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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, 933

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

31 — HSt Rst 31I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 31’ 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. 933.

Ǫrrjóðr allra dáða
jartegnir vann bjartar
— dvergregn* dýrðar megnum
dimmt — í sinn it fimta.
Sigrgjarn sólu fegri
sénn vas skrýddr með prýddum
dǫglingr dróttins englum
dyggðar fúss í húsi.

{Ǫrrjóðr} vann bjartar jartegnir allra dáða í it fimta sinn; megnum {dimmt dvergregn*} dýrðar. Sigrgjarn dǫglingr, fúss dyggðar, vas sénn skrýddr fegri sólu með prýddum englum dróttins í húsi.

{The arrow-reddener} [WARRIOR = Óláfr] performed bright proofs of all [his] deeds for the fifth time; we [I] strengthen {the dark dwarf-rain} [POETRY] of glory. The victory-willing prince, eager for virtue, was seen arrayed more beautifully than the sun with the adorned angels of the Lord in a house.

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

Readings: [1] Ǫr‑: so all others, Ót‑ Bb(112rb);    ‑rjóðr: ‑rjóð 54    [2] jartegnir: jarteinar 54, Bb(95rb);    vann: gat 61, 54, Bb(95rb), gaf Flat    [3] dverg‑: dygg Flat;    ‑regn*: regns all;    dýrðar: so all others, dreyra Bb(112rb);    megnum: magnat 61, 54, Bb(95rb), mǫgnuð Flat    [5] fegri: so all others, vænni Bb(112rb)    [6] skrýddr með prýddum: prýddr með skrýddum all others    [8] dyggðar: so 61, 54, Bb(95rb), dýrðar Bb(112rb), Flat

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 31: AI, 551, BI, 533, Skald I, 259, NN §§1185, 3122; ÓT 1958-2000, II, 236 (ch. 239), Flat 1860-8, I, 468; SHI 3, 264-5, CPB II, 299, Wisén 1886-9, I, 49-50, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 278-81.

Context: See Context to sts 29 and 30. Óláfr’s curious retainer Þorkell is finally allowed to follow Óláfr on one of his nightly excursions. In a clearing in a wood he sees the king in a house praying, attended by beings who appear to be angels.

Notes: [1] ǫrrjóðr ‘the arrow-reddener [WARRIOR = Óláfr]’: The ÓT reading, also preferred by Kock (Skald; NN §3122). Finnur Jónsson in Skj B prefers ‘Ót riodr’ from Bb(112rb) and emends to ótrauðr ‘not reluctant’, hence Ótrauðr allra dáða vann bjartar dýrðar jartegnir í et fimta sinn; magnak dimt dvergregn ‘[He who was] not reluctant for all deeds performed bright miracles of honour on a fifth occasion. I compose the dark dwarf-rain [POETRY]’.  — [1-2] vann bjartar jartegnir allra dáða ‘performed bright proofs of all [his] deeds’: This fifth wonder does not involve action on King Óláfr’s part, but simply the power of his presence, as angels and heavenly light surround him as signs of his holiness. The ÓT reading gat ‘gained’ in place of vann ‘performed’ is also possible, and the sense of jartegnir seems to be ‘proofs, signs’ rather than ‘miracles’ in either case. — [3, 4] dimmt dvergregn* dýrðar ‘the dark dwarf-rain [POETRY] of glory’: A reference to the myth of the mead of poetry (cf. Note to st. 8/3). Emendation of the mss’ regns to regn ‘rain’ is necessary to provide the object to megnum ‘we [I] strengthen’, and to match dimmt (n. acc. sg.) ‘dark’. The ÓT reading dýrðar ‘of glory’ is adopted in preference to Bb(112rb)’s dreyra ‘blood’ since ‘dark rain of the dwarf-blood’ is not a well-formed kenning, and since the blood in the myth comes from Kvasir rather than a dwarf (SnE 1998, I, 3; cf. SnE 2005, 48). Consequentially dyggðar ‘for virtue’ is preferred to a repeat of dýrðar in l. 8. The adj. dimmt ‘dark’ has been variously interpreted, including as an allusion to the obscurity of skaldic poetry (Skj B), or as Hallar-Steinn’s modest reference to the lacklustre nature of his poem compared with the king’s glorious deeds (NN §1185; de Vries 1964-7, II, 42). — [5] fegri ‘more beautifully’: Lit. ‘more beautiful’. The ÓT reading is here preferred to vænni ‘more beautiful’ since it provides skothending on sigr-. — [6] skrýddr ... prýddum ‘arrayed ... adorned’: The two epithets, applying to King Óláfr and the angels, are near synonyms, and are in reverse order in the ÓT text.

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