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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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HSt Frag 1I

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Fragment 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. 940.


Tolf vas elds at aldri
ýsetrs hati vetra,
hraustr þás herskip glæsti
Hǫrða vinr ór Gǫrðum.
Hlóðu Hamðis klæðum
hjǫrva gnýs ok skýjum
hilmis menn sem hjǫlmum
hlýrvigg, en mól stýri.

{Hati {elds {ýsetrs}}} vas tolf vetra at aldri, þás {hraustr vinr Hǫrða} glæsti herskip ór Gǫrðum. Menn hilmis hlóðu {hlýrvigg} {klæðum Hamðis} ok {skýjum {gnýs hjǫrva}} sem hjǫlmum, en stýri mól.

{The hater {of the fire {of the yew-bow’s rest}}} [ARM/HAND > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Óláfr] was twelve winters in age when {the bold friend of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Óláfr] made his warships splendid on leaving Russia. The ruler’s men loaded {the bows-steed} [SHIP] {with the garments of Hamðir <legendary hero>} [ARMOUR] and {clouds {of the din of swords}} [BATTLE > SHIELDS] and likewise helmets, and the rudder pounded.

Mss: F(23vb-24ra) (Fris)

Readings: [8] mól: ‘níol’ F

Editions: Skj AI, 156, Skj BI, 148, Skald I, 81; F 1871, 109; CPB II, 94.

Context: Following a heading announcing the start of its account of Óláfr Tryggvason, the F narrative tells how Óláfr stays in Garðaríki (Russia) in great favour with King Valdamarr (Vladimir), who gives him command over an army sent to defend the land.

Notes: [3] herskip ‘warships’: Since skip is n., this could be sg. or pl. — [4] ór ‘on leaving’: Lit. ‘out of, from’. — [8] mól ‘pounded’: The reading in F is ‘níol’ (so also 761bˣ(152r) and F 1871), since although the first three minims could represent ‘m’ (which is printed in Skj A, B, Skald and CPB), the acute accent marks out ‘í’. ‘Níol’, normalised njól, could be a poetic term for ‘night’ (LP: njól f.), but the context seems to require a predicate for stýri, the rudder or steering gear of a ship, and hence emendation to mól, 3rd pers. pret. sg. of mala ‘to grind’, is necessary, and is adopted in previous eds. The verb is normally used of grinding corn, but here seems to represent the motion of the rudder in heavy seas.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  5. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  6. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. Internal references
  8. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Biography of) Óláfr Tryggvason’ 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. 383.

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