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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 21 September 2021)

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

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

SkP info: I, 479

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Hókr Eirfl 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2012, ‘Halldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 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. 479.

Hykkat vægð at vígi,
— vann drótt jǫfur sóttan;
fjǫrð komsk jarl at jǫrðu —
ógnharðan sik spǫrðu,
þás fjarðmývils fœrðuð,
folkharðr, á trǫð Barða
— lítt vas Sifjar Sóti
svangr — við Orm inn langa.

Hykkat vægð at vígi, ógnharðan spǫrðu sik — drótt vann jǫfur sóttan; fjǫrð komsk jarl at jǫrðu — þás, folkharðr, fœrðuð Barða á {trǫð {fjarðmývils}} við Orm inn langa; {Sóti Sifjar} vas lítt svangr.

I do not believe there was mercy during the onslaught [or that] the battle-hard one [Eiríkr] spared himself — the retinue attacked the prince; last year, the jarl obtained the land — when, war-hard one, you brought Barði (‘Prow’) onto {the path {of the fjord-lump}} [SKERRY > SEA] against Ormr inn langi (‘the Long Serpent’); {the Sóti <horse> of Sif <goddess>} [WOLF] was hardly hungry.

Mss: FskAˣ(139) (Fsk); Holm18(53r), 310(89) (ÓTOdd); 61(68va), 54(66ra), Bb(101va), Flat(65rb-va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Hykkat (‘Hykkat ek’): so Holm18, 61, 54, Bb, Flat, ‘hukkaðek’ FskAˣ, hykka ek 310;    vægð: ‘vegia’ Holm18;    at: af 54, Bb    [2] vann: varm Flat    [3] komsk: so 310, 61, 54, Bb, Flat, kom FskAˣ, komt Holm18;    jarl: jarls 61;    at: af 54, Bb    [4] spǫrðu: sparði 61, Bb, ‘spardæ’ 54    [5] fjarð‑: fjar‑ 54, Bb;    ‑mývils: so 61, 54, Flat, ‘‑mykils’ FskAˣ, ‑mýils Holm18, ‑refil 310, ‘‑myivls’ Bb;    fœrðuð: fœrðu 310, fórut Flat    [6] folkharðr: folkharðr ok Bb;    á: at 54, Bb;    trǫð: mið 61, við 54, Bb    [7] Sifjar: sævar 310, 61, Bb, Flat, ‘sæfar’ 54;    Sóti: sótta 61    [8] við: so all others, viðr FskAˣ;    Orm inn: so 310, 61, 54, Bb, ‘ormin’ FskAˣ, Holm18, Flat

Editions: Skj: Haldórr ókristni, Eiríksflokkr 5: AI, 203-4, BI, 194, Skald I, 102, NN §§557, 558, 1953A, 2921; Fsk 1902-3, 128 (ch. 22), ÍF 29, 156 (ch. 24); ÓTOdd 1932, 223, ÍF 25, 338-9; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 282 (ch. 255), Flat 1860-8, I, 490.

Context: In Fsk and ÓTOdd the stanza follows immediately after st. 4. In ÓT, it illustrates a second attack on Ormr inn langi. The army of Swedes and Danes shoots weapons at the ship, and then Eiríkr brings Barði alongside Ormr again and there is fierce fighting. Neither the jarl nor his men hold back during this battle.

Notes: [All]: The rhyme scheme in this stanza is unusual (fjǫrð- : jǫrð-, ‑harð- : ‑spǫrð- (ll. 3-4) and fjarð- : fœrð-, ‑harð- : Barð ‑ (ll. 5-6)). It is hardly accidental and resembles SnSt Ht 41III, 53III (liðhent ‘helping-rhymed’). — [All]: This stanza is not recorded in Hkr, and FskAˣ is the main ms. — [1]: This line recalls Þmáhl Máv 1/5V (Eb 3) Barkak vægð at vígi. — [1, 4] hykkat vægð at vígi, ógnharðan spǫrðu sik ‘I do not believe there was mercy during the onslaught [or that] the battle-hard one [Eiríkr] spared himself’: (a) This sentence is awkward syntactically, because it presupposes two parallel constructions that are dependent on the verb hykkat ‘I do not believe’ (l. 1); namely vægð ‘mercy’ (with a suppressed vesa ‘be’) and ógnharðan spǫrðu sik ‘the battle-hard one spared himself’; spǫrðu is past inf. of spara ‘save’. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) takes jarl ‘the jarl’ (l. 3) as the object of hykkat and subject of spǫrðu (past inf. of spara ‘save’), and assigns ógnharðan to the second clause (ógnharðan jǫfur ‘the battle-hard prince). He construes the first clause as follows: Hykkat jarl spǫrðu sik vægð at vígi, translated as Jeg tror ikke jarlen sparede sig ved eftergivenhed under kampen ‘I do not believe that the jarl spared himself by letting up during the fight’. The problem is that this seems to assume that vægð is dat. sg. and is either to be construed with spara or as an adverbial dat., but both of these would be non-standard usages (cf. Fritzner: spara; NN §557). Moreover, Finnur’s interpretation results in tortuous syntax and a tripartite l. 3. The present edn follows Kock (NN §557) and ÍF 29. — [2] vann ... sóttan ‘attacked’: Lit. ‘got ... attacked’. Vinna is used pleonastically here (see NN §2921). — [3] fjǫrð ‘last year’: Fjǫrð is taken as an adv. (cf. st. 3/1 and Note there). Skj B (followed by ÍF 29) construes it as part of a cpd with tmesis (fjǫrðjǫrðu ‘fjord-land [NORWAY]’), which is possible. Kock (NN §§557, 1953A) regards fjǫrð ‘fjord’ as the acc. object of komsk, which is not possible (komask at e-u means ‘obtain sth.’ and komask cannot be construed with an acc. object). — [3] komsk ‘obtained’: This is the reading of the majority of the ms. witnesses (adopted in Skald and ÍF 29). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) opts for the Holm18 variant, komt (2nd pers. sg. pret. indic.) ‘you came’, which is unwarranted. — [5] fjarðmývils ‘of the fjord-lump [SKERRY]’: As the many variants show (see Readings above), this word created problems for the scribes. It is taken here (as in NN §558 and ÍF 29) as a kenning for ‘skerry’, serving as a determinant for trǫð ‘path’ (l. 6), hence á trǫð fjarðmývils ‘onto the path of the fjord-lump [SKERRY > SEA]’. For the form mývill (< Proto-Nordic *mūwilaʀ), see AEW: mýll. — [6] Barða ‘Barði (“Prow”)’: See Note to st. 3/5. — [7] Sóti Sifjar ‘the Sóti <horse> of Sif <goddess> [WOLF]’: Sóti is the name of a horse (see Anon Þorgþ I 1/6III and Note there), and, since it is evidently the base-word of a kenning for ‘wolf’ here we should expect the determinant to be the name of, or a heiti for, a ‘troll-woman’ or ‘giantess’ (Meissner 124-5). Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) accordingly adds the determinant fjarðmývils ‘of the fjord-lump [ROCK]’ (l. 5) and construes Sóti Sifjar fjarðmývils ‘the Sóti of the Sif of the fjord-lump [ROCK > GIANTESS > WOLF]’. While that interpretation yields a perfectly acceptable wolf-kenning, it results in an unprecedented tripartite Type C-line (l. 5) and leaves trǫð ‘path’ (l. 6) without a determinant. Kock (NN §558) adopts the variant sævar ‘of the sea’ (so 310, 61, Bb, Flat; 54 has ‘sæfar’) as a determinant in a ship-kenning. He translates Sóti sævar vas lítt svangr as mager var ej havets häst ‘the horse of the sea was not lean’ without further comment. It is not clear how a ship can be ‘not lean’ (or ‘not hungry’), and both FskAˣ and Holm18 have Sifjar, which must be regarded as the lectio difficilior. Not much is known about the goddess Sif, wife of Þórr (see ARG II, 124; Note to Þul Kvenna II 1/4III), but it is doubtful whether she was of giant lineage. According to Snorri (Gylf, SnE 2005, 5), Þórr met Sif in the northern hemisphere, and he adds that Engi kann at segja ætt Sifjar ‘Nobody knows the lineage of Sif’. Hence it could be that Halldórr nodded here or, alternatively, that he had other and different information about Sif (cf. his nickname ókristni ‘Un-Christian’). — [8] Orm inn langa ‘Ormr inn langi (“the Long Serpent”)’: See Note to st. 3/4.

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