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Runic Dictionary

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Hallvarðr háreksblesi (Hallv)

11th century; volume 3; ed. Matthew Townend;

Knútsdrápa (Knútdr) - 8

Hallvarðr (Hallv) is an obscure figure, and the poem edited here is his only extant work. In Skáldatal he is listed once, amongst Knútr Sveinsson’s (r. 1018-35) poets (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267, 282), and he also appears to be mentioned only once in saga-sources, namely in Tómasskinna’s account of Knútr’s attempt to recruit Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld to his service (ÓH 1941, II, 803): Þormodr þackade honum fyrer bodit. enn kuozt eigi fær til ath ganga j stad haufud skalldanna er uerit haufdu med Knuti konungi. Þorarins loftungu eda Halluardz eda Ottars eda Sighuatz ‘Þormóðr thanked him for the invitation, but he said he was not able to take the place of the chief poets who had been with King Knútr: Þórarinn loftunga or Hallvarðr or Óttarr or Sigvatr’. The significance of Hallvarðr’s nickname, which is attributed to him in ÓH (ÓH 1941, I, 477), Hkr (ÍF 27, 311) and Knýtl (ÍF 35, 103), is unclear: blesi means ‘blaze (on a horse’s head)’ and the word occurs mostly as a masculine nickname, but who Hárekr was, and why Hallvarðr should be ‘Hárekr’s blaze’, is unknown (see Finnur Jónsson 1907, 170, 198 and Lind 1920-1, col. 136).

Knútsdrápa (‘Drápa about Knútr’) — Hallv KnútdrIII

Matthew Townend 2017, ‘ Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 230. <> (accessed 17 September 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Hallvarðr háreksblesi: Knútsdrápa (AI, 317-18, BI, 293-4); stanzas (if different): 4 | 5

SkP info: III, 233

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Hallv Knútdr 3III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 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. 233.

Knútr, lézt framm til Fljóta
— frægr leið vǫrðr of ægi
heiptsnarr hildar leiptra —
harðbrynjuð skip dynja.
Ullar lézt við Ellu
ættleifð ok reifðir
sverðmans snyrtiherðir
sundviggs flota bundit.


Knútr, you caused your hard-armoured ships to rush forward to Fljót; {the famous, battle-bold guardian {of the lightnings of battle}} [SWORDS > WARRIOR] glided across the sea. {Splendid strengthener {of Ullr’s {sea-horse}}}, [SHIP > SHIELD > WARRIOR] you had your fleet moored in {the patrimony of Ælla}, [= England] and you gladdened {the gull {of the sword-girl}}. [VALKYRIE > RAVEN/EAGLE]

context: The stanza is quoted in Knýtl in the context of Knútr’s attack on England.

notes: [5-8]: Some emendation is needed in the second helmingr, as the ms. forms do not supply a nom. noun or adj. to be the subject or addressee of the helmingr. The preferred option, adopted by Skj B, Knýtl 1919-25, Skald, and Frank (1994b), and followed here, is to emend snyrti-Gerðar in l. 7 to snyrti-herðir, so producing snyrti-herðir sundviggs Ullar ‘splendid strengthener of the sea-horse [SHIP] of Ullr <god> [SHIELD > WARRIOR]’. The second option, proposed in Fms 12, 247 and adopted by ÍF 35 and Jesch 2000, is to emend Ullar to Ullr in l. 5, so producing Ullr sundviggs ‘the Ullr <god> of the sound-horse [SHIP > SEAFARER]’. While this is paralleled by a comparable phrase, Ullr unnviggs ‘Ullr  <god> of the wave-horse [SHIP > SEAFARER]’, in ÞKolb Gunndr ll. 7, 8V (Gunnl 21), the emendation is problematic as it results in an unmetrical, hypometrical line, or, with the addition of a cliticised ‑u (léztu), it results in an illicit Type E/D4-line with a proclitic prep. in metrical position 4 (see Gade 1995a, 82-5).

texts: Knýtl 4

editions: Skj Hallvarðr háreksblesi: Knútsdrápa 3 (AI, 317; BI, 293); Skald I, 149, NN §782; 1741, 12-13, Knýtl 1919-25, 36 (ch. 8), ÍF 35, 103-4 (ch. 8); Frank 1994b, 120, Jesch 2000, 246.


Jón Ólafsson 1741 (JÓ) 12 - 12 (Knýtl)  image  
AM 20 d folx (20dx) 5r, 1 - 5r, 8 (Knýtl)  image  
NKS 873 4°x (873x) 6r, 8 - 6r, 15 (Knýtl)  image  
Holm papp 41 4°x (41x) 4v - 4v (Knýtl)  
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