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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.

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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, 101

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Eil Þdr 12III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 12’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 101.

Ok †sifuna† síðan
sverðs liðhat*ar gerðu
hlífar borðs við Hǫrða
harðgleypnis dyn barða,
áðr hylriðar hæði
hrjóðendr fjǫru þjóðar
við skyld-Breta skytju
skálleik Heðins reikar.

Ok síðan gerðu †sifuna† sverðs liðhat*ar {dyn {harðgleypnis {borðs hlífar}}} við {Hǫrða barða}, áðr hylriðar, hrjóðendr {þjóðar fjǫru}, hæði {{Heðins {reikar skál}}leik} við {skyld-Breta skytju}.

And afterwards the … haters of the help of the sword [= Þórr and Þjálfi] held a {din {of the harsh swallower {of the board of defence}}} [SHIELD > SWORD > BATTLE] against {the Hǫrðar of precipices} [GIANTS], before the pool-steppers [= Þórr and Þjálfi], the destroyers {of the people of the shore} [GIANTS], could engage in {the game {{of the bowl of the hair-parting} [HAT] of Heðinn <legendary hero>}} [(lit. ‘bowl-game of the hair-parting of Heðinn’) HELMET > BATTLE] against {the kin-Britons of the markswoman [= Skaði]} [GIANTS].

Mss: R(25r), Tˣ(25v), W(53) (SnE)

Readings: [1] †sifuna†: so Tˣ, W, ‘sifv[…]’ R    [2] ‑hat*ar: ‘h(attar)’(?) R, hattar Tˣ, W    [4] ‑gleypnis: gleipnis R, Tˣ, ‘gleifnir’ W;    dyn barða: dyn barði R, son barði Tˣ, kynbarði W    [5] hæði: heiði all    [6] hrjóðendr: ‘hr(i)oðrvðr’(?) W    [7] Breta: ‘bretia’ Tˣ    [8] skálleik: skal eik all

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 11: AI, 150, BI, 142, Skald I, 78, NN §§456, 457, 2495C; SnE 1848-87, I, 296-9, III, 32-3, SnE 1931, 109, SnE 1998, I, 28.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [1] †sifuna† ‘…’: Despite all efforts, this word still lacks a satisfactory interpretation. Previously it has been assigned some meaning either from the context or by conjecture: ‘joined in brotherhood’ (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 26; Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 389; Skj B; LP: sifuni); sífuni ‘constant or powerful flame’ (NN §456); stríðvana ‘unconcerned’ (Reichardt 1948, 363-5); liðháttar sifjaðir ‘the ones joined (in comradeship)’ (Kiil 1956, 132). None of these interpretations is convincing. — [2] sverðs liðhat*ar ‘haters of the help of the sword [= Þórr and Þjálfi]’: The emendation from háttar/hattar to hatar ‘haters, enemies’ is necessary because neither háttar (gen. sg. of hôttr ‘custom, manner’ or nom./acc. pl. f. of háttr ‘dangerous’) nor hattar (gen. sg. of hǫttr ‘hat’) makes satisfactory sense. Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s (1851, 23) emendation of the word to liðhatar ‘enemies of help’ has been adopted by all eds except Kiil (1956; see below). The paraphrase sverðs liðhatar ‘haters of the help of the sword’ refers to Þórr and Þjálfi, who enter the realm of the giants unarmed. The expression cannot be called a kenning, since it does not follow a typical kenning pattern and also lacks a specific referent. Kiil (1956, 132) interprets liðháttar as ‘companionship’ and connects it to sifjaðir ‘joined’ (his conjecture for the mss’ ‘sifuna’). — [4] harðgleypnis ‘of the harsh swallower’: This edn emends the mss’ gleipnis or ‘gleifnir’ to gleypnis, an agent noun from the weak verb gleypa ‘swallow, devour’. Harðgleypnir ‘the harsh swallower’ is an appropriate base-word in a sword-kenning formed according to the pattern that characterises swords as harmful, aggressive animals (Meissner 155; cf. LP: harðgleipnir; NN §2495C). Most eds connect gleipnis with Gleipnir, the name of one of the three fetters that bind the wolf Fenrir in Gylf (SnE 2005, 25, 28). Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 391) incorporates the word into a shield-kenning, borð harðgleipnis hlífar ‘plank of the hard fetter of the shield [SHIELD-STRAP > SHIELD]’, which contains a term for ‘shield’ twice, once as the referent of the entire kenning and once in hlífar ‘of the shield’ (in LP: harðgleipnir, however, he abandons this interpretation). Kock (NN §456, followed by Reichardt 1948, 364) combines Gleipnir, interpreted as ‘fetter’, with barða ‘of ships’ in a shield-kenning because, according to him, shields hanging from the gunwale formed a chain around a ship. — [4] barða ‘of precipices’: The mss’ barði, nom. barði ‘shield’, ‘ship’, ‘snake’ or the dat. of barð n. ‘beard, precipice, ship’, cannot be accommodated syntactically in this helmingr. The present edn follows Finnur Jónsson’s (1900b, 390; Skj B) suggested emendation to barða gen. pl. ‘of precipices’ and takes barða ‘of precipices’ as the determinant in the giant-kenning Hǫrða barða ‘the Hǫrðar of precipices’. Kock (NN §456, followed by Reichardt 1948, 364) also emends to barða, but he interprets it as gen. pl. of barð ‘ship’ and combines it with harðgleipnis to form the unconvincing shield-kenning ‘hard chain of ships’ (see Note to l. 4 above). For an even less convincing suggestion that involves tmesis, see Kiil (1956, 133). — [5] hylriðar ‘the pool-steppers [= Þórr and Þjálfi]’: The present edn takes this word as a cpd in which the first element is hyl- ‘pool, deep place in a river’ and the second is ‑riði ‘one in motion’. Although the simplex riði m. is unattested, it could be a weak m. form of riða f. ‘rider, a moving woman’; cf. túnriða ‘witch’ (lit. ‘yard-rider’) or kveldriða ‘witch’ (lit. ‘evening-rider’). See also the cpd Ein(d)riði ‘one who goes alone’, one of Þórr’s names. Riði appears to be an agent noun from the strong verb ríða ‘ride, move back and forth’ (Fritzner: riða). The cpd refers to Þórr and Þjálfi and it is not a kenning although it resembles a kenning structurally. Cf. similar explanations in Reichardt (1948, 366) and Kiil (1956, 134). Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 390; Skj B) finds the word opaque, while Kock (NN §457), incomprehensibly, believes that hylriði refers to a wolf. — [5] hæði ‘could engage’: Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s (1851, 8, 20) suggested emendation of the mss’ heiði to hæði, 3rd pers. pl. pret. subj. of heyja, has been adopted by all eds, because this is the only word in the helmingr that can function as the finite verb of the clause. — [6] þjóðar fjǫru ‘of the people of the shore [GIANTS]’: Fjǫru f. gen. sg. ‘of the shore’ is the determinant in the giant-kenning; cf. ferð nesjar ‘troop of the headlands’ (st. 13/3, 4) and flesdrótt ‘skerry-host’ (st. 13/4). Such determinants must refer to cliffs or caves along the shoreline that could be inhabited by giants (Meissner 256). — [7] skyld-Breta skytju ‘the kin-Britons of the markswoman [= Skaði] [GIANTS]’: Giant-kennings whose base-words are ethnic names (collected in Marold 1990a, 109-10) are characteristic of Eilífr’s style. Skytja could be a f. noun derived from skyti m. ‘marksman’ (NN §457); hence, the meaning would be ‘markswoman’ and could refer to Skaði, daughter of the giant Þjazi, the giantess who hunts with bow and arrow. Skyld- means ‘related by kinship’ (Fritzner: skyldr 5), and those related to Skaði are giants (Marold 1990a, 110 Anm. 8). This is consistent with Geirrøðr being called ‘terrifier of the bowstring’ and ‘god of the bow’ (sts 16/5 and 20/5). Previous eds have either left skytju untranslated (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 27; Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 390; Skj B) or resorted to emendation. Kock (NN §457) replaces skyld- with skjald- and translates skjald-Breta skytju as ‘giant’s daughter’ without further comment, while Reichardt (1948, 367) emends skytja to skúta and construes the kenning skyld-Bretar skúta ‘the kin-Britons of the cave’. — [8] Heðins reikar skálleik ‘the game of the bowl of the hair-parting [HAT] of Heðinn <legendary hero> [(lit. ‘bowl-game of the hair-parting of Heðinn’) HELMET > BATTLE]’: This kenning is based on the kenning pattern ‘game of weapons’, with ‘helmet’ as a variation on the weapon component. The determinant ‘helmet’ is replaced by the kenning ‘hat of Heðinn <legendary hero>’, and in this kenning the base-word ‘hat’ is replaced by skál reikar ‘bowl of the parting of the hair’. On the pattern behind the helmet-kenning ‘head-covering of a hero’, see Meissner 164. This interpretation was first suggested by Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 390) and has been adopted by all subsequent eds.

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