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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, 935

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

33 — HSt Rst 33I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 33’ 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. 935.

Þengill þróttarstrǫngum
þeim bauð Kristr af heimi
byrtjalds (beztu heilli)
bragningi (goð fagni).
Ygglaust alla þiggi
eljunfimr á himnum
Óláfr œzta sælu
ítrbóls með gram sólar.

Kristr, {þengill {byrtjalds}}, bauð þróttarstrǫngum bragningi af þeim heimi; goð fagni beztu heilli. Eljunfimr Óláfr þiggi ygglaust alla œzta sælu á himnum með {gram {ítrbóls sólar}}.

Christ, {the prince {of the wind-tent}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)], invited the ruler strong in valour out of the world; may God receive [him] with the highest grace. May the vigorous Óláfr receive without fear all the highest bliss in the heavens with {the lord {of the splendid abode of the sun}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God].

Mss: Bb(112va)

Readings: [7] Óláfr: Óláfi Bb

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 33: AI, 551-2, BI, 533-4, Skald I, 259, NN §§1187, 2113; SHI 3, 266-7, CPB II, 300, Wisén 1886-9, I, 50, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 283-5.

Notes: [1-4]: The general sense of the helmingr is clearly that Óláfr was summoned by God from this world into heaven; but there are alternative analyses of the kenning elements, and alternative solutions to the fact that there is only one dat. noun, bragningi ‘prince’, but two finite verbs, bauð ‘invited’ and fagni ‘receive, welcome’, requiring a dat. object. (a) In the text above, nom. sg. þengill forms a natural kenning for God with byrtjalds ‘wind-tent [SKY/HEAVEN]’, which is set in apposition to the nom. sg. Kristr ‘Christ’ (so also Skj B). Þróttarstrǫngum ‘strong in valour’ is taken as an attributive adj. with bragningi ‘prince’, and þeim is taken with heimi, hence ‘the world’. Fagni lacks an explicit object, but this is easily understood to be the same bragningi ‘prince’ as in the first clause. (b) In Skj B (following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7) strǫngum ‘strong’ is taken as substantival, hence þeim þróttar strǫngum ‘the one strong in valour/power’. This has the advantage of leaving bragningi available as the explicit object of fagni. (c) Kock (NN §1187) objects to the positioning of Kristr relative to the kenning. He emends þengill to dat. sg. þengil, object of bauð ‘invited’, and takes þeim as a pron. ‘him’ in apposition to it. He takes together af heimi byrtjalds ‘from the world of the wind-tent [HEAVEN]’, qualifying bauð, so that God calls to Óláfr out of heaven. However, the addition of heimi ‘world’ to the heaven-kenning makes it overloaded, and it is more natural to understand af heimi as referring to Óláfr leaving the earth. — [1] þróttarstrǫngum ‘strong in valour’: (a) The two elements are treated here as a cpd. This seems likely in light of other compounds in which a reference to warlike deeds in the gen. qualifies strangr: Sigv Berv 13/2II heiptarstrangr ‘vengeful’ and Sturl Hryn 7/4II sóknarstrangr ‘war-fierce’; there are also several further compounds in -strangr (LP: strangr). (b) The two elements could alternatively be regarded as a phrase with the adj. strangr governing the gen. (cf. NS §§136-8, though the examples do not include strangr). — [3] -tjalds : heilli: On this rhyme, see Note to st. 32/3. — [3] beztu heilli ‘with the highest grace’: Lit. ‘with the best grace or fortune’: A specifically Christian sense ‘grace’ is appropriate here as, e.g., in Gamlkan Has 1/1VII. — [4] fagni ‘may … receive’: There are also connotations of welcoming, cf. Skj B’s gud måtte glæde kongen ‘may God cheer the king’. — [7] Óláfr: The minor emendation of ms. Óláfi is necessary both in order to provide a nom. sg. subject for þiggi ‘receive’ and because Óláfi is hypermetrical. The emendation is adopted in previous eds.

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