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Eilífr Goðrúnarson (Eil)

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

1. Þórsdrápa (Þdr) - 23

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 25 January 2022)

stanzas:  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, 89

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Eil Þdr 7III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 7’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 89.

Þar í mǫrk fyrir markar
málhvettan byr settu
(né hvélvǫlur Hallar
háfs) skotnaðra (svôfu).
Knátti, hreggi hǫggvin*,
hlymþél við mǫl glymja,
en fellihryn fjalla
Feðju þaut með steðja.

Þar settu {skotnaðra} í {mǫrk háfs} fyrir {málhvettan byr markar}; né svôfu {hvélvǫlur Hallar}. {Hlymþél} knátti glymja við mǫl, en {hreggi hǫggvin* fellihryn fjalla} þaut með {steðja Feðju}.

There they set {shot-adders} [SPEARS] in {the borderland of the fish trap} [RIVER] against {the chattering wind of the borderland} [RIVER]; {the wheel-knuckles of Hǫll <river>} [STONES] did not sleep. {The din-file} [SPEAR] resounded against the gravel, and {the storm-blasted toppling-noise of the mountains} [RIVER] roared against {the anvil of Fedje <river>} [ROCK].

Mss: R(24v), Tˣ(25v), W(53) (SnE)

Readings: [2] ‑hvettan: ‘hueican’ Tˣ;    byr: bur Tˣ, W    [3] Hallar: so W, ‘halar’ R, Tˣ    [4] háfs: haf all    [5] Knátti: ‘knatt’ Tˣ;    hǫggvin*: hǫgvinn all

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 6: AI, 149, BI, 140, Skald I, 77, NN §§447, 448; SnE 1848-87, I, 294-5, III, 29, SnE 1931, 108, SnE 1998, I, 27.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [1, 4] í mǫrk háfs ‘in the borderland of the fish trap [RIVER]’: Although mǫrk in Old Norse usually means ‘forest’ or ‘wasteland’ (Fritzner: mörk), the original meaning is ‘borderland’ (cf. Goth. marka ‘border’, OE mearc ‘border, district’, OS marca ‘border, borderland’; see AEW: mǫrk). Háfs is an emendation of ‘haf’ (all mss). The omission of the ending ‑s could have been caused by the initial s- in the next word. Earlier interpretations (Finnur Jónsson 1900b, 383; Guðmundur Finnbogason 1924, 176; Davidson 1983, 590) avoid emendation by assuming tmesis háfmǫrk. The present edn emends because tmesis between l. 1 and l. 4 should rather be avoided. Another possibility is to interpret í mǫrk as ‘in the ground’ (NN §447; Reichardt 1948, 350) which could be justified by assuming a semantic development from ‘borderland’ to ‘land, ground’. That results in problems within the last line, however. Kock (NN §447) construes háf skotnaðra ‘the fish trap of the spear’ without explaining what that means. Reichardt (1948, 349-50) combines háfs with markar (l. 1) to byr markar háfs ‘the storm of the ground of the fish trap [RIVER]’, referring to the roaring current. However, this interpretation results in a three-part l. 4. — [1, 2] byr markar ‘the wind of the borderland [RIVER]’: Although byrr, the base-word of this kenning, means ‘wind, favourable breeze’, the context shows that a river rushing through a ravine is most likely intended (see also Note to l. 7). — [1, 2, 4] settu skotnaðra í mǫrk háfs ‘they set shot-adders [SPEARS] in the borderland of the fish trap [RIVER]’: On spear-kennings with the base-word ‘snake’, see Meissner 146. Þórr and his companion used their weapons to prop themselves up against the force of the river. — [2] málhvettan ‘chattering’: Lit. ‘speech-whetted’. This must be a metaphor for the roaring of a river; cf. Davidson (1983, 590), who points to river-heiti that consist of words for ‘storm’, ‘thunder’ or ‘tempest’. Hvettr is taken here as p. p. of the weak verb hvetja ‘sharpen, encourage’, as a parallel, umlauted form of the expected hvattr (ANG §428.2; see Reichardt 1948, 349). Other interpretations: (a) Guðmundur Finnbogason (1924, 176) construes the cpd as málhveptan which, according to him, means ‘speaking pine-trees’. (b) Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 383; Skj B; LP: málhvettr), emends hvettan R, W (‘hveican’ ) to ‑hvettar and derives it from an ON *hvetta ‘knock over’ (cf. New Norw. kvetta, see Torp 1963, 348). According to him, this p. p. qualifies the stones (-vǫlur) that make noises when knocked. Because of the emendation, the overly complex word order and the assumption that ‑vǫlur means ‘stones’, that suggestion is unlikely. (c) Kock (NN §447, followed by Kiil 1956, 112) connects málhvettan m. acc. sg. with bur markar (so mss and W), understood as a Þórr-kenning (‘son of the earth’; cf. sonr Jarðar ‘son of Jǫrð (= earth)’ in Þjóð Haustl 14/6), and he translates málhvettan as ‘urged to meet’. Aside from the fact that mǫrk ‘forest, terrain, ground’ is never attested in skaldic poetry as a heiti for Jǫrð, Þórr’s mother, Kock’s suggestion, ‘they set their spears in the ground before Þórr’, makes no sense in the context. — [3] hvélvǫlur Hallar ‘the wheel-knuckles of Hǫll <river> [STONES]’: Hvél- ‘wheel’ refers to the round shape of pebbles, and the second element, ‑vǫlur, is nom. pl. of vala f. ‘bone, knuckle’. Hvélvǫlur (so NN §447; Guðmundur Finnbogason 1924, 176; Kiil 1956, 112-13) cannot mean ‘stones’ by itself and needs a determinant. This edn follows Reichardt (1948, 350) who interprets ‘hallar’ (so W) as gen. of the river-name Hǫll (Grí 27). — [5, 6] knátti glymja ‘resounded’: Knátti is pleonastic and left untranslated here. — [6] hlymþél ‘the din-file [SPEAR]’: The base-word þél ‘file’ is otherwise found only in sword-kennings. In this context, however, it clearly refers to spears; the wayfarers use them to lean on (Meissner 144); Davidson (1983, 592), on the other hand, regards hlymþél as referring to the river itself. — [7] fellihryn fjalla ‘the toppling-noise of the montains [RIVER]’: Hryn ‘noise’ is attested neither as a simplex nor as the base-word of a kenning, but the word occurs frequently as the first element of compounds. In these instances the noun hryn- means ‘noise, din, flow, rush’ (cf. the related verb hrynja ‘fall down loudly’). Felli- ‘felling, toppling’ probably refers to the power of the water which threatens to knock the waders off their feet. Here, as in byr markar ‘wind of the forest’ (see Note to ll. 1, 2), the meaning ‘river’ must be inferred from the context. — [8] steðja Feðju ‘the anvil of Fedje <river> [STONE]’: Fedje is a river in south-west Norway (cf. Olsen 1907, 94-5). Clunies Ross (1981, 375) regards steðja Feðju as ‘a kenning for Vimur’s vulva, against which in the aggressive confrontation of male and female powers, Þórr and Þjálfi place their “noise-files” (hlymþél) or staves, which clang against the river’s stony bed’. However, this is somewhat inconsistent with the second part of the helmingr, which describes fellihryn fjalla ‘the toppling-noise of the mountains’ (l. 7), i.e. the river, roaring against the ‘anvil of Fedje <river> [ROCK]’ and not against the spear (hlymþél ‘din-file’, l. 6).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated