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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, 424

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

17 — Hfr ErfÓl 17I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 17’ 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. 424.

Ítrfermðum réð Ormi
orðsæll jǫfurr norðan
— snǫrp varð at þat sverða
snót — Eireki á móti.
En hýjǫfnum hefnir
hlýrs þeim Gota stýrði
— áðr óx of gram góðan
gunnr — Hôkonar sunnan.

Orðsæll jǫfurr réð ítrfermðum Ormi norðan á móti Eireki; {snót sverða} varð snǫrp at þat. En {hefnir Hôkonar} stýrði {þeim hýjǫfnum Gota hlýrs} sunnan; gunnr óx áðr of góðan gram.

The acclaimed prince [Óláfr] guided splendidly-laden Ormr (‘Serpent’) from the north against Eiríkr; {the lady of swords} [= Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)] became keen at that. But {Hákon’s avenger} [= Eiríkr] steered {that very straight Goti <legendary horse> of the bow} [SHIP] from the south; battle had swelled earlier around the good ruler.

Mss: 61(70ra), 53(66va), 54(68ra), 325VIII 2 g(2ra), Bb(103va), Flat(69va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] ‑fermðum: ‘‑ferndum’ Bb, ‑fremðum Flat    [2] ‑sæll: ‘‑sell’ Bb;    jǫfurr: jǫfur Bb    [3] snǫrp: so 53, ‘snorp’ all others;    þat: þar Flat    [5] hý‑: hver 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, hverr Bb    [6] hlýrs: hyrs Flat;    stýrði: corrected from stýrir 53, stýrir Flat    [8] gunnr: ‘[…]nnr’ 325VIII 2 g

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 18: AI, 163, BI, 154, Skald I, 84, NN §1958; SHI 3, 15-16, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 298 (ch. 258), Flat 1860-8, I, 520.

Context: Eiríkr claims Ormr inn langi after the battle, and commands it himself.

Notes: [All]: The helmingar are neatly balanced semantically and syntactically. In the first Óláfr, guiding Ormr south before the battle, is the subject; in the second a ship is steered north by Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson. The stanza could be seen as describing the adversaries sailing towards one another before the battle, as, e.g., in ÞjóðA Lv 9II and Þfagr Sveinn 3II, and may play on this tradition, but the prose context is clearly correct in taking the second helmingr as an account of the victor Eiríkr steering the same ship back north after the battle. This is indicated by þeim ‘that’ in l. 6, and by the fact that the strong stress on áðr in l. 7 (indicated by the skothending with góðan) and the word order suggest it is the adv. ‘earlier’ not the conj. ‘before’. On the placing of the stanza, see Introduction. — [1] ítrfermðum ‘splendidly-laden’: Perhaps a reference to Ormr inn langi’s fine crew. — [1] Ormi ‘Ormr (“Serpent”)’: See Note to st. 10/1.  — [3, 4] snót sverða ‘the lady of swords [= Hildr (hildr ‘battle’)]’: A valkyrie, specifically Hildr, whose name is to be understood here, by ofljóst, as the common noun meaning ‘battle’. See further Note to st. 24/3, 4. — [5] hýjǫfnum ‘very straight’: This otherwise unattested epithet has not been satisfactorily explained, nor is it certain whether it describes the legendary horse Goti or the ship to which the whole kenning refers; the translation offered above is tentative. The problem is the hý- component, which must be different from the hý- that is attested in eddic poetry and is connected with hjú, hjón n. ‘household, married people’ (AEW: hýnótt). (a) SHI 3 suggests ‘perfectly made’, i.e. to hair’s-breadth accuracy, cf. ModIcel. hárjafn ‘not differing by a hair’; laukjafn ‘straight as a leek’ Sigv Berv 6/8II. The fine craftsmanship of Ormr inn langi was legendary (ÍF 26, 335-6), so an explanation along these lines seems most credible. AEW: 3 suggests hý- is an intensifying prefix like hund-: the cpd would thus mean ‘very even/straight’. (b) ÍO: hýjafn proposes n. ‘fine, sparse hair; down on a plant or bird’. No gloss is offered for the cpd, but perhaps the thought is the same as in (a). (c) Skj B emends to húfjǫfnum (nom. sg. húfjafn) ‘plank-equal, with even planking’ (first proposed LP (1860): hýjafn). (d) Kock (NN §1958) argues that the reading hverjafn in the minor mss is equivalent to hvarjafn ‘equal, even, everywhere’, cf. hvardyggr ‘all-doughty’, Sigv Berv 6/6II. His suggestion that ms. ‘hy’ arose from misreading of the sequence hv + er-abbreviation is plausible, but hý- is clearly the lectio difficilior. — [5, 8] hefnir Hôkonar ‘Hákon’s avenger [= Eiríkr]’: Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, Eiríkr’s father, ruled most of Norway before being driven out by a rebellion of farmers which coincided with the advent of Óláfr Tryggvason. According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 296-8) he was killed by a servant while hiding in a pigsty. His son’s defeat of Óláfr is therefore not direct revenge but some recompense for Hákon’s loss of power and honour. — [6] stýrði ‘steered’: The pres. tense variant stýrir ‘steers’ intensifies the contrast between the two helmingar (see Note to [All] above), but is not strictly necessary.

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