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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Tindr Hákdr 8I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Tindr Hallkelsson, Hákonardrápa 8’ 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. 351.

Tindr HallkelssonHákonardrápa

text and translation

Þá* veit ǫld, meðan aldir,
Yggs, Þriðja man byggva,
gnótt þess’s gǫglum veitti,
gæfs Hôkunar ævi.
Því hykk †bitrum beita
bǫnd at vildu landi
hykk ‘lar eide’ lýða
lætr hverjum gram betri.†

Ǫld veit þá* ævi gæfs Hôkunar, þess’s veitti {gǫglum Yggs} gnótt, meðan aldir byggva {man Þriðja}. Því hykk …
‘People will know about the life of generous Hákon, who supplied plenty to the geese of Yggr <= Óðinn> [RAVENS], as long as generations inhabit the maiden of Þriði <= Óðinn> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘land’)]. For this reason I think …

notes and context

As for st. 4.

[1-4]: The helmingr evidently contains a conventional statement that Hákon’s life will be remembered as long as the land is inhabited, and a rel. clause introduced by þess’s ‘(of the one) who’ representing him as feeding the birds of battle, but the detail of the text requires emendation. (a) This edn follows the interpretation proposed by Reichardt (1930, 246-7), which accepted previous emendations of þá (f. sg. acc.) ‘the, that’ for þat and veit ‘know’ for vill in l. 1; Yggs ‘of Yggr <= Óðinn>’ for yngs, Þriðja ‘of Þriði <= Óðinn> for kveðju and man ‘maiden’ for menn in l. 2; and gæfs ‘generous’ for glaum in l. 4. Reichardt posits two kennings, gǫglum Yggs ‘to the geese of Yggr <= Óðinn> [RAVENS]’ and man Þriðja ‘the maiden of Þriði <= Óðinn> [= Jǫrð (jǫrð “land”)’. Other interpretations are, briefly, as follows. (b) Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; LP: 2. glær) makes some of the same emendations, and tentatively emends ms. kveðju to hræva ‘of corpses’ and glaum to glæs, hence glæs hræva ‘of the sea of corpses [BLOOD]’. (c) Kock (NN §435) restores most of these ms. readings and explains Yggs kveðju-man as det viv, som hälsas av Odin ‘the woman who is greeted by Óðinn’, putatively a kenning for ‘Jǫrð, land’. The initial demonstrative þat n. in þat vill ǫld (l. 1) ‘people want that’ is explained as introducing an ensuing noun object ævi Hôkunar ‘Hákon’s life’ (l. 4), but the two parallels offered in NN §1911 involve verbs of hearing or learning, whereas vill ‘want’ seems out of place in such a construction and is unexplained by Kock. He treats gǫglum ‘geese’ as an ókend heiti for ‘eagle’, qualified by græum ‘grey’ emended from glaum (NN §§1911C, 2710). — [5-8]: This helmingr has presented apparently insoluble difficulties to all eds, and as Finnur Jónsson (1886b, 346-7) points out, the repetition of hykk ‘I think’ within the single helmingr clearly indicates an error. None of the suggestions below has been felt secure enough to incorporate in the present edn. (a) Sveinbjörn Egilsson in Fms 12 reads (in prose order): Hykk lýða láreiði hverjum gram betra [ms. betri] ; því, hykk, (hann) lætr beita bitrum brand [ms. bǫnd] at vildu landi, which is apparently interpreted, ‘I believe the warrior is better than any prince; because, I believe, he makes the sharp sword bite in the beloved land [i.e. defends Norway bravely].’ Here brand ‘sword’ supplies a dat. sg. noun for adj. bitrum to qualify. The kenning láreiði lýða is taken to mean ‘warrior, Hákon’, but not explained. (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B reads (in prose order): því hykk at bǫnd vildu hyrs [ms. hykk] lá-reiði betra [ms. betri] hverjum gram(?), which gives ‘therefore/because I believe that the gods wished the despatcher of the flame of the wave [(lit. ‘wave-despatcher of the flame’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] [to be] better than any prince’; cf. LP: láreiðir. The rest is left as uninterpretable. (c) Kock’s text in Skald gives the helmingr as two couplets separated by a colon at the end of l. 6, which gives the prose order: Því hykk at bǫnd vildu beita bitrum landa [ms. landi]: hykk betri hverjum gram letr [ms. lætr] læv-eiða [ms. láreiði] lýða, and the sense (NN §435): ‘[Only] in this do I believe that the gods chose to treat the people of the land harshly: I believe [that the one who is] better than any prince thwarts the people’s malicious oaths’. He compares beita bitrum ‘treat with bitter things, treat harshly’ with beita e-n vélum ‘treat someone with deceit’ and with the adverbial dat. pl. in stíga stórum ‘stride with great steps, stride largely’. To supply the gen. obj. of letja ‘thwart, hinder’, Kock emends ms. ‘lar eiðe’ to læveiða ‘malicious oaths’, on the analogy of meineiða ‘harmful oaths’. His analysis opens up a new line of interpretation but also brings problems, including an unusual word order whereby at ‘that’ is postponed to l. 6 (it would be expected to follow hykk ‘I think’ in l. 5), the elliptical use of betri ‘he who is better’ and the mention of malicious oaths, which does not tally with other accounts (unless alluding to the famous but perhaps apocryphal oaths of the Jómsvíkingar; see Note to Vell 33/2 Sigvalda).



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 8: AI, 146, BI, 137-8, Skald I, 75-6, NN §§435, 1911, 2394, 2710B, 2807D; Fms 11, 139, Fms 12, 240, SHI 11, 120, 127, Jvs 1879, 84.


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