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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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HSt Rst 4I/4 — hefnd ‘revenge’

Fullsnart frœknu hjarta
fríðr þengill lét síðan
— hjǫrr gall; hǫlðar fellu —
hefnd síns fǫður efnda.
Blóðugr bragnings þjóðar
brandr gall á Englandi;
oddrjóð enskra lýða
aldrspelli frák valda.

Fríðr þengill lét síðan fullsnart efnda hefnd fǫður síns frœknu hjarta; hjǫrr gall; hǫlðar fellu. Blóðugr brandr bragnings þjóðar gall á Englandi; frák oddrjóð valda aldrspelli enskra lýða.

The handsome ruler then most swiftly achieved revenge for his father with a bold heart; the sword shrieked; men fell. The blood-stained sword of the prince of men [RULER = Óláfr] shrieked in England; I have heard that the point-reddener [WARRIOR] caused life-destruction of English people.


[4] hefnd: hefnt Bb(111va)


[2, 4] lét ... efnda hefnd ‘achieved revenge’: Lit. ‘caused revenge [to be] achieved’. Slight emendation of efndi and hefnt in the sole ms. for ll. 1-4 is required to produce f. acc. sg. p. p. efnda agreeing with hefnd, hence lét ... efnda hefnd. The ms. reading efndi would be a finite verb, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. ‘achieved’, but neither it, nor ms. hefnt, p. p. ‘avenged’, produces satisfactory syntax. Anon Óldr 5/8 uses almost identical phrasing to praise Óláfr’s revenge, and as here the stanza also refers to a raid on England. As to the revenge, the slaying of Óláfr’s father Tryggvi Óláfsson is traditionally placed in Norway, and attributed to the treachery of his cousins the Eiríkssynir or Gunnhildarsynir (e.g. HN, MHN 110; Fsk, ÍF 29, 102; Hkr, ÍF 26, 214). Why the attacks on England (ll. 5-8) constituted revenge for Tryggvi is unclear, and this problem may be the reason that ll. 1-4 are omitted in ÓT. Conceivably the Gunnhildarsynir’s connections with England lie behind the allusion here. Alternatively, it may be that the two helmingar in this stanza refer to different campaigns.



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