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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, 411

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Hfr ErfÓl 7I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 7’ 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. 411.

Varð of Vinða myrði
vígský*s, en þat lýsik,
ramr und randar himni
rymr; knôttu spjǫr glymja.
Hirðir stózk við harðan
hnitvegg með fjǫl seggja
víðis veltireiðar
varghollr þrimu marga.

{Rymr {vígský*s}} varð ramr of {myrði Vinða} und {himni randar}, en lýsik þat; spjǫr knôttu glymja. {Varghollr hirðir {veltireiðar víðis}} stóðsk marga þrimu við {harðan hnitvegg} með fjǫl seggja.

{Roaring {of the war-cloud}} [SHIELD > BATTLE] became mighty around {the murderer of Wends} [?= Óláfr] under {the heaven of the rim} [SHIELD], and I proclaim that; spears resounded. {The wolf-gracious guardian {of the rolling wagon of the ocean}} [SHIP > SEAFARER] withstood many an onslaught by {the hard clash-wall} [SHIELD], with a multitude of men.

Mss: 54(64rb), Bb(99vb), 53(64rb), Flat(64va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Varð of (‘Varð um’): verðum Flat    [2] víg‑: vigg 53;    ‑ský*s: ‑styrs 54, ‑styrr Bb, skýrs 53, Flat;    lýsik: ‘lusek’ Bb    [3] randar: randa 54, Bb    [4] spjǫr: spjǫrr Flat    [5] Hirðir: hirðar all;    við: vit Flat    [6] hnit‑: so 53, Flat, hinn 54, Bb;    með: so 53, Flat, en 54, Bb    [7] velti‑: so 53, Flat, ‘vællte’ 54, ‘vallte’ Bb;    ‑reiðar: ‘reydar’ 54, Bb, meiðar 53, Flat

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 7: AI, 160-1, BI, 151-2, Skald I, 82; SHI 2, 304, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 268-9 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, I, 484.

Context: Óláfr and his men have repelled the Danish attack, and now it is the turn of the Swedes.

Notes: [All]: Mss 54 and Bb attribute this stanza to Hallar-Steinn (cf. Note to st. 2 [All]), but it cannot be from the stefjabálkr ‘refain section’ of his Rekstefja ‘Poem with split refrains’ (HSt Rst), since it lacks the stef ‘refrain’ that gives that poem its name, and the subject-matter precludes it from belonging to the upphaf ‘beginning’ or slœmr ‘conclusion’ of Rst. — [1] myrði Vinða ‘the murderer of Wends [?= Óláfr]’: This kenning is ambiguous in its reference (compare Ohlmarks 1958, 446 with von See 1977a, 116). (a) ÓT’s prose suggests the referent here is Óláfr, and we do see him harrying the Wends in Hfr Óldr 1/5-8. According to ÓTOdd (ÍF 25, 312, 367) and, to a lesser degree, Fsk (ÍF 29, 147), the Wends supported Óláfr at Svǫlðr, which does not confirm a view of Óláfr as ‘the murderer of the Wends’, but the other early prose sources, Ágr and HN, speak only of Óláfr making unsuccessful attempts to raise Wendish or Slavic troops. Possibly this and similar skaldic allusions to hostility to the Wends are rather generic, referring to raiding of Slav territories on the Baltic, perhaps around the mouth of the Oder (see Morawiec 2006). (b) The kenning may denote Eiríkr jarl, since the same kenning is used of his father Hákon jarl in Eskál Vell 23/1. It also occurs in relation to Svǫlðr in Hókr Eirfl 6/7, where the referent is probably Óláfr but could be Eiríkr, and it is applied to the Danish king Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’ in Anon (ÓTHkr) 1/3. However, it is unusual for Óláfr’s enemies to be the focus of the stanza; e.g. in st. 17 Eiríkr is referred to, but only in tandem with Óláfr. — [1, 3, 4] rymr vígský*s varð ramr ‘roaring of the war-cloud [SHIELD > BATTLE] became mighty’: Alternatively, the adj. ramr could be attributive, hence ‘a mighty battle came about’ (so Skj B). — [2] vígský*s ‘of the war-cloud [SHIELD]’: (a) This minor emendation provides aðalhending and a conventional kenning, and is accepted by most previous eds (Sveinbjörn Egilsson retained vígstyrs in SHI 2 but preferred vígskýs in LP (1860): vígský). (b) Vígstyrs (so 54) does not give aðalhending and produces an implausibly tautologous kenning, rymr vígstyrs ‘roaring of war-battle’. — [3] randar ‘of the rim’: The variant randa ‘of the rims’ (so 54, Bb) is also possible; see Meissner 39-40. — [4] knôttu glymja ‘resounded’: The verb knôttu (inf. kná) can have the full sense ‘were able’, but here appears to be merely an auxiliary. — [5] hirðir ‘guardian’: Corruption in all mss of an original hirðir (m. nom. sg.) to hirðar (nom. pl. of hirðir m., or gen. sg. of hirð f. ‘household troop’) is puzzling, but as the helmingr stands in the mss the sg. verb stózk við ‘withstood’ lacks a sg. subject and the adj. varghollr (m. nom. sg.) ‘wolf-gracious’ a noun. The emendation seems to have been first proposed by Guðbrandur Vigfússon and Möbius (1860, 208), and it is adopted by all subsequent eds (Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s attempt to retain hirðar in SHI 2 is unconvincing and he retreats from it in LP (1860): hirðir). A nom. subject must otherwise be sought (unconventionally) in the previous helmingr, or varghollr taken as a substantive. But further syntactical problems follow in the train of both these solutions (cf. SHI), and the emendation seems unavoidable. — [6] fjǫl ‘a multitude’: This n. form (LP: 2. fjǫl), rather than the synonymous long-stemmed fjǫlð f. (‘fiold’) which appears in the mss, is required to avoid breach of Craigie’s Law (on which, see Gade 1995a, 29-30). Its adoption constitutes a normalisation on metrical grounds rather than an emendation; for a further instance see Eskál Vell 19/2. — [7] veltireiðar ‘of the rolling wagon’: Reiðar ‘of the wagon’ seems to underlie the ms. readings ‘reydar’ and meiðar. Veltimeiðar ‘of the rolling tree’ in 53 and Flat is possible, as words meaning ‘tree’ are common as base-words of ship-kennings, but the verbal epithet velti- ‘rolling’ makes more sense with reið ‘wagon’ than with meið- ‘tree’. This is especially so in light of the tendency for such epithets to reinforce the literal sense of the base-word, rather than correcting it as the determinant does (see the examples in Meissner 56-8).

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