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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, 431

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Hfr ErfÓl 21I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 21’ 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. 431.

Mundut þess, es þegnar
þróttharðan gram sóttu,
— ferk með lýða líði
landherðar — skǫp verða,
at mundjǫkuls myndi
margdýrr koma stýrir
— geta þykkjat mér gotnar
glíkligs — ór her slíkum.

Skǫp mundut verða þess, es þegnar sóttu þróttharðan gram — ferk með {líði {lýða {landherðar}}} —, at {margdýrr stýrir {mundjǫkuls}} myndi koma ór slíkum her; gotnar þykkjat mér geta glíkligs.

Fate would not have come to this, when retainers attacked the mightily tough lord — I deal with {ale {of the folk {of the land-shoulder}}} [ROCK > GIANTS > POETRY] —, that {the magnificent controller {of hand-icicle}} [SILVER > MAN] would escape [lit. come out of] such a force; men do not seem to me to talk of a likely thing.

Mss: FskAˣ(145) (Fsk); Kˣ(216v-217r), 22ˣ(102v marg), F(36vb), J1ˣ(134v), J2ˣ(117r-v) (Hkr); 61(69va), 53(66ra), 54(67va), 325VIII 2 g(1va), Bb(103ra) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Mundut: ‘Munot’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    es (‘er’): alls Kˣ;    þegnar: ‘þ[…]’ 325VIII 2 g    [2] sóttu: ‘sosottu’ 53, sótti 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [3] ferk: frák 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    lýða: so Kˣ, F, 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, ‘liða’ FskAˣ, ‘lyðo’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    líði: so Kˣ, 22ˣmarg, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, ‘lifi’ FskAˣ    [4] land‑: ‘[...]’ 325VIII 2 g;    ‑herðar: ‘[…]erdar’ 325VIII 2 g    [6] margdýrr: ‘[…]dyr’ 325VIII 2 g;    stýrir: rýrir 61, 53, 54, Bb, ‘r[…]rir’ 325VIII 2 g    [7] geta: geta or ‘gøta’ F, sæta 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    þykkjat mér: so 61, 54, 325VIII 2 g, corrected from ‘þyckianer’ FskAˣ, þykkjask þess Kˣ, 22ˣmarg, þykkjumk þess F, þykkjask mér J1ˣ, J2ˣ, þykkja mér 53, Bb;    gotnar: ‘geitiar’ Bb    [8] glíkligs: so Kˣ, 22ˣmarg, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb, ‘glighlis’ FskAˣ, ‘gli[…]’ 325VIII 2 g;    ór: ok 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    her: styr F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 23: AI, 164-5, BI, 155, Skald I, 84, NN §§1086, 2197, 2452; Fsk 1902-3, 133 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 161-2 (ch. 24); Hkr 1893-1901, I, 456, IV, 102-3, ÍF 26, 369, Hkr 1991, I, 250-1 (ÓHkr ch. 112), F 1871, 166; SHI 3, 9, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 293 (ch. 256).

Context: All the sources cite this stanza immediately after st. 22, with minimal or no prose introduction.

Notes: [1] es ‘when’: The reading alls ‘while, as’ in the K transcripts is also possible. — [1] þegnar ‘retainers’: As it stands the line lacks skothending. Jón Þorkelsson’s emendation Þrœnda ‘of Þrœndir, people of Trøndelag’ (1884, 63), so þróttharðan gram Þrœnda ‘mightily tough lord of Þrœndir [= Óláfr]’, remedies this (Þrœnda : mundut), as does Þrœndir (Jón Helgason 1931-2, 62). The latter is superior, as it is both grammatically equivalent to ms. þegnar and supported by the prose tradition naming the Trøndelag jarl Eiríkr and his men among Óláfr’s attackers. But neither has ms. support and compelling reasons to emend are lacking (cf. Ohlmarks 1958, 460-1). — [3-4] líði lýða landherðar ‘ale of the folk of the land-shoulder [ROCK > GIANTS > POETRY]’: This kenning, based on a suggestion by Jón Helgason (1931-2, 61-2), obviates Skj B’s extensive emendation of ll. 1-4. It was favoured by Kock in Skald and NN §2452, though a different explanation was offered in NN §1086. Landherðr ‘land-shoulder [ROCK]’ belongs to a type of kenning in which rock or stone is referred to as the bone, joint or teeth of the land, cf. Yt 19/10 bein foldar ‘bones of the earth [STONES]’ and Ólhelg Lv 2/2 landrif ‘land-rib [STONE]’; also Meissner 89-90. Jón Helgason and Kock emended gen. sg. ‑herðar to gen. pl. ‑herða since the word normally occurs in the pl. (as, e.g., in virtually all of over seventy citations in ONP: 1. herðr). The gen. sg. is retained here, however, as the reading of all the mss. — [5, 6] stýrir mundjǫkuls ‘controller of hand-icicle [SILVER > MAN]’: Stýrir with a precious metal as determinant is rare and seems otherwise confined to late poetry (Meissner 303-4), while ÓT’s rýrir ‘diminisher’ yields a conventional kenning for ‘generous man’. The agreement of Fsk and Hkr suggests, however, that stýrir is the original reading. — [7-8] gotnar þykkjat mér geta glíkligs ‘men do not seem to me to talk of a likely thing’: The reading gotnar þykkjask geta þess glíkligs ‘men think they guess this [as a] likely thing’ in the K transcripts is possible but, as Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 26) observes, not as good as FskAˣ’s reading, especially in the context of the rest of the poem. — [7] gotnar ‘men’: Lit. ‘inhabitants of Gotland’ (AEW: goti, gotnar), but here, as usual in skaldic poetry, ‘men, warriors’. Snorri implausibly derives gotnar from the eponymous king Goti (see SnE 1998, I, 105; Kristensen 1907, 241; Note to Þul Manna 1/5III). — [8] her ‘force’: The variant styr ‘battle’ is also possible.

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