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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Snorri Sturluson (SnSt)

13th century; volume 3; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

III. Háttatal (Ht) - 102

Skj info: Snorri Sturluson, Islandsk höfding og skjald, 1178-1241. (AII, 52-79, BII, 60-90).

Skj poems:
1. En drape om Skule jarl
2. Háttatal
3. Af et religiøst digt (?)
4. Lausavísur
4. Lausavísur

prose works

Háttatal — SnSt HtIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1094.

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Skj: Snorri Sturluson: 2. Háttatal, 1222-23 (AII, 52-77, BII, 61-88)

SkP info: III, 1111

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — SnSt Ht 7III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1111.

Hjálms fylli spekr hilmir
hvatr Vindhlés skatna;
hann kná hjǫrvi þunnum
hræs þjóðár ræsa.
Ýgr hilmir lætr eiga
ǫld dreyrfá skjǫldu;
styrs rýðr stillir hersum
sterkr járngrá serki.

Hvatr hilmir spekr skatna {fylli hjálms {Vindhlés}}; hann kná ræsa {þjóðár hræs} þunnum hjǫrvi. Ýgr hilmir lætr ǫld eiga dreyrfá skjǫldu; sterkr stillir rýðr {járngrá serki styrs} hersum.

The brave lord subdues men {with Vindhlér’s <= Heimdallr’s> {filling of the helmet}} [HEAD > SWORD]; he can make {mighty rivers of carrion} [BLOOD] rush with the slender sword. The terrifying lord makes people possess bloodstained shields; the strong ruler reddens {the iron-grey shirts of battle} [BYRNIES] of the hersar.

Mss: R(45v), Tˣ(47v), W(139), U(47r) (l. 1), U(49r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] fylli: fulli Tˣ;    hilmir: ‘hil[…]’ U(47r)    [2] Vindhlés: ‘vinles’ U;    skatna: skatnar U    [3] hann: so all others, hér R;    kná: kann Tˣ, U    [4] þjóðár: þjóðár vel U    [5] Ýgr: so all others, yggr R;    lætr: so U, ‘hetr’ R, Tˣ, ‘[…]etr’ W    [7] styrs: styrks U

Editions: Skj: Snorri Sturluson, 2. Háttatal 7: AII, 54, BII, 62, Skald II, 36; SnE 1848-87 I, 608-9, II, 370, 376-7, III, 112-13, SnE 1879-81, I, 2, 75, II, 5, SnE 1931, 218, SnE 2007, 7; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 6.

Context: The stanza illustrates the poetic license of having syllables in the even lines that are pronounced so slowly that the lines may contain five rather than six syllables.

Notes: [All]: The headings read: vij. ‘seven’ (), oddhent ‘front-rhymed’ (U(47r)). The heading in U refers to the fact that the first internal rhyme in all lines falls in metrical position 1. — [All]: Three of the words in this stanza containing syllables that are pronounced ‘slowly’ (samstǫfur seinar) are hiatus-words which earlier would have had an extra syllable: þjóðár < þjóðáar (fem. acc. pl.) ‘mighty rivers’ (l. 4); dreyrfá < dreyrfáa (m. acc. pl.) ‘blood-stained’ (l. 6); járngrá < járngráa (m. acc. pl.) ‘iron-grey’ (l. 8). This stanza and the surrounding prose commentary are very interesting, because they show that, by 1220, earlier hiatus-words had been contracted and were no longer disyllabic, although Snorri knew that they belonged to a special category. — [1, 2] fylli hjálms Vindhlés ‘with Vindhlér’s <= Heimdallr’s> filling of the helmet [HEAD > SWORD]’: Vindhlér is the fourth word that must be pronounced ‘slowly’ to achieve a hexasyllabic line. The etymology of the second element of that cpd, ‑hlér, is disputed, however, and it is doubtful whether this word actually was an earlier hiatus-word (AEW: Vindhlér; Kuhn 1983, 69-70). ‘Heimdallr’s head’ is a kenning for ‘sword’, because the god Heimdallr was once struck with a man’s head. This explanation, which is provided in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 19, 108; see also SnE 2005, 26), is unclear and could represent a late attempt to make sense of this particular type of kenning (see the discussion in Meissner 126-7 and Konráð Gíslason 1895-7), although we cannot exclude that it referred to a traditional, now lost myth.  — [3] hann ‘he’: So all other mss. In R, hér ‘here’ has been changed to hann (R*). For similar confusion in R between these words, see Notes to sts 56/7 and 68/8. — [3] kná ‘can’: Kann ‘can’ (, U) is also a possible reading. — [5] lætr ‘makes’: So U. The word is damaged in W, and the R, reading, ‘hetr’, cannot be construed as an Old Norse word. It has been altered in R to ‘hvetr’ (R*), which could be taken as the 3rd pers. sg. pres. indic. of hvetja ‘sharpen, egg on, urge on’ (cf. st. 15/8), but that makes no sense in the context.

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