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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 6I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 6’ 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. 409.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar

text and translation

Herskerðir klauf harðan
— hann gekk reiðr of skeiðar —
svarðar stofn með sverði
sunnr eldviðum kunnum.
Kunni gramr at gunni
— gunnþinga jarnmunnum
margr lá heggr of hǫggvinn —
holdbarkar rô sarka.

{Herskerðir} klauf {harðan stofn svarðar} {kunnum eldviðum} með sverði sunnr; hann gekk reiðr of skeiðar. Gramr kunni sarka {rô {holdbarkar}} at gunni; {margr heggr {Gunnþinga}} lá of hǫggvinn jarnmunnum.
‘The army-diminisher [RULER] split the hard stump of the scalp [HEAD] of famous sword-trees [WARRIORS] with a sword in the south; he went angry through the warships. The prince knew how to redden the yard-arm of flesh-bark [MAIL-SHIRT > SWORD] in battle; many a cherry-tree of meetings of Gunnr <valkyrie> [BATTLES > WARRIOR] lay chopped down by iron mouths.

notes and context

In ÓT, following the initial phase of exchanging missiles, hand-to-hand fighting commences on Ormr inn langi (see Note to st. 10/1). In the extra þulur found in the version of SnE preserved in ms. A, ll. 5-8 are used to exemplify the word sarkat (l. 8), which according to this source is synonymous with roðit ‘reddened’ (see Note).

Tree-felling as an extended metaphor for battle runs through this stanza: warrior-kennings with base-words referring to trees, common in skaldic poetry, are supplemented with the more unusual kenning stofn svarðar ‘stump of the scalp [HEAD]’ and the unique holdbǫrkr ‘flesh-bark [MAIL-SHIRT]’ (see Note to l. 8 below). — [5]: Although this is an odd line, it contains aðalhending, an occasional metrical liberty.



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 6: AI, 160, BI, 151, Skald I, 82, NN §§2450, 2987L; SHI 2, 302-3, ÓT 1958-2000, II, 267 (ch. 250); SnE 1848-87, II, 493, III, 174-5.


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