Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Halli stirði (Halli XI)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Russell Poole;

Flokkr (Fl) - 6

Skj info: Halli stirði, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 401-2, BI, 370-1).

Skj poems:

The poet who composed these sts is unidentified in the extant medieval sources. However, Johan Peringskiöld’s edn of Hkr (Hkr 1697, II, 143) contains an ascription to one ‘Halli stríði’ ‘the Stern’. This might have originated in a lost source (cf. Fidjestøl 1982, 145-6) but is more plausibly explained as a result of a misinterpretation of contracted svá sem hér segir ‘as is told here’ in Hkr as svá segir Halli stríði ‘as Halli stríði says’ or similar (ÍF 28, 160). This attribution might have been prompted by mention of an otherwise unknown Halli stirði ‘the Stubborn’, with nearly identical nickname, in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275) as one of the skalds of Haraldr harðráði. Possibly Peringskiöld was aware of this attestation. Halli stirði must be a separate identity from Haraldr’s well-known skald, Sneglu-Halli (SnH), since Skáldatal lists both Sneglu-Halli and Halli stirði among the poets who eulogised Haraldr. Also, the present sts indicate that their speaker was with Haraldr in 1064 when the events narrated took place, whereas, according to Sneglu-Halla þáttr (Snegl), Sneglu-Halli returned permanently to Iceland at an earlier date. Sneglu-Halli also composed encomiastic poetry, as indicated in Snegl (see Mork 1928-32, 234-47; ÍF 9, 261-95; Andersson and Gade 2000, 243-52).

Flokkr — Halli XI FlII

Russell Poole 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Halli stirði, Flokkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 337-43.

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Skj: Halli stirði: Flokkr, 1064 (AI, 401-2, BI, 370-1)

SkP info: II, 338-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Halli XI Fl 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2009, ‘Halli stirði, Flokkr 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 338-9.

Norðr lykr gramr, sás gerðir
grund, frá Eyrarsundi
— hrafngœlir sparn hæli
hǫfn — langskipa stǫfnum.
Rísta golli glæstir
gjalfr, en hlýður skjalfa,
hvasst und her fyr vestan
Hallandi framm brandar.

Gramr, sás gerðir grund, lykr stǫfnum langskipa norðr frá Eyrarsundi; {hrafngœlir} sparn hǫfn hæli. Brandar, glæstir golli, rísta gjalfr hvasst framm und her fyr vestan Hallandi, en hlýður skjalfa.

The king, who surrounds his territory, locks up [the land] with the stems of the longships north of Øresund; {the raven-gladdener} [WARRIOR] kicked against the harbour with his keel. The stems, encrusted with gold, cut the ocean-surge keenly forwards under the army to the west of Halland, and the wash-strakes tremble.

Mss: (567r), 39(28va), F(50ra), E(23r), J2ˣ(287r) (Hkr); H(59r), Hr(43rb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] Norðr: Nú E;    lykr: om. Hr;    gramr: gram Hr;    gerðir: ‘geyrðir’ F, ‘giordi’ Hr    [3] hrafn‑: ‘har’ H;    ‑gœlir: gelr H, Hr;    sparn: hátt yfir H, Hr;    hæli: so 39, F, E, J2ˣ, ‘holi’ Kˣ, heila H, Hr    [4] lang‑: so all others, lǫg‑ Kˣ    [5] Rísta: ristu H, Hr    [6] hlýður: súðir H, Hr;    skjalfa: sjalfa H    [7] und: var H, Hr;    her: heldr H, Hr    [8] Hallandi: Halland Hr;    framm: framit Hr;    brandar: branda H, brandi Hr

Editions: Skj: Halli stirði, Flokkr 1: AI, 401, BI, 370, Skald I, 184, NN §3092; ÍF 28, 159 (HSig ch. 71), F 1871, 234, E 1916, 81; Fms 6, 331 (HSig ch. 88).

Context: Stanza 1 is introduced as follows in Hkr (ÍF 28, 159): En er várar, safnar hvárrtveggi konunga liði miklu ok skipum til þessarar ferðar ok segir skáldit í einum flokki frá ferð þeira konunganna ‘And when spring comes, each of the kings assembles a large following and ships for this journey and the skald speaks in a flokkr about the journey of the kings’. Stanzas 1 and 2 are cited in uninterrupted succession in this source. H-Hr reads similarly (Fms 6, 330) but adds Ok enn kvað hann ‘And again he said’ between the sts.

Notes: [1, 4] lykr stǫfnum langskipa ‘locks up [the land] with the stems of the longships’: The verb is most probably from lykja ‘lock up (a gap), seal, join, weld’ (cf. CVC: lykja; Fritzner: lykja), though it could possibly instead be interpreted as lýkr 3rd pers. sg. pres. indic. of lúka ‘lock’ (so Skald). The verb recurs with the same possible meanings in st. 2/8. Haraldr appears to be the subject of this st. — [3-4] hrafngœlir sparn hǫfn hæli ‘the raven-gladdener [WARRIOR] kicked against the harbour with his keel’: Kock (NN §3092) and Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28, 159) explain hæli as a reference to part of the keel, the kjalarhæll ‘keel-heel’, rejecting the explanation in Skj B, where langskipa ‘of the longships’ (l. 4) is taken to govern stǫfnum ‘with the stems’ (l. 4). It is also possible, however, that the gen. pl. noun was interpreted as apo koinou, i.e. as qualifying both the preceding and the following noun. Also at play is a metaphor from horsemanship. The exchange of diction between sea and land transportation seen here is bolder than the norm and evidently led to confusion in H-Hr, where the entire l. hrafngœlir sparn hæli ‘the raven-gladdener kicked with his keel’ is replaced by a conventional ‘raven’ topos, hrafn (‘har’ H) gelr hátt yfir heila ‘the raven screams loudly over [men’s] heads’. — [5, 8] brandar, golli glæstir ‘the stems, encrusted with gold’: The meaning of brandr has not been fully established. Suggested is ‘curved gunwale fore and aft’ (Foote and Wilson 1970, 234; cf. Jesch 2001a, 147) but while mast-tops apparently would be gilded (Jesch 2001a, 161) it is dubious whether such decoration would have been applied to the timbers of the hull. That may favour a pars pro toto interpretation of brandr as ‘ships’ (Jesch 2001a, 147). — [6] hlýður skjalfa ‘the wash-strakes tremble’: The hlýða appears to have been a light plank (or strake) that when necessary could be mounted above the main planks of the hull to hinder heavy seas from spilling into the vessel (Jesch 2001a, 141-3). The reported trembling of the wash-strakes could reflect the lightness of their calibre and construction, as equally the sheer impetus of the ship on its course. Interspersed commentary on the sometimes tempestuous voyage that brings the leader or the skald to battle can be inferred to have been a standard ingredient in praise-poetry. Further examples are seen in later sts of this flokkr.

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