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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Halli XI Fl 3II

Russell Poole (ed.) 2009, ‘Halli stirði, Flokkr 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 340-1.

Halli stirðiFlokkr

Sýstuð suðr, þars æstu,
snjallr gramr, Danir allir
— enn sér eigi minni
efni — mæltrar stefnu.
Sveinn tekr norðr at nenna
nær til landamæris
— varð fyr víðri jǫrðu
vinnsamt — Harald finna.

Sýstuð suðr, snjallr gramr, þars allir Danir æstu mæltrar stefnu; enn sér eigi minni efni. Sveinn tekr at nenna norðr nær til landamæris finna Harald; varð vinnsamt fyr víðri jǫrðu.

You set out southwards, brave king, where all the Danes requested an appointed meeting; once again one sees no lesser cause. Sveinn starts to venture north near to the border to meet Haraldr; it became toilsome off the wide land.

Mss: (567r-v), 39(28va), F(50ra), E(23r), J2ˣ(287r-v) (Hkr); H(59r), Hr(43rb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] Sýstuð: sú stóð H, Hr;    suðr: ‘syðr’ 39;    þars (‘þar er’): þat er F, E;    æstu: so E, æstuð Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ, svía H, Hr    [2] Danir: dana H, Hr;    allir: allra H, Hr    [3] sér: so 39, F, E, H, Hr, sé: Kˣ, J2ˣ    [8] vinnsamt (‘vinsamt’): so E, vindsamt all others;    finna: finnask F

Editions: Skj AI, 402, Skj BI, 370, Skald I, 185, NN §806; ÍF 28, 160 (HSig ch. 71), F 1871, 234, E 1916, 81; Fms 6, 331 (HSig ch. 88).

Context: Following st. 2, Hkr comments (ÍF 28, 159-60): Hér segir þat, at konungar þessir halda stefnulag, þat er gǫrt var milli þeira, ok koma þeir báðir til landamæris, svá sem hér segir ‘Here it is said that these kings keep the appointment that was made between them, and they both come to the border between their countries as it says here’. H-Hr adds um vetrinn ‘during the winter’ in association with gǫrt ‘made’ but otherwise is substantially the same as Hkr.

Notes: [1] sýstuð ‘you set out’: The poet here uses 2nd-pers. pl. address, in alternation with 3rd-pers. narrative. The verbal tenses in the st. vary, so that pres. (tekr ‘starts’ (l. 5)) contrasts with pret. (sýstuð ‘set out’ < sýsla (l. 1) and varð ‘became’ (l. 7)) (see Poole, 1991, 78). The verb sýsla recurs with God as its subject in st. 6. — [3-4] enn sér eigi minni efni ‘once again one sees no lesser cause’: The verb here is sér, 3rd pers. sg. pres. indic. of sjá ‘see’, used impersonally as ‘one sees’ (CVC: sjá A III), with ‘see’ in the sense of ‘judge, deem, envisage’ (see Fritzner: sjá 4-5). The speaker is placing himself on the side of the wise mediators by arguing that it is just as urgent to reconcile now as it was to fight on a previous occasion (cf. ÍF 28, 160). Kock (NN §806) establishes with numerous parallels that enn ‘once again’ belongs with the parenthesis, not the main cl. On the other hand, while it is conventional to take the gen. phrase mæltrar stefnu ‘an appointed meeting’ (l. 4) with the main cl., it might in fact construe with efni ‘cause’ (l. 4) or indeed with both clauses apo koinou. — [8] vinnsamt ‘toilsome’: So E. Traces of a noun vinn cognate with more familiar vinna ‘work, labour’, are attested (Olsen 1949b, 82-3) and could explain the conflict in readings here (the other mss have vindsamt ‘windy’). A rare word, vinnsamt might have been rationalised in the majority of mss. Reasoning of this sort presumably lies behind Finnur Jónsson’s vinnsamt (translated as en möjefuld sejlas ‘a toilsome sailing’) in Skj B (so also Skald). Alternatively, if we opt for the majority reading vindsamt ‘windy’, the imperfect and unusual aðalhending (-ind- : -inn-) could be defended as perhaps appropriate in an informal context, if indeed this poem is such.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  10. E 1916 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1916. Eirspennill: AM 47 fol. Nóregs konunga sǫgur: Magnús góði – Hákon gamli. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske historiske kildeskriftskommission.
  11. Olsen, Magnus. 1949b. ‘Runeinnskrifter fra Grønlands vesterbygd’. In Olsen 1949a, 72-84.
  12. Internal references
  13. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  14. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Hulda and Hrokkinskinna (H-Hr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  15. Not published: do not cite (HSigII)

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