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, 216

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Eyv Lv 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 2’ 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. 216.

Samira, Njǫrðr, enn norðar,
naddregns, hvǫtum þegni
— vér getum bili at bǫlva —
borðmœrar skæ fœra.
Nús, þats rekr á Rakna
rymleið flota breiðan
— grípum vér í greipar
gunnborð — Haraldr sunnan.

Samira hvǫtum þegni, {Njǫrðr {naddregns}}, fœra {skæ {borðmœrar}} enn norðar; vér getum at bǫlva bili. Nús, þats Haraldr rekr breiðan flota sunnan á {rymleið Rakna}; grípum vér {gunnborð} í greipar.

It does not befit a brave man, {Njǫrðr <god> {of the spear-rain}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon], to take {the horse {of the gunwale-land}} [SEA > SHIP] still further north; we curse delay. Now it is coming about that Haraldr drives his broad fleet from the south on {the roaring path of Rakni <sea-king>} [SEA]; let us grasp {the battle-board} [SHIELD] in our hands.

Mss: (101r-v), F(17vb), J1ˣ(61v), J2ˣ(57v) (Hkr); 61(5vb), Bb(7va-b), 325IX 1 a(2va), Flat(8ra) (ÓT); FskBˣ(9r-v), FskAˣ(48) (Fsk); Þb106ˣ(9v), Þb112ˣ(9v) (Ldn)

Readings: [1] Samira: sannra Bb, samir at Flat, FskBˣ, samir á FskAˣ, ‘Bamir a’ Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    Njǫrðr: so J1ˣ, J2ˣ, norðr Kˣ, F, 61, Bb, 325IX 1 a, FskAˣ, njǫrð FskBˣ, ‘mord’ or ‘niord’ Þb106ˣ, morð Þb112ˣ;    enn: so F, J2ˣ, Bb, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, Þb112ˣ, en Kˣ, J1ˣ, 61, 325IX 1 a, Þb106ˣ, þá er Flat;    norðar: norðan Flat    [2] nadd‑: ‘nað’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, FskAˣ, ‘nad’ Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    ‑regns: ‘rengs’ J1ˣ;    hvǫtum: ‘hv(gg)tum’(?) J1ˣ    [3] vér: oss Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    getum: gerum Flat, gerðum FskBˣ, samir Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    bili: bils Flat, bil Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ    [4] borð‑: blá FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    ‑mœrar: ‘m(æ)rar’(?) Bb, ‘męra’ Flat, ‘mæyar’ FskBˣ;    skæ: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ, ‘kæ’ Kˣ, ‘sk(œ)’(?) 325IX 1 a, skír Bb, sker 325IX 1 a, ‘sko᷎r’ Flat    [5] þats (‘þat er’): þat F, þar er Flat, Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    rekr: ‘rø̨tt’ F, ‘raukkr’ 61, reykr Bb, 325IX 1 a, ‘rykr’ Flat;    á: enn F, um Flat, at Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    Rakna: regni FskBˣ    [6] rym‑: ‘rím’ F, ‘rum’ FskBˣ, FskAˣ, rá Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ, ‘ra(r)’(?) Þb112ˣ;    ‑leið: seið F, skeiðs FskBˣ, stóð Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    flota: konungr Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    breiðan: breiðum Bb, 325IX 1 a, slóðar Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ    [7] vér: oss Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ;    greipar: greipum 61    [8] ‑borð: bráðr 61, Flat, bræðr Bb, 325IX 1 a;    Haraldr: Haralds Bb, 325IX 1 a;    sunnan: om. Þb106ˣ, Þb112ˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 2: AI, 71, BI, 62-3, Skald I, 39; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 210, IV, 53-4, ÍF 26, 184, Hkr 1991, I, 118 (HákGóð ch. 28), F 1871, 80; Fms 1, 42, Fms 12, 28-9, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 41 (ch. 25), Flat 1860-8, I, 59; Fsk 1902-3, 37-8 (ch. 11), ÍF 29, 85 (ch. 12); Ldn 1921, 35, Ldn 1958, 19, ÍF 1, 66; Krause 1990, 210-16.

Context: In Hkr, ÓT and Fsk, this follows Lv 1 (see Context). Hákon abandons his meal and consults his advisers. He sees that he is outnumbered by the fleet sailing from the south and would take evasive action if he could do so honourably. Eyvindr now speaks Lv 2. In Ldn, by contrast, the stanza is ascribed to Þorgeirr hǫggvinkinni ‘Cut-cheek’, a member of Hákon’s entourage, who is about to commence a voyage northwards to Bjarmaland (Permia) when king Haraldr sails up from the south. Þorgeirr supports Hákon in the battle of Fitjar, receiving the wound to the cheek that gives him his nickname.

Notes: [All]: The ascription to Þorgeirr in Ldn, mentioned above, is rejected by all scholars (e.g. ÍF 1, 66 n.) but is interesting as hinting at divergent traditions in the transmission of skaldic verses. — [1] enn norðar ‘still further north’: Most mss have en or enn; adverbial enn ‘still’ is assumed here, and this is a possible interpretation of the reading en in some mss. Thus the skald’s words could voice criticism of Hákon for retreating (or contemplating retreat) in the face of the threat from Haraldr. Editors have suggested that enn carries little emphasis here and have cautioned against this reading (ÍF 26, and ÍF 29 implicitly), but the possibility of such criticism cannot be excluded. Alternatively, the situation implied in the stanza, read independently of the prose, might be that at the time that the threat announced itself Hákon had been intending to continue his itinerary of seasonal feasts (veizlur) in a northerly direction. — [3] getum at bǫlva ‘curse’: Geta ‘to get, be able’ is probably a pleonastic auxiliary here.  — [4] borðmœrar ‘of the gunwale-land [SEA]’: Borð ‘gunwale, strake, plank’ may be used here, as frequently, pars pro toto for ‘ship’ (cf. ÍF 26). The reading blámœrar ‘of the blue land [sea]’ in some Fsk mss represents an adj. plus noun construction that has some parallels (Meissner 3; cf. Note to Gsind Hákdr 1/2). It is poorly supported in the paradosis, but it is just conceivable that it is the original reading and that the majority reading has arisen by anticipation from gunnborð ‘battle-board [SHIELD]’ in l. 8. — [5-6, 8] Haraldr rekr breiðan flota sunnan á rymleið Rakna ‘Haraldr drives his broad fleet from the south on the roaring path of Rakni <sea-king> [SEA]’: The Ldn text deviates considerably here, and can be construed in context as follows (ÍF 1): Haraldr konungr rekr rástóð sunnan at slóðar Rakna ‘King Haraldr drives his yard-arm-stud [FLEET] from the south towards the tracks of Rakni [SEA]’. Konráð Gíslason (1892, 68-9) sees this as a case of re-working of the text, with rástóð ‘yard-arm-stud [FLEET]’, which fits well with the verb reka ‘drive’, representing a refinement upon Eyvindr’s original during subsequent transmission. But the possibility cannot be excluded that Ldn here represents a sound early tradition. — [6] breiðan ‘broad’: Haraldr’s fleet, with its superior numbers, is seen as presenting a broad front to its opponent (cf. Hkr 1893-1901, IV). — [7] í greipar ‘in our hands’: Shields of the standard circular wooden type had a central rounded boss of iron to protect the left hand, which grasped a bar on the back (Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998, 35-6).

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