This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

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

2. Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (ErfÓl) - 29

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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 22 May 2022)

stanzas:  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, 421

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

15 — Hfr ErfÓl 15I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 15’ 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. 421.

Gótt es gǫrva at frétta
— gunnr óx fyr haf sunnan —
— sverð bitu feigra fyrða
fjǫrrǫnn — at því mǫnnum:
hvern rakkligast rekka
randláðs viðir kvôðu
— Surts ættar vinnk sléttan
sylg — Ôleifi fylgja.

Gótt es mǫnnum at frétta gǫrva at því — gunnr óx fyr sunnan haf; sverð bitu {fjǫrrǫnn} feigra fyrða —: hvern rekka {viðir {randláðs}} kvôðu fylgja Ôleifi rakkligast; vinnk {sléttan sylg {ættar Surts}}.

It is good for people to ask searchingly about this — battle swelled south of the sea; swords bit {life-halls} [BREASTS] of fated men —: which of the champions did {trees {of the rim-land}} [SHIELD > WARRIORS] say supported Óláfr most bravely; I make {the smooth drink {of the family of Surtr <giant>}} [GIANTS > POETRY].

Mss: 61(69rb), 53(65va), 54(66vb), Bb(102va), Flat(65vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] gǫrva at: corrected from at gǫrva in a later hand 53    [2] gunnr: gunn 53, 54, Bb, Flat    [3] fyrða: so 53, 54, Bb, Flat, added above the line 61    [4] ‑rǫnn: runn Flat    [5] rakkligast: ‘reckligazst’ Bb    [6] randláðs viðir kvôðu: om. Flat;    rand‑: vand‑ Bb    [7] Surts ættar vinnk: satt mun ítr um Flat;    vinnk (‘vinn ek’): mun ek 54, Bb;    sléttan: sléttar 54, ‘sleittar’ Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 15: AI, 162, BI, 153, Skald I, 83, NN §1957; SHI 3, 2-3, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 288 (ch. 256), Flat 1860-8, I, 493.

Context: After describing the battle of Svǫlðr, ÓT reports the different accounts of its last moments, and observes that the bravery of Óláfr’s men will be long remembered. Hallfreðr’s stanza is introduced as a witness that Þorkell nefja ‘Nose’ gave outstanding support to his brother Óláfr.

Notes: [1]: The final a of gǫrva and initial a of at must be elided to make the line regular (Gade 1995a, 66), and so es cannot be cliticised to yield Gótts (cf. Note to st. 12/7 ek). The line resembles st. 18/7: hætts til hans at frétta ‘it’s risky to enquire about him’, i.e. about Óláfr’s fate. — [2] gunnr ‘battle’: So only 61. The majority reading gunn is difficult to explain, as none of the inflectional forms of gunnr f. lack an ending. — [7] sléttan ‘smooth’: Sléttan, m. acc. sg. agreeing with the poetry-kenning based on sylg ‘drink’, is here taken as the adj. used attributively. It could otherwise be taken as predicative, hence ‘make (the poetry) smooth’, or else as the p. p. of slétta ‘to smoothe’, cf. slétta óð ‘smoothe a poem’, ESk Geisl 50/3VII. This is the earliest surviving example in the skaldic corpus of sléttr ‘smooth, smoothed’ applied to poetry, a very common metaphor in C12th and later, especially Christian, poetry. — [7-8] sylg ættar Surts ‘drink of the family of Surtr <giant> [GIANTS > POETRY]’: The giant Gillingr and his family are prominent in the complex myth of the mead of poetry, and the mead is in the possession of Gillingr’s son Suttungr until gained by Óðinn (see SnE 1998, I, 3-5, and on the myth see Introduction to SkP III). The fire-giant Surtr seems to be used merely as a representative giant here, so that his ætt are giants, though for a suggestion that Surtr himself figured in the myth of the mead of poetry, see Note to Eyv Hál 1/7.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated