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Runic Dictionary

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Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

III. Hákonardrápa (Hákdr) - 9

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).

Hákonardrápa (‘Drápa about Hákon’) — Hfr HákdrIII

Kate Heslop 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Hákonardrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 212.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

for reference only:  2x 

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld: 1. Hákonardrápa, omkr. 990 (AI, 155-6, BI, 147-8); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

SkP info: III, 221

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Hfr Hákdr 6III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Hákonardrápa 6’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 221.

Því hykk fleygjanda frægjan
— ferr Jǫrð und menþverri
ítran — eina at láta
Auðs systur mjǫk trauðan.

Því hykk {frægjan fleygjanda [auðs]} mjǫk trauðan at láta {systur Auðs} eina; Jǫrð ferr und {ítran menþverri}.

Because of that I think {the renowned flinger [of riches]} [GENEROUS MAN] is very reluctant to let {Auðr’s <giant’s> sister} [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)] alone; Jǫrð <goddess> submits to {the glorious ring-diminisher} [GENEROUS MAN].

Mss: R(26r), Tˣ(27r), W(57), U(29v), B(5r), 744ˣ(30v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Því: Hvé W;    hykk: om. W;    fleygjanda: so U, ‘fleyianda’ R, ‘fleiuanda’ Tˣ, ‘fleygi[…]a’ W, ‘fleyíande’ B;    frægjan: so all others, ‘fræian’ R    [2] ferr: ‘f[…]’ W;    Jǫrð: ‘[…]’ W;    menþverri: ‘menn þverr[…]’ W, ‘me[…]’ B, ‘men þuerri’ 744ˣ    [3] ítran: so Tˣ, W, U, ítra R, ‘[…]ran’ B, ‘itran’ 744ˣ;    eina: so U, ein R, W, einn Tˣ, B;    at: so all others, ‘a’ R    [4] systur: om. R, Tˣ, blank space W, systr U, ‘þerssa’ B;    trauðan: ‘trav[…]n’ W

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 1. Hákonardrápa 4: AI, 155, BI, 147, Skald I, 80, NN §§510, 2171A; SnE 1848-87, I, 322-3, II, 315, 528, III, 51, SnE 1931, 115, SnE 1998, I, 36; Davidson 1983, 510-15.

Context: Skm cites this half-stanza as the penultimate item in a set of six helmingar exemplifying kennings for the goddess Jǫrð (two of the others are also from Hallfreðr’s Hákdr, sts 7 and 8). The kenning in question is presumably systir Auðs ‘Auðr’s sister’, though interpretation is problematic; see Notes.

Notes: [All]: The syntax is problematic, and judging by the variant readings, also confused medieval scribes. Mss R, , W and B are defective in l. 4, leaving láta eina ‘let alone’ without an object. Ms. U’s reading systr ‘sisters’ (emended slightly to systur acc. sg.) makes good this lack, yielding the kenning systur Auðs ‘sister of Auðr [= Jǫrð]’. Skm’s prose also leads us to expect such a kenning, as this group of citations is introduced as follows (SnE 1998, I, 35): Hvernig skal jǫrð kenna? Kalla Ymis hold ok … systir Auðs ok Dags ‘How should one refer to “earth”? Call it Ymir’s flesh and … sister of Auðr and Dagr’. However, this leaves the man-kenning base-word fleygjanda ‘flinger’ in l. 1 without a determinant. Various solutions have been proposed (see Notes to ll. 1, 4 and l. 4 below). The one tentatively advanced in the Text is to treat auðs/Auðs as an instance of apo koinou, a single word functioning as the determinant of both of the helmingr’s kennings. — [All]: Ms. U attributes the half-stanza to ‘Hallver’ (with -er abbreviated) rather than Hallfreðr. — [1]: As Kock (NN §510) points out, this line contains an extra syllable. The first two words must be elided, making því hykk equivalent to one syllable; cf. Hfr ErfÓl 1/1I Þar hykk ‘There I believe’. — [1, 4] fleygjanda [auðs] ‘flinger [of riches] [GENEROUS MAN]’: Almost all previous eds reject this kenning for the reasons outlined in the Note to [All] above (Davidson 1983 is an exception, while SnE 1998 leaves the kenning incomplete). Most emend, either (Wisén 1886, 135; Skj B; Skald; Frank 1978, 63, 68) frægjan to frakkna ‘of spears’, which produces a correct kenning (fleygjanda frakkna ‘flinger of spears’) but lacks ms. support, or (Fidjestøl 1982, 104) fleygjanda to a seafarer-kenning such as fley-gand ‘ship-stave’ (unlikely due to the restricted sense of gandr, see LP: gandr) or fley-gæti ‘ship-guard’ (more plausible). Fidjestøl’s suggestions are attractive both because of the prominence of seafarer-kennings in the other ‘marriage’ stanzas of Hákdr (sts 5-8) and because the divergent ms. forms of fleygjanda imply scribal confusion. The solution proposed in the present edn follows Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848-87, III) in positing an apo koinou construction in which auðs participates in two different kennings and must be understood differently in each one (auðr ‘riches’ here, the name of the giant Auðr in the other kenning). Puns on common nouns and proper names (jǫrð/Jǫrð) are a guiding conceit in Hákdr, and the audience would have been alert for a new variation on this rhetorical strategy, particularly one which linked the themes of riches/fertility and the land. Hallfreðr’s ErfÓl 16/1, 2, 4I uses another homonym of the word here, auðr ‘empty’, in a zeugma (an eyewitness to the battle of Svolder sees Trana ok báða Naðra fljóta auða ‘“Crane” and both “Adders” [three of Óláfr Tryggvason’s warships] floating empty’). — [3] ítran (m. acc. sg.) ‘glorious’: The majority reading is taken here against R, whose text of this verse does not inspire confidence. Ms. R’s ítra (f. acc. sg.) is an acceptable alternative, and would qualify systur rather than menþverri. — [3] láta … eina ‘let … alone’: In prose this expression means ‘leave/divorce one’s wife’ (Fritzner: einn 5). Here the reference is presumably to Óðinn’s desertion of Jǫrð (cf. biðkvôn ‘waiting wife’, st. 5/4), or, alternatively, it could be taken to mean that he was reluctant to leave her alone, i.e. he desired her. — [4] systur Auðs ‘Auðr’s <giant’s> sister [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)]’: The giant Auðr is otherwise known only from SnE, where he is mentioned once in Gylf (SnE 2005, 13) and once in Skm (see Context), and Davidson (1983, 514) suggests he is a Snorronian invention, on the basis of a scribe’s addition of systr in U. It is true that only U reads systr (nom. pl., emended here to systur acc. sg.), but a word is needed to complete both syntax and metre, and as the mss offer no other candidates (B’s ‘þerssa’ cannot be construed in a meaningful way; see Davidson 1983 for some suggested emendations), and U’s reading makes good sense, it seems wisest to accept it.

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