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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.

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

SkP info: I, 919

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

19 — HSt Rst 19I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 19’ 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. 919.

Stǫng reið, stôl en sungu,
sterklig jǫfurs merkis;
gramr skaut; gerðisk rimmu
gangr um Orm inn langa.
Nýtr herr Nóregs gætis
nær vasa trauðr at særa
orðprúðs Jóta ferðir.
Óláfr und veg sólar.

Sterklig stǫng merkis jǫfurs reið, en stôl sungu; gramr skaut; gangr rimmu gerðisk um Orm inn langa. Nýtr herr {orðprúðs gætis Nóregs} vasa nær trauðr at særa ferðir Jóta. Óláfr und {veg sólar} …

The powerful pole of the standard of the prince rode high and steel weapons sang; the ruler [Óláfr] shot; the course of the battle proceeded around Ormr inn langi (‘the Long Serpent’). The brave army {of the famous guardian of Norway} [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] was far from reluctant to wound the troops of the Jótar. Óláfr under {the path of the sun} [SKY] …

Mss: Bb(112ra); 53(64rb), 54(64ra), Bb(99va), 325VIII 2 b(1vb), Flat(64va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Stǫng: so 53, Flat, strǫng Bb(112ra), 54, 325VIII 2 b, ‘(Im)song’(?) Bb(99va);    reið: so 53, Flat, varð Bb(112ra), 54, Bb(99va), 325VIII 2 b    [2] sterklig: ‘[…]erklig’ 325VIII 2 b;    merkis: so Flat, merki Bb(112ra), 53, 54, Bb(99va), 325VIII 2 b    [3] gramr skaut gerðisk rimmu: ‘gram ok g[…] indinn gerdizt’ 325VIII 2 b;    gramr: grami Flat;    gerðisk: gjǫrði 53;    rimmu: snemma Flat    [4] um: á all others;    Orm inn: ‘orm(imn)’(?) 54;    langa: ‘[…]ga’ 325VIII 2 b    [5] gætis: ‘sæt(iss)’(?) 325VIII 2 b    [6] særa: ‘sæ[…]’ 325VIII 2 b    [7] orð‑: orðs Flat;    ‑prúðs: so 53, Flat, ‑prúðr Bb(112ra), ‑prúð 54, Bb(99va), 325VIII 2 b;    Jóta: sóta 325VIII 2 b    [8] Óláfr: so 54, Bb(99va), Óláf Bb(112ra), 325VIII 2 b, Flat, ‘Ol’ 53;    veg: vegs 325VIII 2 b

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 19: AI, 548, BI, 529-30, Skald I, 258, NN §1180; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 266 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, I, 483; SHI 3, 256-7, CPB II, 298, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 251-3.

Context: There is fierce fighting as Óláfr and his men fend off Danish attacks on their ships.

Notes: [1-2]: Most mss read strǫng varð stôlin sungu | sterklig jǫfurs merki, with the exceptions shown in the Readings above. Merki ‘standard’, as a n. noun, could be sg. or pl., but varð ‘became’ can only be sg. while the adj. strǫng ‘severe, strong’ can only be pl. Strǫng varð is therefore not viable grammatically, and it is necessary to adopt the minority readings stǫng reið and merkis, hence ‘the pole of the standard rode high’. This interpretation essentially agrees with that of Konráð Gíslason (1895-7), Skj B and Skald. — [1] en ‘and’: Kock (Skald and NN §1180) reads adv. enn ‘further’, but the word order favours conj. en ‘and, but’. — [4] um ‘around’: The ÓT mss have á ‘on’, which puts the focus on the battle taking place on, rather than around, Ormr inn langi. — [4] Orm inn langa ‘Ormr inn langi (“the Long Serpent”)’: Óláfr’s famous longship; see Note to st. 18/2. Line 4 is identical with Hókr Eirfl 4/4, and st. 22/4, also containing the phrase Orm inn langa, is a further variant on the pattern seen in Hókr Eirfl 3/4, 5/8 and 8/4. — [5] nýtr ‘brave’: The adj. is related to njóta ‘use, enjoy’ (AEW: nýtr), and hence has the basic sense ‘useful’, with a variety of contextual applications. Applied here to the Norwegians in their spirited defence, ‘brave’ is appropriate (cf. brav, tapper, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, whereas Skj B suggests dygtige ‘capable, skilled’). — [5] gætis Nóregs ‘of the guardian of Norway [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr]’: In kennings referring to Norwegian kings the determinant is normally gen. pl. of a regional ethnic name such as Hǫrðar ‘people of Hǫrðaland’ or Sygnir ‘people of Sogn’, but reference to territorial units rather than people is attested (Þjóð Har 2/7 gramr Upplanda ‘ruler of Opplandene’), as is reference to the whole of Norway rather than regions (e.g. Þhorn Harkv 5/3 dróttinn Norðmanna ‘lord of Norwegians’, Sturl Hákfl 7/2II valdr norrænar aldar ‘ruler of the Norwegian people’). — [6] vasa nær trauðr ‘was far from reluctant’: Lit. ‘was not nearly reluctant’. — [7] orðprúðs ‘famous’: Lit. ‘word-splendid’, hence either ‘famous’ (so Konráð Gíslason 1895-7) or possibly ‘eloquent’ (so Skj B). — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see st. 9/8 and Note.

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