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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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RvHbreiðm Hl 43III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 43’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1051.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl and Hallr ÞórarinssonHáttalykill

text and translation

Frá ek Angantýs ævi
— óð stofnak svá — góða;
lét drjúgum brot bauga
bjúg hertogi fljúga,
nema ek ljúga, en ek mun eigi ljúga.
Kannk fyr randa runnum
— ráð hófsk grams við dáðir;
menn lofa vísa vinnur —
veg þess konungs segja,
nema ek þegja, en ek mun eigi þegja.

Frá ek Angantýs ævi góða; svá stofnak óð; hertogi lét {bjúg brot bauga} fljúga drjúgum, nema ek ljúga, en ek mun eigi ljúga. Kannk segja veg þess konungs fyr {runnum randa} – ráð grams hófsk við dáðir; menn lofa vinnur vísa –, nema ek þegja, en ek mun eigi þegja.
‘I heard that Angantýr’s life was good; thus I make poetry; the army-leader let bent fragments of rings [GOLD] fly abundantly, unless I lie, and I shall not lie. I can relate the glory of that king before shrubs of shield-rims [WARRIORS] – the power of the ruler was elevated through deeds; men praise the achievements of the leader –, unless I keep quiet, and I shall not keep quiet.

notes and context

The heading is hnúfu háttr (‘Nufo hottr’), and the verse-form has no parallel in SnSt Ht, but it occurs in later medieval claves metricae. The metre is dróttkvætt with an additional line at the end of each helmingr with internal alliteration and two words (in this case a single word used twice) that rhyme with the last word in the preceding line.

The meaning of hnúfu (nom. hnúfa) in hnúfu háttr is disputed. Jón Sigurðsson suggested ‘hump-form’, referring to the additional line added to each helmingr, whereas Finnur Jónsson (1892, 56; 1907, 203) and Magnus Olsen (1932a, 150) believed that the term could have been derived from the nickname of the skald Ǫlvir hnúfa (ǪlvI) ‘Snub-nose’ (?). For later attestations of the metre, see Maríulykill st. 18 (ÍM II, 216) and Háttalykill Lopts Guttormssonar sts 5, 31 (Småstykker 11, 220, 238), where it is called álagsháttr ‘extension’s form’ (see sts 79-80 below and SnSt Ht 27). Holtsmark (Hl 1941, 132-3) suggested that the metre originated as an imitation of Old French troubadour poetry, and that the refrain may have been sung (for similar refrains in troubadour poems, see Holtsmark loc. cit.). — Angantýr Heiðreksson was a legendary king and one of the main characters in Heiðreks saga (see Heiðr, FSGJ 2, 1-71; Hlǫðskviða, NK 302-12 and AngH Lv 1-11VIII (Heiðr 93, 95-8, 106-8, 111, 118-19)). — [3-4]: Cf. SnSt Ht 45/1-2. — [9]: This line recalls Eyv Lv 1/6I. — [10]: This line was supplied by Jón Sigurðsson and adopted by all subsequent eds. The reading is conjectural, but it can be restored with a fair amount of certainty based on the rhyme (segja : þegja) and the formulaic structure of the refrains. In papp25ˣ, there is a cross at the end of l. 9, possibly indicating that there was an additional line in Rugman’s exemplar but that he was unable to read it. That assumption is corroborated by the dots added in R683ˣ.



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: Rǫgnvaldr jarl og Hallr Þórarinsson, Háttalykill 22a: AI, 520, BI, 497-8, Skald I, 244, NN §2075A; Hl 1941, 26, 70-1.


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