ‘Sun’ and ‘moon’ make suitable base-words of sword-kennings on account of their brightness though not of their shape (for another example, see Anon Geisl 43/8VII). — [7] ýtiblǫkkum Ekkils ‘surging steeds of Ekkill <sea-king> [SHIPS]’: This line comprising a ship-kenning is carved on a rune-stick of c. 1300 from Bergen (Run B57VI). The base-word is in the dat. case (blǫkkum ‘steeds’) as in the poem, and the line may well derive from there. — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8.

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