This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

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, 80

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Eil Þdr 3III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 80.

Gǫrr varð í fǫr fyrri
farmr meinsvarra arma
sóknar hapts með svipti
sagna galdrs an Rǫgnir.
Þylk granstrauma Grímnis;
gall- manntælendr halla
-ópnis ilja gaupnum
Endils um Mó spenndu.

{{Farmr arma} {meinsvarra}} varð fyrri gǫrr í fǫr með {svipti sagna} an {Rǫgnir {galdrs {hapts sóknar}}}. Þylk {granstrauma Grímnis}; {mann{tælendr {halla gallópnis}}} spenndu gaupnum ilja um {Mó Endils}.

{{The cargo of the arms} [LOVER] {of the harm-woman}} [= Angrboða > = Loki] was ready for the journey with {the mover of troops} [LEADER = Þórr] earlier than {the Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> {of the incantation {of the god of battle}}} [= Óðinn > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Þjálfi]. I recite {the lip-streams of Grímnir <= Óðinn>} [POEM]; {the destroyers {of the man {of the halls of the shrill-crier <eagle>}}} [(lit. ‘man-destroyers of the halls of the shrill-crier’) MOUNTAINS > GIANT > = Þórr and his companion] clasped {the Mór <horse> of Endill <sea-king>} [SHIP] with the palms of their foot-soles.

Mss: R(24v), Tˣ(25r-v), W(53) (SnE)

Readings: [2] farmr: so Tˣ, W, farms R;    ‑svarra: ‑svarans all    [3] hapts: so Tˣ, W, ‘hafsz’ R    [4] Rǫgnir: so Tˣ, W, ‘tꜹgnir’ R    [5] gran‑: so W, grunn‑ R, gram‑ Tˣ    [6] ‑tælendr: ‑tælir Tˣ, W;    halla: ‘hall(ar)’(?) W    [7] ópnis: opins Tˣ, ‘apnís’ W;    gaupnum: ‘gop[…]’ W    [8] um: á all

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 3: AI, 148-9, BI, 140, Skald I, 77, NN §§1080, 2106; SnE 1848-87, I, 292-3, III, 25-6, SnE 1931, 108, SnE 1998, I, 26.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [All]: According to the interpretation given here, Loki seems to have been prepared to journey into the giant’s world before Þjálfi was ready (see Introduction above). — [1] varð fyrri gǫrr í fǫr ‘was ready for the journey … earlier’: Gǫrr cannot be separated from varð, since a break in the syntax at this point is impossible for metrical reasons (Gade 1995a, 85). This eliminates every suggestion that gǫrr could go with one of the other words in the helmingr: gǫrr galdrs ‘ready for magic’ (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 7); gǫrr meinsvárans ‘ready to bear false witness’ (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 378; Skj B; Guðmundur Finnbogason 1924, 174); gǫrr sóknar ‘ready to do battle’ (Reichardt 1948, 341). — [2] farmr arma meinsvarra ‘the cargo of the arms [LOVER] of the harm-woman [= Angrboða > = Loki]’: This kenning must be the sentence’s subject. Its base-word, ‘lover’, is expressed by another kenning, ‘cargo of the arms’. Similar to this are farmr arma Gunnlaðar ‘cargo of the arms [LOVER] of Gunnlǫð <giantess> [= Óðinn]’ Steinþ Frag 1/2 and farmr arma Sigvinjar ‘cargo of the arms [LOVER] of Sigyn <goddess> [= Loki]’ Þjóð Haustl 7/2. These examples show that determinants in this type of kenning must be the name of a female being. This edn follows Kock’s (NN §2106) suggestion that meinsvarans (so all mss) should instead read meinsvarrans ‘of the harm-woman’, from mein n. ‘harm’ and the weak m. noun svarri ‘woman’. This woman must be the giantess Angrboða, with whom Loki begot the three monsters that threaten the world (Fenrisúlfr, Miðgarðsormr and Hel; Gylf, SnE 2005, 27). This kenning fits very well here, because Loki is also the source of the evil awaiting Þórr and Þjálfi (see st. 1). That Loki’s advice is based on his incautiousness in venturing into giantland and being forced to bring Þórr to Geirrøðr without his weapons, is only related by Snorri (SnE 1998, I, 24) and has to be left out of consideration here. The only problem is that all mss have ‘meinsvarans’, i.e. the word contains the def. art. ‑ns which Kock (ibid.) assumes was a later insertion. This edn therefore normalises to meinsvarra in keeping with editorial practice. Other eds have sought to supplement farmr arma differently: farmr arma hapts meinsvarans ‘cargo of the arms of the god of false witness [= Geirrøðr > = Gjálp and Greip]’ (Sveinbjörn Egilsson 1851, 15); farmr arma hapts galdrs ‘cargo of the arms of the deity of magic [= Sigyn > = Loki]’ (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 378; Skj B); farmr arma hapts sóknar ‘cargo of the arms of the deity of battle [= Sigyn > = Loki]’ (Guðmundur Finnbogason 1924, 174); farmr arma Meinsvárangs ‘cargo of the arms of Meinsvárangr <giant> [GIANTESS]’ (Reichardt 1948, 340; Davidson 1983, 575); farmr arma hapts sóknar meinsvárans ‘cargo of the arms of the barrier to the trial for bearing false witness [= Syn > = Þórr]’ (Kiil 1956, 100-1). Kock (NN §445) interprets this last kenning as ‘cargo of the arms of the deity of revenge for bearing false witness’ [= Vôr > = Loki]. All of these proposals fall short because they either contain arbitrary syntactic constructions or require ad hoc assumptions about mythology. — [3-4] svipti sagna ‘the mover of troops [LEADER = Þórr]’: Here, as so often in this poem, a man-kenning is used to refer to the god Þórr (see Introduction above). Cf. hrœrir sagna ‘the leader of the troops [= Loki]’ Þjóð Haustl 9/1. — [3, 4] Rǫgnir galdrs hapts sóknar ‘the Rǫgnir <= Óðinn> of the incantation of the god of battle [= Óðinn > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Þjálfi]’: This warrior-kenning is formed according to the pattern ‘god of battle’, and it expresses ‘battle’ periphrastically as ‘incantation of Óðinn’. For ‘incantation’ as the base-word in battle-kennings, see Meissner 176-7. Almost all eds agree that Rǫgnir must be the base-word of a kenning for Þjálfi, but they construe the kenning with different determinants. Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 378; Skj B) opts for Rǫgnir sóknar ‘Rǫgnir of battle’; Kock (NN §445) proposes the Óðinn-kenning Rǫgnir galdrs ‘Rǫgnir of magic’, which is rejected by Reichardt (1948, 339) on the grounds that Óðinn is out of the question as a companion of Þórr. Reichardt (1948, 339-41) therefore interprets the same kenning as a periphrasis for Loki, much in the same way as Kiil (1956, 101), who expands this supposed Loki-kenning to rǫgnir sagna galdrs ‘leader of the troops of magic’. In the extant Old Norse mythology, there are no connections between Loki and magic incantations, however. — [5] granstrauma Grímnis ‘the lip-streams of Grímnir <= Óðinn> [POEM]’: This kenning for ‘poem’ refers to the myth of the mead of poetry, and in particular, to Óðinn, who spews the stolen mead into the waiting vats (SnE 1998, I, 5). With its two-part determinant, in which ‘lip-’ is a superfluous kenning component, it corresponds to the kenning type ‘liquid of the breast of Óðinn’. — [6-7] manntælendr halla gallópnis ‘the destroyers of the man of the halls of the shrill-crier <eagle> [(lit. ‘man-destroyers of the halls of the shrill-crier’) MOUNTAINS > GIANT > = Þórr and his companion]’: Tmesis on gallópnir is unavoidable here, and it has been adopted by all previous eds. Gallópnir is a heiti for ‘eagle’ (see Þul Ara 1/1). The halls of the eagle, i.e. the location where it can be found, are the mountains, and the men of the mountains are giants. Þórr and his follower (Þjálfi) are then called ‘fighters of giants’. All mss clearly give mann- ‘man-’ here, which makes it impossible to incorporate Endils from the last line into this kenning, as Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 378, followed by Skj and SnE 1998) does. He makes Endils the base-word of a giant-kenning, Endils halla gallópnis ‘of the Endill of the halls of the shrill-crier’, which in turn functions as the determinant in a giant-kenning with an emended mantælendr lit. ‘girl-destroyer’ as the base-word (rejected by Kock in NN §1080). — [7-8] spenndu gaupnum ilja um Mó Endils ‘clasped the Mór <horse> of Endill <sea-king> [SHIP] with the palms of their foot-soles’: Setting foot aboard a ship is represented here by a metaphor, spenna gaupnum ‘clasp with the palms’, the interpretation of which is determined by ilja ‘of the foot-soles’ (a corrected metaphor). Gaupnum ilja ‘with the palms of their foot-soles’ is not a kenning, because it has no referent. The emendation of the prep. á (so all mss) to um is necessary here because the verb spenna in the sense ‘clasp’ is construed with the prep. um ‘around’ and not with á ‘on, onto, at’ (see Fritzner: I. spenna). — [8] Mó Endils ‘the Mór <horse> of Endill <sea-king> [SHIP]’: This edn deviates (with Kock NN §1080; Genzmer 1928, 310; Kiil 1956, 102) from other eds (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 378; Skj B; Reichardt 1948, 343) in making Endill the determinant of the horse-heiti Mór. For Mór as a horse-name, cf. Þul Hesta 3/8, Anon Þorgþ I 1/7 and Anon Kálfv 2/3. The second part of the stanza is then not about climbing mountains or wading through a river, but about Þórr and his companion boarding a ship (or wading through the sea, see below). This corresponds to the prose narratives of this myth (see Introduction above) according to which giants are approached by sea (cf. Kiil 1956, 103). On his way to Jǫtunheimar visiting Útgarðaloki, Þórr crosses a deep sea (Gylf, SnE 2005, 37), and comparable stories about underworld journeys to Geirrøðr, such as those of Thorkillus (Saxo 2005, I, 8, 14, 1-20, pp. 560-73) and Þorsteinn bæjarmagn (FSGJ IV, 329), also lead across the sea. The kenning ‘Scots of Gandvík’ in st. 2/6 above fits this pattern as well. It locates the giants, who are the target of this journey, near the White Sea, or north of it, as on the Skálholt map (see Note to st. 2/6). Numerous eds have interpreted as ‘land’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1851, 24) combines it with Endils to form a kenning for ‘mountain’ (‘land of the giant’). Endill is recorded exclusively as the name of a sea-king, however, and never as a giant-name; hence the kenning Endils can only mean ‘sea’ and not ‘mountain’. Kock (NN §1080) takes the kenning to mean ‘stretch of water’, i.e. the river that Þórr and his companion must wade across (so also Genzmer 1928, 310). Names of sea-kings, however, are never determinants in river-kennings (Meissner 99-100). If one wanted to keep Endils as a sea-kenning, the rest of the helmingr, namely spenndu gaupnum ilja ‘they clasped with the palms of their foot-soles’, would imply that Þórr and his companion would have walked on or perhaps waded through the sea. There are several instances where Þórr wades through water; most comparable is perhaps the end of the fishing contest in Hym st. 27 and in Gylf (SnE 2005, 45). Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 378; Skj B, followed by Reichardt 1948, 343 and Davidson 1983, 574, 578) therefore avoids a kenning, translating simply as ‘earth, heath’. He combines Endils and halla gallópnis ‘halls of the shrill-crier [MOUNTAINS]’ into a giant-kenning, and this in turn with mantælendr (emended from manntælendr) into a kenning for Þórr and his companions (on this see Note to ll. 6-7 above). In light of all these difficulties, the present edn interprets as the horse-name Mór, combined with Endils to form a ship-kenning.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.