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, 229

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Eyv Lv 10I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 10’ 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. 229.

Einn dróttin hefk áttan,
jǫfurr dýrr, an þik fyrra;
bellir, bragningr, elli;
biðkat mér ins þriðja.
Trúr vask tyggja dýrum;
tveim skjǫldum lékk aldri;
fyllik flokk þinn, stillir;
fellr á hendr mér elli.

Hefk áttan einn dróttin fyrra an þik, dýrr jǫfurr; elli bellir, bragningr; biðkat mér ins þriðja. Vask trúr dýrum tyggja; lékk aldri tveim skjǫldum; fyllik flokk þinn, stillir; elli fellr á hendr mér.

I have had one lord before you, dear king; old age presses, prince; I do not ask for a third for myself. I was true to the prized leader; I never played with two shields; I fill up your following, ruler; old age descends on me.

Mss: (109r), F(19ra), J1ˣ(65r-v), J2ˣ(62v) (Hkr); 61(6va), Bb(8vb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(13v), FskAˣ(60-61) (Fsk)

Readings: [2] fyrra: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, fyrri Kˣ, F, Bb, FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [3] bellir: so FskBˣ, FskAˣ, belli Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, Bb;    bragningr: ‘bragingr’ FskBˣ    [4] biðkat: bið ek Bb;    mér: mér ok Bb    [5] Trúr: tryggr F, ‘tryr’ J1ˣ;    vask (‘var ec’): vil ek Bb    [6] lékk: leik ek J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, Bb    [8] fellr: fellsk FskBˣ;    á: í 61

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 10: AI, 73-4, BI, 64, Skald I, 40, NN §2218; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 227, IV, 63-4, ÍF 26, 202, Hkr 1991, I, 134 (HGráf ch. 1), F 1871, 86; Fms 1, 50-1, Fms 12, 31, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 49-50 (ch. 31); Fsk 1902-3, 52 (ch. 13), ÍF 29, 98 (ch. 14); Krause 1990, 255-9.

Context: Fsk places the stanza directly after Lv 7, as part of a dialogue exchange dramatising the continued pressure on Eyvindr to placate Haraldr gráfeldr. The narration is less elaborate in Hkr and ÓT: Haraldr accuses Eyvindr of bad faith in composing hostile stanzas after having pledged allegiance.

Notes: [2] fyrra an ‘before’: Fyrra is a comp. adj., hence einn dróttin fyrra an þik is lit. ‘one earlier lord than you’. — [3] bellir ‘presses’: This is the weak verb bella ‘to deal, display, use’, which most often takes an object (in the dat.) referring to negative entities such as treachery or force; the strong bella normally means ‘hurt, harm, affect’, with dat. of the person affected (CVC, Fritzner, AEW: bella; also NN §2218A). The present instance seems to combine aspects of both usages. There is no explicit object, but from the context, including mér ‘for myself’ in l. 4 and the second reference to elli ‘old age’ in l. 8, it is clear that the skald has his own advancing age in mind. — [6] lékk aldri tveim skjǫldum ‘I never played with two shields’: The line apparently contains an idiom leika tveim skjǫldum ‘play with two shields’ denoting duplicity (cf. Am 74/8), perhaps based on the idea of swiftly exchanging one shield for another (LP: 3. leika 2).  — [7] fyllik flokk þinn, stillir ‘I fill up your following, ruler’: Sentiments declaring or reaffirming loyalty may have been a skaldic commonplace (cf. Sigv Lv 3).  — [8] á hendr mér ‘on me’: More literally, ‘on my hands/arms’.

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