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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Halldórr ókristni (Hókr)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Eiríksflokkr (Eirfl) - 8

Skj info: Haldórr ókristni, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 202-204, BI, 193-195).

Skj poems:

Nothing is known about Halldórr ókristni ‘the Un-Christian’ (Hókr) aside from the fact that, according to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 257, 266, 280), he was one of Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson’s poets. His nickname indicates that he must have been reluctant to convert to Christianity, and it is not surprising that he is connected with the court of the jarls of Hlaðir (Lade), given that Eiríkr’s father, Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, was the last heathen ruler of Norway. The eight stanzas below are what remain of Halldórr’s poetic oeuvre, and they show that he was well versed in myth and heroic legend and, in particular, that he was familiar with the poetry of earlier and contemporary skalds. In Skj, Finnur Jónsson gives his ethnicity as Icelandic, but that cannot be ascertained.

Eiríksflokkr (‘Flokkr about Eiríkr’) — Hókr EirflI

Kari Ellen Gade 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr’ 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. 469.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Haldórr ókristni: Eiríksflokkr, o. 1010 (AI, 202-4, BI, 193-5)

SkP info: I, 475

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Hókr Eirfl 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 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. 475.

Fjǫrð kom heldr í harða
— hnitu reyr saman dreyra;
tungl skôrusk þá tingla
tangar — Ormr inn langi,
þás borðmikinn Barða
brynflagðs Reginn lagði
— jarl vann hjalms at holmi
hríð — við Fáfnis síðu.

Fjǫrð kom Ormr inn langi í heldr harða — {reyr dreyra} hnitu saman; {tungl tangar tingla} skôrusk þá —, þás {Reginn {brynflagðs}} lagði borðmikinn Barða við síðu Fáfnis; jarl vann {hríð hjalms} at holmi.

Last year Ormr inn langi (‘the Long Serpent’) underwent a rather harsh [trial] — {reeds of gore} [SWORDS] crashed together; {moons of the tongs of prow-boards} [SHIELDS] were cut then —, when {the Reginn <dwarf> {of the byrnie-troll-woman}} [AXE > WARRIOR = Eiríkr] brought the high-sided Barði (‘Prow’) alongside Fáfnir; the jarl fought {a storm of the helmet} [BATTLE] near the island.

Mss: (212r-v), F(36ra), J1ˣ(131v), J2ˣ(114v-115r), 325VIII 1(5rb) (Hkr); 53(64va), 54(64vb), Bb(100rb), Flat(64vb) (ÓT); FskAˣ(138-139) (Fsk); Holm18(53r), 310(89), 4-7(1rb) (ÓTOdd)

Readings: [1] Fjǫrð: ferð 53, Flat, 310;    harða: harðan 53, 54, Bb, Flat, Holm18, 310, 4‑7    [2] hnitu: hnigu F, Holm18, 4‑7, ‘[…]’ 325VIII 1, hitta 54, hina Bb;    reyr: ‘reyrv’ Bb    [3] skôrusk: corrected from ‘skarðz’ Bb;    þá: þar 53, 54, Bb, Flat, 310;    tingla: ‘[…]’ 325VIII 1    [4] tangar: ‘tangri’ 54, tangi Bb;    Ormr inn langi: orminn langa J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Holm18, 4‑7    [5] ‑mikinn: mikin J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Bb, 4‑7, ‘‑miki[…]’ 325VIII 1, mikil FskAˣ;    Barða: ‘[…]’ 325VIII 1    [6] bryn‑: brim‑ 54, Bb;    ‑flagðs: flags J2ˣ, Flat, FskAˣ;    Reginn: regin J2ˣ, 53, Flat, FskAˣ, Holm18, rekinn 4‑7;    lagði: hafði Bb    [7] hjalms: ‘hia[…]’ 325VIII 1, ‘hiams’ 53;    at: und Flat, FskAˣ, Holm18, 310, 4‑7    [8] Fáfnis: ‘famnes’ FskAˣ, faðmis 310, ‘faðmes’ 4‑7

Editions: Skj: Haldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 3: AI, 203, BI, 193, Skald I, 102, NN §3219; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 446, IV, 98, ÍF 26, 360-1 (ÓTHkr ch. 106), F 1871, 163; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 273 (ch. 251), Flat 1860-8, I, 485; Fsk 1902-3, 127 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 155 (ch. 24); ÓTOdd 1932, 222, ÍF 25, 337.

Context: Towards the end of the battle of Svǫlðr, all of Óláfr Tryggvason’s ships have been cleared except for Ormr inn langi, and all of Óláfr’s men who are still able to fight have gathered there. Eiríkr jarl brings his ship, Barði (‘Prow’) or Járnbarði (‘Iron-prow’), alongside Ormr inn langi, and a hard fight ensues.

Notes: [All]: In Hkr and ÓT, sts 3-4 are given in reverse order (see Introduction above). — [1] fjǫrð … harða ‘last year … harsh [trial]’: (a) The present edn follows ÍF 26 and ÍF 29 and assumes a suppressed noun raun (f. acc. sg.), lit. ‘trial, test’, after the adj. harða (f. acc. sg.) ‘hard, harsh’. The adv. fjǫrð is not unproblematic. ONP: fjǫrð gives nine citations of the word, the earliest from 1316, but it is unequivocally attested in C11th skaldic poetry (see Note to ÞjóðA Magn 13/1II and LP: fjǫrð), and there are other possible poetic occurrences of the word as well (see Notes to Eyv Lv 14/2 and Bragi Lv 1a/8IV). (b) Skj B and Skald adopt the reading of the ÓT and ÓTOdd mss, harðan (m. acc. sg.), which they construe with fjǫrð (m. acc. sg.), taken as the noun meaning ‘fjord’ rather than as the adv. fjǫrð ‘last year’, hence Ormr inn langi kom í harðan fjǫrð lit. ‘Ormr inn langi came into a harsh fjord’, i.e. ‘in a difficult position’. That interpretation is also possible, but all Hkr mss and FskAˣ have harða and harðan looks like a lectio facilior. Cf. also fjǫrð ‘last year’ (st. 5/3) and Introduction above. — [2] reyr dreyra ‘reeds of gore [SWORDS]’: Taken here as a kenning for ‘swords’ with reyr (n. nom. pl.) ‘reeds’ as the base-word (so also LP: 1. reyr and ÍF 29, and cf. KormǪ Lv 50/6V (Korm 71); ÍF 26 translates it as vopn ‘weapons’). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) gives the referent pilene ‘the arrows’, which is also possible, but the prose of Hkr specifies that the battle was a hǫggorrosta lit. ‘blow-battle’, i.e. hand to hand fighting with swords, axes and halberds. — [3-4] tungl tangar tingla ‘moons of the tongs of prow-boards [SHIELDS]’: This is clearly a shield-kenning, but the exact meaning of tǫng tingla ‘the tongs of prow-boards’ is debated. Tingl ‘prow-boards’ were two boards at the prow of a ship, which could be engraved or decorated (see Gsind Hákdr 2/3, Jór Send 4/3, Note to Þhorn Harkv 7/8 and Jesch 2001a, 148-9). The ‘tongs’ of these plates could have been the wooden pieces that surrounded the prow-boards (see Falk 1912, 43-4; Jesch 2001a, 148). The rhyming and alliterating words tungl and tingl are also found in Jór Send 4/3. — [3] þá ‘then’: The adv. þar ‘there’ (so 53, 54, Bb, Flat, 310) is an equally good reading. — [4] Ormr inn langi (‘the Long Serpent’): Óláfr Tryggvason’s famous warship and the focus of attention in the present poem. The phrase reappears in stef-like fashion in sts 4/4, 5/8 and 8/4 (see Introduction). Hkr (ÍF 26, 336) describes the ship as follows: Á Orminum langa váru fjǫgur rúm ok þrír tigir. Hǫfuðin ok krókrinn var allt gullbúit. Svá váru há borðin sem á hafskip. Þat hefir skip verit bezt gǫrt ok með mestum kostnaði í Nóregi ‘There were thirty-four rowing stations on Ormr inn langi. The heads and the curved stem and stern were all adorned with gold. The sides were as high as on an ocean-going ship. That was the best-made and mostly costly ship ever to be built in Norway’. The name Ormr appears frequently in skaldic poetry, both directly and through word-play: see Note to Hfr ErfÓl 10/1. — [5] borðmikinn Barða ‘the high-sided Barði (“Prow”)’: Barði, a derivative of barð ‘prow, stem’, is also recorded as a ship-heiti in Þul Skipa 3/3III. Eiríkr jarl’s ship was variously called Barði or Járnbarði(nn) ‘(the) Iron-prow’, which could indicate that the stem had been fortified for ramming (so Falk 1912, 43-4; but see Jesch 2001a, 159). Cf. the (probably unhistorical) description of this ship in Flat 1860-8, I, 481: þar var skegg a ofanverdu bardinu huorotueggia en nidr fra skegginu iarnnspaung breid ok þykk sem bardit ok tok allt j sio ofan ‘There was a beak on top of the prow on both sides and down from the beak an iron rod as broad and thick as the prow and it went all the way down into the sea’. See also Note to Þul Skipa 3/3III. The rhyming and alliterating pair borð- and barð- is also found (in identical positions) in Bragi Þórr 4/1III and Eskál Lv 2b/3V (Eg 125). — [6] Reginn ‘the Reginn <dwarf>’: Reginn is listed in the þulur as the name of a dwarf (see Note to Þul Dverga 6/4III), and it is also the name of Fáfnir’s brother, Reginn Hreiðmarsson in the eddic Sigurðr cycle (see Reg). Dwarf-names are not usual as the base-word of man-kennings, and where Reginn occurs it can be interpreted either as the dwarf-name or the sg. of regin ‘gods’ (Meissner 264), but in this case the choice of Reginn as a base-word with the sense ‘dwarf’ appears to have been prompted by association with Fáfnir (l. 8). — [7] at holmi ‘near the island’: Und holmi, lit. ‘below the island’ (so Flat, FskAˣ, Holm18, 310, 4-7), is also possible, and would imply that the island had steep cliff-sides. For the debate about the possible location of Svǫlðr (and whether it was an island, a river or a bay), see entry for Óláfr Tryggvason in ‘Ruler biographies’ in Introduction to this volume. — [8]: This line recalls Egill Lv 10/2V (Eg 15) hríð fyr Jótlands síðu. — [8] Fáfnis ‘Fáfnir’: The dragon Fáfnir (Reginn Hreiðmarsson’s brother; see Note to l. 6 above), who was killed by Sigurðr Fáfnisbani ‘Slayer of Fáfnir’ (see Fáfn, Þorf Lv 1). It is used here as a synonym for ormr ‘serpent’, i.e. the ship Ormr inn langi (see also Notes to st. 2/1 above and Hfr ErfÓl 10/1). The variant (normalised) faðmis (nom. faðmir) in FskAˣ, 310, and 4-7 is a Norwegian form of this name (see Note to Anon Nkt 21/4II, as well as RvHbreiðm Hl 7/3III and 47/3III).

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