11th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;
Lausavísur (Lv) - 11
III. Fragment (Frag) - 1
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).
Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ 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. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1375> (accessed 25 October 2021)
cross-references: 4 = Hharð Lv 9II
Skj: Sneglu- [Grautar-] Halli: 2. Lausavísur, o. 1054 (AI, 388-90, BI, 358-60)
SkP info: II, 328-9
7 — SnH Lv 7II
Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sneglu-Halli, Lausavísur 7’ 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. 328-9.
|Ortak eina of jarl þulu;
verðrat drápa með Dǫnum verri;
|fǫll eru fjórtán ok fǫng tíu;|
opits ok ǫndvert, ǫfugt stígandi:
svá skal yrkja, sás illa kann!
Ortak eina þulu of jarl; verðrat drápa verri með Dǫnum; eru fjórtán fǫll ok tíu fǫng; opits ok ǫndvert, ǫfugt stígandi: svá skal yrkja, sás kann illa!
I composed a þula about an earl; a drápa cannot be worse among the Danes; there are fourteen dips and ten lifts; it is open-ended and twisted, moving backwards: that’s how he shall compose who is poorly skilled!
Mss: Flat(208rb) (Flat)
Editions: Skj: Sneglu- [Grautar-] Halli, 2. Lausavísur 7: AI, 389-90, BI, 359, Skald I, 180, NN §§1934, 2473, 3396M; ÍF 9, 292-3 (Snegl ch. 9), Flat 1860-8, III, 426 (Snegl).
Context: When Halli returns from England, King Haraldr asks him whether
he has composed poetry about other kings while away. Halli replies with the
Notes: [All]: The metre is fornyrðislag. For a discussion of the metrical terminology in this st., see Gade 1991. —  jarl ‘an earl’: The identity of the recipient of Halli’s poem is unclear, but it could have been Harold Godwineson, then earl of Wessex and later king of England. According to Snegl, Halli composed a poem in honour of the king of England (ÍF 9, 290-1). Flat (1860-8, III, 425) gives his name as Harold Godwineson (Haraldr Guðinason), and H supplies Edward (Játvarðr) (Fms 6, 375). Edward the Confessor (r. 1043-65) was king of England at the time when Halli visited England, but he seems an unlikely recipient for Halli’s praise. Edward had been raised in Normandy and would hardly have been able to understand an ON poem recited by an Icel. skald. Moreover, the poem explicitly states that Halli’s poem honoured an earl. For the ON language in Anglo-Saxon England, see Townend 2002. —  þulu: A list of poetic synonyms. Halli
uses it to refer to a nonsensical poem, and it must have been considered an
insult to compose a deficient poem in praise of a ruler. —  með Dǫnum ‘among the Danes’: This sheds an interesting light on Halli’s opinion of the poetic skills of the Danes in the C11th. The sense is that not even Dan. poets could compose a worse poem. We know little about poetic compositions by Danes in the C11th (all skalds who eulogised Dan. rulers and noblemen were Icelanders), and most of the earlier surviving poetry attributed to Danes is characterised by metrical irregularities (see Kuhn 1983, 268-9).