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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 1 July 2022)

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

SkP info: I, 182

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Eyv Hák 7I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Hákonarmál 7’ 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. 182.

Brunnu benjeldar         í blóðgum undum;
lutu langbarðar         at lýða fjǫrvi.
Svarraði sárgymir         á sverða nesi;
fell flóð fleina         í fjǫru Storðar.

{Benjeldar} brunnu í blóðgum undum; langbarðar lutu at fjǫrvi lýða. {Sárgymir} svarraði á {nesi sverða}; {flóð fleina} fell í fjǫru Storðar.

{Wound-fires} [SWORDS] burned in bloody wounds; swords swung down on men’s lives. {The wound-sea} [BLOOD] roared on {the headland of swords} [SHIELD]; {the flood of barbs} [BLOOD] fell on the shore of Stord.

Mss: (105v), F(18va) (l. 1), J1ˣ(63v) (l. 1), J2ˣ(60r) (l. 1) (Hkr); FskBˣ(10v), FskAˣ(52) (Fsk); 761bˣ(97v)

Readings: [1] benjeldar: beneldar Kˣ, F, J2ˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 761bˣ, beneld J1ˣ    [2] blóðgum: blóðum FskBˣ    [3] lutu: bitu FskAˣ    [5] Svarr‑: svar FskBˣ;    sár‑: sjór FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    ‑gymir: ‘gymner’ FskBˣ, gymis FskAˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 1. Hákonarmál 7: AI, 65, BI, 58, Skald I, 36, NN §2424; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 219, IV, 59, ÍF 26, 194, Hkr 1991, I, 126 (HákGóð ch. 31/32), F 1871, 84; Fsk 1902-3, 42 (ch. 12), ÍF 29, 89 (ch. 13); Möbius 1860, 233, Jón Helgason 1968, 26, Krause 1990, 76-9.

Context: In Hkr, as for st. 1. In Fsk, as for st. 5.

Notes: [All]: F, J1ˣ and J2ˣ cite only l. 1.  — [1] benjeldar ‘wound-fires [SWORDS]’: Though it is missing in the mss, the glide [j] had not yet been lost at the time of composition, as shown by the metre (Kuhn 1983, 48). On the kenning in its poetic context, see Note to l. 6 below. — [3] langbarðar ‘swords’: A sword-heiti (cf. Þul Sverða 2/3III), lit. ‘long-beards’ or conceivably ‘long-prows’. Since Langbarðar can refer to the Lombards or Langobards (LP: langbarðr 5), the word is interpreted by some (e.g. ÍF 29; Hkr 1991) to have referred to weapons of Lombardic origin. Others (e.g. Herbert 1804, 110; Munch and Unger 1847, 185; Hallberg 1975, 119) have taken it to refer to axes (cf. barða ‘axe’ in Þul Øxar 1/8III), and Geijer (1816, 54) to shields. — [6] nesi sverða ‘the headland of swords [SHIELD]’: This is taken here as belonging to the shield-kennings with a type of land as base-word (Meissner 169, though this example is not listed). Holm-Olsen (1953, 155) suggests that the reference may be to swords’ points rather than to shields. Whatever the referent of this kenning, the base-words of the kennings in ll. 5-6, together with the verb svarraði ‘roared’, form an image of waves breaking against a headland, just as the verb brunnu in l. 1 exploits the literal sense of eldar ‘fires’, base-word of the sword-kenning. — [7] flóð fleina ‘the flood of barbs [BLOOD]’: (a) Reichardt (1930, 51-2) cites convincing parallels to the meaning ‘blood’ (and so, e.g., Geijer 1816, 54, Skj B, Paasche 1916, 13, and Meissner 204). (b) The phrase could be regarded not as a kenning but as a description of a more literal ‘shower of arrows/spears’ (so, e.g., Olsen 1916a, 3-4, Sahlgren 1927-8, I, 75-7, 116, Ulset 1975, 49 and Hkr 1991). Lie (1957, 85) argues that although flóð fleina is a genuine blood-kenning, it is a ‘combined metaphor’ (kombinert metafor) which also refers to the missiles themselves. — [8] Storðar ‘of Stord’: An island in Sunnhordland, south of Bergen, at the mouth of Hardangerfjorden. The battle took place at Fitjar on the island c. 961.

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