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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson (Ólhv)

13th century; volume 2; ed. Lauren Goetting;

2. Hrynhenda (Hryn) - 12

Skj info: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld, Islandsk skjald og lærd, d. 1259. (AII, 92-8, BII, 104-10).

Skj poems:
1. Et digt om kong Hákon
2. Et hrynhent digt
3. Árónsdrápa
4. Af et digt om Thomas Becket
5. Lausavísur

prose works

Óláfr hvítaskáld ‘White Skald’ Þórðarson (Ólhv) was an accomplished Icel. scholar and a prolific poet. Details of his life are documented in Sturlunga saga (Stu), Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar (Hák), and Knýtlinga saga (Knýtl). He was born c. 1210-12 at Staður on Snæfellsness, Iceland, as the eldest son of Þórðr Sturluson and his concubine Þóra. He was the nephew of Snorri Sturluson (SnSt; d. 1241), with whom he spent long periods of time as a young man, and the older brother of Sturla Þórðarson (Sturl; d. 1284). In 1237 he left Iceland with Snorri to embark upon a career as a professional poet at the courts of Scandinavia. According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256-8, 260, 378-84) Óláfr composed poetry in honour of a large number of kings and noblemen, including the following: (in Norway) Jarl Skúli Bárðarson (d. 1240), King Hákon Hákonarson (d. 1263) and his son Hákon ungi ‘the Young’ Hákonarson (d. 1257), Jarl Knútr Hákonarson (d. 1261); (in Sweden) King Eiríkr Eiríkson (d. 1250); (in Denmark) King Valdimarr Valdimarsson (d. 1241). Because of Óláfr’s close association with Valdimarr, from whom he hafði ... margar ágætligar frásagnir ‘got ... many excellent narratives’ (ÍF 35, 315), he is thought by some to have written Knýtl, which recounts the history of Dan. rulers (see LH 1894-1901, II, 275, 784-5). Around 1242 Óláfr returned to Iceland and founded a school at Stafaholt in Borgarfjörður, where he wrote the Third Grammatical Treatise (TGT) and devoted himself to teaching and writing until his death in 1259. In addition to these pursuits, he was ordained subdeacon at some point after his return to Iceland and also served as lawspeaker 1248-50.

Most of Óláfr’s extant poetry consists of encomia to King Hákon Hákonarson and is inserted throughout the prose in Hák. This includes part of Hrynhenda (Ólhv Hryn), one st. from a Poem about Hákon (Ólhv Hák), and two lvv. (Ólhv Lv). One lv. traditionally assigned to him, has been reassigned in the present edn to Óláfr svartaskáld Leggsson (Ólsv Love 3III). Aside from the aforementioned, the remainder of Óláfr’s known poetic works includes two sts from ÁrónsdrápaDrápa about Árón’ (Ólhv ÁrdrIV), composed about his friend Árón Hjǫrleifsson, and two sts from ThómasdrápaDrápa about Thomas (ꜳ Becket)’ (Ólhv ThómdrIII), recorded in the Fourth Grammatical Treatise (FoGT). Finally, nine fragments of sts from TGT (Ólhv FragIII), treated as anonymous in previous eds, are attributed to Óláfr in this edn.

Hrynhenda (‘Falling, flowing metre’) — Ólhv HrynII

Lauren Goetting 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 658-70.

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Skj: Óláfr Þórðarson hvítaskáld: 2. Et hrynhent digt, 1240 (AII, 93-7, BII, 105-8)

in texts: Flat, Hák

SkP info: II, 658-70

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Mærir glǫddusk miklu ári
menn; báru þá ávǫxt tvennan
(veglig sýndisk) viðr ok fuglar
(vísa grein) á sumri einu.
Illustrious men were gladdened by the great prosperity; trees and birds then produced offspring twice in one summer; the ruler’s circumstances appeared magnificent.
2 Orð sendi þá jǫfri Þrœnda
afrendr konungr víða lendum;
fólkprúðr keyrði flota breiðan
— flugu borð of haf — stillir norðan.
Fyrðar mæltu á hendr sem harðast
— hófsk ǫnn af því lendum mǫnnum —
— errinn bjó með herskip harri
Hákarlastrǫnd — frǫmum jarli.
The valiant king then sent word to the wide-landed prince of the Þrœndir [= Skúli]; the battle-brave ruler led a great fleet from the north; the ship-planks flew across the sea. People spoke very harshly against the excellent jarl; from this there arose trouble for the district chieftains; the bold lord filled Hákarlastrǫnd with warships.
3 Þing stofnuðu jǫfrar ungir;
jarl veitti svǫr ræsi snarla;
hersar báru á hilmi dýran
— hjaldrs fýstu þeir — sakar kaldar.
Alt lagði þá frǫmuðr frægða
— fekk sætt af því stillir rekka —
snildar skýrs ok seldi várar
sitt mál í kné lituðs stála.
Young lords called an assembly; hersar brought hostile charges against the worthy ruler; they were eager for battle; the jarl gave the king replies quickly. The promoter of glorious deeds [WARRIOR = Skúli] then put his entire case into the hands of the eloquent reddener of weapons [WARRIOR = Hákon] and gave pledges; by this the leader of men [RULER = Skúli] attained reconciliation.
4 Snœfrir drógu enn meðal jǫfra
— aldir kóðu varla haldask
ǫðlings heit við allvald mætan —
árskapðan grun vinir hvárskis.
Minnigr bjoggi siklingr sunnan
sunda vigg, en jarl stǫkk undan
— ýtar brugðusk jǫfri nýtum —
austr of fjall, með drengi snjalla.
Skilful friends of neither [prince] again aroused the long-standing mistrust between the princes; people said the chieftain’s promises to the excellent mighty ruler were hardly kept. The mindful king steered steeds of the seas [SHIPS] from the south with brave men, and the jarl fled east across the mountains; men abandoned the able prince.
5 Snjallir fóru mága í millum
menn; seldusk þeir gísla tvenna;
sýnni tók þá sætt, es funnusk
snarir bragningar, herr at magna.
Nafnbœtr jók, sás Nóregs gætir,
niðjum prýddr, ok sikling skrýddi
bjǫrtu heiti bǫðvarfljótan,
blíðs hertoga, gjǫfum fríðum.
Good men mediated between the relatives; they exchanged two hostages; people then set about to ensure a secure reconciliation when the brave leaders met. He who protects Norway, of famous descent, increased the rank of the well-disposed duke with an illustrious title and provided the battle-swift prince with beautiful gifts.
6 Fláræði kom framm of síðir;
friðbann hóf þá ǫfund manna;
eigi má við ørlǫg bægjask
jǫfra sveit, þótt ráðug heiti.
Stórr vas harmr, þars stríddu harrar
stála hregg, þvít æ mun beggja
rausnarkapp ok ríki uppi,
ramri þjóð, meðan jǫrð heldr flóði.
Treachery emerged at last; the malice of men then led to a peace-ban; a host of princes cannot contend against fate, though it is called wise. It was a great sorrow to the mighty people when the lords fought a storm of weapons [BATTLE], because the eagerness for glory and the power of both will always be remembered, as long as the earth adheres to the sea.
7 Hauksnjallr tók þá hersa stillir
hæra nafn en mundang væri;
Þrœndir efldu þengil reyndan;
þungr magnaðisk agi bragna.
The hawk-brave ruler of hersar [= Skúli] then took a higher title than was fitting; the Þrœndir supported the tried prince; the heavy turmoil of the people increased.
8 Hilmir fór með herskap stóran
hildar borðs á Upplǫnd norðan;
merki skókusk ljós á Láku;
lá ferð vegin skǫrpum sverðum.
Þunnum reið til Þrándheims sunnan
þingfrœkn jǫfurr Vǫlum stinga;
herskip brendi hilmir grundar
hyggjugegn, en líf gaf þegnum.
The ruler of the board of battle [SHIELD > WARRIOR = Skúli] went from the north to Opplandene with a large retinue; bright standards shook at Låke; the host lay slain by sharp swords. The battle-daring prince rode the slender Valir <horses> of rods [SHIPS] from the south to Trøndelag; the clever-minded ruler of the land [= Hákon] burned warships but spared the lives of men.
9 Norðan rendi næst, þás spurðisk,
nafnkunnr jǫfurr skíðum stafna,
— bárur léku brǫndum hæri —
brodda hríð, fyr Nóregs síðu.
Þrútin lágu veðr á vatni;
vinda ript né gramr bað svipta;
snarr yngvi kvað sigrbyr fenginn
sinni ferð at hjaldri stinnum.
The famous prince next impelled skis of stems [SHIPS] from the north along the coast of Norway when a storm of arrow-points [BATTLE] was reported; the waves rose higher than the prows. Heavy winds pressed upon the water; the king did not command that the cloth of winds [SAIL] be taken down; the brave monarch said that a favouring wind of victory had been given to his company for the fierce battle.
10 Hallgeislat rauð hvatt í Ósló
hildar tungl með skata mildum
(ræstir þrungu jǫfrar œstum)
járnfaldit lið (saman hjaldri).
Brǫndum skýfðusk blóðgar randir;
bleikir fellu menn at velli;
hlífarlauss vá gramr með gæfu;
gyltar sungu hjalta tungur.
The iron-helmed retinue bravely reddened brilliant-coloured moons of battle [SHIELDS] in Oslo with the generous lord; the princes, incited, caused a fierce battle. Bloody shields were cut in two with swords; pale men fell to the field; the king fought successfully without a shield; gilded tongues of hilts [SWORDS] sang.
11 Snǫrp bitu járn, sem ísmǫl yrpi
óðastraumr; með heitu blóði
herstefnir rauð hamri ofna
hildar serki framar merkjum.
Grimmum stóð á Gǫndlar himni
grár regnbogi Hnikars þegna;
harða lustu fylking fyrða
fáreldingar meginsára.
Sharp weapons bit, as if a raging stream were casting up pieces of ice; the army-leader [WARRIOR = Hákon] reddened the hammer-woven shirts of battle [BYRNIES] with hot blood ahead of the standards. The grey rainbow of Hnikarr <= Óðinn> [SPEAR] stood in the men’s fierce sky of Gǫndul <valkyrie> [SHIELD]; the destructive lightning bolts of great wounds [SPEARS] powerfully struck the company of men.
12 Aldri bǫrðusk afli stœrðir
(ógnsveipanda) blóðgum greipum
(hirð sótti þar hvǫss at garði)
harrar tveir af drengskap meira.
Undan reið, sás fremstr vas fundinn,
fyrða gramr, at jǫfnum byrðum;
Sverris ætt fekk sigr at réttu;
svá vildi guð framiðr mildi.
Never have two lords, with bloody hands, empowered with strength, fought with more bravery; the fierce retinue of the terror-spreader [WARRIOR = Hákon] attacked there at the churchyard. The leader of the people [RULER = Skúli], who was found to be foremost among those of equal birth, rode away; Sverrir’s descendant [= Hákon] rightly won victory; God, excellent in mercy, willed it so.
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