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Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson (Eyv)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

2. Háleygjatal (Hál) - 16

Eyvindr (Eyv, c. 915-990) has been called the last important Norwegian skald (Genzmer 1920, 159; also Boyer 1990a, 201). He is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 256, 261, 265-6) among the poets of Hákon góði ‘the Good’ Haraldsson and Hákon jarl Sigurðarson. His maternal grandmother was a daughter of Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’, and he seems to have been close to Haraldr’s son Hákon góði from early on, serving at his court as one of a group of brilliant skalds. After Hákon’s death he resided at the court of Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’, but relations with Haraldr seem to have soured quickly, as evidenced by his lausavísur. Eyvindr spent the last part of his life with the powerful Hákon jarl Sigurðarson of Hlaðir (Lade), whose family had supported Hákon góði against the sons of Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’. According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 221), in addition to Háleygjatal (Hál), Hákonarmál (Hák) and the lausavísur, Eyvindr composed a poem Íslendingadrápa, but this has not come down to us. The epithet skáldaspillir is usually interpreted to mean ‘Plagiarist’, literally ‘Destroyer (or Despoiler?) of Poets’ in reference to his habit of drawing inspiration from and alluding to earlier compositions, specifically Ynglingatal (Þjóð Yt) for Hál and Eiríksmál (Anon Eirm), along with several eddic poems, for Hák (see Introductions to Hál and Hák). The alternative interpretation ‘Poem-reciter’ proposed by Wadstein (1895a, 88) is unconvincing; see further Olsen (1962a, 28), and Beck (1994a). For further biographical information, see LH I, 447-9, Holm-Olsen (1953) and Marold (1993a).

Háleygjatal (‘Enumeration of the Háleygir (people of Hálogaland)’) — Eyv HálI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Háleygjatal’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 195.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13 

for reference only:  1x   3x   11x 

Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir: 2. Háleygjatal, c. 985 (AI, 68-71, BI, 60-2); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3-4 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13-14 | 14 | 15 | 16

SkP info: I, 197

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Eyv Hál 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Háleygjatal 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 197.

Viljak hljóð
at Hôars líði,
meðan Gillings
gjǫldum yppik,
meðan hans ætt
í hverlegi
galga farms
til goða teljum,
hinn es Surts
ór søkkdǫlum
fljúgandi bar.

Viljak hljóð at {líði Hôars}, meðan yppik {gjǫldum Gillings}, meðan teljum ætt hans til goða í {{hverlegi} {farms galga}}, hinn es {farmǫgnuðr} bar fljúgandi ór søkkdǫlum Surts.

I would wish for a hearing for {the drink of Hôarr <= Óðinn>} [POETRY], while I lift up {the payment for Gillingr <giant>} [POETRY], while we [I] reckon his lineage back to the gods in {{the cauldron-liquid} [DRINK] {of the burden of the gallows}} [= Óðinn > POETRY], that which {the travel-furtherer} [= Óðinn] carried flying from the treasure-valleys of Surtr [giant].

Mss: R(21v/8) (ll. 1-8), R(21v/21) (ll. 5-8), R(21r) (ll. 9-12), Tˣ(22r) (ll. 1-8), Tˣ(21v) (ll. 9-12), W(46) (ll. 1-8), W(46) (ll. 9-12), U(27r/11) (ll. 1-8), U(27r/24) (ll. 5-8), B(4r) (ll. 1-8), B(4v) (ll. 5-8), B(4r) (ll. 9-12) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Viljak (‘vilia ec’): vildak Tˣ(22r), vilka ek W, vilna ek U(27r/11);    hljóð: so W, U(27r/11), B(4r), hlið R(21v/8), hljóðs Tˣ(22r)    [3] Gillings: gillingr U(27r/11)    [4] yppik: yppir U(27r/11)    [5] meðan: þvíat W    [6] í: ór B(4r), B(4v)    [7] farms: grams U(27r/11), U(27r/24), fars B(4r), B(4v)    [10] søkk‑: ‘sau(g)’ corrected from ‘sau(k) (?)’ Tˣ(22r)

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 2. Háleygjatal 1-2: AI, 68, BI, 60, Skald I, 37, NN §1783B; SnE 1848-87, I, 242-3, 248-9, 252-3, II, 306-7, 520, 522-3, SnE 1931, 91, 93, 94, SnE 1998, I, 11, 13, 14; Krause 1990, 138-45.


Lines 1-8 (with ll. 5-8 repeated in R, U and B) are cited to illustrate kennings for ‘poetry’. The final four lines are cited separately and somewhat earlier, to illustrate a kenning for Óðinn.

Notes: [All]: SnE gives no indication that these excerpts come from Hál, but there is scholarly consensus that they belong there (SnE 1998, I, 160). Earlier eds took ll. 1-8 of the present stanza as st. 1 and ll. 9-12 as st. 2 (see Note to l. 9 for discussion). — [All]: The poetry-kennings in the stanza allude programmatically to different phases in the story of Óðinn’s appropriation of the poetic mead (see Skm, SnE 1998, I, 3-5). — [3-4] gjǫldum Gillings ‘the payment for Gillingr <giant> [POETRY]’: The gen. in this phrase is objective. In the myth of the poetic mead as told in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 3), Gillingr is left to drown by the dwarfs Fjalarr and Galarr; when his son Suttungr insists upon reparation they give him the poetic mead. — [5, 8] meðan teljum ætt hans til goða ‘while we [I] reckon his lineage back to the gods’: The referent of hans ‘his’ is not clarified in the stanza, but the name of Eyvindr’s patron, Hákon jarl Sigurðarson, was probably specified in a (lost) introductory stanza. — [6] hverlegi ‘the cauldron-liquid [DRINK]’: The kenning, unusually, functions as the base-word of a further kenning, for ‘poetry’. The reference to a cauldron is particularly apt since according to Skm (SnE 1998, I, 4-5) Óðinn steals the mead of poetry from Suttungr by drinking it from three great vats. He then escapes by flying off in the shape of an eagle, spitting out the mead on arrival in Ásgarðr, the home of the gods; ll. 9-12 allude to this. — [7] farms galga ‘of the burden of the gallows [= Óðinn]’: The god was ‘a burden of the gallows’ on the occasions when he hanged himself and communed with the dead in order to gather wisdom (Turville-Petre 1964, 42-50). — [9-12]: On Óðinn’s flight, see Note to l. 6 above. — [9] hinn es ‘that which’: Lines 9-12 appear to follow ll. 1-8, although they are separately transmitted (see Context and Note to [All] above). The demonstrative pron. hinn (which is followed by the rel. particle es) appears to refer back to m. dat. sg. -legi (from nom. lǫgr ‘liquid’), and hence to the kenning for ‘poetry’. It is in the acc. case since it is object to bar ‘carried’ in the rel. clause; for further (rare) examples of pronouns taking the case appropriate to the following rel. clause, see NS §260. Hinn cannot be nom., since the subject of the clause is farmǫgnuðr ‘travel-furtherer [= Óðinn]’. — [9] Surts ‘of Surtr [giant]’: It has been suggested that Surtr is used here as a common noun (‘giant’), referring to Suttungr (LP (1860), LP: Surtr 2; Faulkes 1987, 254; SnE 1998, I, 160); see Note to ll. 3-4 above on Suttungr. However, the name Surtr may refer, as normally, to the notorious fire-giant (see Phillpotts 1905). Since he was famed for his single combat with Freyr at Ragnarǫk (Vsp 53/5-6, Fáfn 14/5-6; SnE 2005, 50; Simek 1993, 303-4), mention of him here fits with the general interest in Freyr in Hál (see Introduction and Note to st. 3/3). It is also possible that Surtr figured in early versions of the story of the poetic mead, perhaps playing the role ascribed to Suttungr in SnE (cf. Krause 1990, 142-3). The evidence of Hfr ErfÓl 15/7-8 sylg ættar Surts ‘drink of the family of Surtr [GIANTS > POETRY]’ is equivocal, since Surtr could either refer to a figure in the myth or (more likely) could function as a representative giant. — [10] søkk- ‘treasure-’: The rare word ‘precious stone, treasure’, cognate with OE sinc, seems also to be used in Eyv Lv 4/5 (see Note, and cf. Ótt Knútdr 11/1, Anon Pl 20/6VII, Falk 1923, 70-1 and NN §1783). Compounded here with dǫlum (dat. pl.) ‘valleys’, it may alternatively mean ‘sunken’. It appears that the cpd is qualified by Surts, but it is difficult to make a definitive choice between the two meanings in the absence of fuller information about Surtr. Faulkes (SnE 1998, I, 160) notes that if ll. 9-12 belonged with now lost lines rather than with ll. 1-8, Surts could have formed part of a kenning rather than qualifying søkkdǫlum. — [11] farmǫgnuðr ‘the travel-furtherer [= Óðinn]’: In context, this hap. leg. alludes to the feat of flying by which Óðinn appropriated the mead of poetry (Meissner 322; LP: farmǫgnuðr), but it may also refer to Óðinn’s broad capacity as a god of voyages, migrations, territorial expansions and possibly trade (Haugen 1983, 8-9; cf. LP (1860): farmǫgnaðr), a set of aspects highly relevant to the expansionist jarls.

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