This is a backup server for Any changes made here will be lost.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson (Hfr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

1. Óláfsdrápa (Óldr) - 14

Skj info: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, Islandsk skjald, død ved 1007. (AI, 155-73, BI, 147-63).

Skj poems:
1. Hákonardrápa
2. Óláfsdrápa
3. Óláfsdrápa, erfidrápa
4. Eiríksdrápa
5. Lausavísur

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ‘Troublesome-poet’ Óttarsson (Hfr) was brought up in Vatnsdalur, northern Iceland, probably in the 960s. He is the subject of Hallfreðar saga (Hallfr), which survives both as a continuous text (ÍF 8, 133-200) and interpolated into ÓT. The main strands of the saga are Hallfreðr’s unhappy relationship with Kolfinna Ávaldadóttir, his travels as trader, fighter and poet, his conversion to Christianity and his devotion to Óláfr Tryggvason, and all these aspects of his life occasioned poetry which partially survives.

Fragments of an early drápa for Hákon jarl Sigurðarson (r. c. 970-c. 995) are extant (Hfr HákdrIII; ÍF 8, 151), but the greater part of Hallfreðr’s court poetry, and the poetry edited in this volume, concerns King Óláfr Tryggvason (c. 995-c. 1000): Óláfsdrápa (Hfr Óldr) and Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar (Hfr ErfÓl). Like other Icelanders, Hallfreðr accepted Christian baptism under the influence of Óláfr. The difficulty, for a poet and pagan, of this switch of religious allegiance is the theme of Hfr Lv 6-10V, and is, according to the sagas, alluded to in his nickname vandræðaskáld, lit. ‘Poet of difficulties’. The sagas agree that the name was bestowed by the king, though they differ about the precise reason (ÓTOdd 1932, 125-6; Hkr, ÍF 26, 331-2; Hallfr, ÍF 8, 155; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 387). Hallfreðr is attributed with a lost Uppreistardrápa ‘Restoration drápa’ (?), supposedly composed to atone for his journey into pagan Gautland (Västergötland, ÍF 8, 178). He is also credited in Hallfr (ÍF 8, 194-5) with an encounter with Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson (r. c. 1000-c. 1014) and in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 257, 266, 280) with poetry for him; this is vestigially preserved in Eiríksdrápa (Hfr EirdrV). The saga also shows Hallfreðr presenting a flokkr to the Danish jarl Sigvaldi (ÍF 8, 168) and a poem to the Swedish king Óláfr Eiríksson (ÍF 8, 177-8), but no traces of these survive.

The marriage of Kolfinna, the love of Hallfreðr’s youth, to Gríss Sæmingsson provoked Hallfreðr both early and later in life to compose strikingly inventive stanzas which intertwine themes of yearning love and rivalry (Hfr Lv 1-3, 15-24V), and his níð against Gríss led to legal proceedings and indirectly to the killing of Hallfreðr’s brother Galti (Ldn, ÍF 1, 224; ÍF 8, 189-90). In the course of an adventure in Västergötland (Hfr Lv 12-14V), Hallfreðr met and married Ingibjǫrg Þórisdóttir, who died young, but not before bearing two sons, Auðgísl and Hallfreðr. According to Hallfr (ÍF 8, 196-9), Hallfreðr himself died at the age of nearly forty, from a combination of illness and injury as he sailed through the Hebrides; he was buried on Iona (cf. Hfr Lv 26-7V).

file 2002-03-21 - York Hfr paper notes
file 2002-03-27 - York Hfr paper draft

Óláfsdrápa (‘Drápa about Óláfr’) — Hfr ÓldrI

Diana Whaley 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa’ 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. 387.

 1   2   3   4   5   6 

for reference only:  1x   1y   2x   2y   4x   4y   8z   9z 

Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld: 2. Óláfsdrápa, 996 (AI, 156-9, BI, 148-50); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 2, 7 | 3 | 3, 4/1-4 | 4/1-4 | 4/5-8, 5 | 4/5-8 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8/1-4, 9/5-8 | 8/5-8, 9/1-4

SkP info: I, 395

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Hfr Óldr 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 4’ 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. 395.

Hilmir lét at Holmi
hræskóð roðin blóði
— hvat of dylði þess hǫlðar? —
hǫrð ok austr í Gǫrðum.
Rógs brá rekka lægir
ríkr Valkera líki;
herstefnir lét hrǫfnum
hold Flæmingja goldit.

Hilmir lét {hǫrð hræskóð} roðin blóði at Holmi ok austr í Gǫrðum; hvat of dylði þess hǫlðar? {Ríkr lægir {rógs rekka} brá líki Valkera; {herstefnir} lét hold Flæmingja goldit hrǫfnum.

The prince caused {hard corpse-harmers} [SWORDS] to be reddened in blood at Hólmr and east in Russia; why should men conceal that? {The powerful subduer of the strife of men} [JUST RULER] spoiled the bodies of the Valkerar; {the army-commander} [RULER] caused the flesh of the Flemings to be doled out to ravens.

Mss: (145v) (ll. 1-4), (150r) (ll. 5-8), 39(6ra) (ll. 5-8), F(24rb) (ll. 1-4), F(25ra) (ll. 5-8), J1ˣ(85v) (ll. 1-4), J1ˣ(88v) (ll. 5-8) (Hkr); 61(12ra) (ll. 1-4), 61(15vb) (ll. 5-8), 53(10rb) (ll. 1-4), 54(6ra-b) (ll. 1-4), 54(10vb) (ll. 5-8), Bb(16rb) (ll. 1-4), Bb(21ra) (ll. 5-8), 62(4vb) (ll. 1-4), 62(8rb) (ll. 5-8), Flat(12rb) (ll. 1-4), Flat(15rb-va) (ll. 5-8) (ÓT); FskBˣ(33r), FskAˣ(120-121) (Fsk); 310(98) (ÓTOdd)

Readings: [1] lét: vann FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310;    at: á 54, Bb    [2] hræ‑: her‑ 53, 54, Bb, Flat, hjalm‑ FskBˣ, 310, halm‑ FskAˣ;    roðin: so 61, 53, 54, Bb, 62, Flat, roðinn Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310;    blóði: ‘bloþu’ J1ˣ    [3] hvat: hvat or hvar 53, hvatt Flat, hvar FskBˣ;    of: om. 53;    dylði: dulði 62, Flat, dulðu 310;    þess: om. FskBˣ;    hǫlðar: hǫlða 61, 53, Flat, hauka 54, Bb, ‘[…]lða’ 62, om. FskBˣ    [4] hǫrð: harð J1ˣ, hǫrðr Bb    [5] rekka: ‘rekra’ J1ˣ    [6] ríkr: reik 39, ríkir J1ˣ;    ‑kera: so 39, F, J1ˣ, 61, 54, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 310, ‘‑køra’ Kˣ, ‑skera 62, ‑skerjar Flat;    líki: ríki 62, Flat    [7] ‑stefnir: ‑stofnir Bb;    lét: om. 39;    hrǫfnum: jǫfnum FskBˣ

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 2. Óláfsdrápa 2, 7: AI, 157-8, BI, 149, Skald I, 81; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 295, 306-7, IV, 79-80, 85, ÍF 26, 253, 264, Hkr 1991, 170, 177 (ÓTHkr ch. 22, 29), F 1871, 110, 114; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 111, 148 (chs 58, 73), Flat 1860-8, I, 91, 115; Fsk 1902-3, 110 (ch. 21), ÍF 29, 143 (ch. 23); ÓTOdd 1932, 248. 

Context: See Introduction.

Notes: [All]: The pairing of helmingar follows Fsk and 310 (see Introduction); in Hkr and ÓT, the two helmingar stand alone and widely separated in the narrative. — [1-4]: Hkr and ÓT, citing this helmingr, attribute it explicitly to a drápa composed by Hallfreðr about King Óláfr; cf. Note to st. 2/5-8. The lines are problematic from a historical and geographical point of view, since if at Holmi in l. 1 refers to Bornholm (see Note), Óláfr seems to proceed from there eastwards to north-west Russia (ok austr í Gǫrðum, l. 4). The helmingr is placed in Hkr at the beginning of Óláfr’s career, when he is setting out westwards from Russia (see Introduction for Contexts), but this is counter to its internal ordering (and Finnur Jónsson inserts för ‘before’ into his translation in Skj B, to signal an earlier episode; cf. also Hkr 1893-1901, IV). The positioning of the stanza in the continuous poetic sequence in Fsk and 310, meanwhile, with the raids on Bornholm and Russia following those on the Saxar and Frísar, seems to imply a very large diversion to the east, as well, seemingly, as a return by Óláfr to harry the Russian territory he was raised in. However, the general direction in Fsk and 310 is consistent, and winds, tides and opportunity may well have been stronger imperatives to these highly mobile raiders than the logic of distance. — [1] lét ‘caused ... to be’: Here, as in st. 3/1, the reading of Fsk and 310, vann ‘made’, is more or less synonymous, and it is equally satisfactory together with p. p. roðinn ‘reddened’. — [1] Holmi ‘Hólmr’: A p. n. seems likely, rather than the appellative holmr ‘island’, and Bornholm, ON Borgundarhólmr, is the main candidate, as assumed in Hkr and ÓT. — [2] hræskóð ‘corpse-harmers [SWORDS]’: Again, the traditions branch, with hjalm- ‘helmet’ in Fsk and 310 and hræ- ‘corpse’ (apparently corrupted to her- ‘army’ in some copies) in Hkr and ÓT. Hjalmskóð ‘helmet-harm(er)’ at first sight appears the better reading, and is adopted in Skj and Skald, but hræskóð is retained here as the lectio difficilior and the reading of the chosen main ms. It seems a rather curious expression for ‘sword’, which in reality turns warriors into corpses rather than harming corpses, but the image is not unlike lét hræ tíðhǫggvit ‘had corpses cut down often’ in st. 3/1, 4. Moreover, sword- or spear-kennings in hræ- ‘corpse’ exist (e.g. Tindr Hákdr 6/6 hræbirtingr ‘corpse-trout [SWORD]’), and it may be that hræskóð is modelled on those in a rather formulaic way. There are also comparable kennings based on skóð (Meissner 155) and cf. Hfr ErfÓl 12/5, 8 láta skóð roðin blóði ‘caused harmers to become reddened with blood’. — [5] brá ‘spoiled’: The translation is based on the frequent use of bregða with dat. to mean ‘to change or alter sth.’ (especially appearance, Fritzner: bregða 5) or ‘to move sth. quickly, snatch’ (Fritzner: bregða 1). It is not clear whether injury to bodies before or after death is meant, or plundering of corpses. — [5] lægir rógs rekka ‘subduer of the strife of men [JUST RULER]’: Although the thought could be of Óláfr as a military leader, the kenning seems rather to belong with others depicting rulers as subduers of strife and crime (cf. Meissner 362). — [6] Valkera ‘of the Valkerar’: This appears to be a gen. pl. referring to the owners of the líki ‘body/bodies’ spoiled by the victorious Óláfr, and the most promising suggestion is that of Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 53-4), generally accepted by eds, that it is an otherwise unattested ON term for the people of Walcheren, the Netherlands, which would fit well with the Flemings in l. 8. Alternatively, val- might be interpreted as ‘battle, slaughter, the slain’ and ‑kera as gen. pl. of ker ‘(drinking) vessel, chest’, which seems to appear in an unusual sword-kenning in Hfr Lv 5/6V (Hallfr 8); but there is no clear way for this to fit the sense or syntax of the couplet. Valkeri ‘the prober of the slain [SWORD]’, is suggested in LP (1860): valkeri 2.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.

This is a backup server for Any changes made here will be lost.