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, 193

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Eyv Hák 21I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 21’ 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. 193.

Deyr fé,         deyja frændr,
        eyðisk land ok láð,
síz Hôkun fór
        með heiðin goð;
        mǫrg es þjóð of þéuð.

Fé deyr, frændr deyja, land ok láð eyðisk, síz Hôkun fór með heiðin goð; mǫrg þjóð es of þéuð.

Livestock are dying, kinsfolk are dying, land and realm become deserted, since Hákon went with the heathen gods; many a nation is enslaved.

Mss: (107r), F(18vb), J1ˣ(64r), J2ˣ(61v) (Hkr); FskBˣ(12v), 51ˣ(11r), 302ˣ(17v) (Fsk); 761bˣ(102v)

Readings: [4] síz: ‘siti’ F, síðan FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ;    fór: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ, om. Kˣ, F, 761bˣ    [5] með: om. FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ;    heiðin: ‘heþin’ J1ˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 1. Hákonarmál 21: AI, 68, BI, 60, Skald I, 37; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 221, IV, 61, ÍF 26, 197, Hkr 1991, I, 129 (HákGóð ch. 31/32), F 1871, 84; Fsk 1902-3, 48 (ch. 12), ÍF 29, 94 (ch. 13); Möbius 1860, 234, Jón Helgason 1968, 28, Krause 1990, 135-7.

Context: In Hkr, as for st. 1. In Fsk, as for st. 19.

Notes: [All]: On the desolation of the land after Hákon’s death, see also Eyv Lv 12-14. The images of desolation in this stanza have been seen by Larsen (1943-6, II, 316) as an expression of sacral kingship, or pagan belief in the magical connexion between the king’s person and the fruitfulness of the land. — [1-2]: Cf. Hávm 76-7. De Vries (1964-7, I, 145 n. 83) asserts that this borrowing from Hávm is too direct, and the final stanza must therefore be a later poet’s addition. Holm-Olsen (1953, 159) and Marold (1972, 24) argue that Eyvindr’s audience would have known what follows in Hávm: the assertion that fame never dies. Eyvindr thus manages both to praise Hákon and to conclude on a note of desolation with an artful contrast. Marold (1972) and Clunies Ross (2005a, 51) detect an ambivalent attitude towards heathenism in the unremitting gloom produced by the contrast of the remainder of the stanza with the corresponding lines in Hávm. — [3] land ok láð eyðisk ‘land and realm become deserted’: The combination of sg. verb eyðisk ‘become deserted’ with a coordinate subject is unproblematic (cf. Note to Anon Eirm 2/1-2), especially given that land ok láð ‘land and realm’ is a set phrase (Fritzner: láð). — [4] síz ‘since’: The syntax of the stanza hinges on this conj. and can be construed in two main ways. (a) In the present edn, as in Skald, the subordinate clause introduced by síz (ll. 4-5) depends on the preceding clauses (ll. 1-3) rather than the following clause (l. 6), and l. 6 is a freestanding main clause. This is suggested by the word order of l. 6, which would be es mǫrg þjóð þéuð, lit. ‘is many nation enslaved’, with finite verb first, if preceded by a subordinate clause. (b) Most eds take ll. 1-3 and 4-6 as syntactically separate, with the síz-clause dependent on the main clause in l. 6. This reverses the normal order of main clause and subordinate clause, but occasional exceptions are found in both dróttkvætt and fornyrðislag (see Kuhn 1929b, 200; 1969). The parallels in Hávm 76-7, which have the main syntactic break between ll. 3 and 4, would seem to favour this analysis, but the syntactic point in (a) above is weighty. — [4] fór ‘went’: The word is here assumed (as by Boyer 1990a, 201) to belong to l. 4, producing regular Type B-lines as ll. 4, 5. Several eds place it in l. 5, and this may be possible if the verb is unstressed and the odd line hypometric, both of which are possible in ljóðaháttr (see Note to st. 1/2 and Gade 2002a, 862). — [5] með heiðin goð ‘with the heathen gods’: The reference to ‘heathen gods’ in a poem that purports to be heathen in perspective has been found incongruous (Wimmer 1877, 162; Holthausen 1896, 124), though Marold (1993a, 175) regards the phrase as simply one of ‘the collective terms characteristic of the late-pagan religion of the environment of the earls of Hlaðir’. The acc. case in this construction has also been the subject of debate, presumably since með ‘with’ + acc. is most often used of taking someone or something with one, while með + dat. suggests willing accompaniment (e.g. Fritzner: með 4, 5), but there is some flexibility of usage, and acc. may simply lend prominence to Hákon here. Cf. st. 10/5 með her mikinn (acc. sg.) ‘with a great army’. Clunies Ross (2005a, 51) takes fór með to mean ‘travelled among’, and for a further possibility see Hkr 1991.

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