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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, 408

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Hfr ErfÓl 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 5’ 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. 408.

Sótti herr, þars hætti,
hundmargr drasil sunda,
en hjalmsprotum hilmir
harðfengr Dǫnum varði.
Fellu þar með þolli
þeim Skævaðar geima
— mein hlautk af því — mínir
meir hollvinir fleiri.

Hundmargr herr sótti {drasil sunda}, þars hætti, en harðfengr hilmir varði Dǫnum {hjalmsprotum}. Fleiri hollvinir mínir fellu meir þar með {þeim þolli {Skævaðar geima}}; hlautk mein af því.

An immense force attacked {the horse of sounds} [SHIP], where there was danger, but the tenacious ruler warded off the Danes {with helmet-rods} [SWORDS]. More of my true friends also fell there with {that fir {of the Skævaðr <legendary horse> of the ocean}} [SHIP > SEAFARER]; I got grief from that.

Mss: 54(64ra), Bb(99va-b), 53(64rb), Flat(64va) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] drasil: ‘dręsil‑’ Bb, drasils 53, Flat    [3] ‑sprotum: so 53, Flat, ‑spjótum 54, Bb    [5] þar: þeir 53, Flat    [6] geima: so 53, Flat, geyma 54, Bb    [7] hlautk (‘hlaut ek’): hlutu 53, Flat;    af: om. Bb;    því: so 53, Flat, þvíat 54, Bb    [8] holl‑: hold‑ Flat

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 5: AI, 160, BI, 151, Skald I, 82, NN §§474, 1956; SHI 2, 301, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 267 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, 482-3.

Context: Although the Danish king Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’, with his sixty ships, attacks the Norwegians the hardest, the entire fleet of the Danes and Swedes is within shooting range. But Óláfr and his troop defend themselves splendidly, even though many of his men fall.

Notes: [1] hætti ‘there was danger’: More literally, ‘[it] was risked’.  — [2] drasil sunda ‘the horse of sounds [SHIP]’: This is taken here as the object of sótti ‘attacked’. The reading drasils in 53 and Flat could be retained by assuming herr drasils sunda ‘force of the horse of sounds [SHIP]’ and taking sótti ‘attacked’ as intransitive. — [6] Skævaðar ‘of the Skævaðr <legendary horse>’: Cf. LP: Skævaðr and SnE 1998, I, 88-9 for further instances. The meaning may be ‘racer’ (AEW: skæva); LP takes it as ‘high-stepping’. See also Notes to Anon Kálfv 1/7-8III, Anon Þorgþ I 2/2III . — [6] geima ‘of the ocean’: Geyma, the reading of 54 and Bb, could be either the inf. of the verb meaning ‘to take care of’ or acc./gen. pl. of geymir ‘keeper’, but it spoils the hending and, judging by the 54 scribe’s practice elsewhere, cannot be normalised to geima. — [7] hlautk mein ‘I got grief’: Hlutu ‘they got’ in 53 and Flat may be an error influenced by the following pl. mínir ‘my’; it would only be possible if fleiri ‘more’ was taken as its subject, since the hollvinir ‘true friends’ cannot be both dead (fellu ‘fell’, l. 1) and grieving. — [8] meir ‘also’: The word is taken here as an adv. and construed with the main clause (so also Kock in NN §474, translating it as sedan ‘afterwards’, rather than ‘also’); cf. Eskál Vell 21/1. Finnur Jónsson construes it with the intercalary, either as an adv. (LP: mjǫk) or an adj. (Skj B, translating meir mein as stor sorg ‘great sorrow’).

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