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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, 427

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

19 — Hfr ErfÓl 19I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 19’ 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. 427.

Sagðr vas mér — né meira
muni maðr stríð of bíða —
lýðum firrðr ok láði
landvǫrðr fyr sæ handan.
Væri oss, þótt ærir
elds þeim svikum belldi,
heilalíkn, ef, hauka
hôklifs, jǫfurr lifði.

{Landvǫrðr} vas sagðr mér firrðr lýðum ok láði fyr handan sæ; né muni maðr of bíða meira stríð. Oss væri heilalíkn, ef jǫfurr lifði, þótt {ærir {elds {hôklifs hauka}}} belldi þeim svikum.

{The land’s guardian} [RULER = Óláfr] was said to me to be deprived of people and realm across the sea; a man will not suffer greater grief. It would be healing mercy for us if the lord lived, although {envoys {of the fire {of the high cliff of hawks}}} [ARM > GOLD > GENEROUS MEN] committed that treachery.

Mss: Holm18(54r), 310(92), 4-7(1vb) (ÓTOdd); 61(69va), 53(65vb), 54(67rb), 325VIII 2 g(1rb), Bb(102vb), Flat(66ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Sagðr vas: sagðr 54, sagði 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    mér: so 310, 4‑7, 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, Flat, mær Holm18;    né: en 61, inn 53, ein 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    meira: ‘mana’ corrected from meira 61, meiri 53    [2] muni maðr: mank 310, ‘munum alldr’ corrected from munum a 4‑7, munuma 61, muna menn 53, mín muna 54, Bb, muna 325VIII 2 g;    of: af því 310    [3] lýðum: láði corrected from landi 325VIII 2 g, landi Bb;    ok: at 53;    láði: lýðum 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [4] land‑: ‘[...]’ 325VIII 2 g;    ‑vǫrðr: ‑norðr 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    fyr: frá Bb;    sæ: om. 61;    handan: norðan corrected from handan 61    [5] þótt: ‘þo(slt)’(?) 325VIII 2 g    [6] elds: ‘ællz’ corrected from ‘æll’ 4‑7, ‘ell[…]’ 325VIII 2 g, ‘ærumz’ Flat;    þeim: þjóð 53, ‘[…]’ 325VIII 2 g    [8] klifs jǫfurr (‘ha cklifs iofurr’): hauk klifs jǫfurr 310, hafklifs jǫfurr 4‑7, ‘hak[…]fur’ 325VIII 2 g

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 21: AI, 164, BI, 155, Skald I, 84, NN §§511, 2218B, 2451; ÓTOdd 1932, 233-4, 256, ÍF 25, 349; SHI 3, 6-7, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 291 (ch. 256), Flat 1860-8, 495.

Context: ÓTOdd: Facing defeat at Svǫlðr, King Óláfr leaps overboard, sheds his armour and swims underwater to the Wends’ ship, escaping the battle alive, as is said to be affirmed by Hallfreðr (and, according to 4-7, the otherwise unknown Sóti). ÓT cites this stanza after its description of the battle, as part of a discussion of various accounts of the battle’s final moments and the fate of Óláfr.

Notes: [All]: In ms. 4-7, sts 18/1-4 and 19/1-4 form a single stanza while st. 19/5-8 is written as a separate helmingr. — [2] muni maðr ‘a man will’: Ms. 61’s munuma ‘we will not’ gives much the same sense in the context (where 61 has en ‘and/but’ for ‘not’) and is adopted in Skj B, and it is likely that 4-7’s exemplar contained a similar reading to 61’s, which the scribe of 4-7 subsequently corrected to read munum a(ldrstríð). These readings probably reflect attempts to make sense of a sequence of minims in the exemplar. Ms. 310’s mank stríð af því bíða ‘I will suffer no grief from that’ is unlikely in light of the rest of the stanza. — [4] landvǫrðr ‘the land’s guardian [RULER = Óláfr]’: Here, King Óláfr. This cpd occurs elsewhere in the skaldic corpus (see LP: landvǫrðr), always in reference to the king of Norway. — [5-6, 7-8] ærir elds hôklifs hauka ‘envoys of the fire of the high cliff of hawks [ARM > GOLD > GENEROUS MEN]’: This interpretation (that of Skj B, followed by Reichardt 1928, 213 and Ólafur Halldórsson in ÍF 25) means that l. 7 contains elements from three different clauses, a syntactic arrangement which is unique in the skaldic corpus (Gade 1995a, 13, 215-16). Two redistributions of the kenning components to avoid this situation have been suggested. (a) Kock (NN §511) has ærir elds ‘envoys of fire/the sword [WARRIORS]’ and jǫfurr hôklifs hauka ‘lord of the high cliff of hawks [NORWAY > = Óláfr]’. It is conceivable that eldr could mean ‘sword’ (cf. Note to st. 6/4), but Kock’s case for hôklif hauka as a synecdoche for Norway, based on the (inexact) parallels fjǫrðjǫrð ‘fjord-land’ Hókr Eirfl 5/3 and vegr jǫtna ‘way of giants’ ESkál Vell 14/5, is not convincing. (b) Kuhn (1929b, 201) suggests jǫfurr hauka ‘lord of hawks [soldiers]’, i.e. Óláfr (cf. skyldir hauka, st. 2/3 and Note) and ærir elds háklifs ‘envoys of the fire of the shark-cliff [SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MEN]’ (or perhaps the same, but with ‘rowlock-cliff’, from hár m. ‘thole-pin, rowlock’). Von See (1980, 28-32; 1999b, 267-8), in surveys of scholarship on this helmingr, rejects Kuhn’s interpretation on the grounds that hár ‘shark’ is only otherwise found in þulur, whereas klif hauka ‘hawks’ cliff [ARM]’ is a habitual collocation, and Kock (NN §2451) had also noted problems with it. Hofmann (1981, 14-15) points out in response that háklif ‘shark/rowlock-cliff’ would in fact be distinct from hôklif ‘high cliff’ in oral delivery due to its different vowel quality, and that parallels for the sea-kenning Kuhn proposes do exist, incorporating both terms for sea-creatures (humra fjǫll ‘lobsters’ mountain’ ÞGísl Búdr 2/4) and nautical terms (stafnklif ‘stem-cliff’ Þloft Tøgdr 4/6). Hofmann’s arguments are convincing, and Kuhn’s interpretation is a viable alternative. — [7] heilalíkn ‘healing mercy’: A hap. leg., which all mss write as two words. The identity of the first element is uncertain. (a) It may be related to the verb heila ‘to heal’, although medial <i> rather than <a> would be expected, cf. heilivágr ‘healing balm’ (Sturl Hákkv 28/7II, and frequently in prose). (b) It may merely be intensifying (Ólafur Halldórsson, ÍF 25), cf. adj. heill ‘whole, complete’, heilmikill ‘very great’. (c) Kock (NN §511) reads heillalíkn ‘fortunate mercy’, with heill f. ‘good luck, whole-making mercy’, as the first element; this produces a regular cpd of gen. pl. noun + noun. Whatever the interpretation, play on ideas of wholeness and health seems fitting given the first helmingr’s portrayal of Óláfr as physically separated (firrðr) from kingdom and subjects.

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