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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, 911

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

13 — HSt Rst 13I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 13’ 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. 911.

Húns nótt hverja knôttu
hirðmenn konungs spenna
gylld horn grœðis meldrar;
glaðr vísi drakk þaðra.
Víðfrægr velja téði
vín húskǫrlum sínum
allvaldr einkar mildum.
Óláfr und veg sólar.

{Hverja nótt húns} knôttu hirðmenn konungs spenna gylld horn {grœðis meldrar}; glaðr vísi drakk þaðra. Víðfrægr allvaldr téði velja einkar mildum vín húskǫrlum sínum. Óláfr und {veg sólar} …

{Every bear’s night} [WINTER] the king’s retainers gripped the gilded horns {of the ocean of flour} [ALE]; the cheerful ruler drank there. The widely famous sovereign provided wine exceptionally generously for his housecarls. Óláfr under {the path of the sun} [SKY] …

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

Readings: [2] konungs: jǫfurs 53;    spenna: at spenna 54, Bb(91vb)    [4] vísi: so 61, ‘vis(v)’(?) Bb(111vb), vísir 53, 54, Bb(91vb), Flat    [5] Víðfrægr: om. Bb(91vb)    [6] húskǫrlum: hirðmǫnnum all others

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 13: AI, 546, BI, 528, Skald I, 257, NN §§1175-6; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 213-14 (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, 230-4.

Context: The stanza illustrates how the king spent his winters in generous and convivial drinking with his men.

Notes: [All]: Similar praise of a ruler for generously providing for his men throughout the winter is found in Arn Þorfdr 2II, which also contains kennings for ‘winter’ and ‘ale’. — [1, 2] knôttu ... spenna ‘gripped’: Lit. ‘were able to grip’. — [3] grœðis meldrar ‘of the ocean of flour [ALE]’: Meldr ‘flour’ functions like the reference to malt or grain that is more usual in ale-kennings (cf. Konráð Gíslason 1895-7; Meissner 433). Finnur Jónsson (LP: grœðir, meldr 2) sees meldr here as a synonym for the magic mill Grotti or Grótti which rests on the sea-bed and produces gold (see Grott). However, as Kock points out in NN §1175 it is difficult to see what meaning that could have; a gold-kenning would be out of place. — [5] téði velja ‘provided’: Téði (inf. tjá ‘show, report’) has a purely auxiliary function here. Velja, most often ‘choose’, has the sense ‘provide’ here; cf. st. 8/7. — [6] húskǫrlum sínum ‘for his housecarls’: The king’s elite retainers or bodyguard. See Note to Okík Magn 2/6II. Here the ÓT mss have hirðmǫnnum ‘retainers’, which awkwardly repeats hirðmenn in l. 2. — [7] mildum ‘generously’: (a) Kock (NN §1176) seems to be correct in taking this as an adverbial dat. Adverbial use of an adj. in the dat. pl. is possible, though restricted (see NS §110 Anm. 2 for examples such as stórum ‘greatly’, bráðum ‘hastily, soon’), and the sense could be ‘by generous (acts)’. (b) In terms of grammar, the most obvious solution is to take (einkar) mildum ‘(exceptionally) generous’ as an adj. qualifying húskǫrlum ‘retainers’ (so Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, followed by Skj B), but it seems unlikely that the housecarls, rather than the sovereign, are praised in this way. — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8.

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