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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 27I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 27’ 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. 439.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar
26b2728

text and translation

Fyrr mun heimr ok himnar,
hugreifum Ôleifi,
— hann vas mennskra manna
mest gótt — í tvau bresta,
áðr an glíkr at góðu
gœðingr muni fœðask;
kœns hafi Kristr inn hreini
konungs ǫnd ofar lǫndum.

Heimr ok himnar mun fyrr bresta í tvau, áðr an gœðingr glíkr hugreifum Ôleifi at góðu muni fœðask; hann vas mest gótt mennskra manna; hafi Kristr inn hreini ǫnd kœns konungs ofar lǫndum.
 
‘Earth and heavens will sooner split in two before a chieftain equal to glad-hearted Óláfr in goodness might be born; he was the greatest good among human beings; may the pure Christ keep the soul of the wise king high above the lands.

notes and context

The people think no king like Óláfr will ever be born again, whether in Norway or anywhere else.

The syntax of this stanza breaks with convention in two significant ways, and has been much discussed. Firstly, it allows elements in the first helmingr (hugreifum Ôleifi ‘glad-hearted Óláfr’, l. 2) to depend syntactically on elements in the second (glíkr ‘equal ... to’, l. 5). This is unparalleled in the skaldic corpus before the C14th (Hollander 1947; Frank 1978, 88), though cf. Snorri Sturluson’s langlokum ‘with late conclusions or long enclosings’ (SnSt Ht 14III). Combined with the self-contained, stef-like prayer in ll. 7-8, the crossing of the helmingr boundary also means the stanza breaks Kuhn’s rule (1969b, 67) that neither helmingr may contain a syntactic break sharper than the one between them. However, these innovations suit the hyperbolic content of the stanza. Kock in NN §515 offers an interpretation which avoids this syntactic arrangement, but it has not found favour (Reichardt 1928, 118; Hollander 1947, 301). For an alternative construal suggested by Jón Helgason (1975, 405), which involves emendation, see Note to ll. 3-4 below. — [7-8]: The diction of this closing prayer is very similar to that of the klofastef ‘split refrain’ of Stúfr’s memorial poem for Haraldr harðráði, especially in the version preserved in Morkinskinna (Stúfr Stúfdr 2/8II, 3/8II, 6/4II). Its form, a closing couplet clearly set off from the rest of the helmingr, is paralleled in Snorri’s stanza for Eyjólfr Brúnason (SnSt Lv 6/7-8III). Prayers for the soul of the dedicatee are a common feature of Christian memorial poetry (Fidjestøl 1982, 186-90; Fidjestøl 1993b, 105, 111-12).

readings

sources

Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa 29: AI, 166, BI, 156-7, Skald I, 85, NN §515;  SHI 3, 13, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 296 (ch. 256), Flat 1860-8, I, 496.

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