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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, 415

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Hfr ErfÓl 10I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 10’ 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. 415.

Sukku niðr af Naðri
naddfárs í bǫð sárir
baugs — gerðut við vægjask —
verkendr meginserkjar.
Vanr mun Ormr, þótt Ormi
alldýrr konungr stýri,
hvars skríðr með lið lýða,
lengi slíkra drengja.

{Sárir verkendr {meginserkjar {baugs {naddfárs}}}} sukku niðr af Naðri í bǫð; gerðut vægjask við. Ormr mun lengi vanr slíkra drengja, hvars skríðr með lið lýða, þótt alldýrr konungr stýri Ormi.

{Wounded workers {of the mighty shirt {of the ring {of point-harm}}}} [BATTLE > SHIELD > MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIORS] sank down off Naðr (‘Adder’) in battle; they did not yield. Ormr (‘Serpent’) will long lack such warriors, wherever it glides with a company of men, though a very eminent king may command Ormr.

Mss: FskAˣ(140) (Fsk); Holm18(53r), 310(89), 4-7(1va) (ÓTOdd); Kˣ(212v-213r), F(36rb), 325VIII 1(5va), J1ˣ(132r), J2ˣ(115r) (Hkr); 61(67vb), 53(64vb), 54(64vb), Bb(100va), Flat(64vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Sukku: ‘sukk[...]’ 325VIII 1    [2] nadd‑: ‘nað‑’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 53, ‘nad‑’ 54, Bb    [3] baugs: bǫðs J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    gerðut (‘gerðoð’): gerðusk 310, Kˣ, Flat, gerðu F, ‘[…]vt’ 325VIII 1;    vægjask: ‘vegia’ J1ˣ, ‘vegiar’ J2ˣ, ‘vęigiaz’ Bb    [4] verkendr: ‘verkomendr’ 54, Bb;    megin: so Kˣ, F, 325VIII 1, Heðins FskAˣ, Holm18, 310, 4‑7, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, Flat, ‘hendiss’ 54, Bb;    serkjar: om. Bb    [5] Vanr: vant 4‑7, ‘[…]nr’ 325VIII 1;    mun: munat F;    þótt: at Bb, af Flat    [7] hvars (‘hvars hann’): so Holm18, 310, Kˣ, F, þar er hann FskAˣ, þars 4‑7, 53, ‘[…]vars hann’ 325VIII 1, þars hann J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, þar 54, Bb, hvars er hann Flat;    skríðr: skreið 4‑7, skirðr 325VIII 1;    lið: ‘liþ’ apparently corrected from ‘lyþ’ 310    [8] lengi: lengri Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 13: AI, 162, BI, 153, Skald I, 83, NN §§476, 2051A; Fsk 1902-3, 129 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 157 (ch. 24); ÓTOdd 1932, 224, ÍF 25, 339-40; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 447, IV, 99, ÍF 26, 361-2, Hkr 1991, I, 245 (ÓTHkr ch. 107), F 1871, 163; SHI 2, 313, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 274 (ch. 251), Flat 1860-8, I, 486.

Context: Óláfr’s men leap on to Ormr inn langi’s gunwales in their eagerness to reach their enemies; many end up in the sea.

Notes: [1] af Naðri ‘off Naðr (“Adder”)’: A pun on the name of Óláfr’s longship Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’. Similar puns or ofljóst expressions, referring to the ship by means of other terms for ‘snake’, ‘serpent’ or ‘dragon’, occur in sts 14/2 and 16/4 below and widely elsewhere, e.g. Hókr Eirfl 3/8, 8/6, HSt Rst 18/2, 23/4, Anon Óldr 21/4, Anon Ól 4/6. The witty repetition of the name of this famous ship here and in st. 16 may be one reason why these stanzas were so widely preserved. Ormr is also named directly twice in l. 5 of the present stanza and frequently elsewhere, e.g. sts 17/1, 24/5 below, Hókr Eirfl 3/4, HSt Rst 15/5, Anon Óldr 19/6, Anon Ól 6/2. For the ship, see Note to Hókr Eirfl 3/4. — [2-4]: The overall meaning is clear, with verkendr ‘workers’, albeit unparalleled, as the base-word of a warrior-kenning which is the subject of sukku ‘sank’; but the gen. nouns naddfárs, baugs, Heðins and serkjar are difficult to account for in the absence of another base-word. The minority reading megin- is therefore adopted here in preference to Heðins (see Notes to ll. 2 and 4 below). — [2] naddfárs ‘of point-harm [BATTLE]’: This word is difficult to accommodate in the syntax, particularly in interpretations based on Heðins in l. 4. (a) Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901 and Skj B) emends -fárs to -fár, hence vægjask við naddbaugs fár ‘to yield/spare themselves in the spear-harm of the ring’, where naddbaugr is (tentatively) ‘spear-ring’, hence ‘shield’ and its fár ‘harm’ is ‘battle’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV). (b) ÍF 26, ÍF 29, Hkr 1991 and ÍF 25 attach naddfárs ‘of point-harm’ to bǫð ‘battle’ to form an expression for ‘battle’. But bǫð naddfárs is not a true kenning, as the base-word bǫð ‘battle’ is the same as the referent; moreover, ‘battle’ is the primary meaning of naddfárs as well. (c) Similar objections exist to suggestions made by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 2; LP (1860): naddfár). (d) Kock (NN §476) reads naddfárs í bǫð as a loose periphrasis meaning ‘in spear-battle’. (e) Hkr 1991 reads af Naðri naddfárs as ‘from Naðr [where there was] point-harm’. (f) Naddfárs could be regarded as an adverbial gen. of place, ‘in the point-harm [BATTLE]’, with gerðut vægjask við ‘did not yield’ (see NS §141, though the parallels are not exact; also Poole 2004). — [4] megin- ‘mighty’: (a) This, the reading of some Hkr mss, provides the best solution to the helmingr’s excess of nominal elements and is adopted here, although, since Heðins is shared by all other ms. groupings, megin may be suspected to be a post-compositional lectio facilior. (b) Another interpretation involving megin yields verkendr meginserkjar baugs ‘workers of the mighty shirt of the ring [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIORS]’, but this leaves naddfárs to be accounted for, and the solutions mentioned in the Note to l. 2. are not wholly satisfactory. (c) The majority reading Heðins may be influenced by the occurrence of the name in sts 12/4 (see Note) and 24/3, 4. If correct, it could be accommodated by reading verkendr baugs serkjar Heðins ‘workers of the snake of the shirt of Heðinn <legendary hero> [MAIL-SHIRT > SWORD > WARRIORS]’, following a tentative suggestion by Ólafur Halldórsson in ÍF 25. Baugr m., normally ‘ring’, could be taken to mean ‘snake, coiling creature’ on the basis of its appearance in snake-kennings of the pattern ‘baugr of the earth’ (LP: baugr 1). (d) See SHI for a different interpretation. — [7] hvars ‘wherever’: Þars ‘where’, the reading of many mss, also makes sense but is less emphatic. — [7] skríðr ‘it glides’: Hann ‘it’ (referring to the ship Ormr inn langi) is inserted in most mss before skríðr to clarify the syntax, but it renders the line hypermetric.

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