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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, 938

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

35 — HSt Rst 35I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 35’ 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. 938.

Eigi einkar lága
ek fæ ina þriðju,
hyr-Njǫrðr, hróðri stœrða
ps tvískelfða drôpu.
Slíkr hôttr — svá munk vátta —
sjaldstundum verðr fundinn;
herr prúðr hǫrvi kvæða
hafi gagn, en ek þagna.

{{Hóps hyr-}Njǫrðr}, ek fæ ina þriðju eigi einkar lága tvískelfða drôpu stœrða hróðri. Slíkr hôttr verðr sjaldstundum fundinn; munk svá vátta; herr prúðr hǫrvi hafi gagn kvæða, en ek þagna.

{Njǫrðr <god> {of the fire of the bay}} [(lit. ‘fire-Njǫrðr of the bay’) GOLD > MAN], I increase with praise the third not extremely poor drápa in tvískelft. Such a metre is rarely found; I can attest to that; may the troop splendid in linen [women] have benefit from the poem [lit. poems], and I fall silent.

Mss: Bb(112va)

Readings: [3] Njǫrðr: ‘morðr’ Bb    [4] ps: hofs Bb    [6] sjald‑: ‘siall‑’ Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 35: AI, 552, BI, 534, Skald I, 260, NN §§2097, 2543; SHI 3, 266-9, CPB II, 300, Wisén 1886-9, I, 50, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 287-90.

Notes: [1] eigi einkar lága ‘not extremely poor’: Lágr is more literally ‘low’. The poet’s reference to his own work is, at least superficially, modest in tone, as typical of skaldic poetry of the Christian era (cf. st. 24/3 and Note). It may also be noted that the line is not tvískelft or skjálfhent. — [2]: The line lacks hending, but since there is no other reason to suspect corruption, and no obvious alternative, it is retained without emendation. — [2, 3] fæ … stœrða ‘increase’: Lit. ‘get ... increased’. — [3, 4] ps hyr-Njǫrðr ‘Njǫrðr <god> of the fire of the bay [(lit. ‘fire-Njǫrðr of the bay’) GOLD > MAN]’: (a) This edn follows Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) in emending the nonsensical ms. reading ‘morðr’ to Njǫrðr, which is only a matter of reading <ni> instead of <m>, and ms. ‘hofs’ to hóps. The kenning is taken here as a vocative directed to the recipient of the poem, but it is uncertain whether this would be Óláfr or an unknown commissioner of the poem. Alternatively it could be appositional to ek ‘I’ (l. 2), as seemingly assumed in Skj B. (b) Kock (NN §2097) argued against a vocative warrior-kenning instoppad mitt ibland fruntimren ‘squeezed in among the women’, as he puts it, and emends Njǫrðr to an endingless dat. sg. form Njǫrð (a younger variant on Nirði; cf. ANG §§394, 395.3). He sees the kenning as elaborating on drôpu and referring to the recipient of the praise-poem, King Óláfr; he cites parallels in st. 1/3 and st. 34/5-6, and further parallels in NN §2543A, C. — [4]: For the rhyme hóps : drôp-, see Note to st. 3/8. — [4] tvískelfða ‘in tvískelft’: On this metre, see Introduction. — [6] sjaldstundum ‘rarely’: Ms. ‘siall-’; cf. Note to st. 32/3. — [7] herr prúðr hǫrvi ‘the troop splendid in linen [women]’: Apparently the same group of women addressed in st. 1/1-2; see Note. Though not structurally a kenning, this phrase resembles the kenning in st. 1/1, and cf. Meissner 415 for further examples in which linen (hǫr or lín) is the distinguishing attribute of women. — [8] en ek þagna ‘and I fall silent’: The same phrase also closes Geisli (ESk Geisl 71/8VII).

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