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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, 221

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Eyv Lv 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 5’ 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. 221.

Veitk, at beit inn bitri
byggving meðaldyggvan
bulka skíðs ór bôðum
benvǫndr konungs hǫndum.
Ófælinn klauf Ála
éldraugr skarar hauga
gollhjǫltuðum galtar
grandaðr Dana brandi.

Veitk, at {inn bitri benvǫndr} beit {meðaldyggvan byggving {skíðs bulka}} ór bôðum hǫndum konungs. {{{Ála galtar} él}draugr}, {grandaðr Dana}, klauf ófælinn {hauga skarar} gollhjǫltuðum brandi.

I know that {the biting wound-wand} [SWORD] bit {the middling-valiant inhabiter {of the ski of cargo}} [SHIP > SEAFARER] from both the king’s hands. {The log {of the storm {of the boar of Áli <legendary king>}}} [(lit. ‘storm-log of the boar of Áli’) HELMET > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Hákon], {injurer of the Danes} [= Hákon], cleft, unflinching, {the burial-mounds of hair} [HEADS] with his gold-hilted sword.

Mss: (103v-104r), F(18rb), J1ˣ(62v), J2ˣ(59r) (Hkr); 61(6ra), 325IX 1 a(2vb), Bb(8ra), Flat(8rb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(11r-v), FskAˣ(54) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Veitk (‘Veit ec’): sá ek Flat;    bitri: so all others, added in a later hand Kˣ    [2] byggving: ‘hyggiung’ FskBˣ;    ‑dyggvan: ‘‑dyggvang’ FskAˣ    [3] bulka: ‘buska’ J1ˣ, balka Flat;    skíðs: skíð F    [4] ben‑: bein J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [5] Ófælinn: ‘vfallum’ J1ˣ, ófallinn J2ˣ, ‘ofeilinn’ Flat;    Ála: Óla FskBˣ, FskAˣ    [6] ‑draugr: draugar 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    skarar: skǫr 61, 325IX 1 a, ‘skuo᷎r’ Bb, af skǫr Flat    [7] goll‑: ‘g[…]’ J1ˣ;    galtar: corrected from hjaltar J2ˣ    [8] grandaðr: ‘grand daðr’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ, ‘grandraðr’ 61, grandað FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    brandi: branda F, brandr J1ˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 5: AI, 72, BI, 63, Skald I, 39, NN §2217; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 215-16, IV, 57, ÍF 26, 190, Hkr 1991, I, 122 (HákGóð ch. 31), F 1871, 83; Fms 1, 45, Fms 12, 29, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 44 (ch. 28), Flat 1860-8, I, 61; Fsk 1902-3, 44 (ch. 12), ÍF 29, 90-1 (ch. 13); Krause 1990, 225-30.

Context: Fsk incorporates the stanza within a description of how Hákon single-handedly kills Eyvindr skreyja, having declined an offer of help from Þórálfr inn sterki ‘the Strong’ Skólmsson. Hkr and ÓT mention first that Hákon kills Eyvindr skreyja, following up on an initial attack by Þórálfr, and then that Þórálfr kills Álfr askmaðr ‘Shipman’.

Notes: [2, 3] byggving skíðs bulka ‘inhabiter of the ski of cargo [SHIP > SEAFARER]’: This, the warrior killed by the king, is identified as Eyvindr skreyja in Fsk and Hkr (see Context; followed in ÍF 26; ÍF 29; Hkr 1991). To judge from the stanza itself, however, the reference could be to Álfr (see Note to Lv 3/4) through his nickname askmaðr ‘Shipman, viking’ (so Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; see also Finnur Jónsson 1907, 284 and Lind 1920-1, 6 on the nickname, and Jesch 2001a, 135 on askr ‘ship’). There may have been competing accounts of the deaths of Eyvindr and Álfr, and in crediting the killing of Álfr to Þórálfr Skólmsson (an Icelander in whose honour ÞSjár Þórdr was composed), the prose sources may include some elements of early tradition. — [2] meðaldyggvan ‘middling-valiant’: An ironic understatement of the deceased warrior’s allegedly abysmal level of prowess. ÍF 26 translates meðaltrúan ‘middling-loyal’. — [5, 6, 7] Ála galtar éldraugr ‘the log of the storm of the boar of Áli <legendary king> [(lit. storm-log of the boar of Áli) HELMET > BATTLE > WARRIOR]’: This solution is based upon that of Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B), which is followed, with variations, by most eds. The ‘boar of Áli’ is understood as ‘helmet’, since Hildigǫltr or Hildisvín ‘battle-boar’ was the name of the helmet belonging to king Áli of Norway (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; cf. ÍF 26, 190 n.), which later passed to Aðils of Sweden (Skm, SnE 1998, I, 58; cf. a comparable allusion to the hostilities between Aðils and Hrólfr kraki at Fýrisvellir in Eyv Lv 8.) There is an element of ofljóst here, since the battle-kenning equates to hildr ‘battle’, and together with galtar (gen. sg. of gǫltr ‘boar’) forms a counterpart to Hildigǫltr. Editors differ as to the exact analysis of the kenning (and see Note to l. 6 draugr for a further complication). The analysis above is favoured in ÍF 26, ÍF 29 and Hkr 1991, while Finnur Jónsson and seemingly Kock (NN §2217) take él Ála ‘storm of Áli’ as the battle-kenning and the gǫltr ‘boar’ of battle as the helmet. The ofljóst works more straightforwardly on this analysis, but the structure of the inverted kenning is more problematic. Gǫltr and other words for ‘boar’ are found in other expressions for ‘helmet’, though Meissner expresses reservations about their status as kennings (Meissner 164). Boar images on helmets are attested from pre-Viking Age Sweden and from Anglo-Saxon England (see Beowulf 2008, 12, 135-7; Mitchell et al. 1998, 189). — [6] -draugr ‘the log’: The juxtaposition and rhyme of draug- with hauga ‘burial-mounds’ in l. 6 may evoke the homonym draugr ‘ghost, undead’ (LP: 1. draugr; cf. Note to ÞHjalt Lv 1/5). Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; cf. Skj B; LP: gǫltr) emends draugr to draugs, and hence makes the warrior-kenning Ála galtar éldraugs (discussed in Note to ll. 5, 6, 7) dependent on hauga skarar ‘burial-mounds of hair [HEADS]’, but the emendation is unnecessary since the two kennings in ll. 5-8 can be taken in apposition. — [6] hauga ‘the burial-mounds’: The pl. number implies that this stanza is a description of Hákon’s actions against the enemy in general, not his killing of an individual warrior. ON haugr can denote a natural hill or a burial-mound, but the juxtaposition with draugr (see previous Note) and the context of deadly blows suggest that burial-mounds are evoked here. — [7] gollhjǫltuðum ‘gold-hilted’: Some hilts from this period exhibit golden or silver ornamentation (Pedersen 2004, 595). — [8] grandaðr ‘injurer’: Printed in older eds as grǫnduðr, but there is no ground for alteration of the ms. spelling here, and ÍF 26, ÍF 29, Hkr 1991 all print grandaðr. This type of agentive noun can be formed with either -aðr or -uðr, the latter with mutation of a in the root syllable to ǫ.

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