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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, 439

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

27 — Hfr ErfÓl 27I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 27’ 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. 439.

Fyrr mun heimr ok himnar,
hugreifum Ôleifi,
— hann vas mennskra manna
mest gótt — í tvau bresta,
áðr an glíkr at góðu
gœðingr muni fœðask;
kœns hafi Kristr inn hreini
konungs ǫnd ofar lǫndum.

Heimr ok himnar mun fyrr bresta í tvau, áðr an gœðingr glíkr hugreifum Ôleifi at góðu muni fœðask; hann vas mest gótt mennskra manna; hafi Kristr inn hreini ǫnd kœns konungs ofar lǫndum.

Earth and heavens will sooner split in two before a chieftain equal to glad-hearted Óláfr in goodness might be born; he was the greatest good among human beings; may the pure Christ keep the soul of the wise king high above the lands.

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

Readings: [1] Fyrr: ‘Fvrr’ Bb    [3] hann: hans 54, 325VIII 2 g, Bb    [4] mest gótt: mestr fljótt Flat;    tvau: ‘tuo’ Flat    [5] áðr: at 325VIII 2 g, Bb;    at góðu: á góða 53    [7] kœns: ‘kíęnst’ 53, kœnn Flat

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 29: AI, 166, BI, 156-7, Skald I, 85, NN §515;  SHI 3, 13, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 296 (ch. 256), Flat 1860-8, I, 496.

Context: The people think no king like Óláfr will ever be born again, whether in Norway or anywhere else.

Notes: [All]: The syntax of this stanza breaks with convention in two significant ways, and has been much discussed. Firstly, it allows elements in the first helmingr (hugreifum Ôleifi ‘glad-hearted Óláfr’, l. 2) to depend syntactically on elements in the second (glíkr ‘equal ... to’, l. 5). This is unparalleled in the skaldic corpus before the C14th (Hollander 1947; Frank 1978, 88), though cf. Snorri Sturluson’s langlokum ‘with late conclusions or long enclosings’ (SnSt Ht 14III). Combined with the self-contained, stef-like prayer in ll. 7-8, the crossing of the helmingr boundary also means the stanza breaks Kuhn’s rule (1969b, 67) that neither helmingr may contain a syntactic break sharper than the one between them. However, these innovations suit the hyperbolic content of the stanza. Kock in NN §515 offers an interpretation which avoids this syntactic arrangement, but it has not found favour (Reichardt 1928, 118; Hollander 1947, 301). For an alternative construal suggested by Jón Helgason (1975, 405), which involves emendation, see Note to ll. 3-4 below. — [1] mun ‘will’: As frequently, a sg. verb has a cpd subject (heimr ok himnar ‘earth and heavens’); cf., e.g., Þorm Lv 22/3, and see NS §70a. — [1, 4] heimr ok himnar mun fyrr bresta í tvau ‘earth and heavens will sooner split in two’: Further examples of adynaton or impossibilia appear both in skaldic poetry (e.g. Eyv Hák 20, 21; ÞKolb Eirdr 8/7-8; KormǪ Lv 18V, 33V, 42V (Korm 19, 52, 61);  Arn Þorfdr 24II; SnSt Ht 102III) and in eddic poetry (Vsp 57), as well as on the C11th memorial runestone at Skarpåker (SRdb Sö 154): Iarð skal rifna ok upphiminn ‘the earth and sky shall be riven’; see Heusler (1923, 181), Einar Ól. Sveinsson (1966-9, 43-51), Lönnroth (1981, 319-21), and Fidjestøl (1982, 190-3) for discussion. Arn Þorfdr 24II is clearly influenced by Hallfreðr. — [2] hugreifum Ôleifi ‘to glad-hearted Óláfr’: Cf. st. 11/4 folkreifum Ôleifi ‘than fight-joyful Óláfr’ and herreifum Ôleifi ‘to army-glad Óláfr’ in ÚlfrU Húsdr 1/2III (here Óláfr pái, Húsdrápa’s dedicatee). — [3-4] hann vas mest gótt mennskra manna ‘he was the greatest good among human beings’: Jón Helgason (1975, 405) observes that this construction, with a predicate describing a human subject yet in the n. case (gótt ‘good’), lacks parallels in the skaldic corpus. Emendation to góðr (m. nom. sg.) is metrically possible but no ms. spelling hints at that reading. Jón suggests instead emending hann to a finite verb governing the dat. (e.g. lét ‘allowed’ or veitt ‘granted’), then construing ll. 2-4 as a unit: mest gótt mennskra manna vas hugreifum leifi veitt ‘the greatest good among human beings was granted [by God] to glad-hearted Óláfr’, possibly referring to martyrdom. However, the use of n. gótt to refer to a human finds some support in SnSt Ht 83/8III slíkt má skǫrung kalla ‘such [a one] must be called an outstanding person’, where slíkt refers to Skúli jarl. — [6]: The same line occurs (as a variant reading) as Arn Þorfdr 24/8II. — [7-8]: The diction of this closing prayer is very similar to that of the klofastef ‘split refrain’ of Stúfr’s memorial poem for Haraldr harðráði, especially in the version preserved in Morkinskinna (Stúfr Stúfdr 2/8II, 3/8II, 6/4II). Its form, a closing couplet clearly set off from the rest of the helmingr, is paralleled in Snorri’s stanza for Eyjólfr Brúnason (SnSt Lv 6/7-8III). Prayers for the soul of the dedicatee are a common feature of Christian memorial poetry (Fidjestøl 1982, 186-90; Fidjestøl 1993b, 105, 111-12).

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