Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Snæfríðardrápa — Hhárf SnædrI

Haraldr hárfagri Hálfdanarson

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Haraldr hárfagri Hálfdanarson, Snæfríðardrápa’ 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. 67.


A single stanza is preserved as the beginning of Snæfríðardrápa or SnjófríðardrápaDrápa about Snæfríðr’ (Hhárf Snædr). It calls for a hearing and announces a drápa using allusions to the myth of the mead of poetry (see Note to l. 4), and refers to a deceased woman, whom prose narratives identify as Snæfríðr (see Context). The traditional ascription to Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ originates with a medieval witness, Flat, and is retained here, in accordance with the policy of the SkP edition. There is good reason to believe, however, that it is purely legendary in its basis (Y. Nielsen 1908, 153; de Vries 1940, 172; Poole 1982, 127). Further, such striking similarities in content, diction, style and metre exist between this stanza and the fragments of a poem by the otherwise unknown Ormr Steinþórsson (Ormr WomanIII) that he has been credited with authorship of the stanza and of the lost remainder of Snædr in recent scholarship (Ólafur Halldórsson 1969b; Poole 1982). The stanza is in hálfhnept ‘half-curtailed’ metre, in which the final foot in each line is a monosyllable (see ‘Skaldic metres’ in General Introduction). If the ascription to Haraldr hárfagri is taken at face value, Snædr is the earliest specimen of hálfhnept extant. The distinctive placement of the alliteration of l. 1 in the third and fourth lifts, however, cannot be paralleled before the fourteenth century, except in Ormr WomanIII, where it occurs six times in six helmingar (sts 2/1, 4/3, 5/1, 6/1, 6/3 and 7/1). The stanza is preserved only in Flat (Flat) and 761bˣ (fol. 185r); 761bˣ is copied from Flat, but is cited in the Notes below since it contains Árni Magnússon’s interpretation of an obscure reading in l. 5.


  1. Bibliography
  2. SkP = Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols.
  3. Nielsen, Konrad. 1908. ‘En gruppe urnordiske laanord i lappisk’. In Sproglige og historiske afhandlinger viede Sophus Bugges minde, 225-31. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug.
  4. Poole, Russell. 1982. ‘Ormr Steinþórsson and the Snjófríðardrápa’. ANF 97, 122-37.
  5. Ólafur Halldórsson. 1969b. ‘Snjófríðardrápa’. In Jakob Benediktsson 1969, 147-59. Rpt. with additions in Ólafur Halldórsson 1990.
  6. Vries, Jan de. 1940. ‘Het Snjófríðlied von Harald Schoonhaar’. In De Libris. Bibliofile breve til Ejnar Munksgaard. Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 165-72.
  7. Internal references
  8. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Flateyjarbók (Flat)’ 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, pp. clxi-clxii.
  9. Russell Poole 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Ormr Steinþórsson, Poem about a woman’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 323.

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Information about a text: poem, sequence of stanzas, or prose work

This page is used for different resources. For groups of stanzas such as poems, you will see the verse text and, where published, the translation of each stanza. These are also links to information about the individual stanzas.

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The final section, ‘sources’ is a list of the manuscripts that contain the prose work, as well as manuscripts and prose works linked to stanzas and sections of a text.