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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, 235

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Hallv Knútdr 4III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 235.

Rauðljósa sér ræsir
(rít brestr sundr in hvíta)
baugjǫrð brodda ferðar
(bjúgrend) í tvau fljúga.

{Ræsir {ferðar brodda}} sér {rauðljósa baugjǫrð} fljúga í tvau; in hvíta, bjúgrend rít brestr sundr.

{The impeller {of the journey of missiles}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR] sees {the bright red ring-land} [SHIELD] split in two; the white, curve-edged shield bursts apart.

Mss: R(34r), Tˣ(35v), W(78), U(33r), A(11v), C(5v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] ‑ljósa: ljóma C;    ræsir: ‘ræsi[…]’ U    [2] rít: ‘ritr’ U    [3] ‑jǫrð: ‑gjǫrð A    [4] ‑rend: ‘l[…]it’ U, rǫnd A, ‘[…]’ C;    í: ‘[…]’ U;    tvau: ‘tau’ Tˣ, ‘[…]’ C

Editions: Skj: Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 5: AI, 317, BI, 294, Skald I, 149; SnE 1848-87, I, 428-9, II, 329-30, 440, 590, III, 81, SnE 1931, 152, SnE 1998, I, 70; Frank 1994b, 121, Jesch 2000, 247.

Context: This stanza is quoted in Skm to illustrate the shield-kenning baugjǫrð ‘ring-land’.

Notes: [1] rauðljósa ‘bright red’: Lit. ‘red-bright’, seemingly alluding to red paint on the shield rather than to blood; this is complemented by hvíta ‘white’ in l. 2 (see Falk 1914b, 128-32, 143-4). — [2] rít ‘shield’: A heiti for ‘shield’, occurring in Þul Skjaldar 1/7 (see Note there) and elsewhere (LP: rít). — [3] baugjǫrð ‘ring-land [SHIELD]’: Baugr as a heiti for shield is also recorded in Þul Skjaldar 3/3 (see Note there). Although baugr (lit. ‘circle, ring’) can function as a pars pro toto term for ‘shield’ (see SnE 1998, I, 67), it also forms the determinant in shield-kennings; hence ‘the land of the baugr’, as here, is a shield. However, the kenning was clearly not transparent: ms. A, which generally preserves an excellent text of Hallvarðr’s poem, has bauggjǫrð ‘ring-belt, shield-belt’ (cf. sikulgjǫrð ‘sword-belt’, st. 2/2). — [4] bjúgrend ‘curve-edged’: A cpd adj. in which the second element is related to the more common noun rǫnd ‘rim, shield’, which the scribe of A has substituted as a lectio facilior. Bjúgrend presumably refers to the shape of the shield, though the adj. is not discussed in Falk (1914b). The strong form of the adj. bjúgrend is used here, even though one might have expected the weak form bjúgrenda since there is a def. art. (in hvíta, bjúgrenda rít). The strong form must have been chosen for metrical reasons (bjúgrenda makes the line hypermetrical), and was syntactically acceptable since it is separated from the rest of the noun phrase. — [4] fljúga í tvau ‘split in two’: Lit. ‘fly into two’.

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