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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, 901

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — HSt Rst 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Rolf Stavnem (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallar-Steinn, Rekstefja 4’ 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. 901.

Fullsnart frœknu hjarta
fríðr þengill lét síðan
— hjǫrr gall; hǫlðar fellu —
hefnd síns fǫður efnda.
Blóðugr bragnings þjóðar
brandr gall á Englandi;
oddrjóð enskra lýða
aldrspelli frák valda.

Fríðr þengill lét síðan fullsnart efnda hefnd fǫður síns frœknu hjarta; hjǫrr gall; hǫlðar fellu. Blóðugr brandr {bragnings þjóðar} gall á Englandi; frák {oddrjóð} valda aldrspelli enskra lýða.

The handsome ruler then most swiftly achieved revenge for his father with a bold heart; the sword shrieked; men fell. The blood-stained sword {of the prince of men} [RULER = Óláfr] shrieked in England; I have heard that {the point-reddener} [WARRIOR] caused life-destruction of English people.

Mss: Bb(111va); 61(16vb), 54(12ra), Bb(22va), 62(9va), Flat(16ra) (ÓT, ll. 5-8)

Readings: [4] hefnd: hefnt Bb(111va);    efnda: efndi Bb(111va)    [6] gall: gallt 62;    Eng‑: so all others, Ír‑ Bb(111va)    [7] oddrjóð: so 61, ótrautt Bb(111va), oddrjóðr 54, Bb(22va), oddjǫrð 62, ‘od medal’ Flat;    enskra lýða: so all others, ‘eínskrar drottar’ Bb(111va)

Editions: Skj: Hallar-Steinn, 1. Rekstefja 5: AI, 544, BI, 526, Skald I, 256, NN §1170; ÓT 1958-2000, I, 159 (ch. 77), Flat 1860-8, I, 120; SHI 3, 246-7, CPB II, 296, Wisén 1886-9, I, 46, Finnur Jónsson 1893b, 164, Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 199-202.

Context: Lines 5-8 follow st. 3 in ÓT, separated by a statement that Óláfr makes first for England and harries all over the country.

Notes: [All]: Only Bb(111va) preserves the complete stanza, while the ÓT mss have only ll. 5-8. It is printed as st. 5 in previous eds following the order in ÓT; see Introduction. For Óláfr’s campaigns in England, see also Hfr Óldr 5; on Anon Óldr 5 see below. — [2, 4] lét ... efnda hefnd ‘achieved revenge’: Lit. ‘caused revenge [to be] achieved’. Slight emendation of efndi and hefnt in the sole ms. for ll. 1-4 is required to produce f. acc. sg. p. p. efnda agreeing with hefnd, hence lét ... efnda hefnd. The ms. reading efndi would be a finite verb, 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. ‘achieved’, but neither it, nor ms. hefnt, p. p. ‘avenged’, produces satisfactory syntax. Anon Óldr 5/8 uses almost identical phrasing to praise Óláfr’s revenge, and as here the stanza also refers to a raid on England. As to the revenge, the slaying of Óláfr’s father Tryggvi Óláfsson is traditionally placed in Norway, and attributed to the treachery of his cousins the Eiríkssynir or Gunnhildarsynir (e.g. HN, MHN 110; Fsk, ÍF 29, 102; Hkr, ÍF 26, 214). Why the attacks on England (ll. 5-8) constituted revenge for Tryggvi is unclear, and this problem may be the reason that ll. 1-4 are omitted in ÓT. Conceivably the Gunnhildarsynir’s connections with England lie behind the allusion here. Alternatively, it may be that the two helmingar in this stanza refer to different campaigns. — [6] Englandi ‘England’: The Bb (111va) version specifies Ireland, in a line identical with Anon Óldr 6/6. However, the reference to England in ÓT chimes with enskra ‘English’ in l. 7, which seems to be more consistent with the style of the poem, as st. 6/5-8, e.g., mentions Scotland and Scots in the same manner. Furthermore, the Irish are dealt with in st. 6/1-4. — [7] oddrjóð … enskra lýða ‘the point-reddener [WARRIOR] … of English people’: This line in Bb(111va), ótrautt enskrar dróttar ‘not unwilling(ly) ... of the English troop’, does not provide a subject to valda ‘cause(d)’, and has been replaced here with the line found in the ÓT mss. Konráð Gíslason (1895-7) points out that a minor emendation, of gen. sg. þjóðar to acc. pl. þjóðir ‘men, peoples’ in l. 5, can enable the rest of the helmingr in Bb(111va) to be retained, hence frák þjóðir bragnings ótrautt valda aldrspelli enskrar dróttar ‘I have heard that the prince’s men not unwillingly caused the death of English people’. — [8] aldrspelli ‘life-destruction’: This cpd (n. nom. sg. aldrspell) could be regarded as a kenning for ‘death’ (so Meissner 437).

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