Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

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.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14 

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

SkP info: I, 234

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Eyv Lv 14I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 14’ 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. 234.

Fengum feldarstinga,
fjǫrð- ok galt við -hjǫrðu,
þanns álhimins útan
oss lendingar sendu.
Mest selda ek mínar
við mævǫrum sævar
— hallæri veldr hvôru —
hlaupsildr Egils gaupna.

Fengum feldarstinga, þanns {lendingar {álhimins}} sendu oss útan, ok galt við {fjǫrðhjǫrðu}. Mest selda ek {mínar hlaupsildr gaupna Egils} við {mævǫrum sævar}; hallæri veldr hvôru.

We [I] received a cloak-pin, which {the landsmen {of the channel-sky}} [ICE > ICELANDERS] sent us [me] from abroad [Iceland], and I spent it on {fjord-herds} [HERRINGS]. Most of all I sold {my leaping herrings of Egill’s <legendary hero’s> palms} [ARROWS] for {the slender arrows of the sea} [HERRINGS]; the famine causes both things.

Mss: (119v), F(21ra), J1ˣ(72v-73r), J2ˣ(69v) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] feldar‑: foldar J1ˣ    [2] galt: dalk J1ˣ;    við: fyr J1ˣ;    hjǫrðu: jǫrðu F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [4] oss: ís‑ J1ˣ    [5] mínar: minnar J1ˣ    [8] gaupna: kaupa F

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 14: AI, 74, BI, 65, Skald I, 40, NN §§1953A, 2905; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 254, IV, 71, ÍF 26, 223-4, Hkr 1991, I 148 (HGráf ch. 16), F 1871, 96; Krause 1990, 274-6.

Context: The people of Iceland send Eyvindr a large silver cloak-pin, but he is obliged to break it up in order to purchase livestock. Eventually his means become so attenuated that he is forced to barter his arrows for herrings.

Notes: [1] feldarstinga ‘a cloak-pin’: The form of the noun is acc. sg., with which þann(s) in l. 3 agrees, and this implies (here and in Lv 1/2) a weak m. stingi ‘stabber, pin, dagger’ alongside strong stingr: cf. stinga ‘to stab, sting’, stingr ‘rod, that which stabs’ (Ólhv Hryn 8/6II and Note), and see ONP: stingi, stingr for instances of both weak and strong forms in later prose in the sense ‘stitch, stinging pain’. These nouns are mostly attested in the gen. pl. form, making their declensional category uncertain. A pin was used as part of a brooch or clasp fastening the cloak at the shoulder (cf. Turville-Petre 1976, 45). Silver cloak-pins, often in the form of disc brooches, from this era are a common archaeological find (cf. Wilson and Klindt-Jensen 1980, plate LXVI; Graham-Campbell 2001a, 117) and can contain sufficient precious metal to give credence to the present story. — [2] ok galt við fjǫrðhjǫrðu ‘and I spent it on fjord-herds [HERRINGS]’: A definitive interpretation has yet to emerge. (a) Adopted in this edn is the reading of Finnur Jónsson, which assumes the tmesis, fjǫrð-hjǫrðu ‘fjord-herds [HERRINGS]’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; cf. Frank 1978, 115-16). On this reading the imagery of this witty stanza is wholly consistent. See Note to st. 13/5 on the specific sense ‘herrings’. (b) A widely-adopted alternative construal takes fjǫrð as meaning ‘last year’, thus leaving the noun hjǫrðu ‘herds’ free-standing and to be understood in its ordinary sense (CPB II, 37; ÍF 26; Turville-Petre 1976, 45). This analysis produces good sense and matches the prose narrative, which clearly understands Eyvindr as referring to livestock (bús), but possibly this reference is inferred from the stanzas themselves (cf. Olsen 1945b, 177-8). (c) Kock (NN §§1953A, 2905), reads fjarðar ‘of the fjord’ in place of fjǫrð ok, obtaining the same meaning, ‘herrings’, while avoiding tmesis, but a tmesis where the first (monosyllabic) word in a line is understood in combination with the last word of the line is a recognised type and quite prevalent in C10th skaldic style (Reichardt 1969). — [3, 4] lendingar álhimins ‘the landsmen of the channel-sky [ICE > ICELANDERS]’: The determinant ál- is most straightforwardly explained as from áll ‘deep channel at sea’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; cf. Frank 1978, 106-7), though an alternative possibility is áll ‘eel’ (Turville-Petre 1976, 45), which continues the imagery of fish and fisheries. Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 47) notes the lack of hending in l. 3 and suggests emendation to otrhimins ‘heaven/sky of the otter [ICE]’, but this is unnecessary (cf. Note to Lv 1/7). — [5-8]: Notable is the interchange of herrings and arrows in the two kennings here, as well as in the literal transaction. See Note to st. 13/5 on the specific sense ‘herrings’ for the kenning mævǫrum sævar ‘slender arrows of the sea’ (l. 6). — [5] mest selda ek ‘most of all I sold’: This assumes a well-attested sense for the adv. mest (so also Frank 1978, 116). Skj B treats it as if adjectival (hence ‘all my arrows’), while ÍF 26 suggests síðast ‘most recently’, on the analogy of meir ‘later’. — [8] ‘leaping herrings of Egill’s <legendary hero’s> palms [ARROWS]’: The allusion is to Egill, the renowned archer; cf. Hfr Hákdr 8/4III for another arrow-kenning referring to him. Egill is associated in Vǫl 2/2, 4/7 with the legendary smith Vǫlundr, and see further Marold (1996).

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.