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, 927

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

25 — HSt Rst 25I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 25’ 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. 927.

Tvær senn — tiggja vinnur
telk þær —, es veitk færi
gnýlinns Gǫndlar runna,
gramr íþróttir framði.
Hyr-Baldr hvítra skjalda
handsǫxum lék vandla
fleinrjóðr flestra dáða
frár ok gekk at ôrum.

Gramr framði tvær íþróttir senn, es veitk {færi {{Gǫndlar gný}linns} runna}; telk þær vinnur tiggja. {{Hvítra skjalda hyr-}Baldr}, {fleinrjóðr}, frár flestra dáða, lék vandla handsǫxum ok gekk at ôrum.

The prince performed two feats at the same time, which I know {few trees {of the snake {of the din of Gǫndul <valkyrie>}}} [(lit. ‘trees of the din-snake of Gǫndul’) BATTLE > SWORD > WARRIORS] [have performed]; I tell of those achievements of the ruler. {The Baldr <god> {of the fire of white shields}} [(lit. ‘fire-Baldr of white shields’) SWORD > WARRIOR = Óláfr], {the spear-reddener} [WARRIOR], swift in most deeds, juggled skilfully with short-swords and walked across the oars.

Mss: Bb(112rb); 61(64ra), 53(61rb), 54(58va), Bb(94rb), Flat(62ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] es (‘er’): om. 61;    veitk (‘ek veit’): rétt 53, veit 54, Bb(94rb);    færi: so 61, 53, 54, Flat, smæri Bb(112rb), farri Bb(94rb)    [3] gnýlinns: gunnelds all others;    Gǫndlar: geymir 61, geymi 53, 54, Bb(94rb), Flat;    runna: unna 61, ‑runnar 53    [5] Hyr‑: hnig‑ all others;    hvítra: hvíta 54    [7] flestra dáða: so all others, flestar dáðir Bb(112rb)    [8] at: á all others

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 25: AI, 549-50, BI, 531, Skald I, 258, NN §§1182, 1853I, 2247B; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 228-9 (ch. 236), Flat 1860-8, I, 464; SHI 3, 260-1, CPB II, 299, Wisén 1886-9, I, 49, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 268-9.

Context: Óláfr, when his men were rowing along the coast, would sometimes walk on the oars overboard while juggling with short-swords.

Notes: [All]: Óláfr’s exceptional dexterity is also the subject of Anon Ól 1.  — [2] færi ‘few’: Lit. ‘fewer’. This, the ÓT reading, gives good sense, and qualifies the kenning for ‘warriors’ in l. 3. This kenning is the object of veit ‘know’, forming the part of an elliptical acc. with inf. construction which is completed by understanding inf. fremja ‘to perform’ or hafa framit ‘have performed’ from framði ‘performed’ in l. 4 (so also Skj B). The Bb reading smæri ‘smaller’ would qualify the warrior-kenning, referring to lesser men, but it is not normally used metaphorically and leaves the clause incomplete. — [3]: Line 3 in ÓT forms an alternative warrior-kenning which is also feasible: geymirunna gunnelds ‘guarding trees of the battle-fire [SWORD > WARRIORS]’. — [5] hyr-Baldr ‘the Baldr <god> of the fire (lit. ‘fire-Baldr’)’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) adopts the reading hyr from Bb(112rb), departing from the ÓT version normally preferred in his edn. The ÓT reading is hnig-Baldr ‘sinking Baldr of white shields [WARRIOR]’, where the prefixed hnig- is odd in juxtaposition with a conventional shield-kenning. It could perhaps mean that the warrior lowers his shield as a sign of courage, but it seems more likely that hnig- is an error encouraged by hnig- in st. 24/3. — [7] flestra dáða ‘in most deeds’: This, the ÓT reading, provides a gen. pl. governed by frár ‘swift (in)’; the Bb(112rb) reading, nom./acc. pl. flestar dáðir, does not fit the syntax. — [8] at ‘across’: The alternative á ‘on’ in ÓT has approximately the same meaning. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) again prefers the reading from Bb(112rb) here.

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