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Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

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

1. Óláfsdrápa (Óldr) - 14

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).

file 2002-03-21 - York Hfr paper notes
file 2002-03-27 - York Hfr paper draft

Óláfsdrápa (‘Drápa about Óláfr’) — Hfr ÓldrI

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa’ 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. 387.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6 

for reference only:  1x   1y   2x   2y   4x   4y   8z   9z 

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld: 2. Óláfsdrápa, 996 (AI, 156-9, BI, 148-50); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 2, 7 | 3 | 3, 4/1-4 | 4/1-4 | 4/5-8, 5 | 4/5-8 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8/1-4, 9/5-8 | 8/5-8, 9/1-4

SkP info: I, 394

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Hfr Óldr 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 3’ 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. 394.

Tíðhǫggvit lét tyggi
Tryggva sonr fyr styggvan
Leiknar hest á lesti
ljótvaxinn hræ Saxa.
Vinhróðigr gaf víða
vísi margra Frísa
blǫkku brúnt at drekka
blóð kveldriðu stóði.

Tyggi, {sonr Tryggva}, lét hræ Saxa tíðhǫggvit á lesti fyr {styggvan, ljótvaxinn hest Leiknar}. Víða gaf vinhróðigr vísi {blǫkku stóði {kveldriðu}} brúnt blóð margra Frísa at drekka.

The ruler, {Tryggvi’s son} [= Óláfr Tryggvason], had the corpses of Saxons cut down often, finally, before {the edgy, ugly-grown horse of Leikn <troll-woman>} [WOLF]. Far and wide the friend-exulting prince gave {the black stud {of the evening-rider}} [TROLL-WOMAN > WOLF] the dark blood of many Frisians to drink.

Mss: (149v-150r), 39(6ra), F(25ra), J1ˣ(88v) (Hkr); 61(15vb), 53(14ra), 54(10vb), Bb(21ra), 62(8rb), Flat(15rb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(33r), FskAˣ(120) (Fsk); 310(98) (ÓTOdd)

Readings: [1] ‑hǫggvit: ‘hoggot’ 62, Flat, ‘hoggvic’ FskBˣ;    lét: vann FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310    [2] Tryggva: ‘tryga’ J1ˣ, ‘tryggía’ 62;    sonr: abbrev. as ‘s.’ 39, Bb, Flat, son F, J1ˣ, FskAˣ, sonar or sonr 310;    fyr: við 53, 54, Bb;    styggvan: dyggvan J1ˣ, 62, ‘dyggían’ 62, ‘skryggian’ Flat    [3] lesti: so all others, ‘lęsti’ or ‘lesti’ Kˣ    [4] ‑vaxinn: so F, J1ˣ, 61, 54, Bb, 62, Flat, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310, vaxin Kˣ, 39, 53;    hræ: gram 62, ‘hram’ Flat;    Saxa: vaxa 62, Flat    [5] ‑hróðigr: ‘‑roðr’ FskBˣ    [6] vísi: vísir Bb, FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    margra: margan 62, Flat    [7] blǫkku: blǫkum J1ˣ, FskBˣ, blakka 310;    brúnt: ‘brun’ 53, braut 62, bratt Flat, ‘brunnt’ 310

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 2. Óláfsdrápa 6: AI, 157-8, BI, 149, Skald I, 81; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 306, IV, 84-5, ÍF 26, 263-4, Hkr 1991, 176-7 (ÓTHkr ch. 29), F 1871, 114; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 148 (ch. 73), Flat 1860-8, I, 115; Fsk 1902-3, 109-10 (ch. 21), Fsk 1984, 142-3 (ch. 23); ÓTOdd 1932, 248.

Context: See Introduction.

Notes: [1] lét tíðhǫggvit ‘had ... cut down often’: Vann ‘caused (to be cut down), succeeded in (cutting down)’ is an equally good reading to lét; cf. st. 4/1. — [3] á lesti ‘finally’: This sits somewhat oddly with tíð- ‘often’, l. 1, and it is not clear whether it refers to the closure of this particular episode, the victory over the Saxons, or to a wider chronology. A. Bugge (1910, 9-12, cited in ÍF 26, 264 n.) assumed the latter, arguing that Óláfr had proceeded from England to Saxony and Friesland in the summer of 994 and that the stanza should follow sts 5 and 6 (= 8 and 9 in previous eds). — [4] ljótvaxinn ‘ugly-grown’: We can safely assume that this is not m. nom. sg. describing the subject, Óláfr, but m. acc. sg. qualifying hest ‘(troll-woman’s) horse’, hence the wolf to whom Saxon corpses are fed. The minority variant -vaxin, however, is also viable and would be n. acc. pl. qualifying hræ ‘corpses’. — [5] vinhróðigr ‘friend-exulting’: A hap. leg. which could alternatively mean ‘famous for [his] friends’, cf. vinsæll ‘blessed with friends, popular’. 

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated