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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Lv 13I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 13’ 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. 233.

Eyvindr skáldaspillir FinnssonLausavísur

Lôtum langra nóta
lǫgsóta verfótum
at spáþernum sporna
sporðfjǫðruðum norðan,
vita, ef akrmurur jǫkla,
ǫl-Gerðr, falar verði,
ítr, þærs upp of róta
unnsvín, vinum mínum.

Lôtum {lǫgsóta} sporna {verfótum} norðan at {sporðfjǫðruðum spáþernum langra nóta}, vita, ef {{jǫkla akr}murur}, þærs {unnsvín} of róta upp, verði falar vinum mínum, {ítr ǫl-Gerðr}.

Let us make {the ocean-steed} [SHIP] pace {with sea-feet} [OARS] from the north to {the tailfin-feathered prophesying terns of the long nets} [HERRINGS], to see if {the silverweeds {of the field of ice-floes}} [(lit. ‘field-silverweeds of ice-floes’) SEA > HERRINGS] that {the wave-swine} [SHIPS] root up will prove marketable for my friends, {splendid ale-Gerðr <goddess>} [WOMAN].

Mss: (119v), F(21ra), J1ˣ(72v), J2ˣ(69r-v) (Hkr)

Readings: [2] ver‑: nær F    [3] ‑þernum: þornum F    [4] sporðfjǫðruðum: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, sporð ok fjǫðruðum Kˣ    [5] akrmurur: so F, J2ˣ, ‘akr mutur’ Kˣ, ‘akry(m)ror’(?) J1ˣ    [6] ǫl‑: eld‑ F, ǫls J1ˣ    [7] þærs (‘þær er’): þar er F, ‘þ̄r er’ J1ˣ;    of róta: hafa rótað F    [8] unn‑: und J1ˣ;    ‑svín: sinn F;    mínum: sínum J1ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 74, Skj BI, 65, Skald I, 40, NN §3050; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 253-4, IV, 70-1, ÍF 26, 223, Hkr 1991, I, 148 (HGráf ch. 16), F 1871, 95; Krause 1990, 270-3.

Context: When a shoal of herrings is spotted in spring Eyvindr mounts a fishing expedition.

Notes: [All]: Fsk (ÍF 29, 98) is evidently drawing upon Lv 13 and 14 when it mentions a shortage of herrings, even though it does not cite these stanzas (Poole 1991, 13-14). — [2] verfótum ‘with sea-feet [OARS]’: This nonce-kenning is explained by Konráð Gíslason (1866b, 188-90). In association with the verb sporna ‘pace, prance’ it represents a manneristic extension of ‘horse of the sea’, a familiar pattern for ship-kennings. Ver n. means ‘fishing-ground’ in prose but functions as a generic sea-heiti in poetry (CVC: ver). — [3] spáþernum ‘prophesying terns’: The significance of this base-word and its prefixed agentive spá- ‘prophesying’, as well as the general association between terns and herrings, have been much discussed. Flornes (1939, 15-6) states that changes in the call of terns, and their flocking behaviour, can indicate (or ‘prophesy’) the presence of herring. But perhaps the idea is simply that boats follow terns, who indicate where the shoals are. — [5] vita ‘to see’: The inf. form is used in anacoluthon (Hkr 1893-1901, IV), since although the two infinitives sporna ‘prance’ (l. 3) and vita ‘see’ are both dependent on lôtum ‘let us make’ (l. 1), the constructions are different. — [5] -murur ‘silverweeds’: Part of a unique kenning, exceptional because in referring to herrings as plants, it crosses between the animal and plant kingdoms (cf. Meissner 116). Mura f. is the plant potentilla anserina (CVC: mura). — [5] jǫkla akrmurur ‘the silverweeds of the field of ice-floes [(lit. ‘field-silverweeds of ice-floes’) SEA > HERRINGS]’: This kenning signifies ‘fish’ in general rather then ‘herrings’ specifically, as do those in st. 14/2 and st. 14/6. But the sense ‘herring’ is indicated by the reciprocal kenning for ‘arrows’ in st. 14/8, which features the base-word hlaupsildr ‘leaping herrings’, and by the prose contexts, which specify herrings. — [6] falar ‘marketable’: In constructions involving the adj. falr, the person in the dat. (here vinum ‘friends’) appears to be the seller (CVC, Fritzner: falr; cf. LP: 3 falr). On this basis, the sense here is that Eyvindr will see whether his friends can catch herring to sell (or barter) (NN §3050). These ‘friends’ are unspecified but might be dependents and workers on Eyvindr’s lands whom, according to Hkr (ÍF 26, 223) he co-opts for a fishing expedition. — [6, 7] ítr ǫl-Gerðr ‘splendid ale-Gerðr <goddess> [WOMAN]’: The addressee here is unknown, except that ítr ‘splendid’ might suggest deference. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV) proposes identification with Eyvindr’s wife, but without bringing any evidence.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  5. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  6. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  7. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  8. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  9. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  10. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  11. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  12. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  13. Poole, Russell. 1991. Viking Poems on War and Peace: A Study in Skaldic Narrative. Toronto Medieval Texts and Translations 8. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press.
  14. Krause, Arnulf, ed. 1990. Die Dichtung des Eyvindr skáldaspillir: Edition-Kommentar-Untersuchungen. Altnordische Bibliothek 10. Leverkusen: Literaturverlag Norden Mark Reinhardt.
  15. Konráð Gíslason. 1866b. ‘Strøbemærkninger til oldnordiske digte’. ÅNOH, 188-97.
  16. Flornes, H. M. 1939. ‘“Spåterne”. Merknader til ei lausavise av Eyvind Finnsson’. MM, 15-16.
  17. Internal references
  18. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  19. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘Fagrskinna (Fsk)’ 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, pp. clix-clxi.
  20. Not published: do not cite (HGráfII)

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