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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eilífr Goðrúnarson (Eil)

10th century; volume 3; ed. Edith Marold;

1. Þórsdrápa (Þdr) - 23

Skj info: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Islandsk skjald, omkr. 1000. (AI, 148-52, BI, 139-44).

Skj poems:
1. Et digt om Hakon jarl
2. Þórsdrápa
3. Af et kristeligt digt

Hardly anything is known about the life of Eilífr Goðrúnarson (Eil). According to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266, 280), he was active as a skald at the court of Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in Norway around the end of the tenth century. Some scholars have argued that a word-play in a stanza preserved in Skm (SnE) conceals the name of Hákon jarl, thus confirming the information of Skáldatal, but the present edition, following Lie (1976, 399) is sceptical of that hypothesis (see Þdr 23, Note to [All]). Eilífr’s only surviving works are the long poem Þórsdrápa (Eil Þdr, 23 stanzas) and one fragment of a Christian poem (Eil Frag).

Þórsdrápa — Eil ÞdrIII

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 68.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23 

Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson: 2. Þórsdrápa (AI, 148-52, BI, 139-44); stanzas (if different): 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21

SkP info: III, 124

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

23 — Eil Þdr 23III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 23’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 124.

Verðið ér, alls orða
oss grœr of kon mœrar
á sefreinu Sónar
sáð, vingjǫfum ráða.

Ér verðið ráða vingjǫfum, alls {sáð orða Sónar} of {kon mœrar} grœr oss á {sefreinu}.

You must decide the gifts of friendship, as {the seed of the words of Són <mythical vat>} [POETRY] about {the descendant of the land (= Jǫrð)} [= Þórr] grows for us [me] in {the mind-land} [BREAST].

Mss: R(21v), Tˣ(22r), W(46), U(27r), B(4r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Verðið ér: so all others, verðr ei R;    alls: at Tˣ, W, en U;    orða: jarðar U    [2] oss: ‘os’ W, ‘æs’ U;    grœr: gert U;    kon: kván B;    mœrar: ‘morar’ Tˣ, mæran U    [3] ‑reinu: ‘‑reinio’ U, ‘reyne’ B    [4] sáð: sáðs Tˣ;    ráða: báðir U

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 1. Et digt om Hakon jarl: AI, 148, BI, 139, Skald I, 76, NN §441; SnE 1848-87, I, 250-1, II, 307, 522, III, 13, SnE 1931, 93, SnE 1998, I, 13.

Context: The stanza is cited in Skm (SnE) among stanzas exemplifying kennings for ‘poetry’.

Notes: [All]: Earlier eds (Skj B; Skald; SnE 1998) assign this stanza to an otherwise lost poem about Hákon jarl, because they interpret the phrase kon mæran ‘famous descendant’ (so U) as an onomastic pun on Hákon’s name (see Note to l. 2 below). This edn follows the main ms. and takes kon mœrar ‘descendant of the land (= Jǫrð)’ as a Þórr-kenning, which is also the reason why this helmingr is edited as part of Þdr here. The subject matter – the poet asking for gifts – locates the stanza somewhere in the so-called slœmr, the concluding section of the drápa where the poet may mention the reward he expects for the poem. — [1, 3-4] sáð orða Sónar ‘the seed of the words of Són <mythical vat> [POETRY]’: This is a kenning for ‘poetry’, as the determinant Són makes clear. In Snorri’s account, Són was one of the three vats in which the giant Suttungr stored the mead of poetry (Skm, SnE 1998, I, 4). The kenning is a nýgerving, whose base-word sáð ‘seed’ is prompted by the verb grœr ‘grows’ (l. 2). Skj B combines orða ‘words’ with sefreinu to form a kenning for ‘tongue’; LP: sefrein later changes this referent to ‘breast’. Because sefrein ‘mind-land’ already means ‘breast’, orða is superfluous here, however. Equally superfluous is the determinant Sónar ‘of Són’ in Kock’s (NN §441) sefrein Sónar, which he translates as Sons strand ‘Són’s beach’. It may be easiest to combine orða with sáð Sónar to give ‘words’-seed of Són’, even if orða is superfluous here. — [2] kon mœrar ‘the descendant of the land (= Jǫrð) [= Þórr]’: Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; LP: konr 3; LH I, 537) adopts mæran m. acc. sg. ‘famous’ (so U) against the reading of the majority of the mss. He takes this adj. as a qualifier for the noun kon ‘descendant’, and regards the phrase as an onomastic pun on Hákon jarl’s name, mæran kon = -kon (mærr ‘famous’ = hôr ‘high’). He looks to Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266, 280), which lists Eilífr as one of Hákon’s poets, to confirm this interpretation. All later eds (Skald and SnE 1998, I) follow him. But as Lie (1976, 399) pointed out, the best mss have kon mœrar here, which is a kenning for Þórr. This edn follows Lie and retains the reading of mss R, W, B. Mœrar is the gen. of mœrr ‘land’ and thus a synonym of jǫrð ‘earth’, which in turn is a homonym of Jǫrð, the name of Þórr’s mother (see Lie 1976, 399). The version of the stanza that appears in ms. U may also refer to Þórr periphrastically, however. Consider the following (normalised) reading: Verðið ér en jarðar | es gert of kon mæran | á sefreinu Sónar | sáð vingjǫfum ráða (ráða is an emendation from ‘baþir’ based on the other mss). This gives the prose order Ér verðið ráða vingjǫfum; sáð Sónar es gert á sefreinu um mæran kon Jarðar ‘You must decide the gifts of friendship; the seed of Són <mythical vat> [POETRY] was made in the mind-land [BREAST] about the famous son of the earth [= Þórr]’. Hence, the helmingr given in U could certainly not belong to a now lost poem honouring Hákon jarl, as Finnur Jónsson thought, editing it as Et digt om Hakon jarl ‘A poem about Hákon jarl’ in Skj. Ms. U’s version of the stanza contains several metrical errors, however, because the alliteration in l. 2 falls on the auxiliary verb es, and the aðalhending in the same line (gert : mæran) is flawed. — [3] á sefreinu ‘in the mind-land [BREAST]’: This breast-kenning follows the ‘land of the mind’ pattern (cf. Meissner 136-7). The choice of the base-word rein ‘strip of land between two fields’ is dictated by the metaphorical clause ‘the seed … grows in the land’, which stands for ‘the poem grows in the mind’. The determinant is sefi ‘mind’. One could expect a cpd *sefareinu given the fact that sefi is an n-stem, but the first element of the cpd can be interpreted as a word-stem (sef-) rather than as the gen. form of sefi (sefa-).

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