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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 1 July 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, 83

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Eil Þdr 4III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2017, ‘Eilífr Goðrúnarson, Þórsdrápa 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 83.

Vôru vǫtn ok mýrar
— verðr hitt, at þau skerða —
(svell vas áðr of alla)
ǫll torráðin (halla).

Ǫlltn ok mýrar vôru torráðin; hitt verðr, at þau skerða; svell vas áðr of alla halla.

All the lakes and marshes were difficult [to traverse]; it happens that they intersect [the path]; ice was already on all the cliffs.

Mss: W(101), B(2v), A(3v), A(5v) (l. 4) (TGT)

Readings: [1] tn: ‘vo᷎nd’ corrected from ‘vo᷎tn’ in scribal hand W, ‘vond’ B, ‘vǫnnd’ A(3v);    mýrar: mýra B    [3] svell: so A(3v), svels W, spell B    [4] ǫll: ‘ol’ W, ól B, A(3v);    halla: hola W, B, A(5v), hóla A(3v)

Editions: Skj: Eilífr kúlnasveinn, 2. Lausavísa(?): AI, 573, BI, 566, Skald 274, NN §1216; SnE 1848-87, II, 102-3, 406, 416, 509, TGT 1884, 65, 169-73, TGT 1927, 44, 63, 91-2.

Context: TGT attributes this stanza to Eilífr Goðrúnarson and cites it as an example of a kind of barbarismus, in particular, the lengthening of a short vowel to achieve correct aðalhending on ól and hóla (l. 4). Ólafr comments on the stanza as follows (TGT 1927, 44): Hann kallar torráðin ól vǫndol ok gerir langa þessa samstǫfu ol til þess at hendingar sé jafnhávar ‘He calls difficult ól vǫndol and lengthens the syllable ol so that the hendingar are equally long’. The meaning of neither ól nor vǫndol is known, and so far only guesses have been made about the interpretation of the stanza and also about Óláfr’s commentary (TGT 1884, 169-73; TGT 1927, 91-2; LP: ól, torráðinn). It seems that he assumed tmesis of vǫnd (l. 1) and ‑ol (l. 6), and he lengthened ol to form aðalhending with hóla ‘hills’ in the cadence. His commentary is difficult to explain, because it contains the word ol twice, and that is not corroborated by the stanza. It seems as though he thought that torráðin ól (l. 4) is synonymous with vǫndol (ll. 1, 4), with vǫnd understood as n. pl. or f. sg. of the adj. vandr ‘difficult’. It is likely that Óláfr did not understand the original stanza.

Notes: [All]: Finnur Jónsson (Skj A; TGT 1927, 44; LP: ól, torráðinn) believed that the stanza ought to be attributed to Eilífr kúlnasveinn rather than to Eilífr Goðrúnarson. However, since the stanza fits well with the rest of Þdr (see Introduction above), the present edn adopts the attribution in TGT, which states explicitly that it was composed by Eilífr Goðrúnarson. — [1] tn ‘lakes’: Ms. W originally had what appears to be the correct reading, ‘vo᷎tn’, i.e. vǫtn ‘lakes’, which the scribe corrected to ‘vo᷎nd’ in light of the assumed tmesis vǫnd - ól given in the accompanying prose of TGT. — [2] at þau skerða ‘that they intersect [the path]’: Skerða means ‘notch, diminish, damage’ (LP: skerða). Þau refers to vǫtn ok mýrar ‘lakes and marshes’ (l. 1) and the object has to be completed according to the situation: Þórr and his companion are walking through the wilderness, hence the object must be their path. Lakes and marshes make the progress difficult; they are torráðin ‘difficult (to traverse)’. — [4] ǫll ... halla ‘all ... the cliffs’: (a) To avoid a tripartite l. 4, the present edn follows Kock’s (NN §1216) suggestion that only the last word halla ‘cliffs’ ought to be combined syntactically with l. 3; the line’s first segment ǫll torráðin ‘all difficult’ belongs with the clause in l. 1. (b) In Falk’s (1889c, 253) interpretation and in both of Finnur Jónsson’s eds (TGT 1927; Skj B), l. 4 is split into three syntactic units belonging to different clauses. The first word, which they interpret as ál ‘sprout’ (acc. sg. of áll, which is only attested in Þul Sáðs 1/3) (‘ol’ W, ól B, A(3v)), is combined with skerða ‘damage’ (l. 2); the second word torráðin ‘harmful, difficult’ is combined with vǫtn ok mýrar vôru (torráðin) ‘lakes and marshes were (harmful)’ (l. 1); and hvála ‘hills’ (‘hola’ W, B, A(5v), ‘hóla’ A(3v)), the last word of l. 4, is combined with l. 3: svell vas áðr of alla (hvála) ‘ice was earlier over all hills’. This gives the following interpretation (Skj B): vǫtn ok mýrar vôru torráðin; verðr hitt, at þau skerða ál, svell vas áðr of alla hvála, which can be translated as ‘lakes and marshes were harmful; it happens that they damage the seedling, ice was earlier over all hills’. According to that interpretation, the half-stanza describes a harsh winter and the ensuing bad consequences for the crops. — [4] torráðin ‘difficult [to traverse]’: This hap. leg. consists of the negative particle tor- (cf. torfyndr ‘difficult to find’, torgengr ‘difficult to walk’ etc.) and ‑ráðin ‘made, done’, see LP: torráðinn.

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