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, 223

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

6 — Eyv Lv 6I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 6’ 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. 223.

Fyrr rauð Fenris varra
flugvarr konungr sparra
— malmhríðar svall meiðum
móðr — í Gamla blóði,
þás óstirfinn arfa
Eiríks of rak — geira
nú tregr gæti-Gauta
grams fall — á sæ alla.

Fyrr rauð flugvarr konungr {sparra varra Fenris} í blóði Gamla; móðr svall {meiðum {malmhríðar}}, þás óstirfinn of rak alla arfa Eiríks á sæ; nú tregr fall grams {gæti-Gauta geira}.

Earlier the flight-reluctant king [Hákon] reddened {the prop of the lips of Fenrir <wolf>} [SWORD] in Gamli’s blood; courage swelled {in the trees {of the metal-storm}} [BATTLE > WARRIORS], when, agreeable, he drove all Eiríkr’s heirs to sea; now the fall of the king distresses {the guarding Gautar <= Óðinn’s> of spears} [WARRIORS].

Mss: (100r), Kˣ(108r) (l. 1), 39(2vb) (l. 1), F(17va), F(18vb), J1ˣ(60v), J1ˣ(64v) (l. 1), J2ˣ(56v), J2ˣ(62r) (l. 1) (Hkr); 61(6va), Bb(8va) (ÓT); FskBˣ(13r), FskAˣ(59) (Fsk)

Readings: [2] flug‑: fjǫl Bb    [3] ‑hríðar: hríða FskAˣ;    svall: sval Bb    [4] móðr: móð 61    [5] óstirfinn: óstirfins FskAˣ;    arfa: arna FskBˣ    [6] Eiríks: ‘eir’’ Bb, Eirík FskAˣ;    of rak: om. J1ˣ, om. with ok rak in margin J2ˣ;    of: so F(17va), F(18vb), 61, FskAˣ, ok Kˣ, Bb, FskBˣ    [7] nú: þat FskAˣ;    tregr: tregar 61, Bb;    gæti‑: geitar Bb    [8] grams: gram Bb;    fall: vall FskBˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 6: AI, 72, BI, 63, Skald I, 39; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 207-8, 224, IV, 52-3, ÍF 26, 181-2, 199, Hkr 1991, I, 116, 131-2 (HákGóð ch. 27, HGráf ch. 1), F 1871, 79, 85; Fms 1, 48, Fms 12, 30, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 47-8 (ch. 30); Fsk 1902-3, 50-1 (ch. 13), ÍF 29, 96 (ch. 14); Krause 1990, 231-6.

Context:

In Fsk (similarly ÓT) it is explained that after Hákon góði’s death his entourage and that of Haraldr gráfeldr engage in wrangling about the comparative merits of Haraldr and his predecessor, which culminates in an exchange of verses between the two skalds Glúmr Geirason and Eyvindr skáldaspillir. Hkr cites Lv 6 twice, both times as Eyvindr’s riposte to a bragging stanza about Hákon’s death composed by Glúmr; except in F the second citation is of the first line only.

Notes: [1, 2] sparra varra Fenris ‘the prop of the lips of Fenrir <wolf> [SWORD]’: The reference is to the story of the gods binding the wolf Fenrir and setting a sword with the hilt on his lower jaw and the point on his upper jaw to prevent him from biting. Snorri (Gylf, SnE 2005, 29) adds Þat er gómsparri hans ‘That is his gum-prop’, and gómsparri occurs as a sword-kenning in ESk Geisl 48/8VII. — [4] í blóði Gamla ‘in Gamli’s blood’: Gamli Eiríksson, Haraldr gráfeldr’s brother, and predecessor as leader of the Gunnhildarsynir (Eiríkssynir), had been killed some time earlier in the battle of Rastarkálfr, an otherwise unknown locality on the island of Fræði (Frei, Møre og Romsdal), c. 955. For Gamli and the battle, see Gsind Hákdr 8, ÞSjár Þórdr 2 and Glúmr Lv. — [5] óstirfinn ‘agreeable’: This is the only citation for the adj. in LP: óstirfinn and its meaning is unclear, except that it is the antonym of stirfinn ‘stiff-minded, stubborn, obstinate’ (see Fritzner, AEW: stirfinn). Konráð Gíslason (1892, 69, followed by Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; ÍF 26) suggests ‘cheerful and friendly [towards his men]’, which would fit with the wider context; Konráð notes a number of partial parallels to this motif. Bjarni Einarsson (ÍF 29) tentatively suggests an extended sense ‘brave, keen’. — [6] of rak ‘he drove’: Of is the expletive particle. — [7] Gauta ‘Gautar <= Óðinns>’: The base-word of a kenning for ‘warriors’, probably the pl. of the Óðinn-name Gautr (and so previous eds). Names of gods are frequent in this role, and pl. forms occur, especially frequently in the case of Njǫrðr (Meissner 259). Gautar is also the name of the people of Gautland (Götaland), but this is unlikely here.

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