Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson (Eyv)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

1. Hákonarmál (Hák) - 21

Skj info: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, Norsk skjald, 10. årh. (d. omkr. 990). (AI, 64-74, BI, 57-65).

Skj poems:
1. Hákonarmál
2. Háleygjatal
3. Lausavísur

Eyvindr (Eyv, c. 915-990) has been called the last important Norwegian skald (Genzmer 1920, 159; also Boyer 1990a, 201). He is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 256, 261, 265-6) among the poets of Hákon góði ‘the Good’ Haraldsson and Hákon jarl Sigurðarson. His maternal grandmother was a daughter of Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’, and he seems to have been close to Haraldr’s son Hákon góði from early on, serving at his court as one of a group of brilliant skalds. After Hákon’s death he resided at the court of Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’, but relations with Haraldr seem to have soured quickly, as evidenced by his lausavísur. Eyvindr spent the last part of his life with the powerful Hákon jarl Sigurðarson of Hlaðir (Lade), whose family had supported Hákon góði against the sons of Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’. According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 221), in addition to Háleygjatal (Hál), Hákonarmál (Hák) and the lausavísur, Eyvindr composed a poem Íslendingadrápa, but this has not come down to us. The epithet skáldaspillir is usually interpreted to mean ‘Plagiarist’, literally ‘Destroyer (or Despoiler?) of Poets’ in reference to his habit of drawing inspiration from and alluding to earlier compositions, specifically Ynglingatal (Þjóð Yt) for Hál and Eiríksmál (Anon Eirm), along with several eddic poems, for Hák (see Introductions to Hál and Hák). The alternative interpretation ‘Poem-reciter’ proposed by Wadstein (1895a, 88) is unconvincing; see further Olsen (1962a, 28), and Beck (1994a). For further biographical information, see LH I, 447-9, Holm-Olsen (1953) and Marold (1993a).

Hákonarmál (‘Words about Hákon’) — Eyv HákI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál’ 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. 171.

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Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir: 1. Hákonarmál, 961 (AI, 64-8, BI, 57-60)

in texts: Fsk, HákGóð, Hkr, Skm, SnE

SkP info: I, 171

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Gǫndul ok Skǫgul
sendi Gautatýr
at kjósa of konunga,
hverr Yngva ættar
skyldi með Óðni fara
ok í Valhǫll vesa.
The god of the Gautar [= Óðinn] sent Gǫndul and Skǫgul to choose among kings, which of the kin of Yngvi should go with Óðinn and live in Valhǫll.
2 Bróður fundu þær Bjarnar
í brynju fara,
konung inn kostsama,
kominn und gunnfana.
Drúpðu dolgráar,
en darraðr hristisk;
upp vas þá hildr of hafin.
They [the valkyries] found Bjǫrn’s brother [= Hákon] putting on a mail-shirt, that admirable king, stationed under his battle-standard. Enmity-yard-arms [SPEARS] drooped, and the banner shook; the battle was then begun.
3 Hét á Háleygi
sems á Holmrygi
jarla einbani;
fór til orrostu.
Gótt hafði inn gjǫfli
gengi Norðmanna
œgir Eydana;
stóð und árhjalmi.
The sole slayer of jarls [= Hákon] called on the Háleygir just as on the Hólmrygir; he went into battle. The munificent terrifier of Island-Danes [= Hákon] had the good support of the Norwegians; he stood under a helmet of metal.
4 Hrauzk ór hervôðum,
hratt á vǫll brynju,
vísi verðungar,
áðr til vígs tœki.
Lék við ljóðmǫgu
— skyldi land verja —
gramr inn glaðværi;
stóð und gollhjalmi.
The leader of the retinue [Hákon] threw off his war-garments [ARMOUR], cast his mail-shirt to the ground, before beginning the battle. The cheerful ruler joked with his men; he had to protect the land; he stood under a golden helmet.
5 Svá beit þá sverð
ór siklings hendi
váðir Váfaðar,
sem í vatn brygði.
Brǫkuðu broddar,
brotnuðu skildir,
glumruðu gylfringar
í gotna hausum.
Then the sword in the sovereign’s hand bit the garments of Váfuðr <= Óðinn> [ARMOUR], as if it were cutting through water. Points clanged, shields burst, swords clattered in men’s skulls.
6 Trǫddusk tǫrgur
fyr Týs of bauga
hjalta harðfótum
hausar Norðmanna.
Róma varð í eyju;
ruðu konungar
skírar skjaldborgir
í skatna blóði.
Shields [and] Norwegians’ skulls were trampled under the hard feet of hilts [SWORDS] of the Týr <god> of rings [MAN]. Battle arose on the island; kings reddened gleaming shield-fortresses in the blood of men.
7 Brunnu benjeldar
í blóðgum undum;
lutu langbarðar
at lýða fjǫrvi.
Svarraði sárgymir
á sverða nesi;
fell flóð fleina
í fjǫru Storðar.
Wound-fires [SWORDS] burned in bloody wounds; swords swung down on men’s lives. The wound-sea [BLOOD] roared on the headland of swords [SHIELD]; the flood of barbs [BLOOD] fell on the shore of Stord.
8 Blendusk við roðnar
und randar himni;
Skǫglar veðr léku
við ský* of bauga.
Umðu oddláar
í Óðins veðri;
hné mart manna
fyr mækis straumi.
Red colours mingled beneath the sky of the shield-rim [SHIELD]; the storms of Skǫgul <valkyrie> [BATTLE] played against the clouds of shield-rings [SHIELDS]. Point-waves [BLOOD] roared in the storm of Óðinn [BATTLE]; many people sank down before the tide of the sword [BLOOD].
9 Sôtu þá dǫglingar
með sverð of togin,
með skarða skjǫldu
ok skotnar brynjur.
Vasa sá herr
í hugum ok átti
til Valhallar vega.
Then kings were sitting with swords drawn, with hacked shields and pierced mail-shirt. That army was not in good spirits and was on its way to Valhǫll.
10 Gǫndul þat mælti,
studdisk geirskapti:
‘Vex nú gengi goða,
es Hôkuni hafa
með her mikinn
heim bǫnd of boðit.’
Gǫndul said that [this], leaned on a spear-shaft: ‘The gods’ force grows now, since the gods have invited Hákon home with a great army.’
11 Vísi þat heyrði,
hvat valkyrjur mæltu
mærar af mars baki;
hyggiliga létu
ok hjalmaðar stóðu
ok hǫfðusk hlífar fyrir.
The leader heard what the renowned valkyries said from [on] horseback; they behaved prudently and remained, helmeted, and held shields in front of them.
12 ‘Hví þú svá gunni *
skiptir, Geir-Skǫgul,
órum þó verðir gagns frá goðum?’
‘Vér því vǫldum *,
es þú velli helt,
en þínir fíandr flugu.’
‘Why did you decide the battle thus, Spear-Skǫgul, though we were [I was] worthy of victory from the gods?’ ‘We brought it about that you held the field and your enemies fled.’
13 ‘Ríða vit skulum,’
kvað in ríkja Skǫgul,
‘grœna heima goða,
Óðni at segja,
at nú mun allvaldr koma
á hann sjalfan at séa.’
‘We two shall ride,’ said the mighty Skǫgul, ‘through the green abodes of the gods, to say to Óðinn that now a supreme ruler will come to look on him in person.’
14 ‘Hermóðr ok Bragi,’
kvað Hroptatýr,
‘gangið í gǫgn grami,
því at konungr ferr,
sá es kappi þykkir,
til hallar hinig.’
‘Hermóðr and Bragi,’ said Hroptatýr [Óðinn], ‘go to meet the monarch, because a king is coming here to the hall who is deemed a champion.’
15 Ræsir þat mælti
— vas frá rómu kominn,
stóð allr í dreyra drifinn —:
‘illúðigr mjǫk
þykkir oss Óðinn vesa;
séumk vér hans of hugi.’
The ruler [Hákon] said that [this] — he had come from battle, stood all drenched in blood —: ‘Óðinn appears to us [me] to be very hostile; we [I] fear his intentions.’
16 ‘Einherja grið
skalt þú allra hafa;
þigg þú at Ôsum ǫl.
Jarla bági,
þú átt inni hér
átta brœðr,’ kvað Bragi.
‘You shall have quarter from all the einherjar; take ale among the Æsir. Adversary of jarls [RULER = Hákon], you have eight brothers in this place,’ said Bragi.
17 ‘Gerðar órar,’
kvað inn góði konungr,
‘viljum vér sjalfir hafa;
hjalm ok brynju
skal hirða vel;
gótt es til gǫrs at taka.’
‘We ourselves [I myself] wish to keep our [my] armour,’ said the good king; ‘one should take good care of one’s helmet and mail-shirt; it is good to have recourse to ready gear.’
18 Þá þat kynnðisk,
hvé sá konungr hafði
vel of þyrmt véum,
es Hôkon bôðu
heilan koma
rôð ǫll ok regin.
It was revealed then how well that king had revered the sanctuaries, when all the guiding and ruling powers bade Hákon welcome.
19 Góðu dœgri
verðr sá gramr of borinn,
es sér getr slíkan sefa.
Hans aldar
mun æ vesa
at góðu getit.
On a good day will that monarch be born who gets for himself such a character. His time will always be spoken of as good.
20 Mun óbundinn
á ýta sjǫt
Fenrisulfr fara,
áðr jafngóðr
á auða trǫð
konungmaðr komi.
The wolf Fenrir, unbound, will enter the abode of men before so good a royal person comes onto the vacant path.
21 Deyr fé,
deyja frændr,
eyðisk land ok láð,
síz Hôkun fór
með heiðin goð;
mǫrg es þjóð of þéuð.
Livestock are dying, kinsfolk are dying, land and realm become deserted, since Hákon went with the heathen gods; many a nation is enslaved.
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