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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, 121

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Eil Þdr 21III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 21’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 121.

Herblótinn vá hneitir
hógbrotningi skógar
undirfjalfrs af alfi
alfheims bliku kalfa,
né liðfǫstum Lista
látrs val-Rygir môttu
aldrminkanda aldar
Ellu steins of bella.

{Herblótinn hneitir {kalfa {undirfjalfrs {bliku alfheims}}}} vá hógbrotningi skógar af alfi; né môttu {Rygir {Lista {vallátrs}}} of bella {liðfǫstum aldrminkanda {aldar {Ellu steins}}}.

{The people-worshipped vanquisher {of the calves {of the low hiding-place {of the gleam of the elf-world}}}} [SUN > CAVE > GIANTS > = Þórr] fought vigorously with the handy weapon of the forest; nor could {the Rygir {of the Lista {of the falcon-lair}}} [(lit. ‘falcon-Rygir of the lair of Lista’) ROCK > MOUNTAINS > GIANTS] resist {the life-diminisher {of the people {of the Ælla <Northumbrian king> of the stone}}} [GIANT > GIANTS > = Þórr], support-strong.

Mss: R(25r), Tˣ(26r), W(54) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Her‑: Hel‑ R, W, ‘hil‑’ Tˣ;    ‑blótinn: so Tˣ, W, blótin R    [3] af: at W;    alfi: afli Tˣ    [4] alfheims: ‘alf[…]íms’ W    [5] Lista: ‘[…]sta’ W    [6] látrs: látr all;    Rygir: so Tˣ, W, ‘rvgar’ R    [7] aldr‑: aldrs Tˣ;    aldar: so W, eldar R, elda Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 20: AI, 151, BI, 144, Skald I, 79, NN §§469, 2218C, 2254; SnE 1848-87, I, 302-3, III, 39, SnE 1931, 110, SnE 1998, I, 30.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [1] herblótinn ‘people-worshipped’: Almost all earlier eds have adopted Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s (1851, 10, 19) emendation of helblótinn lit. ‘Hel-worshipped’ (?) (so all mss) to herblótinn, because the former cannot be connected with Þórr in any meaningful way. Frank (1986, 98-9) retains the cpd helblótinn, which she translates as ‘honored with sacrifices in hell (or by Hel)’ and explains (rather unconvincingly) as follows: ‘Geirrøðr’s sunless kingdom … has offered up its calves on the altar of the conquering Thor’. — [2] hógbrotningi skógar ‘with the handy weapon of the forest’: The only other attestation of the word brotningr is a sword-heiti in the þulur (Þul Sverða 7/3). In Þdr, this word could be interpreted in two ways. (a) Brotningr could be a heiti for ‘sword’, made from pieces of a broken sword (Falk 1914b, 48; LP: brotningr), and mean ‘weapon’ (adopted in the present edn). ‘Weapon of the forest’ could refer to a staff of wood and be synonymous with Gríðarvǫlr (see Note to st. 10/8), as most eds believe (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 20; Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 401; SnE 1998, II, 315). (b) Some scholars (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 20; Kiil 1956, 164; Reichardt 1948, 390), however, regard brotningr as a derivation of the weak verb brotna ‘break’ (intransitive), a fragment; if so, the translation of hógbrotningr skógar is ‘broken-off twig’ and would characterise Þórr’s weapon as an improvised weapon. In this case, identification with Gríðarvǫlr is rather unlikely. Davidson (1983, 534) suggests that nesta mein (interpreted as ‘provisions of harm’) and hógbrotningr skógar both refer to the hammer Mjǫlnir, which is not persuasive. — [3, 4] undirfjalfrs bliku alfheims ‘of the low hiding-place of the gleam of the elf-world [SUN > CAVE]’: The only other attestation of fjalfr is in Þjóð Haustl 18/2, where it is also translated as ‘hiding-place’. It is possible that this noun is etymologically related to the strong verb fela ‘hide’. The present kenning, ‘low hiding-place of the sun’, can be interpreted in two different ways. The cave could be the hiding-place of the sun itself (i.e. the place where it stays during the night) or it could be a place to hide from the sun (Reichardt 1948, 390). The latter interpretation is supported by the fact that dwarfs and other mythical beings feared the sun because its rays could turn them to stone (for this motif, see Boberg 1966, 109 and Reichborn-Kjennerud 1934a, 280-3). See also the adj. dagskjarr ‘daylight-shy’ (of a dwarf, Þjóð Yt 2/1I), as well as Alv 35 and HHj 30. — [3] af alfi ‘vigorously’: Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 400) preferred the reading of ‘af afli’ but that fails to produce the hending in l. 3. Reichardt (1948, 390) therefore proposed keeping the reading af alfi (R, W). He suggested that alf was a secondary form of afl, caused by metathesis of ƀl, fl to , lf (cf. ANG §313.1), which the poet resorted to in order to form a correct hending. The present edn follows Reichardt here. — [4] bliku alfheims ‘of the gleam of the elf-world [SUN]’: The interpretation of this sun-kenning (following Reichardt 1948, 390; Kiil 1956, 163) is supported by the cpd alfrǫðull ‘elf-sun, elf-gleam’ (meaning ‘sun’; LP: alfrǫðull). Whereas Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 400; Skj B) leaves bliku unexplained, Kock (NN §469) suggests translating it as ‘gleam’ and combining it with alfheimr ‘elf-world’ to mean ‘gold’. Such a kenning is unparalleled in the extant corpus of skaldic poetry. — [5, 6] Rygir Lista vallátrs ‘the Rygir of the Lista of the falcon-lair [(lit. ‘falcon-Rygir of the lair of Lista’) ROCK > MOUNTAINS > GIANTS]’: The edn follows Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 401; Skj B; so also Reichardt 1948, 391). The kenning is a variation of the pattern ‘people of the mountains’ for ‘giants’, where ‘people’ is represented by ‘Rygir’ (people from the district of Rogaland) and ‘mountains’ by the kenning ‘Lista (southernmost part of Norway) of the falcon-lair’. It is unusual to combine two place names in one kenning, but the determinant kenning can be explained by the pattern ‘land of the rocks’, Lista replacing ‘land’. Kock (NN §2254) takes lista as gen. pl. of list ‘art’ and combines it with liðfǫstum; hence ‘powerful by the support of art’. However, list ‘art’ neither suits the character of Þórr nor the fight against the giants. Liðfǫstum ‘support-strong’ can be explained by reference to the situation: Þórr is fighting together with Þjálfi, as the stef (sts 11 and 22) confirms. To achieve a giant-kenning, it is necessary to change the order of the two determinants: látr val-Rygir (‘lair of the falcon-Rygir’) > vallátr(s) Rygir (‘Rygir of the falcon-lair’) (cf. Meissner 44-6) and emend látr (all mss) to látrs. — [7-8] aldrminkanda aldar Ellu steins ‘the life-diminisher of the people of the Ælla <Northumbrian king> of the stone [GIANT > GIANTS > = Þórr]’: As usual, Þórr is referred to periphrastically by a kenning that describes him as a killer and fighter of giants. The base-word of the giant-kenning, Ella, is unusual because such base-words are otherwise almost always the names of sea-kings or mythical and legendary persons (Meissner 258). It is possible, however, to treat Ella as a legendary-heroic name. The Anglo-Saxon king Ælla was killed in 867 by Danish vikings during the sacking of York. In legendary tradition, his death was the result of the revenge of the sons of Ragnarr loðbrók ‘Shaggy-breeches’ for Ælla’s murdering their father, and that probably was the basis for the development of the legends surrounding Ragnarr loðbrók (de Vries 1923a, 252-3).

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