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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, 95

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Eil Þdr 9III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 9’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 95.

Óðu fast, en Fríðar
flaut, eiðsvara Gauta
setrs víkingar snotrir
sverðrunnit fen, gunnar.
Þurði hrǫnn at herði
hauðrs run*kykva nauðar
jarðar skafls af afli
áss hretviðri blásin,

{Eiðsvara víkingar {setrs Gauta}}, snotrir gunnar, óðu fast, en {sverðrunnit fen Fríðar} flaut. {Hretviðri blásin hrǫnn áss} þurði af afli at {{herði nauðar} {{{{skafls jarðar} hauðrs} run*}kykva}},

{The oath-bound vikings {of the seat of Gauti <= Óðinn>}} [= Ásgarðr > = Þórr and Þjálfi], wise in war, waded firmly, and {the sword-filled fen of Fríðr <female mythical being>} [RIVER] flowed. {The tempest-blown wave of the ridge} [RIVER] rushed mightily at {{the strengthener of the distress} [TORMENTOR] {of the quickeners {of the stream {of the land {of the snow-drift of the earth}}}}} [(lit. ‘stream-quickeners of the land of the snow-drift of the earth’) RIDGE > MOUNTAIN > RIVER > GIANTESSES > = Þórr],

Mss: R(24v), Tˣ(25v), W(53) (SnE)

Readings: [3] víkingar: víkinga W    [4] ‑runnit: so Tˣ, W, ‑runnar R    [6] run*‑: runn‑ all;    ‑kykva: ‑kvikva Tˣ, ‘‑kvika’ W    [7] afli: ‘[…]li’ W

Editions: Skj: Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 2. Þórsdrápa 8: AI, 149, BI, 141, Skald I, 77, NN §§451, 452, 1196, 2250; SnE 1848-87, I, 294-7, III, 30, SnE 1931, 108, SnE 1998, I, 27.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [1, 4] sverðrunnit fen Fríðar ‘the sword-filled fen of Fríðr <female mythical being> [RIVER]’: Sverðrunnit lit. ‘running with swords’. Kock (NN §2250, followed by Reichardt 1948, 354) rightly rejects Finnur Jónsson’s (1900b, 385-6; Skj B) emendation to svarðrunnit ‘streaming over the greensward’. He calls attention to Slíðr, the sword-filled underworld river in Vsp 36/1-4 (also mentioned in Grí 28/6), and the phrase hlaupár hjalts ‘the fast-flowing streams of the sword’ in st. 6/3, 4 (see Note there) is enough to justify adhering to the mss here. In both places, the river appears to be personified as a female mythical figure whose name does not have a determinant. The same is true of Mǫrn (st. 8; cf. st. 10/5). Finnur Jónsson’s emendation to svarðrunnit, lit. ‘flowing over the scalp’ (adopted by Clunies Ross 1981, 375), goes against all mss and is only comprehensible on the unexpressed assumption that grass, seen as the hair of the earth, makes the ‘scalp of the earth’ a field or meadow. — [2, 3] eiðsvara víkingar ‘the oath-bound vikings’: Þórr and Þjálfi are called vikings, which can be explained by the fact that, throughout the poem, warrior-kennings are used for them (see Introduction). The oath probably refers to a pact among the members of a group, in this case Þórr and Þjálfi, and not to an oath sworn to a lord (see Köbler 1986, 539-41). Since there is no evidence of an actual oath between Þórr and his companion, the adj. could perhaps be an epitheton ornans deriving from the ideas about groups of vikings bound by oaths. — [2-3] setrs Gauta ‘of the seat of Gauti <= Óðinn> [= Ásgarðr]’: This edn follows the interpretations of Sveinbjörn Egilsson (1851, 17), Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 387; Skj B) and Reichardt (1948, 355). Although Gautr is attested more often than Gauti as a name for Óðinn (LP: Gauti), this interpretation is more convincing than that of Kock (NN §451), who combines setrs with gunnar to form the shield-kenning setrs gunnar ‘of the seat of battle’. This cannot be a kenning for ‘shield’, however, because the base-word setr ‘seat’ in a shield-kenning requires a weapon (sword, spear) as its determinant (Meissner 169). — [5-8]: The subject of the sentence, hrǫnn ‘wave’, and the giantess-kenning runkykva ‘of the quickeners of the stream’ each need to be qualified by a term for ‘mountain’. Available are áss ‘of the ridge’ (l. 8) and hauðrs skafls jarðar ‘of the land of the snow-drift of the earth’ (ll. 6, 7); either combination is possible. The present edn combines hrǫnn with áss into a kenning for ‘river’ and takes runkykva with hauðrs skafls jarðar to form the giantess-kenning (see Note to l. 6). This arrangement is motivated by the somewhat simpler word order it produces. Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 386; Skj B), on the other hand, construes hrǫnn skafls jarðar ‘the wave of the snow-drift of the earth [RIDGE > RIVER]’ and áss hauðrs rúmbyggva ‘place-dweller of the land of the ridge [MOUNTAIN > CAVE > GIANTS]’, the latter by emendation. — [6] run*kykva ‘of the quickeners of the stream’: The first element of this cpd appears as runn- in all mss. This could be the stem form of runnr ‘tree, bush’, but that does not lead to a viable interpretation here, while run-, on the other hand, does. Run is attested in the sense ‘a shallow stone watercourse over which water may flow from one body of water into another’, ‘a small, narrow watercourse between two lakes’ in Old Norwegian (Fritzner, Heggstad et al. 2008: run), and in New Norwegian it means a ‘watercourse between two lakes’ (cf. also Faroese run ‘light surf’; AEW: run). Its determinant here is hauðrs skafls jarðar ‘of the land of the snow-drift of the earth [RIDGE > MOUNTAINS]’, with which it forms an expression for ‘river’. Kykva is taken as gen. pl. of an agent noun *kykvir ‘quickener’, from a factitive verb *kykva ‘quicken’ (from ON kvikr ‘alive’; Reichardt 1948, 357). The ‘quickeners of the stream’ are the giantesses, and their ‘tormentor’ (herðir nauðar) is Þórr. Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 386-7; Skj B; LP: rúmbyggvir) emended the mss’ runnkykva to rúmbyggva, which he takes as the base-word of a giant-kenning (see Note to ll. 5-8 above). Kock’s (NN §452) and Kiil’s (1956, 124) interpretations are highly speculative and will not be discussed here.

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