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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, 437

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

26a — Hfr ErfÓl 26aI

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 26a’ 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. 437.

Hefk, þanns hverjum jǫfri
heiptfíknum varð ríkri
und niðbyrði Norðra
norðr, goðfǫður orðinn.
Bíða munk, þess’s breiðan
barðmána vann skarðan,
margaukanda mækis
móts aldrigi bótir.

Hefk orðinn goðfǫður, þanns varð ríkri hverjum heiptfíknum jǫfri norðr und {{Norðra nið}byrði}. Munk aldrigi bíða bótir {margaukanda {móts mækis}}, þess’s vann {breiðan barðmána} skarðan.

I have lost a godfather who was mightier than every strife-greedy prince in the north under {the burden {of the kin of Norðri <dwarf>}} [(lit. ‘kin-burden of Norðri’) DWARFS > SKY]. I will never experience compensation {for the much-increaser {of the meeting of the sword}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR] who hacked {the broad prow-moon} [SHIELD].

Mss: 61(69vb), 53(66rb), 54(67va-b), 325VIII 2 g(1va-b), Bb(103rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] jǫfri: ‘iafri’ 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [2] heipt‑: ‘hept‑’ 54, 325VIII 2 g, ‘heft‑’ Bb;    varð: var 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    ríkri: ríki 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [3] ‑byrði: ‑byr 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    Norðra: ‘narðra’ 53    [5] þess’s (‘þess er’): þess 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [7] margaukanda: ‘mar gankanda’ 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [8] móts: mót 61, 53, 54, 325VIII 2 g, ‘mott’ Bb;    bótir: bóta 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 28: AI, 165-6, BI, 156, Skald I, 85; SHI 3, 12-13, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 295 (ch. 256).

Context: The fame of the battle of Svǫlðr, which resulted in the defeat of the most famous king in the Nordic lands, will live on.

Notes: [1-4]: This helmingr is transmitted not only by the kings’ sagas but also by the sagas of Icelanders, in this case Hallfr (ÍF 8, 155), albeit with a different text of ll. 1-2 (cf. the similar case of Eskál Lv 1-2). The ms. transmission is further complicated by the fact that Hallfr is interpolated into ÓT as well as being preserved separately. The two helmingar are printed as separate entities in Skj and Skald, as ErfÓl 26 and 28/1-4. This edn regards them as variants, but prints them separately in order to reflect their textual differences and their different prose contexts. The version printed here is preserved within the main text of ÓT, while the Hallfr version is printed in SkP V, Poetry from the Sagas of Icelanders, as Hfr ErfÓl 26bV (Hallfr 7). This edn thus adopts the position of Krijn (1931, 121), who argues that the Hallfr version is a variant of ErfÓl 26a/1-4. She points out that orðinn, the p. p. of verða ‘to become’, has a different meaning in each version, meaning ‘lost’ here, but ‘become’ in st. 26/4bV (þanns vas orðinn ‘who had become’). Fidjestøl (1982, 58-9) suggests that misunderstanding of the unusual sense of orðinn in st. 26a/4 might have been the impetus for oral variation. The view of the texts as variants in fact goes back to Árni Magnússon (761bˣ, 175v), who wrote st. 26b/1-2 alongside st. 26a/1-2. — [3] Norðra niðbyrði ‘the burden of the kin of Norðri <dwarf> [(lit. ‘kin-burden of Norðri’) DWARFS > SKY]’: A reference to the cosmological myth in which the four dwarfs Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri hold up the sky, which is made of the skull of the giant Ymir (SnE 2005, 12, 16). The choice of Norðri is metrically convenient, but also apt; ÍS II, 1232 translates undir norðurhimninum ‘under the northern sky’. This kenning, and features of st. 27, are echoed in Arn Þorfdr 24II: see Note to [All] ad loc. — [4] goðfǫður ‘a godfather’: This word is unique to Hallfreðr within skaldic poetry, occurring only here and in the counterpart Hfr ErfÓl 26b/4, and there are few prose instances (Fritzner: guðfaðir). The adoption of the word may have been influenced by OE godfæder. Sigv Lv 19 similarly commemorates Óláfr Haraldsson’s standing godfather to Sigvatr’s daughter Tófa. Hallfreðr’s conversion and baptism, with Óláfr as his sponsor, is a major event in Hallfr (ÍF 8, 153-9), and the anguish of religious transition is recorded in Hfr Lv 6-10V (Hallfr 9-13). — [7-8] margaukanda móts mækis ‘much-increaser of the meeting of the sword [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’: The ms. reading mót (nom./acc. sg. of mót n. ‘meeting’, or adv. ‘in return for, against, towards’) is difficult, as ‘meeting’ must be gen. if the whole is to form a single kenning. (a) The emendation above, which follows Skj B, may find slight ms. support from Bb’s ‘mott’ (though Bb is generally unreliable) and gives straightforward sense and conventional kennings. (b) Mót margaukanda mækis ‘against/in return for the much-increaser of the sword [WARRIOR]’ seems the only possible interpretation of the ms. readings, but the placing of mót would be problematic, and firm early parallels are lacking for the use of a base-word like aukandi with a weapon-heiti, rather than battle-heiti (see comments on sverða herðendr at Meissner 338).

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