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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Lv 14I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 14’ 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. 234.

Eyvindr skáldaspillir FinnssonLausavísur

Fengum feldarstinga,
fjǫrð- ok galt við -hjǫrðu,
þanns álhimins útan
oss lendingar sendu.
Mest selda ek mínar
við mævǫrum sævar
— hallæri veldr hvôru —
hlaupsildr Egils gaupna.

Fengum feldarstinga, þanns {lendingar {álhimins}} sendu oss útan, ok galt við {fjǫrðhjǫrðu}. Mest selda ek {mínar hlaupsildr gaupna Egils} við {mævǫrum sævar}; hallæri veldr hvôru.

We [I] received a cloak-pin, which {the landsmen {of the channel-sky}} [ICE > ICELANDERS] sent us [me] from abroad [Iceland], and I spent it on {fjord-herds} [HERRINGS]. Most of all I sold {my leaping herrings of Egill’s <legendary hero’s> palms} [ARROWS] for {the slender arrows of the sea} [HERRINGS]; the famine causes both things.

Mss: (119v), F(21ra), J1ˣ(72v-73r), J2ˣ(69v) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] feldar‑: foldar J1ˣ    [2] galt: dalk J1ˣ;    við: fyr J1ˣ;    hjǫrðu: jǫrðu F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [4] oss: ís‑ J1ˣ    [5] mínar: minnar J1ˣ    [8] gaupna: kaupa F

Editions: Skj AI, 74, Skj BI, 65, Skald I, 40, NN §§1953A, 2905; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 254, IV, 71, ÍF 26, 223-4, Hkr 1991, I 148 (HGráf ch. 16), F 1871, 96; Krause 1990, 274-6.

Context: The people of Iceland send Eyvindr a large silver cloak-pin, but he is obliged to break it up in order to purchase livestock. Eventually his means become so attenuated that he is forced to barter his arrows for herrings.

Notes: [1] feldarstinga ‘a cloak-pin’: The form of the noun is acc. sg., with which þann(s) in l. 3 agrees, and this implies (here and in Lv 1/2) a weak m. stingi ‘stabber, pin, dagger’ alongside strong stingr: cf. stinga ‘to stab, sting’, stingr ‘rod, that which stabs’ (Ólhv Hryn 8/6II and Note), and see ONP: stingi, stingr for instances of both weak and strong forms in later prose in the sense ‘stitch, stinging pain’. These nouns are mostly attested in the gen. pl. form, making their declensional category uncertain. A pin was used as part of a brooch or clasp fastening the cloak at the shoulder (cf. Turville-Petre 1976, 45). Silver cloak-pins, often in the form of disc brooches, from this era are a common archaeological find (cf. Wilson and Klindt-Jensen 1980, plate LXVI; Graham-Campbell 2001a, 117) and can contain sufficient precious metal to give credence to the present story. — [2] ok galt við fjǫrðhjǫrðu ‘and I spent it on fjord-herds [HERRINGS]’: A definitive interpretation has yet to emerge. (a) Adopted in this edn is the reading of Finnur Jónsson, which assumes the tmesis, fjǫrð-hjǫrðu ‘fjord-herds [HERRINGS]’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; cf. Frank 1978, 115-16). On this reading the imagery of this witty stanza is wholly consistent. See Note to st. 13/5 on the specific sense ‘herrings’. (b) A widely-adopted alternative construal takes fjǫrð as meaning ‘last year’, thus leaving the noun hjǫrðu ‘herds’ free-standing and to be understood in its ordinary sense (CPB II, 37; ÍF 26; Turville-Petre 1976, 45). This analysis produces good sense and matches the prose narrative, which clearly understands Eyvindr as referring to livestock (bús), but possibly this reference is inferred from the stanzas themselves (cf. Olsen 1945b, 177-8). (c) Kock (NN §§1953A, 2905), reads fjarðar ‘of the fjord’ in place of fjǫrð ok, obtaining the same meaning, ‘herrings’, while avoiding tmesis, but a tmesis where the first (monosyllabic) word in a line is understood in combination with the last word of the line is a recognised type and quite prevalent in C10th skaldic style (Reichardt 1969). — [3, 4] lendingar álhimins ‘the landsmen of the channel-sky [ICE > ICELANDERS]’: The determinant ál- is most straightforwardly explained as from áll ‘deep channel at sea’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; cf. Frank 1978, 106-7), though an alternative possibility is áll ‘eel’ (Turville-Petre 1976, 45), which continues the imagery of fish and fisheries. Jón Þorkelsson (1884, 47) notes the lack of hending in l. 3 and suggests emendation to otrhimins ‘heaven/sky of the otter [ICE]’, but this is unnecessary (cf. Note to Lv 1/7). — [5-8]: Notable is the interchange of herrings and arrows in the two kennings here, as well as in the literal transaction. See Note to st. 13/5 on the specific sense ‘herrings’ for the kenning mævǫrum sævar ‘slender arrows of the sea’ (l. 6). — [5] mest selda ek ‘most of all I sold’: This assumes a well-attested sense for the adv. mest (so also Frank 1978, 116). Skj B treats it as if adjectival (hence ‘all my arrows’), while ÍF 26 suggests síðast ‘most recently’, on the analogy of meir ‘later’. — [8] ‘leaping herrings of Egill’s <legendary hero’s> palms [ARROWS]’: The allusion is to Egill, the renowned archer; cf. Hfr Hákdr 8/4III for another arrow-kenning referring to him. Egill is associated in Vǫl 2/2, 4/7 with the legendary smith Vǫlundr, and see further Marold (1996).


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Frank, Roberta. 1978. Old Norse Court Poetry: The Dróttkvætt Stanza. Islandica 42. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  6. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  7. Turville-Petre, Gabriel. 1976. Scaldic Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  12. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  13. Jón Þorkelsson [J. Thorkelsson]. 1884. ‘Bemærkninger til nogle steder i versene i Heimskringla’. Aftryk af oversigt over det kgl. danske videnskabs selskabs forhandlinger 1884. Copenhagen: Luno.
  14. Krause, Arnulf, ed. 1990. Die Dichtung des Eyvindr skáldaspillir: Edition-Kommentar-Untersuchungen. Altnordische Bibliothek 10. Leverkusen: Literaturverlag Norden Mark Reinhardt.
  15. Olsen, Magnus. 1945b. ‘Skaldevers om nods-år nordenfjells’. In Festskrift til Konrad Nielsen på 70-årsdagen, 28. august 1945. Studia Septentrionalia 2. Oslo: Brøgger, 176-92.
  16. Graham-Campbell, James. 2001a. The Viking World. 3rd edn. London: Frances Lincoln.
  17. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1969. ‘A Contribution to the Interpretation of Skaldic Poetry: Tmesis’. In Polomé 1969, 200-26.
  18. Wilson, David M. and Ole Klindt-Jensen. 1980. Viking Art. 2nd edn. London: Allen & Unwin.
  19. Marold, Edith. 1996. ‘Egill und Ǫlrún – ein vergessenes Paar der Heldendichtung’. skandinavistik 26, 1-19.
  20. Internal references
  21. Not published: do not cite (HGráfII)
  22. Not published: do not cite ()
  23. Kate Heslop (ed.) 2017, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Hákonardrápa 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 224.
  24. Lauren Goetting (ed.) 2009, ‘Óláfr hvítaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda 8’ 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, pp. 664-5.

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