Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson (Eyv)

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

3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 14

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).

Lausavísur — Eyv LvI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur’ 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. 213.

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Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir: 3. Lausavísur (AI, 71-4, BI, 62-5)

SkP info: I, 215

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Eyv Lv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 1’ 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. 215.

Blóðøxar téa beiða
brynþings fetilstinga
(oss gerask hneppt) ins hvassa
hefnendr (setuefni).
Heldr es vant, en vildak
veg þinn, konungr, segja
— fôum til fornra vápna
fljótt — hersǫgu dróttni.

Hefnendr ins hvassa Blóðøxar téa beiða {brynþings} {fetilstinga}; setuefni gerask oss hneppt. Es heldr vant segja dróttni hersǫgu, en vildak veg þinn, konungr; fôum fljótt til fornra vápna.

The avengers of the keen [Eiríkr] Blóðøx (‘Blood-axe’) are asking for {a mail-shirt-assembly} [BATTLE] {with the sword-belt-stabber} [SWORD]; the chances of peace are becoming scant for us. It is rather difficult to tell a lord a tale of war, but I wished for your honour, king; let us quickly reach for our old weapons.

Mss: (101r), F(17vb), J1ˣ(61r), J2ˣ(57r) (Hkr); 61(5vb), 53(4vb), 325IX 1 a(2rb), Bb(7va), Flat(8ra) (ÓT); FskBˣ(9r), FskAˣ(47) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] téa: trú ek Flat, má FskBˣ    [2] fetil‑: fetils Bb, Flat, FskBˣ    [3] gerask: gera Flat;    ins: hin Flat;    hvassa: hvǫssu Flat    [4] setu: ‘se(tu)‑’(?) 325IX 1 a    [5] vildak: ek vissa 53, 325IX 1 a, Bb, vildum Flat    [7] fôum: fram 325IX 1 a, Bb, fara Flat    [8] ‑sǫgu: ‘‑svgv’ J1ˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 1: AI, 71, BI, 62, Skald I, 39, NN §§253, 1079D, 2215, 2216, 2509, 2902F, I, 3048, 3396H; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 209, IV, 53, ÍF 26, 183-4, Hkr 1991, I, 117 (HákGóð ch. 28), F 1871, 80; Fms 1, 41, Fms 12, 28, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 40-1 (ch. 25), Flat 1860-8, I, 59; Fsk 1902-3, 36-7 (ch. 11), ÍF 29, 84-5 (ch. 12); Krause 1990, 205-10.

Context: The sons of Gunnhildr obtain intelligence that Hákon is attending a seasonal feast (veizla) at Fitjar on the island of Storð (Stord). They sail to intercept him, with a full complement of warriors, under the immediate command of Eyvindr skreyja ‘Wretch’ Ǫzurarson tóta (see Lv 3/4, 4/2 and Note to Lv 3/4). Hákon is caught unawares while at his day-time meal. Members of his entourage delegate the task of alerting the king to Eyvindr (so Fsk; the Hkr narration does not reveal the identity of the attackers at first).

Notes: [All]: For the battle of Fitjar (c. 961), see also Lv 2-5 below, Eyv Hák 2-9, ÞSjár Þórdr and Glúmr Lv. — [All]: Eyvindr is given the following aphoristic speech: ‘Litil er liðanda stund hærra en langt matmal’, ‘It’s a short time for somebody sailing, my lord, but a long time for a meal’ (Fsk 1902-3, 36; similarly Hkr, ÓT). It is possible that Eyvindr’s lausavísa was based on such dialogue. — [1] téa beiða ‘are asking’: The verb téa/tjá ‘show’ seems to have become conflated with another verb tœja/týja ‘help’ (cf. Fritzner: tjá, týja, tœja; LP: téa, tjá, týja, tœja) and in skaldic usage could function as a mere auxiliary. It was evidently unfamiliar enough to cause confusion in transmission. — [1, 3] ins hvassa Blóðøxar ‘of the keen [Eiríkr] Blóðøx (“Blood-axe”)’: King Eiríkr Haraldsson: see Introduction. The origin of Eiríkr’s nickname, first attested in this stanza, is unclear: it might refer affirmatively to his victories or hostilely to his alleged fratricidal tendencies (Andersen 1977, 92-3). A play upon the nickname evidently determines the choice of adj. hvassa ‘keen’, which however has natural (m.) gender, agreeing with implicit Eiríks, rather than grammatical (f.) gender, agreeing with -øxar ‘axe’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; ÍF 26). Kock argues for agreement with the sword-kenning fetilstinga (NN §2215), which would also be possible, as, grammatically, would agreement with -þings ‘assembly’. — [2] brynþings fetilstinga ‘a mail-shirt-assembly [BATTLE] with the sword-belt-stabber [SWORD]’: The line as a whole was imitated in various ways by subsequent skalds (see, e.g., ÞjóðA Lv 3/2II and Note). The cpd fetilstinga is highly problematic in the context of the line. (a) In this edn, following Hkr 1991, fetilstinga is taken as dat. or instr. case, meaning ‘with the sword’. This solution involves positing a weak declension stingi ‘stabber, dagger’ alongside strong stingr, as also in Lv 14/1 (see Note). (b) The cpd fetilstinga had been attached to brynþings by previous eds, to form a single kenning for ‘battle’ (‘assembly of the mail-shirt of the sword-belt stabber(s)’), but to do so results in redundancy, since either ‘mail-shirt’ or ‘sword-belt stabber’ (= ‘sword’) on its own is a sufficient determinant (Eggert Ó. Brím 1895, 27, cf. ÍF 26; ÍF 29). (c) Konráð Gíslason (1892, xxvi), followed by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B), emended brynþings to brakþings ‘tumult-assembly [BATTLE]’. (d) Kock (NN §253) retained the ms. readings but interpreted bryn- as a deverbative from bruna ‘to rush ahead’.  — [4] setuefni ‘the chances of peace’: The cpd is not included in LP, but occurs in prose with the sense ‘peace, stability, possibility of being in peace’, always, as here, in negative contexts (see Fritzner: setuefni). This ironically understated warning of imminent conflict is similar to the remark ascribed to Eyvindr in the preceding prose (see Note to [All]). — [5, 7, 8] es heldr vant segja dróttni hersǫgu ‘it is rather difficult to tell a lord a tale of war’: Hkr has earlier (ÍF 26, 176-7) mentioned Hákon’s stern reprimands to his coastguards for false alarms about the movements of the Gunnhildarsynir (Eiríkssynir). — [7]: The line lacks skothending as it stands and some eds have attempted to supply it. Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 44) tentatively replaces fôum and variants with fǫrum ‘we go / let us go’. Kock (NN §§2216, 2509, 2902F, I, 3048, 3396H) emends vápna to varna ‘defences, defensive weapons’. But such regularisations are scarcely warranted: hendingar were not mandatory in odd lines (cf. Notes to Lv 14/3, 4 and 14/5). — [7] fornra ‘old’: The adj. presumably has the affirmative connotation ‘tried and true’, ‘battle-hardened’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; ÍF 26); cf. gamlir geirar ‘old spears’ (Sigv Víkv 14/3, 4).

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