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, 898

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — HSt Rst 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 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. 898.

Vegmildr víðrar foldar
vǫrðr þá fóstr í Gǫrðum;
vellbjóðr vísar dáðir
vann, sás hæst gekk manna.
Blikrunnr brigða miklum
brátt réð * þeim, es átti,
allprútt éla Þróttar
Óláfr skipa stóli.

{Vegmildr vǫrðr víðrar foldar} þá fóstr í Gǫrðum; {vellbjóðr}, sás gekk hæst manna, vann vísar dáðir. {{{Þróttar éla} blik}runnr}, Óláfr, réð * brátt, allprútt, þeim brigða miklum stóli skipa, es átti.

{The honour-generous guardian of vast territory} [RULER = Óláfr] was fostered in Russia; {the gold-offerer} [GENEROUS MAN], who was the greatest of men, performed renowned deeds. {The tree {of the gleam {of the storms of Þróttr <= Óðinn>}}} [(lit. ‘gleam-tree of the storms of Þróttr’) BATTLES > SWORD > WARRIOR], Óláfr, soon commanded most excellently the extremely large fleet of ships which he owned.

Mss: Bb(111va); 61(12ra), 53(10rb), 54(6ra), Bb(16ra), 62(4vb), Flat(12rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] víðrar: vígrar Bb(16ra), vígðrar Flat    [2] vǫrðr: so all others, vǫrð Bb(111va)    [3] vísar: vísa 61, 62, víða 53, 54, Bb(16ra)    [4] hæst: ‘hærst’ 61, hæstr 53, 54, Bb(16ra)    [5] ‑runnr: ‑rauðr all others    [6] * þeim es átti: ‘hann þeíms þęt atti’ Bb(111va), hann þeims átti 61, 53, hann þeim sem hann átti 54, hann því sem hann átti Bb(16ra), hann þeims átta 62, fjǫgur ok átta Flat    [7] allprútt éla Þróttar: om. 62;    ‑prútt: so 61, 53, 54, Bb(16ra), ‘‑pruttr’ Bb(111va), ‑ríkt Flat

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 2: AI, 544, BI, 525, Skald I, 255, NN §§1168-9; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 110 (ch. 58), Flat 1860-8, I, 91; SHI 3, 244-5, CPB II, 295-6, Wisén 1886-9, I, 46, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 191-3. 

Context: In ÓT, Óláfr decides to leave Garðar (Russia) and go back to Norway. The stanza is cited for its account of Óláfr’s upbringing in Garðar. 

Notes: [2] þá fóstr ‘was fostered’: Lit. ‘received fostering’. According to tradition (e.g. De antiquitate regum norwagiensium, MHN 13; HN, MHN 113; Ágr, ÍF 29, 20-1; ÓTOdd, ÍF 25, 162-6; Fsk, ÍF 29, 141; Hkr, ÍF 26, 232), Óláfr was fostered as a youth by King Valdamarr in Garðar; cf. also HSt Frag 1 and Anon Óldr 3. Valdamarr is identified with the Russian prince Vladimir (r. c. 970-1015; Pritsak 1993, 556; Franklin and Shephard 1996, 151-80). Doubts about the tradition have been expressed: see Introduction to HSt Frag 1. — [3] vísar ‘renowned’: The sense ‘renowned, well-known, certain’ is assumed here (cf. LP: víss 2; Fritzner: víss 3); ‘wise’ is also possible. The variant vísa is also possible. It could be read as the gen. sg. of vísi ‘prince, leader’, hence ‘princely’, qualifying dáðir ‘deeds’ (so Kock, NN §1168). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) also reads vísa, taking it with þá fóstr, hence ‘received fostering from the king, was fostered by the king’, but this is unnecessarily awkward, producing a tripartite l. 3. — [4] gekk hæst ‘was greatest’: Lit. ‘went highest’: The ÓT reading adj. hæstr (adopted in Skj B, LP: 2. ganga 13 and Skald) is less convincing than adv. hæst in conjunction with gekk, lit. ‘went’. — [5]: This odd line, like several more in Rst, has aðalhending instead of skothending; see Introduction. — [5] -runnr ‘tree’: The ÓT mss have -rauðr ‘red’, which is nonsensical in the context, but may be a corruption of ruðr, an alternative form of runnr ‘tree’. However, the -nn- form is established in st. 1/5 by the skothending runn- : linn-. — [5] brigða ‘extremely’: Gen. pl. of brigð f. ‘change, breaking, breach’, used as an intensifying adv. — [6] * þeim ..., es átti ‘the ... which he owned’: The range of variants reflects scribal uncertainty, and the role of ms. hann ‘he/him’ (deleted in the Text above) is unclear. Hann is assumed here to be a scribal addition to the verb réð ‘commanded’. Additional, extrametrical pronouns are frequent in the mss and often removed as a routine part of normalisation. For the remainder of the line various possibilities emerge. (a) Þeim, es átti ‘the (fleet) which he owned’ is adopted here (cf. Fms 12, 35, which retains hann), giving a statement that Óláfr commanded the ships he owned. (b) Kock (NN §1169) instead reads þeim es átti ‘for the one who owned [it]’, where the understood ‘it’ refers to brigða miklum ... stóli skipa ‘extremely large fleet of ships’ (ll. 5, 8), and the owner is Valdamarr (Vladimir; see Note to l. 2 above). Although this gives good sense, it produces an unmetrical line, since if þeim belonged to the rel. clause, forming þeim es átti ‘for the one who owned [it]’, es would cliticize onto the fully stressed demonstrative þeim which precedes it, giving þeims, and the line would have only five rather than the necessary six metrical positions. (c) See Note to l. 8, interpretation (b), for a different approach. — [8] stóli skipa ‘fleet of ships’: (a) The same phrase occurs in Bjbp Jóms 16/4. Stóll ‘fleet’ is assumed to be an adoption from Gk (LP: 2. stóll; AEW: stóll 3). (b) Skipa is taken by Finnur Jónsson (1893b and Skj B) as the verb ‘to man’, hence réð ... stóli, þeims hann, Óláfr, átti skipa allprútt ‘(the warrior) commanded a fleet which he, Óláfr, had to man most excellently’. This obviates the problem with hann (see Note to l. 6), but it breaks up the phrase skipa stóli and assumes a complex word order, with elements of the subordinate þeims-clause in ll. 6, 7 and 8.

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