Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson (Eyv)

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

1. Hákonarmál (Hák) - 21

Skj info: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, Norsk skjald, 10. årh. (d. omkr. 990). (AI, 64-74, BI, 57-65).

Skj poems:
1. Hákonarmál
2. Háleygjatal
3. Lausavísur

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).

Hákonarmál (‘Words about Hákon’) — Eyv HákI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál’ 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. 171.

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Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir: 1. Hákonarmál, 961 (AI, 64-8, BI, 57-60)

SkP info: I, 176

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Eyv Hák 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 2’ 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. 176.

Bróður fundu þær Bjarnar         í brynju fara,
konung inn kostsama,         kominn und gunnfana.
Drúpðu dolgráar,         en darraðr hristisk;
        upp vas þá hildr of hafin.

Þær fundu {bróður Bjarnar} fara í brynju, inn kostsama konung, kominn und gunnfana. {Dolgráar} drúpðu, en darraðr hristisk; hildr vas þá upp of hafin.

They [the valkyries] found {Bjǫrn’s brother} [= Hákon] putting on a mail-shirt, that admirable king, stationed under his battle-standard. {Enmity-yard-arms} [SPEARS] drooped, and the banner shook; the battle was then begun.

Mss: (102r), Kˣ(105v) (l. 1), F(18ra), F(18va) (l. 1), J1ˣ(62r), J1ˣ(63v) (l. 1), J2ˣ(58r), J2ˣ(60r) (l. 1) (Hkr); FskBˣ(9v), FskAˣ(49-50) (Fsk); 761bˣ(95v)

Readings: [1] þær: ‘þr’ J1ˣ(62r), þeir J2ˣ(58r), FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    Bjarnar: ‘biarner’ J1ˣ(62r), J1ˣ(63v)    [2] í: ór F(18ra)    [3] inn: in FskBˣ    [4] und: við F(18ra), ‘ynd’ J1ˣ(62r), undir FskBˣ;    ‑fana: ‑fanir FskBˣ    [5] dolgráar (‘dolgrar’): ‘dolgarar’ J1ˣ(62r), J2ˣ(58r), dolgar FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [6] darraðr: darrar J1ˣ(62r), J2ˣ(58r), ‘durr vordr’ FskBˣ, ‘daur’ FskAˣ    [7] hafin: hafit Kˣ, F(18ra), J1ˣ(62r), J2ˣ(58r), FskAˣ, 761bˣ, hafinn FskBˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 1. Hákonarmál 2: AI, 64, BI, 57, Skald I, 35; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 212, 219, IV, 54, ÍF 26, 186,193, Hkr 1991, I, 119, 125 (HákGóð chs 30, 32), F 1871, 81; Fsk 1902-3, 39 (ch. 11), ÍF 29, 86-7 (ch. 12); Möbius 1860, 232, Jón Helgason 1968, 25, Krause 1990, 40-8.

Context: See st. 1.

Notes: [All]: For the battle of Fitjar (c. 961), see also sts 3-9 below, Eyv Lv 1-5, ÞSjár Þórdr and Glúmr Lv . — [1] bróður Bjarnar ‘Bjǫrn’s brother [= Hákon]’: Bjǫrn ruled Vestfold after the death of his father Haraldr hárfagri. Krause (1990, 41-2) is possibly right that Hákon’s relation to him is mentioned here because of Bjǫrn’s popularity, and because of the unpopularity that his brother Eiríkr blóðøx (father of Hákon’s opponents here at the battle of Fitjar) gained by killing him. Olsen (1916a, 3; see also Paasche 1916, 15) sees this as a reminder of Hákon’s duty to avenge Bjǫrn’s death upon Eiríkr’s sons, complicated as such a supposed duty may seem. — [2] fara í brynju ‘putting on a mail-shirt’: The F reading, ór brynju fara ‘taking off a mail-shirt’ is adopted by Müller (1837, 334) and Ettmüller (1858, 26; 1861, 26); see st. 4/1 and Note. — [5-7]: Here the metre changes from málaháttr to ljóðaháttr. — [5] dolgráar drúpðu ‘enmity-yard-arms [SPEARS] drooped’: The verb usually refers to drooping of the head. The idea here may be that the spears are tilted, either in their flight over the host (so Hkr 1991) or in a position ready to be cast (so LP: drúpa 2; Olsen 1962a, 4; Hkr 1991 again), or that they droop to drink blood (so CVC: drúpa; cf. lutu ‘bent’ in st. 7/3). Olsen (1916a, 3) sees in this line reference to a spear set to be cast over the enemy host to consecrate them as a sacrifice to Óðinn (cf. Þhorn Harkv 12/2). Sahlgren (1927-8, I, 60-1) believes that Snorri is interpreting ll. 5-6 when he relates (ÍF 26, 188) that after men had cast spears, they drew their swords. As an alternative he proposes to read dolgarar (the reading of J1ˣ, J2ˣ) ‘eagles of hostility’, i.e. of battle (cf. Grí 10). A further suggestion is dolgárar ‘battle-oars’ as a kenning for ‘swords’ (Nygaard 1875, 320; Wimmer 1877, 129; cf. Krause 1990, 44: dolgôr). Still others have assumed words meaning ‘enemies’, presumably feeling an animate subject to be more suitable for drúpðu ‘drooped’: either dolgar (Munch and Unger 1847, 115; Ettmüller 1858, 26; Ettmüller 1861, 26; Möbius 1860, 232; Cederström 1860, 7), or dolgárar (lit. ‘strife-envoys’, Tvedt 1921, 55); cf. also Du Méril (1839, 158), and Uppström (1919, 46). — [6] darraðr ‘the banner’: The word may be cognate with OE daroþ ‘spear’ (the meaning assumed by most eds), though the geminate <r> renders that doubtful. The word has also been thought by Falk (1924, 6-7) to mean ‘sword’. Holtsmark (1939) interprets it as a banner which is shaken as a sign for battle to begin, and this interpretation is now widely accepted: see Olsen (1962a, 4-5), Dronke (1969, 49-50) and particularly Poole (1991, 125-31). — [7] of hafin ‘begun’: Munch and Unger (1847) and Möbius (1860) adopt the reading um hafit, presumably ‘around the sea’, found in some mss.

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