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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 25 May 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, 900

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — HSt Rst 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 3’ 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. 900.

Senn ǫll síðan runnu
snekkjubǫrð ór Gǫrðum
hermǫrg hôla tǫrguð
hildings und gram mildum.
Vestrlǫnd, virða kindir,
verfôkum lét herjat
aldyggr arfi Tryggva
Óláfr, ok klauf stôlum.

Síðan runnu hermǫrg snekkjubǫrð hildings, hôla tǫrguð, ǫll senn ór Gǫrðum und mildum gram. {Aldyggr arfi Tryggva}, Óláfr, lét herjat vestrlǫnd {verfôkum}, ok klauf kindir virða stôlum.

Then a great many ship-stems of the prince, splendidly equipped with shields, sped from Russia all at the same time, under the generous ruler. {The most excellent heir of Tryggvi} [= Óláfr], Óláfr, harried the western lands {with sea-steeds} [SHIPS] and slashed the sons of men with steel weapons.

Mss: Bb(111va); 61(16vb), 53(15ra), 54(12ra), Bb(22va), 62(9va), Flat(16ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [3] hermǫrg: ‘herding’ 62, ‘hergín’ Flat;    tǫrguð: so 61, 54, Bb(22va), ‘tiorgod’ Bb(111va), 53, 62, ‘urgut’ Flat    [4] und: um Flat    [6] lét: réð 61, 53, 54, Flat, reið 62    [8] ok: of 53, 54, Bb(22va), om. Flat;    stôlum: straumi 54, Bb(22va)

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 4: AI, 544, BI, 526, Skald I, 256, NN §§2093, 3396A; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 159 (ch. 77), Flat 1860-8, I, 119; SHI 3, 246-7, CPB II, 296, Wisén 1886-9, I, 46, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 195-9.

Context: Óláfr sails from Russia to Denmark, then crosses the sea west to the British Isles.  

Notes: [All]: Printed as st. 4 in previous eds following the order in ÓT; see Introduction. — [All]: The action of the poem moves from Garðar to the British Isles, and, with the exception of the attack on the Wends in st. 5, raids in north-west Europe such as are specified in Hfr Óldr 1-4 are not narrated. Much the same is true of Anon Óldr: see Óldr 5 and Note to [All]. — [2] snekkjubǫrð ‘ship-stems’: This may be a pars pro toto expression for ships. It is taken as a cpd in Skald, as here, but as two words in Skj B. — [3] tǫrguð ‘equipped with shields’: This is n. nom. pl. of the adj. targaðr from targa ‘(round) shield’. The variant tjǫrguð would mean ‘tarred’. — [8] Óláfr: The form Óláfr, rather than the older Ôleifr, is attested as early as the end of the C11th (see Steinn Óldr 5/8II Óláfr : sólu and Note) and is indicated in Rst by Óláfr : stóli in st. 2/8 and Óláfr : sólar in st. 10/8 (stef). It is used throughout the present edn. The rhymes of Óláf- on stôlum here and on dála in st. 8/6 are therefore slightly inexact. Rhymes involving ô : ó (cf. 8/2 hôtt : dróttir and 35/4 hóps : drôpu) may have arisen and been deemed permissable by Hallar-Steinn’s time since the development of Ôleifr into Óláfr would have made rhymes such as Ôleifr : stôlum in earlier poetry seem inexact. In the present stanza, Skj B (but not Skald) reads stólum as the form required to produce aðalhending on Óláfr.

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