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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, 917

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

17 — HSt Rst 17I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 17’ 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. 917.

Grár reif (gerðu drífu)
— gall brandr við slǫg — (randa)
trǫllmarr trýni sollin
(tveir nafnar) hræ jafnan.
Sœnskr herr sigri þorrinn;
sverð beit, en fló peita;
hríð óx; hǫlðar flýðu.
Hollr ok fremstr at ǫllu.

{Grár trǫllmarr} reif jafnan sollin hræ trýni; tveir nafnar gerðu {drífu randa}; brandr gall við slǫg. Sœnskr herr þorrinn sigri; sverð beit, en peita fló; hríð óx; hǫlðar flýðu. Hollr ok fremstr at ǫllu …

{The grey troll-woman’s steed} [WOLF] tore swollen corpses steadily with its snout; the two namesakes engaged in {a snow-storm of shields} [BATTLE]; the sword resounded against weapons. The Swedish army [was] deprived of victory; sword bit and spear flew; the onslaught grew; men fled. Faithful and foremost in all things …

Mss: Bb(112ra); 53(64va), 54(64rb-va), Bb(100ra), Flat(64va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] Grár: so 53, Flat, gjá Bb(112ra), 54, Bb(100ra);    gerðu: so 54, Bb(100ra), gjǫrði Bb(112ra), 53, gerðisk Flat;    drífu: drífa Flat    [2] við: ‘vít’ Flat    [3] trǫllmarr: so 53, ‘trollz matr’ Bb(112ra), ‘traullan’ 54, Bb(100ra), ‘tro᷎ll maarr’ Flat;    trýni: ‘trut var’ 54, trúr var Bb(100ra)    [4] hræ: so 53, Flat, þar Bb(112ra), 54, Bb(100ra)    [5] Sœnskr: sœnski 54;    sigri: var sigri 54, Bb(100ra)    [6] fló: blá 54, Bb(100ra)    [7] flýðu: so 53, Bb(100ra), ‘flvdę’ Bb(112ra), flýði 54, Flat    [8] Hollr: ‘holl’ all

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 17: AI, 547, BI, 529, Skald I, 257, NN §§1178-9; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 270 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, I, 484; SHI 3, 254-7, CPB II, 297-8, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 244-8.

Context: The stanza is quoted to verify the fierceness of the battle between Óláfr Tryggvason and Óláfr sœnski.

Notes: [3] trǫllmarr ‘troll-woman’s steed [WOLF]’: Trǫll can refer to both male and female trolls (LP: troll, trǫll), but a troll-woman or giantess is indicated here. The wolf-kenning follows a common pattern whose mythological prototype is the mount of the giantess Hyrrokkin in the myth of Baldr’s funeral (see Meissner 124-5; SnE 2005, 46). — [4] tveir nafnar ‘the two namesakes’: Óláfr Tryggvason and Óláfr sœnski ‘the Swede’ Eiríksson (r. c. 995-c. 1021). — [4] hræ ‘corpses’: This, the reading of 53 and Flat, provides the necessary object for reif ‘tore’. The alternative reading, þar ‘there’, would necessitate the implausible assumption that sollin ‘swollen’ is substantival, ‘swollen ones’ hence ‘corpses’. — [4] jafnan ‘steadily’: Here taken with reif ‘tore’, following Kock (NN §1178), whereas Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) and Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) read it with gall ‘resounded’. — [5] sœnskr herr þorrinn sigri ‘the Swedish army [was] deprived of victory’: The clause lacks a verb, and ‘was’ seems to be implied. Mss 54 and Bb(100ra) have vas ‘was’, but this results in too many syllables. See also Note to l. 7, flýðu. — [7] hríð ‘the onslaught’: See Note to Edáð Banddr 6/2, where the predicate is also óx ‘grew’. — [7] flýðu ‘fled’: The reading is taken from 53 and Bb(100ra), whereas Bb(112ra), 54 and Flat all have readings that should probably be normalised as sg. flýði ‘fled’. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (NN §1179) read flýði and link it to sœnskr herr, hence Sœnskr herr flýði, þorrinn sigri ‘the Swedish army fled, deprived of victory’. However, this relies on an emendation of hǫlðar (nom. pl.) ‘men’ to hǫlða (acc. pl.), which becomes the object to beit ‘bit’, and furthermore, it disturbs the patterning of ll. 6-7, which approximate to the so-called sextánmælt ‘sixteen-times spoken’ characterized by two clauses per line (cf. SnSt Ht 9III, and Context and Note; SnE 2007, 9). — [8]: For this line of the refrain, see Note to st. 9/8. Hollr ‘faithful’ is an emendation here, but it is the reading of Bb(111vb) in st. 11/8.

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