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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

2. Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (ErfÓl) - 29

Skj info: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, Islandsk skjald, død ved 1007. (AI, 155-73, BI, 147-63).

Skj poems:
1. Hákonardrápa
2. Óláfsdrápa
3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa
4. Eiríksdrápa
5. Lausavísur

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ‘Troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson (Hfr) was brought up in Vatnsdalur, northern Iceland, probably in the 960s. He is the subject of Hallfreðar saga (Hallfr), which survives both as a continuous text (ÍF 8, 133-200) and interpolated into ÓT. The main strands of the saga are Hallfreðr’s unhappy relationship with Kolfinna Ávaldadóttir, his travels as trader, fighter and poet, his conversion to Christianity and his devotion to Óláfr Tryggvason, and all these aspects of his life occasioned poetry which partially survives.

Fragments of an early drápa for Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (r. c. 970-c. 995) are extant (Hfr HákdrIII; ÍF 8, 151), but the greater part of Hallfreðr’s court poetry, and the poetry edited in this volume, concerns King Óláfr Tryggvason (c. 995-c. 1000): Óláfsdrápa (Hfr Óldr) and Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (Hfr ErfÓl). Like other Icelanders, Hallfreðr accepted Christian baptism under the influence of Óláfr. The difficulty, for a poet and pagan, of this switch of religious allegiance is the theme of Hfr Lv 6-10V, and is, according to the sagas, alluded to in his nickname vandræðaskáld, lit. ‘Poet of difficulties’. The sagas agree that the name was bestowed by the king, though they differ about the precise reason (ÓTOdd 1932, 125-6; Hkr, ÍF 26, 331-2; Hallfr, ÍF 8, 155; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 387). Hallfreðr is attributed with a lost Uppreistardrápa ‘Restoration drápa’ (?), supposedly composed to atone for his journey into pagan Gautland (Västergötland, ÍF 8, 178). He is also credited in Hallfr (ÍF 8, 194-5) with an encounter with Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson (r. c. 1000-c. 1014) and in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 257, 266, 280) with poetry for him; this is vestigially preserved in Eiríksdrápa (Hfr EirdrV). The saga also shows Hallfreðr presenting a flokkr to the Danish jarl Sigvaldi (ÍF 8, 168) and a poem to the Swedish king Óláfr Eiríksson (ÍF 8, 177-8), but no traces of these survive.

The marriage of Kolfinna, the love of Hallfreðr’s youth, to Gríss Sæmingsson provoked Hallfreðr both early and later in life to compose strikingly inventive stanzas which intertwine themes of yearning love and rivalry (Hfr Lv 1-3, 15-24V), and his níð against Gríss led to legal proceedings and indirectly to the killing of Hallfreðr’s brother Galti (Ldn, ÍF 1, 224; ÍF 8, 189-90). In the course of an adventure in Västergötland (Hfr Lv 12-14V), Hallfreðr met and married Ingibjǫrg Þórisdóttir, who died young, but not before bearing two sons, Auðgísl and Hallfreðr. According to Hallfr (ÍF 8, 196-9), Hallfreðr himself died at the age of nearly forty, from a combination of illness and injury as he sailed through the Hebrides; he was buried on Iona (cf. Hfr Lv 26-7V).

Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (‘Memorial drápa for Óláfr Tryggvason’) — Hfr ErfÓlI

Kate Heslop 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 400.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26a   26b   27   28 

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld: 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa, 1001 (AI, 159-66, BI, 150-7); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 27 | 28 | 29

SkP info: I, 418

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Hfr ErfÓl 12I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 12’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 418.

Firrðisk vætr, sás varði
víð lǫnd, Breta stríðir
bleyði firrðr við bráðan
bekkdóm Heðins rekka.
Hann lét of sǫk sanna
(sverðjalmr óx þar) verða
— skilit frá ek — (fyr skylja)
skóð mǫrg roðin blóði.

{Stríðir Breta}, firrðr bleyði, sás varði víð lǫnd, firrðisk vætr við {bráðan {{Heðins rekka} bekk}dóm}. Hann lét mǫrg skóð verða roðin blóði of sanna sǫk; {sverðjalmr} óx þar fyr skylja; ek frá skilit.

{The harmer of Britons} [RULER = Óláfr], shunning cowardice, who defended broad lands, shunned nothing in {the headlong judgement {of the bench {of the champions of Heðinn <legendary hero>}}} [(lit. ‘bench-judgement of the champions of Heðinn’) = Hjaðningar > SHIELD > BATTLE]. He caused many harmers [weapons] to become reddened with blood in a true cause; {sword-screech} [BATTLE] grew there before the king; I was informed clearly.

Mss: 61(68ra), 54(65ra-b), Bb(100vb), Flat(65ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] vætr: vætti 54, Bb, veðr Flat    [2] stríðir: corrected from stýrir 54, ‘stryðrer’ Flat    [4] bekk‑: ‘brekk’ Flat;    ‑dóm: dóms Flat;    Heðins: fyr konungs Flat    [6] ‑jalmr: hjálmr 54, Bb, gust Flat;    óx þar: corrected from ‘of saul’ 54, ‘háinn’ Flat    [8] skóð: slóð Flat;    mǫrg: so 54, Flat, mær 61, morð Bb;    roðin: roðit Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 11: AI, 161, BI, 152, Skald I, 83, NN §475; SHI 2, 315-16, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 276 (ch. 252), Flat 1860-8, I, 487.

Context: Óláfr courts danger by showing himself to his enemies, as his valour commands him, despite their overwhelming numbers.

Notes: [3-4] bráðan Heðins rekka bekkdóm ‘the headlong judgement of the bench of the champions of Heðinn <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘bench-judgement of the champions of Heðinn’) = Hjaðningar > SHIELD > BATTLE]’: (a) Bekkr m. ‘bench’ is here taken as the base-word of a shield-kenning cf. brík ‘slab’, flet ‘platform’, setr ‘seat’ (Meissner 167, 169). Heðins rekka ‘the champions of Heðinn [= Hjaðningar]’ is then a minor elaboration of the pattern in which legendary heroes provide the determinant of shield-kennings. (b) Alternatively, bekkdómr ‘bench-judgement’ could be taken as a single kenning element, the base-word of a battle-kenning; so LP: bekkdómr, suggesting it is a final judgement, such as would be delivered by judges from their benches. But the cpd is otherwise unattested, and there is no evidence for the association of judges with bekkir. (c) Flat’s reading ‘brekk’ could yield brekdómr ‘deceit’, also unattested but cf. breksekð ‘deceptive sentence of outlawry’ (ONP: breksekð), and svikdómr ‘treachery’, Mark Eirdr 13/3II. Firðisk vætr bráðan brekdóm rekka Heðins ‘did not avoid the sudden deceit of the champions of Heðinn [WARRIORS]’ could then refer to Sigvaldi’s luring of Óláfr into battle, and would contrast with the sǫnn sǫk ‘true cause’ attributed to Óláfr in the second helmingr. — [4] Heðins ‘of Heðinn <legendary hero>’: See Note to st. 24/3, 4. — [7] ek frá skilit ‘I was informed clearly’: Cf. st. 25/5. In both lines the initial disyllable skilit undergoes resolution, so the pers. pron. cannot be cliticised (see Gade 1995a, 149-50 on this metrical pattern). Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson (Nj 1875-8, II, 916-19), arguing for syllabic ek in both cases, see the slow rhythm of em ek ‘I am’ in st. 25/5 as expressive of the skald’s anguish. — [7] fyr skylja ‘before the king’: I.e. ‘in the presence of the king’, cf. st. 24/8 fyr Ôleifi ‘before Óláfr’. Kock (Skald and NN §475) takes the phrase instead with the main clause, though he does not specify in what sense. — [8] skóð ‘harmers [weapons]’: This could be taken as a half-kenning (Meissner 77, and cf. LP: skóð for full kennings employing it) or as a heiti for a dangerous weapon (cf. verb skaða ‘to harm, damage’). — [8] mǫrg ‘many’: The agreement of 54 and Flat speaks for this reading, though mær ‘splendid’ (so 61) is also possible.

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