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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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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, 239

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — Hallv Knútdr 8III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 239.

Knútr verr jǫrð sem ítran
alls dróttinn sal fjalla.

Knútr verr jǫrð sem {dróttinn alls} {ítran sal fjalla}.

Knútr defends the earth as {the lord of all} [= God] [defends] {the splendid hall of the mountains} [HEAVEN].

Mss: R(26r), Tˣ(27r), W(56), U(29r), B(5r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] sem: so all others, með R    [2] dróttinn: so all others, dróttni R

Editions: Skj: Hallvarðr háreksblesi, Knútsdrápa 8: AI, 318, BI, 294, Skald I, 150; SnE 1848-87, I, 320-1, II, 314, 527, III, 49, SnE 1931, 114, SnE 1998, I, 35; Frank 1994b, 121, Jesch 2000, 248.

Context: This stanza is quoted in Skm to illustrate the heaven-kenning salr fjalla ‘hall of the mountains’.

Notes: [All]: These lines, which are likely to be the stef ‘refrain’ in Hallvarðr’s poem, bear an obvious resemblance to the refrains of other poems honouring Knútr. The refrain of Sigv KnútdrI (sts 3/1, 7/1) views Knútr’s position und himnum ‘under the heavens’, while that of Þloft’s TøgdrI (st. 1/1), though incomplete, is similar (und sólar … ‘under the sun’s …’). By far the closest resemblance is with the stef of Þloft HflI: Knútr verr grund sem gætir | Gríklands himinríki ‘Knútr defends the land as the guardian of Greece [= God] [defends] the heavenly kingdom’. Since the likely date for Hfl is c.1027-8, it appears to be Hallvarðr who is the borrower here. As Frank (1994b, 116-17) notes, these four refrains depict Knútr ‘in cosmic high relief’, and in their association of God and king may show influence from Anglo-Saxon royal ideology (see also Fidjestøl 1993b, 106, 118-19). — [2] dróttinn alls ‘the lord of all [= God]’: Alls ‘of all’ is used in the sense ‘of the whole world’, ‘of the universe’. This is the earliest attested occurrence of this word as a determinant in circumlocutions for ‘God’. It was later used by Markús Skeggjason (Mark) in Eirdr 29/2II (c. 1103-7), and again by Einarr Skúlason (ESk) in Geisl 1/2VII, 5/4VII (c. 1153). See LP: allr 2.

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