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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, 926

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

24 — HSt Rst 24I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 24’ 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. 926.

Hjǫr*fl*óðs hnykkimeiðum
hérs of slœm at dœma
hnigreyrs harða starran;
hefk þar lokit stefjum.
Íðvands aðrar dáðir
ek fýsumk nú lýsa
gnýbjóðs geysitíðar
geira hóti fleiri.

Hérs {hnykkimeiðum {hnigreyrs {hjǫr*fl*óðs}}} at dœma of harða starran slœm; hefk þar lokit stefjum. Ek fýsumk nú lýsa hóti fleiri aðrar geysitíðar dáðir {íðvands {geira gný}bjóðs}.

Now it is {for the snatching trees {of the descending reed {of the sword-flood}}} [BLOOD > SWORD > WARRIORS] to judge the very stiff slœmr; I have concluded the refrains there. I am now eager to describe a great deal more the other much talked-about deeds {of the carefully-acting inviter {of the din of spears}} [(lit. ‘din-inviter of spears’) BATTLE > WARRIOR].

Mss: Bb(112rb)

Readings: [1] Hjǫr*fl*óðs: ‘Hiordfliods’ Bb    [3] starran: ‘staran’ Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 24: AI, 549, BI, 531, Skald I, 258; SHI 3, 260-1, CPB II, 298-9, Wisén 1886-9, I, 49, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 264-8.

Notes: [All]: The stanza concludes the section of the poem containing the refrain lines (sts 9-23) and prepares for the slœmr (l. 2; see Note below). Contrary to the first and last stanzas of Rst, the audience addressed in ll. 1, 3 is obviously not a group of women. — [1] hjǫr*fl*óðs ‘of the sword-flood [BLOOD]’: This emendation, also made by previous eds, is necessary since the Bb reading ‘Hiordfliods’ would seemingly mean ‘herd-woman’. — [2] slœmslœmr’: Together with the C12th Gamlkan Has 46/6VII, this constitutes the earliest evidence for the term, which refers to the third and last part of the poem. — [3] hnig- ‘descending’: From hníga ‘to bow down, sink’. The image is presumably of a sword slashing with a downward motion. — [3] starran ‘stiff’:  Suggested by Konráð Gíslason (1895-7); the ms. reads ‘staran’. In a conventional topos, the poem’s narrator downplays his own achievement by calling it stiff and encourages the audience to judge its quality (cf. Kreutzer 1977, 177, 238, 274). — [4] stefjum ‘the refrains’: Presumably pl. because the stef ‘refrain’ lines occur in fifteen stanzas. — [5]: The line has three hendingar (Íð- : - : áð). — [5] íðvands ‘carefully-acting’: Konráð Gíslason (1895-7), with Finnur Jónsson (Skj A), reads nom. sg. íðvandr, referring to the skald, but gen. sg. íðvands, qualifying the kenning for Óláfr, is equally possible as the graphs representing <r> and <s> are often identical in Bb.

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