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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnSt Ht 7III

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Snorri Sturluson, Háttatal 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 1111.

Snorri SturlusonHáttatal

text and translation

Hjálms fylli spekr hilmir
hvatr Vindhlés skatna;
hann kná hjǫrvi þunnum
hræs þjóðár ræsa.
Ýgr hilmir lætr eiga
ǫld dreyrfá skjǫldu;
styrs rýðr stillir hersum
sterkr járngrá serki.

Hvatr hilmir spekr skatna {fylli hjálms {Vindhlés}}; hann kná ræsa {þjóðár hræs} þunnum hjǫrvi. Ýgr hilmir lætr ǫld eiga dreyrfá skjǫldu; sterkr stillir rýðr {járngrá serki styrs} hersum.
‘The brave lord subdues men with Vindhlér’s <= Heimdallr’s> filling of the helmet [HEAD > SWORD]; he can make mighty rivers of carrion [BLOOD] rush with the slender sword. The terrifying lord makes people possess bloodstained shields; the strong ruler reddens the iron-grey shirts of battle [BYRNIES] of the hersar.

notes and context

The stanza illustrates the poetic license of having syllables in the even lines that are pronounced so slowly that the lines may contain five rather than six syllables.

The headings read: vij. ‘seven’ (), oddhent ‘front-rhymed’ (U(47r)). The heading in U refers to the fact that the first internal rhyme in all lines falls in metrical position 1. — Three of the words in this stanza containing syllables that are pronounced ‘slowly’ (samstǫfur seinar) are hiatus-words which earlier would have had an extra syllable: þjóðár < þjóðáar (fem. acc. pl.) ‘mighty rivers’ (l. 4); dreyrfá < dreyrfáa (m. acc. pl.) ‘blood-stained’ (l. 6); járngrá < járngráa (m. acc. pl.) ‘iron-grey’ (l. 8). This stanza and the surrounding prose commentary are very interesting, because they show that, by 1220, earlier hiatus-words had been contracted and were no longer disyllabic, although Snorri knew that they belonged to a special category.



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: Snorri Sturluson, 2. Háttatal 7: AII, 54, BII, 62, Skald II, 36; SnE 1848-87 I, 608-9, II, 370, 376-7, III, 112-13, SnE 1879-81, I, 2, 75, II, 5, SnE 1931, 218, SnE 2007, 7; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 6.


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