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Runic Dictionary

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Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson (Eyv)

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

3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 14

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.

stanzas:  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, 218

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Eyv Lv 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 218.

Lýtr fyr lǫngum spjótum
landsfolk; bifask randir;
kveðr oddviti oddum
Eyvindar lið skreyju.

Landsfolk lýtr fyr lǫngum spjótum; randir bifask; oddviti kveðr lið Eyvindar skreyju oddum.

The land-army sinks before the long spears; shields tremble; the leader [Hákon] greets the following of Eyvindr skreyja (‘Wretch’) with spear-points.

Mss: FskBˣ(10r), FskAˣ(50) (Fsk)

Readings: [2] bifask: so FskAˣ, ‘bifafk’ FskBˣ    [4] Eyvindar: Eyvindr FskAˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 3: AI, 72, BI, 63, Skald I, 39; Fsk 1902-3, 40 (ch. 11), ÍF 29, 87 (ch. 12); Krause 1990, 217-19.


Fsk, having cited Eyv Lv 2, describes the Norwegians preparing for action at Fitjar and cites Eyv Hák 1-3. In the tumult, Eyvindr speaks this, a gamankviðling ‘jesting little verse’, to King Hákon before the close fighting begins, and Hákon responds with a matching stanza (Hákg Lv).

Notes: [All]: The report of jesting in Fsk may derive from lék við ljóðmǫgu ‘he [Hákon] joked with the men’, l. 5 of Eyv Hák 4, which is quoted later in the episode (ÍF 29, 88). For the suggestion that Hákon’s reply originated as part of a flokkr by Eyvindr and was ascribed to Hákon secondarily, see Poole (1988, 175). — [1, 3] lýtr; kveðr ‘sinks; greets’: If the present lausavísa indeed contains a jest, it might lie in the ironic use of the verbs lúta ‘sink’ (which occasionally means ‘bow, submit’ as in fealty, e.g. GunnlI Aðdr 1/3V (Gunnl 3)) and kveða ‘greet’, evoking courtly ceremony (which some Norwegian rulers and their entourage might have participated in while on embassies to Carolingian and English political centres). — [4] skreyju ‘skreyja (“Wretch”)’: The meaning of the nickname is not beyond doubt, but for the sense ‘wretch’ see Finnur Jónsson (1907, 349); Lind (1920-1, 333). In Lv 4 Eyvindr is seemingly the target of both a direct taunt and an indirect one alluding to a defeat attested in Egill Lv 10V (Eg 15; see Note to Lv 4/7-8 below). Both Eyvindr skreyja and his comrade Álfr askmaðr (see Note to Lv 5/2, 3) are somewhat obscure personages. They are said in Hkr to be maternal uncles of the Eiríkssynir (Gunnhildarsynir), hence brothers of Queen Gunnhildr, though this linkage is generally regarded as suspect (ÍF 26; Egils saga, ÍF 2, 123-4 and n.).

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