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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 23 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, 238

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Hallv Knútdr 7III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 238.

Esat und jarðar hǫslu
— orðbrjótr Dǫnum forðar
moldreks — munka valdi
mæringr an þú nærri.

Esat mæringr und {hǫslu jarðar} nærri {valdi munka} an þú; {{{moldreks} orð}brjótr} forðar Dǫnum.

There is not a prince under {the hazel of the earth} [= Yggdrasill] closer to {the ruler of monks} [= God] than you; {the breaker {of the speech {of the soil-ruler}}} [(lit. ‘speech-breaker of the soil-ruler’) GIANT > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] protects Danes.

Mss: R(39r), Tˣ(41r), 744ˣ(47r), C(8v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Esat und jarðar hǫslu (‘Erat vnd iarþar havslv’): ‘Eru . .. j́ardar hellu’ 744ˣ    [2] ‑brjótr: bjartr C;    forðar: ‘fordat’ 744ˣ    [3] munka: ‘mýndo’ 744ˣ;    valdi: veldi C    [4] nærri: ‘nerri’ Tˣ, ‘ne..í’ 744ˣ, næri C

Editions: Skj: Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 7: AI, 318, BI, 294, Skald I, 150; SnE 1848-87, I, 516-17, II, 546, 605, III, 108,  SnE 1931, 180, SnE 1998, I, 101; Frank 1994b, 120-1, Jesch 2000, 248.

Context: This stanza is quoted in Skm to illustrate the use of mæringr ‘prince’ as a nafn ókent ‘non-periphrastic term’ for ‘man’.

Notes: [All]: Ms. B(7r) is now almost illegible and 744ˣ has been used in its place. — [1] esat ‘is not’: The non-rhotasised <s> is ensured by internal rhyme here (es- : -ǫs-), and is in keeping with a C11th date for this poem (see ANG §532.3 n. 1). — [1] hǫslu jarðar ‘the hazel of the earth [= Yggdrasill]’: The world-tree Yggdrasill is usually regarded as an ash, but in this kenning it is referred to figuratively as hasla ‘hazel’, representing the category ‘tree’. For Yggdrasill, see Gylf (SnE 2005, 17-19, 50-1), Vsp 47 and Grí 30/2. This is the only kenning in the corpus of Old Norse poetry that paraphrases the world-tree (Meissner 426). — [2] Dǫnum ‘Danes’: This reference to Danes as the specific recipients of the king’s generosity may have offered particular reassurance to the Old Norse-speaking members of Knútr’s Anglo-Danish court in England (see Frank 1994b, 109). — [2, 3] moldreks orðbrjótr ‘the breaker of the speach of the soil-ruler [(lit. ‘speach-breaker of the soil-ruler’) GIANT > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN]’: For the myth relating how a giant’s wealth was measured in mouthfuls, see Note to Anon Bjark 5/8. Moldrekr ‘soil-ruler’ is an odd kenning for ‘giant’ (it could equally well denote a dwarf) and attested only here. — [3] valdi munka ‘the ruler of monks [= God]’: Munkr is an ecclesiastical loanword in Old Norse, probably from OE munuc (ultimately from Lat. monachus) (Fischer 1909, 53). As Frank (1994b, 124 n. 60) notes, the use of munkr ‘monk’ as a determinant is very rare in skaldic verse, paralleled only by reynir munka ‘tester of monks’ in Anon Hafg 2/1IV and dróttinn munka ‘lord of monks’ in Skapti Frag 1/1, the attributed date (C10th and C11th respectively) of both of which may be doubted. The juxtaposition of pagan and Christian references (noted in the Introduction) is especially striking in this stanza.

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