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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, ‘ 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 27 January 2022)

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

SkP info: I, 921

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — HSt Rst 21I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 21’ 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. 921.

Ítr jarl einkar snarla
endr fimm skipum renndi
þrekmanns þriðja sinni
þremja storms at Ormi.
Ben lét — bǫrðusk ýtar —
brynskíðs viðum svíða
Hyrningr heiptargjǫrnum.
Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna.

Ítr jarl renndi endr einkar snarla fimm skipum þriðja sinni at Ormi þrekmanns {storms þremja}. Hyrningr lét ben svíða {heiptargjǫrnum viðum {brynskíðs}}; ýtar bǫrðusk. Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna …

The splendid jarl [Eiríkr] long ago extremely swiftly made five ships glide for the third time against the Ormr (‘Serpent’) belonging to the strong man {of the storm of swords} [BATTLE]. Hyrningr made wounds burn {on the vengeful trees {of the mail-shirt-ski}} [SWORD > WARRIORS]; men fought. He was the mightiest of royal men …

Mss: Bb(112ra); 61(68ra) (ll. 5-8), 53(64va) (ll. 1-4), 54(64va) (ll. 1-4), 54(65rb) (ll. 5-8), Bb(100rb) (ll. 1-4), Bb(101ra) (ll. 5-8), Flat(64vb) (ll. 1-4), Flat(65ra) (ll. 5-8) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Ítr: þá er Flat;    snarla: ‘sniarla’ Bb(100rb)    [3] þrek‑: so 53, Flat, þess Bb(112ra), 54, Bb(100rb)    [4] þremja: so 53, Flat, þrenna Bb(112ra), 54, Bb(100rb)    [6] ‑skíðs: so 61, Flat, ‘‑skidiss’ Bb(112ra), 54, Bb(101ra)    [8] vas (‘var’): er 61, 54, Bb(101ra), Flat;    ríkstr: so 61, 54, Bb(101ra), fremstr Bb(112ra), æztr Flat;    konung‑: kóng 54, konungs Flat

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 21: AI, 548-9, BI, 530, Skald I, 258, NN §§1182, 2448A; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 272 (ch. 251), 278 (ch. 252), Flat 1860-8, I, 485, 488; SHI 3, 258-9, CPB II, 298, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 256-9.

Context: The first helmingr is quoted at the point where all of Óláfr’s ships have been cleared but for Ormr inn langi, which Eiríkr attacks with five ships. The second is quoted when Eiríkr boards the ship with his men, fights the brave Hyrningr, a kinsman-in-law of Óláfr, and is forced to retreat.

Notes: [3] þrekmanns ‘belonging to the strong man’: This, the reading of 53 and Flat, is also adopted in previous eds. Þrek- ‘strong’ is strictly the noun þrek n. ‘strength’. Þrekmanns is taken here as part of an informal gen. construction with storms þremja ‘of the storm of swords [BATTLE]’. The phrase could perhaps be read as a warrior-kenning, but it would not match known kenning patterns. The alternative reading, þess manns ‘of that man’, yields less good sense, and þess, being an article, would be a less suitable bearer of metrical stress.  — [3] þriðja sinni ‘for the third time’: Eiríkr’s advance is the third phase in the attack on Óláfr; cf. the Note to st. 21/6. — [4] storms þremja ‘of the storm of swords [BATTLE]’: The 53 reading þremja is adopted here, since þrenna ‘three, threefold’ is incomprehensible in context. For þremjar (f. pl.) ‘sword’, lit. perhaps ‘cutters’, see Note to st. 10/1. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) takes the battle-kenning with ítr ‘splendid’, hence ‘splendid in battle’ (cf., e.g., Anon Liðs 1/5 hugrakkir hlakkar ‘brave-minded in battle’). Konráð Gíslason (1895-7), Kock (NN §§1182, 2448A) and this edn instead take ítr with jarl ‘jarl’.  — [4] Ormi ‘the Ormr (“Serpent”)’: Óláfr’s famous longship; see Note to st. 18/2.  — [7] Hyrningr: Hyrningr and his brother Þorgeirr (no patronymic given) are portrayed in Hkr (ÍF 26, 302-3, 334-5, 348) as from Vík (Viken) and as kinsmen-in-law and close supporters of Óláfr. — [8]:  For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8. — [8] ríkstr ‘mightiest’: The reading of 61, 54, Bb(101ra); the refrain is suddenly altered in both Bb(112ra) and Flat, and although the meaning is similar, their readings are clearly errors.

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