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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 5 July 2022)

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

SkP info: I, 178

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — Eyv Hák 4I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 4’ 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. 178.

Hrauzk ór hervôðum,         hratt á vǫll brynju,
vísi verðungar,         áðr til vígs tœki.
Lék við ljóðmǫgu         — skyldi land verja —
gramr inn glaðværi;         stóð und gollhjalmi.

Vísi verðungar hrauzk ór {hervôðum}, hratt brynju á vǫll, áðr tœki til vígs. Inn glaðværi gramr lék við ljóðmǫgu; skyldi verja land; stóð und gollhjalmi.

The leader of the retinue [Hákon] threw off {his war-garments} [ARMOUR], cast his mail-shirt to the ground, before beginning the battle. The cheerful ruler joked with his men; he had to protect the land; he stood under a golden helmet.

Mss: (102r-v), Kˣ(105v) (l. 1), F(18ra), F(18va) (l. 1), J1ˣ(62r), J1ˣ(63v) (l. 1), J2ˣ(58r), J2ˣ(60r) (l. 1) (Hkr); FskBˣ(10r-v), FskAˣ(51) (Fsk); R(39v), Tˣ(41r), U(38r), B(6v), C(9r) (SnE, ll. 5-8); 761bˣ(96v)

Readings: [1] ‑vôðum: ‑fótum FskBˣ    [2] hratt: rætt FskAˣ    [3] vísi: ‘vis’ J1ˣ(62r), vísir FskBˣ;    verðungar: ‘verðunger’ J1ˣ(62r), verðunga FskBˣ, ‘varðungar’ FskAˣ    [4] áðr: áðr an FskBˣ;    vígs: ‘viks’ FskAˣ;    tœki: so F(18ra), J1ˣ(62r), J2ˣ(58r), FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 761bˣ, tókisk or tœkisk Kˣ(102r)    [5] Lék: leik J1ˣ(62r), J2ˣ(58r);    ‑mǫgu: ‘mangu’ FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [6] verja: so F(18ra), J1ˣ(62r), J2ˣ(58r), FskBˣ, FskAˣ, Tˣ, U, B, C, vera Kˣ(102r), R, 761bˣ    [7] gramr: so F(18ra), J1ˣ(62r), J2ˣ(58r), FskBˣ, FskAˣ, U, gram Kˣ(102r), 761bˣ, Gylfi R, Tˣ, B, C    [8] und: um 761bˣ;    ‑hjalmi: ‘[…]’ B

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 1. Hákonarmál 4: AI, 65, BI, 57, Skald I, 35; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 212, 219, IV, 55, ÍF 26, 186-7, 193, Hkr 1991, I, 119-20, 125 (HákGóð chs 30, 32), F 1871, 81; Fsk 1902-3, 41 (ch. 11), ÍF 29, 88 (ch. 12); SnE 1848-87, I, 518-19, II, 342, 539, 606, SnE 1931, 182, SnE 1998, I, 102; Möbius 1860, 233, Jón Helgason 1968, 25, Krause 1990, 54-63.

Context: In Hkr, as for st. 1. In Fsk, the preceding prose remarks that the day of the battle was warm, and Hákon removed his mail-shirt and (contrary to what the stanza says) helmet and heartened his men, laughing and cheering them up with his demeanour. In SnE, ll. 5-8 are cited with other stanzas to illustrate the remark that the names of the sons of Hálfdan gamli ‘the Old’ are used in verse as heiti for noblemen, the name in this instance being Gylfi: see Readings.

Notes: [1] hrauzk ór hervôðum ‘threw off his war-garments [ARMOUR]’: Lit. ‘threw himself out of his war-garments’. This could be a heroic gesture, though the Fsk context asserts that the day was warm. According to the F reading in st. 2/2, Hákon had already taken off his mail-shirt (see Note). Herbert (1804, 110) accordingly translates hrauzk here as ‘has cast’. — [2] hratt ‘cast’: 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of hrinda. — [5] lék við ‘joked with’: Leika við refers to play of any sort, but verbal sport seems likely here.  — [5] ljóðmǫgu ‘his men’: Lit. ‘people-sons’. — [6] verja land ‘protect the land’: Wolff (1952, 104) argues that this is a pun, with the alternate meaning ‘clothe the land’ (since Hákon has cast his mail-shirt on the ground), and this is the nature of the king’s joking or playing with his men, an interpretation perhaps anticipated by Metcalfe (1880, 387).

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