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).

file 2002-03-21 - York Hfr paper notes
file 2002-03-27 - York Hfr paper draft

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, 440

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

28 — Hfr ErfÓl 28I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 28’ 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. 440.

Norðr eru ǫll of orðin
auð lǫnd at gram dauðan;
allr glepsk friðr af falli
flugstyggs sonar Tryggva.

Ǫll lǫnd norðr eru of orðin auð at dauðan gram; allr friðr glepsk af falli {flugstyggs sonar Tryggva}.

All lands in the north have been desolated by the king’s death; all peace is confounded by the fall {of the flight-shunning son of Tryggvi} [= Óláfr].

Mss: 178ˣ(1v), 177ˣ(1v), 100ˣ(145v) (Þiðr); Holm18(54r) (ÓTOdd); M(155va), Flat(71rb) (Hallfr)

Readings: [1] Norðr: nú M, auð Flat;    of: lǫnd 177ˣ, lǫnd deleted by same hand 100ˣ    [2] auð lǫnd at: ‘ętlo᷎nðum’ Flat;    lǫnd: strǫnd 177ˣ;    at: of Holm18;    dauðan: dauðum 177ˣ, 100ˣ    [3] allr: so all others, allt 178ˣ;    glepsk: so 177ˣ, 100ˣ, Holm18, Flat, gleðsk 178ˣ, lemsk M;    af: so all others, at 178ˣ    [4] flug‑: so M, folk‑ 178ˣ, 177ˣ, 100ˣ, flyg‑ Holm18, fjǫl‑ Flat;    sonar: ‘Son[…]’ 177ˣ

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 19: AI, 163, BI, 154, Skald I, 84, NN §480; Þiðr 1905-11, I, 3; ÓTOdd 1932, 234, ÍF 25, 350; ÍF 8, 194, Hallfr 1977, 103 (ch. 11), Flat 1860-8, I, 534.

Context: Hallfr recounts that Hallfreðr sails via Orkney to Norway where, learning the details of Óláfr Tryggvason’s death, he composes a memorial poem, Óláfsdrápa, for him, from which this is a refrain (stef). The ÓT redaction of Hallfr reports that Hallfreðr composed a drápa straight away (þegar), but only Flat quotes the stef. In ÓTOdd, this follows sts 18 and 19; after the stanza it is explained that auð ‘desolate’ has the sense that norðrlǫnd ‘the Nordic lands’ are bereft of a leader who will never be matched. The prologue to Þiðreks saga cites this stanza as an example of hyperbole in praise poetry.

Notes: [All]: The helmingr is a stef ‘refrain’, according to Hallfr (see Context). The grandiose content makes all four lines suitable for a stef, but only ll. 3-4 appear elsewhere in the extant poem (st. 23/7-8). — [1, 2] lǫnd norðr ‘lands in the north’: Finnur Jónsson hyphenates norðr- and lǫnd to produce ‘Nordic lands’ by tmesis, but this is not necessary, as Kock points out in NN §480. — [2] at dauðan gram ‘by the king’s death’: Lit. ‘by/at the dead king’, or ‘by the king [being] dead’.  — [3] glepsk ‘is confounded’: This reading is supported by glepsk (ms. ‘glæps’) in the corresponding line of the stef in st. 23/7. The main ms. reading gleðsk ‘rejoices’ is unlikely purely by virtue of its semantics and could have originated in a misreading of glepz as gleþz. M’s lemsk ‘is ruined, crushed’ is close in meaning to glepsk (see Fritzner: lemja 3) and an acceptable alternative reading, — [4] flugstyggs ‘flight-shunning’: Comparison with st. 23/8 once again decides among strongly divergent readings here.

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