This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hallar-Steinn (HSt)

12th century; volume 1; ed. Rolf Stavnem;

III. Fragments (Frag) - 6

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.

Fragments — HSt FragIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘ Hallar-Steinn, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 202. <> (accessed 29 May 2022)

stanzas:  2   3   4   5   6   7 

Skj: Hallar-Steinn: 2. a. Af et digt om en kvinde (AI, 552-3, BI, 534-5); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

SkP info: III, 203

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — HSt Frag 3III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Fragments 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 203.

Svalteigar mun selju
salts Víðblinda galtar
rafkastandi rastar
reyrþvengs muna lengi.

{Víðblinda galtar {salts svalteigar {raf{kastandi}}}} mun lengi muna {selju {rastar {reyrþvengs}}}.

{The thrower {of the amber {of the salty, cool meadow {of the boar of Víðblindi <giant>}}}} [(lit. ‘amber-thrower of the salty, cool meadow of the boar of Víðblindi’) WHALE > SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] will for a long time remember {the willow {of the path {of the reed-thong}}} [SNAKE > GOLD > WOMAN].

Mss: R(33r), Tˣ(34v), W(76), U(31v), A(10r), C(4v) (SnE); papp10ˣ(48vb) (LaufE); 2368ˣ(119), 743ˣ(90r) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Sval‑: Sal‑ Tˣ;    mun: man ek A    [2] ‑blinda: ‑blindi U, ‘blinnis’ A    [3] raf‑: rauf‑ U

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 2. a. Af et digt om en kvinde 2: AI, 552, BI, 534, Skald I, 260; SnE 1848-87, I, 408-9, II, 323-4, 434, 583, III, 72, SnE 1931, 145, SnE 1998, I, 63; LaufE 1979, 294, 378.

Context: Skm (SnE) and LaufE cite this helmingr to exemplify how, in a woman-kenning, ‘gold’ can serve as the determinant and a woman can be called selja gulls ‘willow of gold’. After the stanza Snorri (SnE 1998, I, 63)  explains that Víðblindi, a giant, angles for whales in the water as though they were fish; hence the whale-kenning gǫltr Víðblinda ‘boar of Víðblindi’. In addition, the base-word of the kenning selja gulls ‘willow of gold’ is explained as a homonym (samheiti), either a woman (selja) who bestows (selr) something (gold), or a tree (selja ‘willow’).

Notes: [1, 3, 4] selju rastar reyrþvengs ‘the willow of the path of the reed-thong [SNAKE > GOLD > WOMAN]’: This kenning is one of the common woman-kennings formed according to the pattern ‘tree of gold’. Despite the explanation of selja immediately following the stanza in Skm (see Context above), the ‘willow’ must have been the original meaning of selja in kennings. Even though women are often called ‘givers of something’ in Old Norse prose literature (e.g. matselja ‘food-giver’; Fritzner: matselja), it would not have been a woman’s role to dispense gold. Tree-names, on the other hand, often appear as base-words in woman-kennings (Meissner 410). — [1, 2-3] Víðblinda galtar salts svalteigar rafkastandi ‘the thrower of the amber of the salty, cool meadow of the boar of Víðblindi <giant> [(lit. ‘amber-thrower of the salty, cool meadow of the boar of Víðblindi’) WHALE > SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’: This is an extended kenning, in which the poet refers to himself as ‘generous man’. The basic pattern is ‘thrower of gold’; in this case ‘gold’ is called ‘amber of the sea’, ‘sea’ is referred to as ‘the salty, cool meadow of the whale’, and ‘whale’ is in turn referred to as ‘boar of the giant (Víðblindi)’ (see Note to l. 2 below). The use of ‘amber’ as a base word in the gold-kenning here can be explained by the shining colour of amber (LP: rǫf). In salts svalteigar ‘the salty, cool meadow’, the noun salts is taken as an adjectival gen. The interpretation of the stanza follows Skj B. — [2] Víðblinda galtar ‘of the boar of Víðblindi <giant>’: Víðblindi (or Viðblindi) is attested as a giant’s name in Þul Jǫtna I 5/7. The quantity of the first vowel is uncertain (see Note to l. 7 there). A comparable kenning for ‘whale’ is found in Anon (LaufE) 7/4 svíni Víðblinda ‘the swine of Víðblindi’ (cf. Note to l. 4 there). The kenning is difficult to explain, as the name of this giant is only found here and in the þulur, and the kenning is probably based on a particular mythological episode. Skm’s explanation (SnE 1998, I, 63) is not helpful because it cannot explain the base-word ‘boar’ (see Meissner 116). A possible explanation could be that for giants whales have the same function as boars for men or gods, e.g. as food.

© 2008-