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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Tindr Hákdr 1I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Tindr Hallkelsson, Hákonardrápa 1’ 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. 338.

Tindr HallkelssonHákonardrápa

text and translation

Varða, gims sem gerði
Gerðr bjúglimum herða
— gnýr óx Fjǫlnis fúra —
farlig sæing jarli,
þás hringfôum Hanga
hrynserk Viðurr brynju
— hruðusk riðmarar Róða
rastar — varð at kasta.

Varða, sem {farlig Gerðr gims} gerði jarli sæing {bjúglimum herða} — {gnýr {fúra Fjǫlnis}} óx —, þás {Viðurr brynju} varð at kasta {hringfôum hrynserk Hanga}; {riðmarar {rastar Róða}} hruðusk.
‘It did not come about as if an attractive Gerðr <goddess> of the fire [WOMAN] made a bed for the jarl with her curving branches of the shoulders [ARMS] — the din of the fires of Fjǫlnir <= Óðinn> [SWORDS > BATTLE] increased —, when the Viðurr <= Óðinn> of the mail-shirt [WARRIOR = Hákon] had to throw off his ring-depleted clanging shirt of Hangi <= Óðinn> [MAIL-SHIRT]; the riding horses of the path of Róði <sea-king> [SEA > SHIPS] were cleared.

notes and context

Hkr and ÓT describe the onset of the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen). The Jómsvíkingar attack resolutely, causing substantial Norwegian casualties. Hákon’s mail-shirt is so severely damaged that he is obliged to throw it away; sts 1 and 3/5-8 are then cited. Jvs incorporates this stanza at the point where two troll-women are seen standing on Hákon’s ship, flinging arrows at the Jómsvíkingar from their fingers. Hákon fights so energetically that the heat of combat obliges him to shed his mail-shirt; sts 1-3 are then cited virtually continuously. SnE uses st. 1/5-8 in a section exemplifying kennings for weapons and armour, in this case serkr Róða ‘shirt of Róði’ as a kenning for ‘mail-shirt’ (though see Note to ll. 7-8 below).

[1-4]: Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 195) conveys the general logic of the helmingr in his comment that it ‘contrasts the hardships of battle with the luxury of sleeping with a beautiful woman’ (cf. a similar contrast in Stefnir Lv 2 and in Vígf Lv, another stanza associated with Hjǫrungavágr). Earlier interpretations by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12; SHI 11; LP (1860): sæing) and Finnur Jónsson (1886b, 319; Hkr 1893-1901, IV) which attempted to explain sæing, normally ‘bed’, as a sewn mail-shirt or over-garment are abandoned in Skj B and convincingly refuted by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson in ÍF 26.



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: Tindr Hallkelsson, 1. Drape om Hakon jarl 1: AI, 144-5, BI, 136, Skald I, 75, NN §§164, 2444; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 331, IV, 89-90, ÍF 26, 281-2 (ch. 40), F 1871, 122; Fms 1, 173, Fms 12, 43, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 189-90 (ch. 90); Fms 11, 137, SHI 11, 118, 120-1, Jvs 1879, 81-2; SnE 1848-87, I, 422-3, II, 328, 439, 588, SnE 1931, 150, SnE 1998, I, 68, 195. 


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