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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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HSt Rst 16I

Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 16’ 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. 915.


text and translation

Raunskjótt ræsir hitti
— rít vasa friðr at líta —
— sól rauð Svǫlnis éla —
senn dǫglinga þrenna.
Fimtán fjǫrnis mána
fleygjendr at gram renndu
Ekkils ýtiblǫkkum.
Óláfr und veg sólar.

Raunskjótt hitti ræsir senn þrenna dǫglinga; friðr vasa rít at líta; rauð {sól {éla Svǫlnis}}. {Fleygjendr {mána fjǫrnis}} renndu {fimtán ýtiblǫkkum Ekkils} at gram. Óláfr und {veg sólar} …
‘Rapidly indeed the ruler encountered three princes at the same time; peace was not to be seen for the shield; [he] reddened the sun of the storms of Svǫlnir <= Óðinn> [BATTLES > SWORD]. Throwers of the moon of the helmet [SWORD > WARRIORS] steered fifteen surging steeds of Ekkill <sea-king> [SHIPS] against the king. Óláfr under the path of the sun [SKY] …

notes and context

The embedding of the stanza in ÓT varies across mss, but in 54 and Bb(99vb-100ra), the second helmingr is cited as Hallar-Steinn’s account of the Swedes attacking Ormr inn langi with fifteen ships. The first is cited later, when the Swedes have suffered heavy losses.

In ÓT the helmingar are separated and in 54 and Bb(99vb-100ra) they are in reverse order; cf. Context above. — [1-4]: Hitti ‘encountered’ in l. 1, the reading of the main ms., is adopted here, and at líta ‘to see’ in l. 2 is taken with the rest of that line. The ÓT reading mátti ‘was able to’ in l. 1 is adopted instead by Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald; NN §1177) and taken with at líta ‘to see’. Otherwise, however, Finnur Jónsson and Kock differ over the interpretation of ll. 1-4. (a) Skj B has Raunskjótt mátti ræsir at líta senn þrenna dǫglinga; sól Svǫlnis éla rauð rít; vasa friðr ‘Very rapidly the ruler was able to see three princes at the same time; the sun of Svǫlnir’s storms [BATTLES > SWORD] reddened the shield; there was no peace’. However, this involves assigning the words of l. 2 to three different clauses (cf. Gade 1995a, 216) and assumes that the verb rauð ‘reddened’ is preceded by its object as well as part of its subject, which is possible but not usual (see Note to st. 7/1-4). (b) These problems are avoided by taking rít ‘shield’ with vasa friðr, as in the present edn, hence sól Svǫlnis éla rauð; rít vasa friðr ‘the sun of Svǫlnir’s storms was reddened; there was no peace for the shield’; Kock (NN §1177) favours this, citing the contemporary parallel ÞGísl Búdr 7/7 hauks vasat friðr fjǫllum ‘there was no peace for the mountains of the hawk [ARMS]’. Rauð ‘reddened’ is taken by Kock as impersonal; see Note to l. 3. — [5-7]: The fleet of fifteen ships is clearly identified as that of the Swedes in the ÓT context, and this matches the continuous text of Bb(112ra), which puts the Swedish attack first (st. 17/5 sœnskr herr ‘Swedish army’), followed by the Danish (st. 18/5 danskr herr ‘the Danish army’). ÓT (1958-2000, II, 263, 265) confirms that Hallar-Steinn’s poem describes Óláfr sœnski engaging first with Óláfr Tryggvason’s ships, but explains that Snorri Sturluson and most others say that it was the Danish king who launched the first attack. — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8.



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: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 16: AI, 547, BI, 529, Skald I, 257, NN §1177; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 269, 271 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, I, 479, 484; SHI 3, 254-5, CPB II, 297, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 241-4. 


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