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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, 932

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

30 — HSt Rst 30I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 30’ 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. 932.

Spell vann (sparðit stillir)
spjótrunns (skaða bótir)
meingarðr margra jarða
mikit dýrligri skikkju.
Goðvefr gerðisk jǫfri
grôn ok skinn á hônum
sjónfagr svipstund eina
síðan jafn eða fríðri.

{Meingarðr margra jarða} vann mikit spell dýrligri skikkju {spjótrunns}; stillir sparðit bótir skaða. Síðan gerðisk jǫfri sjónfagr goðvefr ok grôn skinn á hônum jafn eða fríðri eina svipstund.

{The harmful enclosure of many lands} [SEA] did great harm to the splendid cloak {of the spear-tree} [WARRIOR = Þorkell]; the ruler did not hold back from remedying the damage. After that the beautiful precious cloth and the grey fur on it became for the ruler the same or even finer in a single moment.

Mss: Bb(112rb); 61(64va), 54(59rb), Bb(94vb-95ra), Flat(62rb) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] sparðit: sparði ei 54, Bb(94vb), spurðisk Flat    [2] ‑runns: so 61, 54, Bb(94vb), ruðs Bb(112rb), runn Flat;    bótir: so 61, 54, Bb(94vb), bóta Bb(112rb), bótar Flat    [3] meingarðr: so 61, 54, Bb(94vb), meingarðs Bb(112rb), mengerðr Flat;    margra: so all others, margrar Bb(112rb)    [4] mikit: mikill all others;    dýrligri: so 54, Bb(94vb), dýrligrar Bb(112rb), dýrðligri 61, Flat    [5] jǫfri: efri Flat    [6] grôn: grám 54, Bb(94vb);    á: und all others    [7] sjónfagr: so all others, senn á Bb(112rb);    eina: eina so all others, einni Bb(112rb)    [8] jafn: so all others, jǫfn Bb(112rb)

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 30: AI, 551, BI, 532-3, Skald I, 259; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 234 (ch. 238), Flat 1860-8, I, 467; SHI 3, 262-5, CPB II, 299, Wisén 1886-9, I, 49, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 276-8.

Context: See also st. 29. The sea-water has ruined Þorkell’s cloak. The king lays his hand on it and in a moment the cloak is dry and as good as before, or better.

Notes: [3] meingarðr margra jarða ‘the harmful enclosure of many lands [SEA]’: The context and skaldic convention suggest this interpretation (see Meissner 94 for comparable sea-kennings). Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12, 55) and Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) took the kenning as a reference to Óláfr as fence or protector against harm (perhaps specifically paganism), but this is unlikely. — [4] mikit ‘great’: Mikill (m. nom. sg.) in the ÓT mss would qualify meingarðr ‘harmful enclosure’, the base-word of the sea-kenning. — [5] gerðisk jǫfri ‘became for the ruler’: Although Óláfr is not grammatically the agent, the sense is probably as suggested in Skj B: ved kongen(s jærtegn) ‘by the king(’s miracle)’. — [6] grôn skinn ‘the grey fur’: Lit. pl., ‘grey skins’. — [6] á ‘on’: The ÓT mss have und ‘under’, thus the versions differ as to whether the fur is on the outside or inside of the cloak. — [7] sjónfagr svipstund eina ‘beautiful ... a single moment’: This, the reading of the ÓT mss, gives good sense and metre. Sjónfagr is lit. ‘appearance-beautiful’. For the use of acc. sg. eina stund ‘in a single moment’ as an adverbial of time, cf. NS §98. The line in Bb(112rb), senn á svipstund einni ‘at once ... in a single moment’, gives good sense and is identical to ÞjóðA Sex 17/3II, but it is less satisfactory since it is not skjálfhent or tvískelft (see Introduction). — [8] jafn ‘the same’:  This m. adj. agrees with goðvefr m. ‘precious cloth’. Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) retains the Bb(112rb) reading jǫfn, suggesting that the scribe had the cloak (skikkja f.) in mind; it could alternatively be n. pl. qualifying goðvefr ok grôn skinn á hônum ‘the precious cloth and the grey fur on it’.

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