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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;

III. Fragments (Frag) - 6

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.

Fragments — HSt FragIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘ Hallar-Steinn, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 202. <> (accessed 2 July 2022)

 2   3   4   5   6   7 

Skj: Hallar-Steinn: 2. a. Af et digt om en kvinde (AI, 552-3, BI, 534-5); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

in texts: Gramm, LaufE, LaufE, Skm, SnE, TGT

SkP info: III, 202

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


Aside from Rekstefja (HSt RstI), a drápa in honour of King Óláfr Tryggvason of Norway, only seven fragments of Hallar-Steinn’s poetic oeuvre have been preserved (for his Biography, see SkP I). One of these fragments (HSt Frag 1I) is presumably about Óláfr Tryggvason (it is recorded in the kings’ sagas and edited in SkP I). The other six stanzas (HSt Frag 2-7) are transmitted only in SnE, LaufE and TGT, and they are edited here. Fragment 2 is preserved in TGT (mss A (main ms.) and W), and Frag 3-5 are cited in mss R (main ms.), , W, U, A and C of SnE (Skm). Fragment 3 is also recorded in mss papp10ˣ, 2368ˣ and 743ˣ of LaufE, and Frag 6-7 are transmitted only in LaufE (Frag 6: papp10ˣ (main ms.), 2368ˣ, 743ˣ, 738ˣ; Frag 7: 2368ˣ (main ms.), 743ˣ, 738ˣ).

Three of these fragments (Frag 2-4) are about the skald’s love for a woman, and one stanza (Frag 5) confirms that Hallar-Steinn had composed the beginning (upphaf) of a drápa about a woman. Previous editors have therefore treated these four fragments as a coherent group (CPB II, 300; LH II, 106; Skj; SnE 1998, I, 191). In Skj they are given the title Af et digt om en kvinde ‘From a poem about a woman’.

Fragments 6 and 7, cited as one stanza in LaufE, on the other hand, deal with battle. According to Finnur Jónsson (LH II, 106-7; Skj; so also Faulkes in SnE 1998, I, 191), they may have been part of a poem about Skáldhelgi Þórðarson (see his Biography in this volume). Skáldhelgi’s life is recounted in seven rímur which were probably based on a lost saga about him. In Skáldhelgarímur II, st. 63/1 refers to Hallar-Steinn’s poem about Skáldhelgi (Finnur Jónsson 1905-22, I, 122): Þad er j hrodre Hallar-Steins ‘That is in Hallar-Steinn’s praise poem’. The six fragments edited here have been dated to the same time period as Rekstefja, late twelfth or early thirteenth century (see Skj B; LH II, 106).

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