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.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

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, 422

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — Hfr ErfÓl 16I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 16’ 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. 422.

Ógrœðir sá auða
armgrjóts Trana fljóta
— hann rauð geir at gunni
glaðr — ok báða Naðra,
áðr hjaldrþorinn heldi
hugframr í bǫð ramri
snotr á snœrivitni
sunds Þórketill undan.

{Ógrœðir {armgrjóts}} sá Trana ok báða Naðra fljóta auða — glaðr rauð hann geir at gunni —, áðr hjaldrþorinn, snotr Þórketill, hugframr í ramri bǫð, heldi undan á {snœrivitni sunds}.

{The non-increaser {of arm-gravel}} [JEWELS > GENEROUS MAN] saw Trani (‘Crane’) and both Naðrar (‘Adders’) floating empty — glad, he reddened the spear in war —, before clash-bold, wise Þorkell, great-hearted in fierce battle, fled on {the cable-wolf of the sea} [SHIP].

Mss: FskAˣ(143) (Fsk); Holm18(52v), 310(86), 4-7(1ra) (ÓTOdd); Kˣ(215v), 22ˣ(102r marg), F(36va-b), J1ˣ(134r), J2ˣ(116v) (Hkr); 61(69rb), 53(65va), 54(66vb), Bb(102va), Flat(65vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Ógrœðir: ‘Ogn røðir’ Holm18, ulfgœðir 310, ‘Ogn rædir’ Flat;    auða: auðan 4‑7    [2] arm‑: arin‑ 53, 54, Bb;    ‑grjóts: ‘griozt’ J1ˣ;    Trana: Trana so 4‑7, Trǫnu FskAˣ, Holm18, 310, 4‑7, Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 54, Flat, ‘trꜹnnv’ Bb    [3] hann: herr 53    [5] áðr: so Holm18, 310, 4‑7, Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 54, Bb, Flat, áðr en FskAˣ;    hjaldr‑: so Holm18, 310, 4‑7, Kˣ, F, 61, 53, 54, Bb, Flat, added above the line FskAˣ, hjald J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [6] hug‑: ‘hꜹg’ F;    í: so 4‑7, Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Flat, ‘æ’ FskAˣ, ok Holm18, 53, í corrected to ór in the margin 310, ór 61, 54, Bb;    bǫð: beið 22ˣmarg    [7] á: af Kˣ, 22ˣmarg, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    snœri‑: siglu 310, ‘snǫris’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, snœris 61, 53, 54, Bb;    ‑vitni: otri Holm18, 310, Flat, vitru 4‑7, fjǫtri 53

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 16: AI, 162-3, BI, 153-4, Skald I, 83; Fsk 1902-3, 131 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 159-60 (ch. 24); ÓTOdd 1932, 214-5, 249, ÍF 25, 329-30; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 453-4, IV, 100-1, ÍF 26, 366, Hkr 1991, I, 248-9 (ÓTHkr ch. 111), F 1871, 166; SHI 3, 3-4, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 288-9 (ch. 256), Flat 1860-8, I, 494.


The battle has turned against Óláfr’s forces, and a certain Þorkell escapes: either Þorkell nefja ‘Nose’, Óláfr’s half-brother (Hkr, Fsk, ÓT) or Þorkell dyrðill ‘Cloak’, a prominent man in Óláfr’s retinue (ÓTOdd). ÓTOdd specifies that Óláfr commanded Þorkell to take the wounded and dead ashore on Trana/Trani; Hkr and ÓT say that he was the last to flee.

Notes: [All]: Ms. 22ˣ is a secondary ms. of ÓT, but at this point it has marginalia apparently copied from a now lost leaf of the Hkr ms. 39 (Ólafur Halldórsson 1976; ÓT 1958-2000, III, ccx). Variants from this are cited where available, here and in sts 18, 20-2, with the siglum 22ˣmarg. — [1] ógrœðir ‘the non-increaser’: One who does not increase (his own stock of) jewels because he gives them away, i.e. a generous man. Neither of the minor ms. readings, ulfgœðir m. ‘wolf-enricher’ (the warrior, who provides him with corpses) or, by emendation, ógnreiðir m. ‘battle-swinger’ or perhaps ‘terrifying swinger’, combines convincingly with armgrjóts ‘of arm-gravel [JEWELS]’. — [2] Trana ‘Trani (“Crane”)’: The name of one of Óláfr’s ships. The m. (Trani) and f. (Trana) forms are used indiscriminately in the prose sources (the ÓTOdd mss disagree). The f. form has the strongest ms. support here and is found, e.g., in Hamð 17, but these f. forms may be scribal, and the m. form is preferred in this edn (as in Skj B), since it is older (CVC: Trani), and indeed m. names of ships prevail up to the C12th (see Note to Rv Lv 8/4II). — [6] í ‘in’: Ór ‘from’, the reading of most ÓT mss (and added in the margin to 310) is also possible. The phrase it introduces, ramri bǫð ‘fierce battle’, is then a description of what Þorkell heldi undan ‘fled’ from. Ok in 53 and Holm18 (represented by Tironian nota in both cases) are presumably misreadings of their exemplar’s <j> (normalised í) (so Ólafur Halldórsson, ÍF 25). — [7] snœrivitni ‘the cable-wolf’: The variant readings otr siglu ‘otter of the mast’ (so 310) and snœriotr ‘cable-otter’ (so Holm18 and Flat, whose text of this stanza is from ÓTOdd rather than ÓT (ÍF 25)), also form ship-kennings, though they give aðalhending in an odd line. Vitru (f. acc. sg.) ‘wisdom’ and fjǫtri (m. dat. sg.) ‘fetter’ are likely to be scribal errors for vitni and [snœris]otri (with a long second <s>) respectively. — [8] sunds ‘of the sea’: It is not obvious where this gen. noun fits in the syntax. (a) In the Text above, sunds forms an overloaded ship-kenning with snœrivitni, ‘(on the) cable-wolf of the sea’. Parallels, albeit somewhat distant ones, are assembled at Meissner 42. (b) Following Ólafur Halldórsson (ÍF 25), sunds could be taken as an adverbial gen. of direction (cf. NS §141); a possible parallel is Gsind Hákdr 6/8 sunda, if this is adverbial ‘through sounds’ (so Poole 2004). (c) Sunds could mean ‘swimming’. Hkr seems to take this as a reference to Þorkell’s means of escape; cf. Hkr’s reading af in l. 7, suggesting Þorkell flees from, rather than on, the ship (ÍF 26; Hkr 1991; cf. ÍF 29), while Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 3) suggested snotr sunds ‘wise (i.e. skilled) at swimming’ (see Hkr 1893-1901, IV for Finnur Jónsson’s response).

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.