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, 902

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — HSt Rst 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 5’ 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. 902.

Óláfr allra jǫfra
óttlaust ok nam brjóta
varghollr Vinða borgir
vestr hernað rak mestan.
Hrælinns hverju sinni
hljómváttandi knátti
sóknbráðr sigri ráða
Svǫlnis dóms í rómu.

Varghollr Óláfr rak vestr mestan hernað allra jǫfra ok nam óttlaust brjóta borgir Vinða. {Sóknbráðr {{hrælinns} hljóm}váttandi} knátti ráða sigri hverju sinni í rómu {dóms Svǫlnis}.

Wolf-gracious Óláfr pursued in the west the greatest raiding campaign of any ruler and began fearlessly to destroy the strongholds of the Wends. {The attack-swift witness {of the noise {of the corpse-serpent}}} [(lit. ‘noise-witness of the corpse-serpent’) SWORD > BATTLE > WARRIOR] won victory every time in the tumult {of the verdict of Svǫlnir <= Óðinn>} [BATTLE].

Mss: Bb(111va-b); 61(12va-b), 53(10vb), 54(6vb), Bb(16vb-17ra), 62(5va), Flat(12va) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] óttlaust: allfljótt all others;    nam: réð all others;    brjóta: ‘biota’ 54    [3] varg‑: varð‑ Bb(16vb);    Vinða: so all others, ‘vi(ar)nda’(?) Bb(111va);    borgir: borgar 62, Flat    [5] Hrælinns: hrundusk 53, 54, ‘hrunnoz’ Bb(16vb), hrælindr 62, hrænaðrs Flat;    hverju: ‘hueru’ Flat    [6] knátti: mátti all others    [7] sóknbráðr: sannfróðr all others    [8] Svǫlnis dóms: snælinns dóm 53;    í: ‘[...]’ 62

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 3: AI, 544, BI, 525, Skald I, 256, NN §§2092, 2113, 2448A, 2987H; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 116 (ch. 59), Flat 1860-8, I, 94; SHI 3, 244-7, CPB II, 296, Wisén 1886-9, I, 46, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 193-5. 

Context:

The stanza concludes a detailed account of Óláfr harrying a city in Vinðland (Wendland).

Notes: [All]: The stanza is printed as st. 3 in previous eds following the order in ÓT, and the motivation and sequence of events is uncertain; see Introduction. For Óláfr’s attack on the Wends, see also Hfr Óldr 1/7-8. — [1] allra jǫfra ‘of any ruler’: Lit. ‘of all rulers’. Jǫfra does not alliterate in l. 1 (while Óláfr and allra do); this is among the indicators of a date no earlier than the late C12th. — [2] óttlaust ‘fearlessly’: Allfljótt ‘very fast’ found in the ÓT mss is also feasible. — [2] nam ... brjóta ‘began ... to destroy’: The auxiliary nam, lit. ‘took’, could alternatively be taken as merely a pleonastic auxiliary, hence nam brjóta ‘destroyed’. The same would apply to réð, lit. ‘decided’ in the ÓT tradition. — [4] vestr ‘in the west’: Wendland is situated to the west from the perspective of Garðar (Russia). An alternative possibility is that the stanza indicates the range of Óláfr’s campaigns, with vestr referring, as frequently, to the British Isles. However, the use of ok ‘and’ in l. 2 would suggest that the two actions in ll. 1-4 are geographically close rather than distant. — [6, 8] -váttandi; dóms ‘witness; of the verdict’: This is the only record of váttandi ‘witness’ in the skaldic corpus, and as the base-word of the warrior-kenning it extends the legal metaphor established by dóms ‘verdict’, base-word of the battle-kenning. Such legal vocabulary is relatively rare, though cf. Hókr Eirfl 6/8 vápneiðr ‘weapon-oath [BATTLE]’, and see Notes to Hfr ErfÓl 8/1, 8/4. — [6, 7] knátti ráða sigri ‘won victory’: Lit. ‘was able to command victory’.  — [7] sóknbráðr ‘attack-swift’: This, with -ráð-, produces an aðalhending in an odd line, where a skothending would be usual, but this licence is common in Rst; see Introduction. The alternative sannfróðr ‘truly wise’ in the ÓT mss produces a skothending. — [8] í rómu dóms Svǫlnis ‘in the tumult of the verdict of Svǫlnir <= Óðinn> [BATTLE]’: This seems the best solution, though the expression is somewhat overloaded, since róma ‘tumult’ most frequently functions as a heiti for ‘battle’ (LP: róma 2). Editions based on ÓT (Fms 12, 36; Skj B) take it in that sense, and construe sannfróðr ‘truly wise’ with dóms Svǫlnis, hence ‘truly wise or skilled in battle’.

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