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, 224

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Eyv Lv 7I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 7’ 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. 224.

Lítt kvôðu þik láta,
landvǫrðr, es brast, Hǫrða,
benja hagl á brynjum,
— bugusk almar — geð falma,
þás ófolgin ylgjar
endr ór þinni hendi
fetla svell til fyllar
fullegg, Haraldr, gullu.

Lítt kvôðu þik láta geð falma, {landvǫrðr Hǫrða}, es {hagl benja} brast á brynjum; almar bugusk, þás {ófolgin fullegg svell fetla} gullu endr ór hendi þinni, Haraldr, til fyllar ylgjar.

Little did people say you let your courage falter, {land-guardian of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr], when {the hail of wounds} [ARROWS] burst on the mail-shirts; bows were bent, when {the unconcealed fully edged icicles of sword-belts} [SWORDS] resounded once more from your hand, Haraldr, providing the she-wolf with its fill.

Mss: (108r), F(18vb-19ra), J1ˣ(64v), J2ˣ(62r) (Hkr); 61(6va), Bb(8va) (ÓT); FskBˣ(13v), FskAˣ(60) (Fsk); R(34v), Tˣ(35v), W(78), A(11v) (SnE, ll. 1-4)

Readings: [1] kvôðu: kvôðut R;    þik: þitt R    [2] es (‘er’): enn Bb;    Hǫrða: ‘horva’ FskBˣ    [3] benja: brynju R, Tˣ, W, A;    á brynjum: á brynjur FskBˣ, FskAˣ, í benjum R, Tˣ, W, A    [4] bugusk: ‘bugz’ Bb;    almar: almr Bb;    geð: ‘god’ Bb    [5] þás (‘þa er’): þá FskAˣ;    ‑folgin: so Bb, FskBˣ, ‑folginn Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, FskAˣ    [7] svell: spells FskBˣ;    fyllar: fullar J1ˣ, FskAˣ    [8] gullu: gulli Bb

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 3. Lausavísur 7: AI, 72-3, BI, 63-4, Skald I, 39; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 225, IV, 62, ÍF 26, 200, Hkr 1991, I, 132 (HGráf ch. 1), F 1871, 86; Fms 1, 49, Fms 12, 30, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 48 (ch. 30); Fsk 1902-3, 51 (ch. 13), ÍF 29, 97 (ch. 14); SnE 1848-87, I, 432-3, II, 442, SnE 1931, 153, SnE 1998, I, 71; Krause 1990, 237-42.


Fsk states that Eyvindr composed this stanza to placate King Haraldr gráfeldr, who had expressed indignation at the skald’s previous stanza. Hkr has a more elaborate story to the effect that Haraldr had resolved to put Eyvindr to death but their friends reconciled them, on condition that Eyvindr became Haraldr’s skald and served him as he had previously served Hákon; it is noted that Eyvindr and Haraldr were near kinsmen. The first helmingr is cited in SnE to illustrate kennings for ‘arrows’.

Notes: [1-4]: The rather convoluted word order, in particular the tripartite structure of l. 2, is analysed by Reichardt (1928, 114, 177). — [2] landvǫrðr Hǫrða ‘land-guardian of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr]’: Kennings of this type are often merely conventional, with ethnic names such as Hǫrða(r) ‘people of Hǫrðaland (Hordaland)’ standing as pars pro toto for the Norwegian people. However, there may be political reality to the conventional expression here, as suggested by Andersen (1977, 96), since the inherited power-base of the Gunnhildarsynir (Eiríkssynir) was south-west Norway (modern Vestlandet, including Hordaland; cf. ÍF 26, 200). Bagge (2004, 191-4) also notes specifically that their leader Haraldr appears to have taken over Hordaland from Hákon góði, who had affiliations with it through his mother. — [3]: In SnE, the ordering of words in this line gives hagl brynju í benjum ‘the hail of the mail-shirt [ARROWS] (burst) in wounds’. The arrangement in Fsk, Hkr and ÓT yields better sense. — [5] ófolgin ‘unconcealed’: An understatement for ‘unsheathed, drawn’. The word may possibly resonate against Lv 8/8 folginn ‘concealed’, which refers to the standard accusation against Haraldr, that he kept his wealth concealed. — [5, 7] til fyllar ylgjar ‘providing the she-wolf with its fill’: Lit. ‘to the satiety or fullness of the she-wolf’. — [8] fullegg ‘fully edged’: A hap. leg., though cf. adjectives such as harðeggjaðr ‘hard-bladed’ and skarpeggjaðr ‘sharp-bladed’ (LP: fulleggr, harðeggjaðr, skarpeggjaðr). Editors have translated the cpd as ‘fully sharp’ (fuldskarpe, Skj B), ‘piercing’ (bitur, ÍF 26, Hkr 1991) or ‘sharp, keen’ (hvöss, ÍF 29), but fullegg may be more specific. Single-edged swords are known from the beginning of the Viking Age but the more prevalent type was a double-edged weapon that lent itself to slashing movements (Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998 , 35-6). — [8] gullu ‘resounded’: The pl. verb form confirms that svell ‘icicles’, and hence the sword-kenning, is pl. Konráð Gíslason (1892, 70) explains this pl. as implying that Haraldr’s habitual behaviour in battle is being described, rather than his conduct in any specific battle; or perhaps it was considered a distinction for a leader to use (and break?) a series of swords.

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