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Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Lauren Goetting;

2. Hrynhenda (Hryn) - 12

prose works

Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv) was an accomplished Icel. scholar and a prolific poet. Details of his life are documented in Sturlunga saga (Stu), Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák), and Knýtlinga saga (Knýtl). He was born c. 1210-12 at Staður on Snæfellsness, Iceland, as the eldest son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra. He was the nephew of Snorri Sturluson (SnSt; d. 1241), with whom he spent long periods of time as a young man, and the older brother of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl; d. 1284). In 1237 he left Iceland with Snorri to embark upon a career as a professional poet at the courts of Scandinavia. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256-8, 260, 378-84) Óláfr composed poetry in honour of a large number of kings and noblemen, including the following: (in Norway) Jarl Skúli Bárðarson (d. 1240), King Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1263) and his son Hákon ungi ‘the Young’ Hákonarson (d. 1257), Jarl Knútr Hákonarson (d. 1261); (in Sweden) King Eiríkr Eiríkson (d. 1250); (in Denmark) King Valdimarr Valdimarsson (d. 1241). Because of Óláfr’s close association with Valdimarr, from whom he hafði ... margar ágætligar frásagnir ‘got ... many excellent narratives’ (ÍF 35, 315), he is thought by some to have written Knýtl, which recounts the history of Dan. rulers (see LH 1894-1901, II, 275, 784-5). Around 1242 Óláfr returned to Iceland and founded a school at Stafaholt in Borgarfjörður, where he wrote the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) and devoted himself to teaching and writing until his death in 1259. In addition to these pursuits, he was ordained subdeacon at some point after his return to Iceland and also served as lawspeaker 1248-50.

Most of Óláfr’s extant poetry consists of encomia to King Hákon Hákonarson and is inserted throughout the prose in Hák. This includes part of Hrynhenda (Ólhv Hryn), one st. from a Poem about Hákon (Ólhv Hák), and two lvv. (Ólhv Lv). One lv. traditionally assigned to him, has been reassigned in the present edn to Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv Love 3III). Aside from the aforementioned, the remainder of Óláfr’s known poetic works includes two sts from ÁrónsdrápaDrápa about Árón’ (Ólhv ÁrdrIV), composed about his friend Árón Hjǫrleifsson, and two sts from ThómasdrápaDrápa about Thomas (ꜳ Becket)’ (Ólhv ThómdrIII), recorded in the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT). Finally, nine fragments of sts from TGT (Ólhv FragIII), treated as anonymous in previous eds, are attributed to Óláfr in this edn.

Hrynhenda (‘Falling, flowing metre’) — Ólhv HrynII

Lauren Goetting 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 658-70.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12 

Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld: 2. Et hrynhent digt, 1240 (AII, 93-7, BII, 105-8)

SkP info: II, 658-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Ólhv Hryn 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Lauren Goetting (ed.) 2009, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 658-9.

Mærir glǫddusk miklu ári
menn; báru þá ávǫxt tvennan
(veglig sýndisk) viðr ok fuglar
(vísa grein) á sumri einu.

Mærir menn glǫddusk miklu ári; viðr ok fuglar báru þá tvennan ávǫxt á einu sumri; grein vísa sýndisk veglig.

Illustrious men were gladdened by the great prosperity; trees and birds then produced offspring twice in one summer; the ruler’s circumstances appeared magnificent.

Mss: E(144v), F(87vb), 42ˣ(92v), 81a(70vb), 325VIII 5 a(1v), Flat(166ra) (Hák)

Readings: [2] tvennan: ‘uennan’ 42ˣ    [3] sýndisk: sýndr Flat;    fuglar: fugla 325VIII 5 a    [4] vísa grein: ‘vísis rein’ 42ˣ

Editions: Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld, 2. Et hrynhent digt 1: AII, 93, BII, 105, Skald II, 55; E 1916, 490, F 1871, 404, Hák 1910-86, 321, Hák 1977-82, 21, Flat 1860-8, III, 22.

Context: The st. documents the agricultural abundance in Norway during the summer after Hákon was elected king in 1217.

Notes: [All]: The prosperity in Norway around the time of Hákon’s election as king is described in very similar terms in Sturl Hákkv 4. — [2] báru tvennan ávǫxt ‘produced offspring twice’: Lit. ‘bore two offspring’. — [3] viðr (m. nom. sg.) ‘trees’: The sg. form can be used collectively to denote ‘trees’. — [4] grein vísa ‘the ruler’s circumstances’: A pun is made on grein in its meanings ‘circumstances’ and ‘branch’, the latter of which includes the literal sense ‘branch of a tree’ and the metaphorical sense ‘branch of a family, royal line’ (see Fritzner: grein 2, 4). Grein vísa simultaneously denotes ‘the ruler’s circumstances’ and ‘the ruler’s branch’, i.e. ‘royal line’. On a literal level, grein vísa sýndisk veglig ‘the ruler’s branch appeared magnificent’ (ll. 3, 4) echoes the blossoming trees mentioned in ll. 2, 3, and metaphorically it refers to the royal dynasty from which Hákon descended.

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