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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, 433

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

23 — Hfr ErfÓl 23I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 23’ 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. 433.

Norðmanna hykk nenninn
— nús þengill framgenginn —
— dýrr hné dróttar stjóri —
dróttin* und lok sóttan.
Grams dauði brá gœði
góðs ófárar þjóðar;
allr glepsk friðr af falli
flugstyggs sonar Tryggva.

Hykk {nenninn dróttin* Norðmanna} sóttan und lok; nús þengill framgenginn; {dýrr stjóri dróttar} hné. Dauði góðs grams brá gœði ófárar þjóðar; allr friðr glepsk af falli {flugstyggs sonar Tryggva}.

I think {the energetic lord of Norwegians} [= Óláfr] has gone to his end; now the prince has passed on; {the worthy steerer of the retinue} [RULER] fell. The death of the good ruler snatched away the well-being of not a few peoples; all peace is confounded by the fall {of the flight-shunning son of Tryggvi} [= Óláfr].

Mss: FskAˣ(145-146), 52ˣ(55r-v), 301ˣ(53v) (Fsk)

Readings: [3] dýrr: dýr all    [4] dróttin*: dróttinn all    [7] glepsk: ‘glæps’ all;    friðr: ‘fiðr’ all;    falli: fjalli 52ˣ    [8] ‑styggs: ‘‑tygs’ FskAˣ, 301ˣ, ‑tyggs 52ˣ

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 25: AI, 165, BI, 156, Skald I, 84; Fsk 1902-3, 133-4 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 162-3 (ch. 24).

Context: This follows st. 22 (Fsk only), finishing the sequence of quotations from Hfr ErfÓl in the chapter.

Notes: [2] framgenginn ‘passed on’: Previous eds have framm genginn, although it is clearly written as one word in both mss. In its literal sense of ‘go, move forward’ ganga framm is common in skaldic poetry, e.g. in battle-descriptions, but the extended sense ‘go on [into death]’, and this cpd, seem otherwise to be found only in poetry in eddic metres (Vsp 39/8, Skí 12/2, Herv Lv 2/3VIII (Heiðr 15)). — [3] dýrr ‘worthy’: The mss have ‘dyr’, i.e. dýr, but that form (f. nom. sg. or n. nom./acc. pl.) cannot fit here. — [4] dróttin* ‘lord’: The mss have ‘drottinn’ (the second n abbreviated), but acc. sg. dróttin is required as object to hykk ‘I think’. — [4] sóttan und lok ‘gone to his end’: Kiil (1953) suggests that the phrase sœkja und lok (or fara und lok, cf. Kveld Lv 1/4V (Eg 1)) has roots in Germanic and Saami burial customs, since lok can mean ‘cover, lid’. However, the fact that lok (sg. or pl.) can mean ‘end, conclusion’ (Fritzner: lok 6) seems sufficient to explain its use in circumlocutions for death. — [5] dauði ... grams ‘the death of the ... ruler’: Cf. gram dauðan ‘the dead ruler’, st. 28/2. — [5] gœði ‘the well-being’: The only other secure instance of gœði in the skaldic corpus is Anon Líkn 49/5VII, where it signifies wealth in the Christian spiritual sense of ‘good things, blessings’; it also appears as a variant in the eddic Grí 51/4 (NK 67 and n.), where it seems to mean ‘goodwill’ (LT 96). The related agent-nouns gœðir and gœðingr ‘bestower, benefactor’ are, however, common in skaldic verse of all periods, the latter appearing in st. 27/6. — [7-8]: These lines, though quite corrupt in the surviving Fsk tradition, form the stef ‘refrain’ of the drápa (cf. st. 28/3-4). Line 8 participates in a pattern of rhymes on Óláfr’s patronym which extends through much of the poem (see Note to st. 13/2), and is echoed in Sigv ErfÓl 3/2.

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