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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Sneglu-Halli (SnH)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

Lausavísur (Lv) - 11

Skj info: Sneglu- [Grautar-] Halli, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 388-90, BI, 358-60).

Skj poems:
1. Et digt om Harald hårdråde (?)
2. Lausavísur

Sneglu-Halli (SnH) came from a poor family from Fljót near Svarfaðardalur in northern Iceland. The meaning of his nickname (Sneglu-) is unclear, but it could have referred to his slender stature (Flat 1860-8, III, 416; Finnur Jónsson 1907, 297) or to his irascibility (Andersson and Gade 2000, 442). In later literature he was given the nickname Grautar-Halli ‘Porridge-Halli’ because of his fondness for porridge (ÍF 9, cxii n. 1; ÞjóðA Lv 7). Around 1053 Halli arrived at King Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson’s court in Norway, and after a trip to Denmark and England he returned to Iceland, where he must have died prior to 1066. According to Flat, King Haraldr received the news of Halli’s death with the following comment (ÍF 9, 295): Á grauti myndi greyit sprungit hafa ‘The bitch must have burst with porridge’. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275) lists Halli as a court poet of Haraldr harðráði, and he is said to have composed a poem in his honour (ÍF 9, 275, 280). A half-st. in fornyrðislag metre (SnH FragIII) attributed to Halli in TGT (TGT 1884, 20, 80) has been assigned to that poem by some eds. See Introduction, SnH FragIII. Otherwise, only the lvv. below have been preserved of his poetic oeuvre, which is also said to have included Kolluvísur ‘the Cow’s Vísur’, a poem composed about cows in Iceland, and a panegyric to an Engl. earl (see SnE 1848-87, III, 599-604; LH 1894-1901, I, 635-7). In H, Hr and Mork, ÞjóðA Lv 8 is erroneously attributed to Halli (see Mork 1928-32, 238; Fms 6, 364).

Lausavísur — SnH LvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Sneglu-Halli, Lausavísur’ 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. 323-32.

 1   2   3   5   6   7   8   9   10   11 

cross-references:  4 = Hharð Lv 9II 

Skj: Sneglu- [Grautar-] Halli: 2. Lausavísur, o. 1054 (AI, 388-90, BI, 358-60)

SkP info: II, 331-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — SnH Lv 11II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sneglu-Halli, Lausavísur 11’ 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. 331-2.

Sýr es ávallt;
hefr saurugt allt
hestr Þjóðolfs erðr;
hanns dróttins serðr.

Sýr es ávallt; hestr Þjóðolfs hefr erðr allt saurugt; hanns serðr dróttins.

There is always a sow; Þjóðólfr’s horse has a completely filthy prick; he is a master-fucker.

Mss: Flat(208rb) (Flat); 563aˣ(20)

Readings: [1] Sýr: so 563aˣ, Dýr Flat;    es (‘er’): om. 563aˣ    [2] saurugt allt: sauruga ást 563aˣ    [3] Þjóðolfs erðr: ‘þerdur’ 563aˣ

Editions: Skj: Sneglu- [Grautar-] Halli, 2. Lausavísur 11: AI, 390, BI, 360, Skald I, 180, NN §2528; ÍF 9, 294-5 (Snegl ch. 10), Flat 1860-8, III, 428 (Snegl).

Context: Halli’s adversary, the poet Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA), has presented King Haraldr with the gift of a fat Icel. horse. Haraldr goes up to it, and Halli is standing there looking at the horse, which has its phallus unsheathed. He comments on the sight with this helmingr.

Notes: [All]: The metre is runhent ‘end-rhymed’. — [1] sýr es ávallt ‘there is always a sow’: The l. is difficult to interpret. Flat has dýr ‘animal’, which leaves the l. without alliteration and must be a scribal error. If the 563aˣ variant is kept, the l. implies ‘there is always a sow (i.e. a female beast) at hand’, suggesting that Þjóðólfr had been used as a female by his stallion. Sýr could also be a pun on the nickname of Haraldr’s father, Sigurðr sýr ‘Sow’ (cf. a similar allusion in Mgóði Lv 1 above; see also Hjǫrtr Lv 1-3), and then, indirectly, a reference to Haraldr himself (see Note to l. 4 below). Skj B emends to saurr ‘filth, semen’, and Kock (NN §2528) proposes the adj. súrr ‘sour, bitter, unfriendly’, which he translates as blöt, rinnande ‘soft, runny’ (a meaning which is unattested). — [4] serðr dróttins ‘master-fucker’: Lit. ‘master’s fucker’. All earlier eds treat this as a cpd dróttinserðr, which is translated as ‘having been used sexually by the master’. However, the p. p. of the strong verb serða ‘use sexually’ is sorðinn, and the only possible cpd which could denote ‘having been used sexually by the master’ is dróttinsorðinn. Serðr dróttins ‘a master-fucker’ (so both mss) implies that it was the horse and not the master who was the aggressor. Serðr must be a nomen agentis, similar to brjótr ‘breaker, destroyer, conqueror’ (from brjóta ‘break’; see LP: brjótr), njótr ‘user, enjoyer, owner’ (from njóta ‘use, enjoy, own’; see LP: njótr), vinnr ‘performer, achiever’ (from vinna ‘perform, achieve’; see SnE 1998 I, 40, II, 427). It seems that Halli’s insult, which was certainly on the surface directed at Þjóðólfr, was indeed double-edged. Halli implies indirectly that Þjóðólfr, the master of the horse, was also a serðr dróttins (the cl. hanns serðr dróttins ‘he is a master-fucker’ could be applied to Þjóðólfr as well as to the horse), who had used his dróttinn, i.e. Haraldr, as a woman. This interpretation is also in keeping with the current reading and interpretation of l. 1 (see the Note to l. 1 above). For similar allusions in the prose of Snegl, see the verbal exchange between Halli and Haraldr at the beginning of the þáttr (see ÍF 9, 263-6; Andersson and Gade 2000, 243-4).

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