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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 28 June 2022)

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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, 115

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

18 — Eil Þdr 18III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 18’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 115.

svát hraðskyndir handa
hrapmunnum svalg gunnar
lyptisylg á lopti
langvinr síu þrǫngvar,
þás ǫrþrasis eisa
ós Hrímnis fló drósar
til þrámóðnis Þrúðar
þjósts af greipar brjósti.

svát {hraðskyndir gunnar}, {langvinr þrǫngvar}, svalg {lyptisylg síu} á lopti {hrapmunnum handa}, þás ós eisa þjósts {ǫrþrasis {drósar Hrímnis}} fló af {brjósti greipar} til {þrámóðnis Þrúðar}.

so that {the swift hastener of battle} [WARRIOR = Þórr], {the old friend of the tight spot (þjálfi ‘enclosure’ = Þjálfi)} [= Þórr], swallowed {the raised drink of the spark} [PIECE OF IRON] in the air {with the hurried mouths of his arms} [HANDS], when the sparking fire of anger {of the passionate lover {of the lady of Hrímnir <giant>}} [GIANTESS > GIANT = Geirrøðr] flew from {the breast of the grip} [HAND] at {the one longing for Þrúðr <goddess>} [= Þórr].

Mss: R(25r), Tˣ(25v), W(53) (SnE)

Readings: [1] hrað‑: om. W    [2] hrap‑: hrapp‑ W;    ‑munnum: munnar W    [3] lypti‑: so Tˣ, W, ‘sypti’ R    [4] langvinr síu: so Tˣ, W, síu langvinr R    [5] ‑þrasis: ‘‑þvrsis’ R, þrasir Tˣ, W;    eisa: eisu R, Tˣ, esju W    [6] ós: so Tˣ, ás R, W    [8] þjósts: þjóst all

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 17: AI, 151, BI, 143, Skald I, 78, NN §2252; SnE 1848-87, I, 300-1, III, 36-7, SnE 1931, 109, SnE 1998, I, 29.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [1] svát ‘so that’: The stanza continues without interruption from the previous one. — [1, 2] hraðskyndir gunnar ‘the swift hastener of battle [WARRIOR = Þórr]’: This is another instance in which Þórr is referred to by a warrior-kenning (see Introduction); the apposition langvinr þrǫngvar ‘the old friend of the tight spot (þjálfi ‘enclosure’ = Þjálfi) [= Þórr]’ (see Note to l. 4 below) clarifies it as a designation for Þórr. — [1-2, 3, 4] svalg lyptisylg síu … hrapmunnum handa ‘swallowed the raised drink of the spark [PIECE OF IRON] … with the hurried mouths of his arms [HANDS]’: This stanza continues the food metaphors from the previous stanzas, which are expanded here into a drinking metaphor for Þórr’s and Geirrøðr’s fighting it out with red-hot iron. The metaphor encompasses the verb ‘swallowed’ for ‘caught, parried’ as well as the instr. dat. hrapmunnum ‘with the hurried mouths’. The metaphorical quality of the latter is extended by the determinant ‘of the arms’, resulting in a kenning for ‘hands’. The object of svalg ‘swallowed’, lyptisylg síu ‘raised drink of the spark [PIECE OF IRON]’ adds to the metaphorical dimension. Lyptisylg refers to a raised, filled drinking cup (Kiil 1956, 153). — [4] langvinr þrǫngvar ‘the old friend of the tight spot (þjálfi ‘enclosure’ = Þjálfi) [= Þórr]’: Unlike other eds, who have interpreted this Þórr-kenning as ‘friend of Freyja’ (see below), the assumption here is that þrǫngvar is an onomastic play on one of the names of the persons involved: þrǫng f. means ‘tight spot, narrowing’ (LP: þrǫng 2) and it is synonymous with þjálfi ‘sth. that encloses and holds together’ (LP: 2. þjalfi). The latter in turn is homophonous with the name of Þórr’s servant Þjálfi, who is with him on this journey. Hence Þórr is referred to periphrastically here as ‘friend of Þjálfi’. For Þjálfi see st. 10/4 and Note there. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1851, 23) takes þrǫngvar to be Þrúngva, an alleged name for the goddess Freyja found in the þulur (Þul Ásynja 3/4); the mss, however, have ‘þungra’ or ‘þrungra’, which Finnur Jónsson emends to Þrungva (Skj B, 661). Even though the gen. form of the name Þrungva cannot possibly be Þrǫngvar, the resulting interpretation of ‘old friend of Freyja’ as a periphrasis for Þórr has been adopted by most subsequent eds. Þórr is nowhere depicted as a friend of Freyja, however. — [5-8]: This helmingr refers to the two opponents, Þórr and Geirrøðr, with kennings containing the analogous base-words ǫrþrasir ‘passionate lover’ and þrámóðnir ‘desirer’. Whereas a giant being called the lover of a giantess follows a common kenning pattern, there are no comparable Þórr-kennings that refer to him as the lover of any goddess. The Þrúðr named in the kenning is Þórr’s daughter, who was allegedly kidnapped by the giant Hrungnir; cf. the Hrungnir-kenning þjófr Þrúðar ‘the thief of Þrúðr’ in Bragi Rdr 1/3, 4 and Note (see also Reichardt 1948, 382; LP: þrámóðnir); hence Þórr can be paraphrased as ‘the one longing for Þrúðr’. — [5] ǫrþrasis ‘of the passionate lover’: In Old Norse this word is only attested here. The meaning of the cpd can be explained by its etymology and its use as a base-word in a giant-kenning. It is formed from the adj. ǫrr ‘swift’ or ‘generous’ and the agent noun þrasir, derived from the weak verb þrasa ‘race along’ (Þrasir is also a name of a dwarf in st. 19/4 and in Þul Dverga 4/8); hence the meaning of ǫrþrasir could be ‘the swift racing one’. In the present stanza, ǫrþrasir is the base-word in a giant-kenning and has a kenning for ‘giantess’ (drósar Hrímnis ‘of the lady of Hrímnir <giant>’) as a determinant; it is therefore likely that the whole kenning belongs to the kenning pattern ‘lover, husband etc. of a giantess’ (Meissner 256). Hence ǫrþrasir has been translated here as ‘passionate lover’ (cf. LP: ǫrþrasir). — [5-6] ós eisa ‘the sparking fire’: The mss’ eisu (R, ; esju W) has been emended to eisa nom. because it is the subject of the sentence (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 396). The adj. óss is not attested in Old Norse, but New Norw. os means ‘crackling, sparking’ (Aasen 2003: os adj. 1.). — [8] þjósts ‘of anger’: The mss’ þjóst has mostly been interpreted as a dat. (nom. þjóstr) and translated as ‘in anger’ or ‘out of anger’ (Kock, NN §2252), but the dat. of þjóstr is þjósti. Kock (ibid.) assumes that the ‑i could have been dropped during recitation; however, such an elision (þjósti af) is not possible in this metrical position. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1851, 31) suggested a cpd þjóstbrjósti ‘out of an angry mind’ (tmesis), which is unlikely, because brjósti must be combined with greipar ‘of the grip’ to form the kenning brjósti greipar ‘the breast of the grip [HAND]’. The simplest solution is to emend þjóst acc. to þjósts gen. and combine it with eisa ‘fire’.

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