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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 2 July 2022)

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

SkP info: I, 179

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Eyv Hák 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 5’ 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. 179.

Svá beit þá sverð         ór siklings hendi
váðir Váfaðar,         sem í vatn brygði.
Brǫkuðu broddar,         brotnuðu skildir,
glumruðu gylfringar         í gotna hausum.

Svá beit þá sverð ór hendi siklings {váðir Váfaðar}, sem brygði í vatn. Broddar brǫkuðu, skildir brotnuðu, gylfringar glumruðu í hausum gotna.

Then the sword in the sovereign’s hand bit {the garments of Váfuðr <= Óðinn>} [ARMOUR], as if it were cutting through water. Points clanged, shields burst, swords clattered in men’s skulls.

Mss: (103r), Kˣ(105v) (l. 1), F(18ra), F(18va) (l. 1), J1ˣ(62r), J1ˣ(63v) (l. 1), J2ˣ(58v), J2ˣ(60r) (l. 1) (Hkr); FskBˣ(10v), FskAˣ(51-52) (Fsk); 761bˣ(96v-97v)

Readings: [2] ór: í FskBˣ;    siklings hendi: ‘siklingls hender’ J1ˣ    [4] brygði: of brygði F    [5] Brǫkuðu: ‘brykvðo’ J1ˣ;    broddar: oddar J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [6] skildir: ‘skillir’ F    [7] glumruðu: glumdu FskAˣ;    gylfringar: so FskBˣ, FskAˣ, glymringar Kˣ, 761bˣ, glymhringar F, gylfringa J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [8] gotna: jǫtna J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    hausum: haustum FskBˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 1. Hákonarmál 5: AI, 65, BI, 57, Skald I, 35; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 214, 219, IV, 56, ÍF 26, 188, 193, Hkr 1991, I, 120-1, 125 (HákGóð chs 30, 32), F 1871, 82; Fsk 1902-3, 41-2 (ch. 12), ÍF 29, 88-9 (ch. 13); Möbius 1860, 233, Jón Helgason 1968, 26, Krause 1990, 64-9.

Context: In Hkr, as for st. 1. In Fsk, the prose preceding this and the next two stanzas relates that the battle was joined and went fiercely, and when the barrage of missiles was ended, the king ‘drew his sword and stood forward under his banner and hewed on both sides of him, never missing, and yet the sword bit [as easily] as if it did miss’.

Notes: [1, 4] svá beit þá sverð ... sem brygði í vatn ‘then the sword bit ... as if it were cutting through water’: As remarked by Heinrichs (1990, 435), the author of Fsk seems to have regarded this poetic convention as an unfamiliar paradox, since he feels compelled to explain it (see Context above). — [2] ór ‘in’: More lit. ‘from’, but it often denotes the point of origin from which a weapon takes its effect (see LP: ór 3). The reading í in FskB, adopted by Lindquist (1929, 12), is unlikely to be original, given the agreement of the other mss, and given the parallel in Eyv Lv 5/1-4. — [3] Váfaðar ‘of Váfuðr <= Óðinn>’: The word váfuðr designates the wind in Alv 20/2; cf. Grí 54/5; cf. váfa ‘to swing, waver’. — [7] gylfringar ‘swords’: (a) This reading is preferred since it is the lectio difficilior (so Olsen 1962a, 8) and is the agreement of the J transcripts with the Fsk transcripts (except in regard to the inflexion), while and F are near relations. The word is most likely a cpd with the second element ‑hringar ‘rings’, a common heiti for ‘swords’ (cf. the spelling in F, and see Note to Þhorn Harkv 1/1), while the first element has been tentatively connected with gjálfr ‘noise of the sea’ (LP: gylfringr). (b) The reading glymringar (cf. glymr ‘clatter’) in any case seems too closely connected etymologically to the preceding verb glumruðu ‘clattered’ to be convincing. Whatever the correct form, the intended meaning is undoubtedly ‘swords’.

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