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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.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35 

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

SkP info: I, 920

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

20 — HSt Rst 20I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 20’ 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. 920.

Myrkt hregg mækis eggja
meinilla gekk Sveini;
drótt hné dreyra þrútin;
Danir skunduðu undan.
Tandr beit — tiggi renndi
tveim dǫglingum — Skǫglar;
hans vǫrn hœfðisk firnum.
Hollr ok fremstr at ǫllu.

{Myrkt hregg eggja mækis} gekk meinilla Sveini; drótt hné þrútin dreyra; Danir skunduðu undan. {Tandr Skǫglar} beit; tiggi renndi tveim dǫglingum; vǫrn hans hœfðisk firnum. Hollr ok fremstr at ǫllu …

{The dark storm of blades of swords} [BATTLE] went very badly for Sveinn; the troop fell, swollen with blood; the Danes hurried away. {The flame of Skǫgul <valkyrie>} [SWORD] bit; the ruler [Óláfr] made two princes flee; his defence was exceptionally fitting. Faithful and foremost in all things …

Mss: Bb(112ra); 53(64rb) (ll. 1-4), 53(64va) (ll. 5-8), 54(64rb) (ll. 1-4), 54(64va) (ll. 5-8), Bb(99vb) (ll. 1-4), Bb(100ra) (ll. 5-8), Flat(64va) (ll. 1-4) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] eggja: eggjar 53, Flat    [3] drótt hné dreyra þrútin: sôr frá ek drengjum dreyra all others    [5] Tandr: so 53, 54, Flat, ‘tavdr’ Bb(112ra), gandr Bb(100ra);    beit: flaug all others    [6] tveim: ‘teim’ Bb(100ra);    dǫglingum: so all others, dǫgling Bb(112ra);    Skǫglar: Skǫgla 54, Bb(100ra)    [7] vǫrn: vegr all others;    hœfðisk: hefðisk Bb(112ra), hófsk 53, 54, Bb(100ra);    firnum: með sigri all others    [8] Hollr: hǫll all;    ǫllu: hollu 53

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 20: AI, 548, BI, 530, Skald I, 258, NN §1181; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 268, 271 (ch. 250), Flat 1860-8, I, 483, 485; SHI 3, 256-9, CPB II, 298, Wisén 1886-9, I, 48, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 253-6.

Context: As the Norwegians clear Danish ships, Sveinn and the surviving Danes retreat onto other vessels, proving a previous claim by King Óláfr that the Danes could never defeat the Norwegians. The first helmingr is then quoted. The second follows a summary statement that Óláfr made the Danes and Swedes flee. 

Notes: [1] myrkt ‘dark’: The adj. reinforces the metaphorical sense of the battle as a storm. — [3] drótt hné þrútin dreya ‘the troop fell, swollen with blood’: The alternative line in ÓT, sôr frák drengjum dreyra ‘I have heard [there were] wounds with blood on the men’ is somewhat strained, and diverges from the normal metrical pattern in Rst as the first alliteration does not fall in position 1 or 2. — [5] beit ‘bit’: The alternative is flaug ‘flew’ in ÓT, but this is less convincing since the subject is a sword-kenning. — [6] tveim dǫglingum ‘two princes’: Presumably this summarises the successful actions against the Swedes under Óláfr Eiríksson and the Danes under Sveinn tjúguskegg; cf. þriðja sinni ‘for the third time’ when Eiríkr jarl enters the battle in st. 21/3. — [7] vǫrn hans hœfðisk firnum ‘his defence was exceptionally fitting’: This entails the minimal emendation of hefðisk to hœfðisk, cf. hœfði ‘could match, was suitable’ in st. 12/7. The alternative line in ÓT, vegr hans hófsk með sigri ‘his honour was raised up with victory’, is also feasible. — [7] firnum ‘exceptionally’: The dat. pl. here functions as an intensifying adv., like the more usual firna (see st. 9/2 and Note). — [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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