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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 26 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, 236

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Hallv Knútdr 5III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 5’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 236.

Grund liggr und bǫr bundin
breið holmfjǫturs leiðar
— heinlands hoddum grandar
Hǫðr — eitrsvǫlum naðri.

Breið grund, bundin eitrsvǫlum naðri, liggr und {bǫr {leiðar {holmfjǫturs}}}; {Hǫðr {heinlands}} grandar hoddum.

The broad land, surrounded by the poison-cold serpent <Miðgarðsormr>, lies under {the tree {of the path {of the island-fetter}}} [SERPENT > GOLD > MAN = Knútr]; {the Hǫðr <god> {of the whetstone-land}} [SWORD > WARRIOR] harms hoards.

Mss: R(37r), Tˣ(38v), A(13r), C(6r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] bundin: bundinn C    [2] ‑fjǫturs: ‘‑fio᷎trs’ Tˣ, ‘‑fiotrs’ C;    leiðar: ‘[…]eidar’ C    [3] hein‑: so A, C, ‘lein’ R, Tˣ    [4] eitr‑: ‘æitir’ A;    ‑svǫlum: so all others, ‘svꜹlun’ R;    naðri: corrected from ‘navðri’ R

Editions: Skj: Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 4: AI, 317, BI, 294, Skald I, 149, NN §1126; SnE 1848-87, I, 472-3, II, 448, 592, III, SnE 1931, 167, SnE 1998, I, 86; Frank 1994b, 120, Jesch 2000, 246.

Context: This stanza is quoted in Skm to illustrate the use of grund as a heiti for ‘land’.

Notes: [All]: In R and C, this stanza is attributed to ‘Haraldr’ rather than to ‘Hallvarðr’. As Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 208) points out, the attribution of this verse to Haraldr is likely to be a mistake arising from the similar abbreviations of the two names. — [1, 4] bundin eitrsvǫlum naðri ‘surrounded by the poison-cold serpent <Miðgarðsormr>’: This serpent is Miðgarðsormr ‘the World Serpent’ which, according to Old Norse myth, surrounded the earth. Miðgarðsormr is the god Þórr’s opponent in Bragi Þórr and in Hym (see also ÚlfrU Húsdr 3-6 and EVald Þórr).   — [2] holmfjǫturs ‘of the island-fetter [SERPENT]’: Taken here as a kenning for Miðgarðsormr (see the previous Note); so also Skj B and SnE 1998, II, 316 (cf. Meissner 238). Kock (NN §1126) argues that this cpd is not another kenning for Miðgarðsormr, but rather for ‘sea’, and this idea is also entertained in LP: holmfjǫturr. In that case the larger kenning would be ‘the tree of the path of the island-fetter [SEA > SEAFARER]’. Alternatively, a kenning for ‘seafarer’ could be achieved by taking ‘the path of the world serpent’ as a kenning for ‘sea’. — [3] heinlands ‘of the whetstone-land’: For sword-kennings in which the determinant is a word for ‘whetstone’, see Meissner 155. For whetstones in Viking-Age Scandinavia, see Note to Þjóð Haustl 20/3-4. — [3] grandar hoddum ‘harms hoards’: Knútr harms hoards by dispersing them, by being generous.

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