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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hallar-Steinn (HSt)

12th century; volume 1; ed. Rolf Stavnem;

1. Rekstefja (Rst) - 35

Skj info: Hallar-Steinn, Islandsk skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 543-53, BI, 525-35).

Skj poems:
1. Rekstefja
2. a. Af et digt om en kvinde
2. b. Af et digt om Skáldhelgi(?)

Nothing is known about this skald (HSt) except what can be deduced from his nickname, which has been identified with the farm-name Höll, in Þverárhlíð, Mýrasýsla, western Iceland (Finnur Jónsson 1907, 185), and from the poetry attributed to him. His main extant work is the drápa Rekstefja (HSt Rst), whose ambitious praise of Óláfr Tryggvason might well point to Iceland at the end of the twelfth century or somewhat later (see Skj, and Introduction to the poem below). Hallar-Steinn has been identified (e.g. by Wisén 1886-9, I, 143) with the eleventh-century poet Steinn Herdísarson (SteinnII), but this is implausible. HSt Frag 1, of uncertain origin but probably attributable to this poet, may also commemorate Óláfr Tryggvason, while HSt Frag 2-5III represent a love-lorn poet. These fragments are preserved only in treatises on poetics and grammar, and are therefore edited in SkP III, as are two further fragments, HSt Frag 6-7III.

Rekstefja (‘Split-refrain’) — HSt RstI

Rolf Stavnem 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja’ 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. 893.

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Skj: Hallar-Steinn: 1. Rekstefja (AI, 543-52, BI, 525-34); stanzas (if different): 3 | 4 | 5

SkP info: I, 910

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — HSt Rst 12I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 12’ 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. 910.

Hafglóð hilmir sáði
hjaldrríkr ok gaf skjǫldu
— stétthrings stofnum veitti
stikka — vôpn ok skikkjur.
Stórráðr steinda knǫrru
stillir fekk, en ekki
hildings hœfði mildi.
Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna.

Hjaldrríkr hilmir sáði {hafglóð} ok gaf skjǫldu, vôpn ok skikkjur; veitti {stofnum {stétthrings}} stikka. Stórráðr stillir fekk steinda knǫrru, en ekki hœfði mildi hildings. Hann vas ríkstr konungmanna …

The battle-mighty prince sowed {sea-ember} [GOLD] and gave away shields, weapons and cloaks; he provided cloak-pins (?) {for the poles {of the path-sword}} [SHIELD > WARRIORS]. The ambitious ruler gave painted merchant ships, and nothing could match the generosity of the war-leader. He was the mightiest of royal men …

Mss: Bb(111vb); 61(62rb), 53(60ra), 54(56ra-b), Bb(91vb), Flat(60vb) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] hjaldr‑: hjald 53, Bb(91vb), Flat;    skjǫldu: ‘skialldir’ 61, skjaldar 53, 54, Bb(91vb)    [3] stofnum: stǫfnum 53;    veitti: so all others, vétti Bb(111vb)    [6] en: so all others, ok Bb(111vb)    [7] hœfði: so 61, 53, 54, ‘hęfi’ Bb(111vb), hafði Bb(91vb), ‘hárre’ Flat    [8] vas (‘var’): er all others;    ríkstr: so all others, ‘r[...]’ Bb(111vb);    konung‑: so 61, Bb(91vb), Flat, konungs Bb(111vb), 53, kóng‑ 54

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 12: AI, 546, BI, 528, Skald I, 257, NN §§2095-6; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 213 (ch. 234), Flat 1860-8, I, 456; SHI 3, 252-3, CPB II, 297, Wisén 1886-9, I, 47, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 225-30.

Context: The stanza follows a passage in which the narrator praises Óláfr’s strength, prowess and generosity.

Notes: [All]: There are verbal echoes of the late C11th Steinn ÓldrII in this stanza and more widely in Rst. The phrase steinda knǫrru ‘painted merchant ships’ (l. 5) matches Óldr 13/2II, while the rhyme hilding- : mildi (l. 7) matches Steinn Óldr 16/4II and the stef line hann vas ríkstr konungmanna ‘he was the mightiest of royal men’ (l. 8) echoes Óldr 16/6II hanns fremstr konungmanna ‘he is the foremost of kings/royal men’; cf. also Note to st. 9/8 above. The use of a split refrain also recalls ÓldrII, as does the use of a rhetorical question to emphasise the hero’s unmatched generosity (Rst 32/1-4 cf. Óldr 13/6-7II). — [1] sáði ‘sowed’: An allusion to the story of the legendary king Hrólfr kraki escaping from the Swedish King Aðils by tossing gold in front of his Swedish pursuers (cf. SnE 1998, I, 58-9 and Note to Þjóð Yt 16/2), an act often likened to sowing seed. — [2] skjǫldu ‘shields’: Forms an aðalhending with hjaldr- ‘battle’; see Introduction. — [3] stétthrings ‘of the path-sword [SHIELD]’: If the text is not corrupt, these kenning elements must, exceptionally, be construed in reverse order: the shield is the ground or path of the sword. See LP: 2. hringr and Note to Þhorn Harkv 1/1 for hringr in the sense ‘sword’ and Meissner 169 for semantically similar shield-kennings. An alternative possibility suggested by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12, 53LP (1860): stétt) is that hringr is ‘serpent’, whose stétt ‘path’ is gold; the elements are still in reverse order. — [4] stikka ‘cloak-pins (?)’: The meaning is uncertain, but the context suggests some valuable gift. (a) The translation here follows Kock (NN §2095), who explains stikki as a needle or pin such as is used in cloaks (skikkjur, mentioned in the same line), and supports this with MLG sticke (cf. Kluge 1957: stecken). (b) Stikki is also a specific type of poem or metre (see Introduction to Anon HarstII; Anon (Knýtl) 1/1II and Note). However, as this meaning is hardly likely here some eds suggest reference to deeds worth praising in a poem, and thus poetic material (Fms 12, 53; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7; Skj B, indicating doubt). — [6] fekk ‘gave’: is common in the sense ‘give, provide with’ (LP: 2. fáa 2), but it normally has an indirect object in the dat. case denoting the beneficiary. — [7] hœfði ‘could match’: Meaning that nothing was suitable, or sufficient, for the ruler’s immense generosity: he was never satisfied with his giving (cf. Konráð Gíslason 1895-7; Kock, NN §2096). As Kock points out, the translations in Skj B (intet var for stort for kongens gavmildhed ‘nothing was too much for the king’s generosity’) and in LP: hœfa (kongens gavmildhed overgik alt ‘the king’s generosity exceeded everything’) miss the mark. — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8.

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