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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hallar-Steinn (HSt)

12th century; volume 1; ed. Rolf Stavnem;

1. Rekstefja (Rst) - 35

Skj info: Hallar-Steinn, Islandsk skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 543-53, BI, 525-35).

Skj poems:
1. Rekstefja
2. a. Af et digt om en kvinde
2. b. Af et digt om Skáldhelgi(?)

Nothing is known about this skald (HSt) except what can be deduced from his nickname, which has been identified with the farm-name Höll, in Þverárhlíð, Mýrasýsla, western Iceland (Finnur Jónsson 1907, 185), and from the poetry attributed to him. His main extant work is the drápa Rekstefja (HSt Rst), whose ambitious praise of Óláfr Tryggvason might well point to Iceland at the end of the twelfth century or somewhat later (see Skj, and Introduction to the poem below). Hallar-Steinn has been identified (e.g. by Wisén 1886-9, I, 143) with the eleventh-century poet Steinn Herdísarson (SteinnII), but this is implausible. HSt Frag 1, of uncertain origin but probably attributable to this poet, may also commemorate Óláfr Tryggvason, while HSt Frag 2-5III represent a love-lorn poet. These fragments are preserved only in treatises on poetics and grammar, and are therefore edited in SkP III, as are two further fragments, HSt Frag 6-7III.

Rekstefja (‘Split-refrain’) — HSt RstI

Rolf Stavnem 2012, ‘ Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja’ 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. 893. <> (accessed 28 May 2022)

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Skj: Hallar-Steinn: 1. Rekstefja (AI, 543-52, BI, 525-34); stanzas (if different): 3 | 4 | 5

SkP info: I, 937

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

34 — HSt Rst 34I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 34’ 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. 937.

Hermart hví kveðum ortu
hugdyggs of son Tryggva
handbáls hnykkilunda
hreins ok flokka eina?
Hallfreðr Hǫrða stilli
hríðǫflgum vann smíðat
hjǫrgráps hugða drôpu
hróðrargjarn ok Bjarni.

Hví kveðum {hnykkilunda {hreins handbáls}} ortu hermart of {son hugdyggs Tryggva} ok eina flokka? Hróðrargjarn Hallfreðr vann smíðat hríðǫflgum {hjǫrgráps} {stilli Hǫrða} hugða drôpu, ok Bjarni.

Why do we say that {moving trees {of the pure hand-fire}} [GOLD > MEN] composed a great deal about {the son of the mind-brave Tryggvi} [= Óláfr] and only flokkar? Praise-eager Hallfreðr forged an agreeable drápa {for the ruler of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr], powerful in the onslaught {of the sword-hail} [BATTLE], and [so did] Bjarni.

Mss: Bb(112va)

Readings: [2] hugdyggs: ‘hygdvgs’ Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 34: AI, 552, BI, 533-4, Skald I, 259; SHI 3, 266-7, CPB II, 300, Wisén 1886-9, I, 50, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 285-7.

Notes: [1] hví kveðum ‘why do we say’: A rhetorical question, rare in skaldic poetry, which made Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) emend this passage, but that is unnecessary. — [5-8]: We are informed here and in st. 35/2 that Rst is the third drápa about Óláfr Tryggvason, and the skald claims his predecessors to be Hallfreðr and Bjarni. The former is Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ‘Troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson (Hfr), Óláfr’s own skald, who is believed to have produced two drápur about Óláfr (Hfr Óldr and Hfr ErfÓl; see Introductions to these). Bjarni’s identity is unknown, though a ‘Bjarni skáld’ is listed as a poet of Óláfr Tryggvason in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261; the U text specifies ‘biarni gvllbra S’, i.e. Bjarni gullbrárskáld Hallbjarnarson (BjHall), presumably in error). — [6, 7] hríðǫflgum hjǫrgráps ‘powerful in the onslaught of the sword-hail [BATTLE]’: Lit. ‘onslaught-powerful of the sword-hail’. Hríð ‘storm, onslaught’ apparently contributes to the description of Óláfr’s fierceness in battle, yet although it is very often used in battle-kennings, it is not an element in the kenning hjǫrgráps ‘sword-hail [BATTLE]’, as gráp ‘hail, hail-shower’ is already a sufficient base-word. Since hríð can refer to a particular phase or onslaught in a battle it may have that sense here; see Note to st. 17/7 and LP: hríð 2.  — [7] hugða ‘agreeable’: This appears to be the adj. hugaðr ‘dear, agreeable, pleasant’ (LP: hugaðr 2). It is difficult to separate this word from hugaðr as p. p. of hyggja ‘to think’, which could give ‘(well) conceived, thoughtful’ here, but since the verb normally refers to belief and opinion rather than thinking as a creative act, the adj. seems more likely; cf. a similar context in Bjbp Jóms 1/3. — [8] hróðrargjarn ‘praise-eager’: The cpd can either mean that Hallfreðr is eager to be praised or that he is eager to praise, since hróðr can refer both to praise or renown and to praise poetry; cf. LP: hróðr. Syntactically, it may also be taken with Bjarni, and it can be construed either as a cpd or as a two-word phrase.

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