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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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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, 392

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Hfr Óldr 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Óláfsdrápa 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. 392.

Svá frák hitt, at hôva
hǫrgbrjótr í stað mǫrgum
(opt kom hrafn at heipta)
hlóð valkǫstu (blóði).
Endr lét Jamta kindir
allvaldr í styr falla
(vanðisk hann) ok Vinða
végrimmr (á þat snimma).

Svá frák hitt, at hǫrgbrjótr hlóð hôva valkǫstu í mǫrgum stað; hrafn kom opt at blóði heipta. Allvaldr, végrimmr, lét endr kindir Jamta ok Vinða falla í styr; hann vanðisk á þat snimma.

Thus I have learned this, that {the shrine-destroyer piled up high corpse-heaps in many a place; the raven often came to the blood of strife. The mighty ruler, fierce against heathen temples, formerly caused the kin of the Jamtr and Wends to fall in the mêlée; he became accustomed to that early.

Mss: FskBˣ(32v), 51ˣ(29r-v), FskAˣ(119-120) (Fsk); 310(98) (ÓTOdd); (146v), F(24rb), J1ˣ(86r) (Hkr, ll. 5-8); 61(14vb), 53(13ra), 54(9va), Bb(19vb), 62(7rb), Flat(14vb) (ÓT, ll. 5-8)

Readings: [1] hôva: so 310, hôvan FskBˣ, 51ˣ, FskAˣ    [3] at: þars 310;    heipta: ‘hamna’ FskBˣ, 51ˣ, ‘hæfta’ FskAˣ, heiptum 310    [5] Endr: enn F;    lét: létsk F;    kindir: kindar FskBˣ, 51ˣ, kindr FskAˣ, kindum 53, 54, Bb    [6] ‑valdr í styr: ‑valdastr Bb, ‑vandliga Flat;    ‑valdr: ‘[…]’ FskBˣ, ‑valdr or valda 62;    í: om. FskBˣ    [7] vanðisk: ‘[…]’ FskBˣ;    hann: ‘[…]t’ FskBˣ, opt 51ˣ;    ok: æ J1ˣ, at Flat;    Vinða: víða 51ˣ    [8] grimmr: so F, 61, 53, 54, Bb, 62, ‘[…]’ FskBˣ, ‘vegrunr’ 51ˣ, veggrimmr Kˣ, FskAˣ, J1ˣ, Flat, víggrimmr 310;    á þat: ‘[…]’ FskBˣ

Editions: Skj: Hallfrøðr Óttarsson vandræðaskáld, 2. Óláfsdrápa 3, 4/1-4: AI, 157, BI, 149, Skald I, 81, NN §473; Fsk 1902-3, 108-9 (ch. 21), ÍF 29, 141-2 (ch. 23); ÓTOdd 1932, 247; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 298, IV, 80, ÍF 26, 255, Hkr 1991, 171 (ÓTHkr ch. 25), F 1871, 111; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 138 (ch. 70), Flat 1860-8, I, 110.

Context: See Introduction.

Notes: [All]: FskBˣ is used as main ms. for ll. 1-4, which are lacking in Hkr and ÓT, while is used as main ms. for ll. 5-8 since FskBˣ has several small lacunae there, resulting from a large tear at the foot of fol. 32v. The arrangement of helmingar in Fsk and 310 is followed here, as throughout this edn, since that arrangement seems likely to be closer to the original; see Introduction. In Hkr and ÓT, ll. 5-8 form a stanza with st. 2/1-4. — [2] hǫrgbrjótr ‘the shrine-destroyer’: An unusual expression depicting Óláfr specifically as a Christian ruler, a purger of heathendom; cf. végrimmr ‘temple-fierce, fierce against heathen temples’ in l. 8. Hǫrgbrjótr could be regarded, as here, as a kenning-like cpd, or as an actual kenning (so Meissner 363), albeit an unusual one. — [3, 4] kom at heipta blóði ‘came to the blood of strife’: Although heipta occurs in no ms., it could have been the starting point for the existing readings: ‘hamna’ (normalised hafna) in FskBˣ, for which a possible meaning is suggested below; the uninterpretable ‘hæfta’ in FskAˣ; and dat. pl. heiptum ‘strife’ in 310, which makes good sense but leaves blóði ‘blood’ (l. 4) stranded and sits uncomfortably with its preceding þars. (a) The construal adopted here is favoured by Finnur Jónsson in Fsk 1902-3 and in LP: heipt 1; also by Bjarni Einarsson in ÍF 29. (b) In Skj B Finnur takes at with blóði, hence opt kom hrafn at blóði ‘the raven often got blood’, while translating heiptum as med fjendtligt sind ‘with hostile mind’ and taking it with hlóð ‘heaped’ (l. 4) and the clause built around it. However, if the dat. reading heiptum were correct the immediately preceding prep. at would govern it rather than the more distant blóði (cf. Kuhn 1983, 120-2 on proclitic prepositions). (c) Kock (Skald and NN §473) reads hafna ... blóði ‘crews’ blood’. — [8] végrimmr ‘fierce against heathen temples’: Although and other mss read veg-, perhaps ‘path’ or ‘honour’, this makes little sense compounded with grimmr ‘fierce’, and vé- ‘heathen temple’ is to be preferred. This reading is found in F and supported by ‘vegrimr’ in papp18ˣ and J2ˣ, both of which are transcripts of the vellum K at this point; it may also find some support in the 51ˣ reading ‘vegrunr’. Significant in its rarity, végrimmr matches hǫrgbrjótr ‘shrine-destroyer’ in l. 2 (which falls in a different stanza in the Hkr-ÓT arrangement of the poem), fleetingly portraying Óláfr in his role as militant missionary. Syntactically, the adj. could conceivably be taken to qualify hann ‘he’ in l. 7, but the present arrangement, which leaves the intercalated clause in ll. 7, 8 more terse, seems stylistically preferable and is favoured by earlier eds.

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