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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Lv 4I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 4’ 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. 219.

Eyvindr skáldaspillir FinnssonLausavísur
345

val ‘of the slaughter’

1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

val ‘of the slaughter’

1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

val ‘of the slaughter’

1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

val ‘of the slaughter’

1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

grindar ‘gate’

grind (noun f.): gate, pen < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

grindar ‘gate’

grind (noun f.): gate, pen < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

grindar ‘gate’

grind (noun f.): gate, pen < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

grindar ‘gate’

grind (noun f.): gate, pen < valgrind (noun f.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

veðr ‘of the storm’

2. veðr (noun n.; °-s; -): weather, wind, storm < veðrheyjandi (noun m.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

veðr ‘of the storm’

2. veðr (noun n.; °-s; -): weather, wind, storm < veðrheyjandi (noun m.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

heyjandi ‘The enacter’

-heyjandi (noun m.): [enacter] < veðrheyjandi (noun m.)

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

skꝍyja ‘’

Close

Skreyju ‘[Eyvindr] Skreyja (‘Wretch’)’

skreyja (noun f.): wretch

[2] Skreyju: ‘skrꝍya’ FskBˣ, ‘skꝍyia’ FskAˣ

notes

[2] Skreyju ‘[Eyvindr] Skreyja (“Wretch”)’: See Note to Lv 3/4.

Close

‘not’

né (conj.): nor

[3] né: corrected from at F

Close

golli ‘to gold’

gull (noun n.): gold

Close

Gefnar ‘of the Gefn’

Gefn (noun f.): Gefn

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

Gefnar ‘of the Gefn’

Gefn (noun f.): Gefn

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

Gefnar ‘of the Gefn’

Gefn (noun f.): Gefn

kennings

Valgrindar Gefnar veðrheyjandi,
‘storm-enacter of the Gefn of the slaughter-gate’
   = WARRIOR = Hákon

the slaughter -gate, → SHIELD
the Gefn of the SHIELD → VALKYRIE
the storm of the VALKYRIE → BATTLE
The enacter of the BATTLE → WARRIOR = Hákon
Close

søkk ‘treasure’

2. søkk (noun n.): treasure < søkkspennir (noun m.)

[5] søkk‑: svip‑ F, sól FskBˣ, FskAˣ

kennings

svinnan søkkspenni,
‘a wise treasure-grasper, ’
   = RULER

a wise treasure-grasper, → RULER

notes

[5] søkkspenni ‘treasure-grasper [RULER]’: The multiplicity of variants has left room for widely varying construals of the kenning, and the sense of -spenni is disputed given that kennings more often denote men as ‘treasure-destroyers’ (i.e. extravagant givers) than as treasure-graspers. (a) Adopted in this edn is Kock’s interpretation of the reading of as søkkspenni (NN §§1057, 1783, followed in ÍF 26, Hkr 1991). On the word søkk, see Note to Eyv Hál 1/10. (b) In Hkr 1893-1901, IV, Finnur Jónsson read svipkenni Njóts (emended from mss njótr) and interpreted it as ‘trier of the uproar of Njótr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’. (c) Subsequently (Skj B) Finnur opted for the reading sólspenni and combined it with ranna and Njóts to obtain a kenning which in Skj B he merely translates kriger ‘warrior’, but which he explains in LP, taking Njótr as a name of Óðinn, his rǫnn ‘halls’ as ‘shields’, their sól ‘sun’ as ‘sword’ and its spennir ‘encircler, grasper’ as ‘warrior’ (LP: njótr 2, rann, sólspennir). (d) Reichardt (1928, 32-3) rejected both of these interpretations, adopting ‘sꜹckspenni’, the (diplomatic) reading of , and construing it as a kenning sǫkspennir ‘encompasser of battle’, i.e. ‘warrior’. He also rejected the emendation of njótr (see Note to ll. 7-8 below). However, the spelling implies <kk>, not <k>. (e) Bjarni Einarsson (ÍF 29), evidently attempting to account for the Fsk readings as they stand, opts for sólspenni ‘sun-destroyer’ and assumes that the other determinants of the kenning have been effaced in transmission. Kock’s solution is preferable to all these, in terms of conformity to recognised kenning types and ability to account for both the spelling with geminated consonant in and the full range of variants in other mss.

Close

spenni ‘grasper’

spennir (noun m.): clasper < søkkspennir (noun m.)spennir (noun m.): clasper < sólspennir (noun m.)

[5] ‑spenni: ‑kenni F, spennir FskBˣ, rýri FskAˣ

kennings

svinnan søkkspenni,
‘a wise treasure-grasper, ’
   = RULER

a wise treasure-grasper, → RULER

notes

[5] -spenni ‘-grasper’: In order to explain this agentive (NN §1057B; ÍF 26; LP: auðspennir), eds have assumed a sense of ‘destroy’ for the verb spenna. But occurrences in the senses of ‘consume, use up, waste’ (hence possibly ‘destroy’) are restricted to a few late attestations in homiletic contexts (Fritzner: II. spenna 2) and appear to represent a development from OE (ā)spendan ‘spend, consume, exhaust’ or other WGmc derivatives of Lat. expendere ‘to spend’ (cf. AEW: spenna 4). Meanwhile, spenna as used in skaldic kennings is most probably from an entirely different etymon (< Gmc *spannian), with a sense of ‘cause to span, embrace, encompass’. From the large mass of attestations it is clear that the semantic range of this spenna covers the concepts ‘clasp, span, enclose, embrace, grasp, catch, gain’ (CVC: spenna; Fritzner: I. spenna; AEW: spenna 2). The basis for the kenning is therefore probably that the successful warlord and his following grasp or seize valuable items, e.g. weapons, from the opposing forces as plunder (cf. Gsind Hákdr 4/3, Anon Liðs 3/7, Sigv Nesv 10/1-4; Price 2000a). — [5] søkkspenni ‘treasure-grasper [RULER]’: The multiplicity of variants has left room for widely varying construals of the kenning, and the sense of -spenni is disputed given that kennings more often denote men as ‘treasure-destroyers’ (i.e. extravagant givers) than as treasure-graspers. (a) Adopted in this edn is Kock’s interpretation of the reading of as søkkspenni (NN §§1057, 1783, followed in ÍF 26, Hkr 1991). On the word søkk, see Note to Eyv Hál 1/10. (b) In Hkr 1893-1901, IV, Finnur Jónsson read svipkenni Njóts (emended from mss njótr) and interpreted it as ‘trier of the uproar of Njótr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’. (c) Subsequently (Skj B) Finnur opted for the reading sólspenni and combined it with ranna and Njóts to obtain a kenning which in Skj B he merely translates kriger ‘warrior’, but which he explains in LP, taking Njótr as a name of Óðinn, his rǫnn ‘halls’ as ‘shields’, their sól ‘sun’ as ‘sword’ and its spennir ‘encircler, grasper’ as ‘warrior’ (LP: njótr 2, rann, sólspennir). (d) Reichardt (1928, 32-3) rejected both of these interpretations, adopting ‘sꜹckspenni’, the (diplomatic) reading of , and construing it as a kenning sǫkspennir ‘encompasser of battle’, i.e. ‘warrior’. He also rejected the emendation of njótr (see Note to ll. 7-8 below). However, the spelling implies <kk>, not <k>. (e) Bjarni Einarsson (ÍF 29), evidently attempting to account for the Fsk readings as they stand, opts for sólspenni ‘sun-destroyer’ and assumes that the other determinants of the kenning have been effaced in transmission. Kock’s solution is preferable to all these, in terms of conformity to recognised kenning types and ability to account for both the spelling with geminated consonant in and the full range of variants in other mss.

Close

spenni ‘grasper’

spennir (noun m.): clasper < søkkspennir (noun m.)spennir (noun m.): clasper < sólspennir (noun m.)

[5] ‑spenni: ‑kenni F, spennir FskBˣ, rýri FskAˣ

kennings

svinnan søkkspenni,
‘a wise treasure-grasper, ’
   = RULER

a wise treasure-grasper, → RULER

notes

[5] -spenni ‘-grasper’: In order to explain this agentive (NN §1057B; ÍF 26; LP: auðspennir), eds have assumed a sense of ‘destroy’ for the verb spenna. But occurrences in the senses of ‘consume, use up, waste’ (hence possibly ‘destroy’) are restricted to a few late attestations in homiletic contexts (Fritzner: II. spenna 2) and appear to represent a development from OE (ā)spendan ‘spend, consume, exhaust’ or other WGmc derivatives of Lat. expendere ‘to spend’ (cf. AEW: spenna 4). Meanwhile, spenna as used in skaldic kennings is most probably from an entirely different etymon (< Gmc *spannian), with a sense of ‘cause to span, embrace, encompass’. From the large mass of attestations it is clear that the semantic range of this spenna covers the concepts ‘clasp, span, enclose, embrace, grasp, catch, gain’ (CVC: spenna; Fritzner: I. spenna; AEW: spenna 2). The basis for the kenning is therefore probably that the successful warlord and his following grasp or seize valuable items, e.g. weapons, from the opposing forces as plunder (cf. Gsind Hákdr 4/3, Anon Liðs 3/7, Sigv Nesv 10/1-4; Price 2000a). — [5] søkkspenni ‘treasure-grasper [RULER]’: The multiplicity of variants has left room for widely varying construals of the kenning, and the sense of -spenni is disputed given that kennings more often denote men as ‘treasure-destroyers’ (i.e. extravagant givers) than as treasure-graspers. (a) Adopted in this edn is Kock’s interpretation of the reading of as søkkspenni (NN §§1057, 1783, followed in ÍF 26, Hkr 1991). On the word søkk, see Note to Eyv Hál 1/10. (b) In Hkr 1893-1901, IV, Finnur Jónsson read svipkenni Njóts (emended from mss njótr) and interpreted it as ‘trier of the uproar of Njótr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’. (c) Subsequently (Skj B) Finnur opted for the reading sólspenni and combined it with ranna and Njóts to obtain a kenning which in Skj B he merely translates kriger ‘warrior’, but which he explains in LP, taking Njótr as a name of Óðinn, his rǫnn ‘halls’ as ‘shields’, their sól ‘sun’ as ‘sword’ and its spennir ‘encircler, grasper’ as ‘warrior’ (LP: njótr 2, rann, sólspennir). (d) Reichardt (1928, 32-3) rejected both of these interpretations, adopting ‘sꜹckspenni’, the (diplomatic) reading of , and construing it as a kenning sǫkspennir ‘encompasser of battle’, i.e. ‘warrior’. He also rejected the emendation of njótr (see Note to ll. 7-8 below). However, the spelling implies <kk>, not <k>. (e) Bjarni Einarsson (ÍF 29), evidently attempting to account for the Fsk readings as they stand, opts for sólspenni ‘sun-destroyer’ and assumes that the other determinants of the kenning have been effaced in transmission. Kock’s solution is preferable to all these, in terms of conformity to recognised kenning types and ability to account for both the spelling with geminated consonant in and the full range of variants in other mss.

Close

svinnan ‘a wise’

2. svinnr (adj.): wise

[5] svinnan: sunnan FskBˣ, sára FskAˣ

kennings

svinnan søkkspenni,
‘a wise treasure-grasper, ’
   = RULER

a wise treasure-grasper, → RULER

notes

[5] svinnan ‘wise’: Kock (NN §§16, 1057C) suggests ‘swift, intrepid, bold’ (snabb, rask, käck) as the sense of this word. 

Close

sigrminnigr ‘mindful of victory’

sigrminnigr (adj.): mindful of victory

notes

[6] sigrminnigr ‘mindful of victory’: This adj. applies to Eyvindr skreyja and appears, in the light of Lv 3/1, 3 (see Note) and of the Context above, to represent a further irony, where Eyvindr skreyja lacks victories of which to be mindful (Olsen 1962a, 18). For traditions concerning Eyvindr skreyja’s defeats in combat, see Note to Lv 4/7-8. Skj B translates kampvillig ‘desiring conflict’ and Kock similarly betänkt på strider (NN §1057), but this would be more appropriate to the rare sig n. ‘battle’ than sigr m. ‘victory’.

Close

njótr ‘user’

njótr (noun m.): user, enjoyer

kennings

njótr hranna.’
‘user of the waves.’’
   = SWIMMER = Eyvindr skreyja

user of the waves.’ → SWIMMER = Eyvindr skreyja

notes

[7, 8] njótr hranna ‘user of the waves [SWIMMER = Eyvindr skreyja]’: Another kenning that has caused difficulty. (a) In this edn it is interpreted literally, since the poet may be alluding to the event described in Egill Lv 10V (Eg 15), where Eyvindr skreyja, worsted in battle, leaps from his ship to swim to safety. (Ranna in all Fsk mss would be a Norw. form of hranna.) Given the likelihood that Hákon had conducted a previous naval campaign in Danish waters (Schreiner 1927-9e, 526; Bagge 2004, 189-90), some familiarity with Eyvindr skreyja on the part of the king’s Norwegian supporters would not be surprising. For the poet’s aspersions on the other Danish military leader at Fitjar, see Note to Lv 5/2. For a possible parallel to (or echo of) this kenning, see Note to Bjbp Jóms 13/6, and Poole (1988, 176). (b) For Finnur Jónsson’s interpretations, see Note to l. 5, søkkspennir. (c) Reichardt (1928, 33, cf. NN §1057A; ÍF 26; ÍF 29; Hkr 1991) treated njótr hranna as a kenning for ‘seafarer, steerer of the ship’, taking it as a vocative with imp. halt(u) ‘keep’. But hranna needs to be complemented with a base-word equivalent in function to ‘timber’ or ‘horse’ if it is to yield a standard ship-kenning.

Close

nýtum ‘the capable’

nýtr (adj.; °compar. -ri, superl. nýztr/nýtastr): useful, able

kennings

nýtum gram Norðmanna,
‘the capable king of the Norwegians, ’
   = Hákon

the capable king of the Norwegians, → Hákon
Close

Norð ‘of the Nor’

norð- ((prefix)): northern, Norwegian < norðmaðr (noun m.): Norwegian

kennings

nýtum gram Norðmanna,
‘the capable king of the Norwegians, ’
   = Hákon

the capable king of the Norwegians, → Hákon

notes

[8] gram Norðmanna ‘king of the Norwegians [= Hákon]’: In reality Hákon’s powers seem to have been largely limited to western Norway (Bagge 2004, 194).

Close

manna ‘wegians’

maðr (noun m.): man, person < norðmaðr (noun m.): Norwegian

kennings

nýtum gram Norðmanna,
‘the capable king of the Norwegians, ’
   = Hákon

the capable king of the Norwegians, → Hákon

notes

[8] gram Norðmanna ‘king of the Norwegians [= Hákon]’: In reality Hákon’s powers seem to have been largely limited to western Norway (Bagge 2004, 194).

Close

gram ‘king’

1. gramr (noun m.): ruler

[8] gram: so all others, garm Kˣ

kennings

nýtum gram Norðmanna,
‘the capable king of the Norwegians, ’
   = Hákon

the capable king of the Norwegians, → Hákon

notes

[8] gram Norðmanna ‘king of the Norwegians [= Hákon]’: In reality Hákon’s powers seem to have been largely limited to western Norway (Bagge 2004, 194).

Close

hranna ‘of the waves’

hrǫnn (noun f.; °; dat. -um): wave

[8] hranna: þannig F, ranna FskBˣ, FskAˣ

kennings

njótr hranna.’
‘user of the waves.’’
   = SWIMMER = Eyvindr skreyja

user of the waves.’ → SWIMMER = Eyvindr skreyja

notes

[7, 8] njótr hranna ‘user of the waves [SWIMMER = Eyvindr skreyja]’: Another kenning that has caused difficulty. (a) In this edn it is interpreted literally, since the poet may be alluding to the event described in Egill Lv 10V (Eg 15), where Eyvindr skreyja, worsted in battle, leaps from his ship to swim to safety. (Ranna in all Fsk mss would be a Norw. form of hranna.) Given the likelihood that Hákon had conducted a previous naval campaign in Danish waters (Schreiner 1927-9e, 526; Bagge 2004, 189-90), some familiarity with Eyvindr skreyja on the part of the king’s Norwegian supporters would not be surprising. For the poet’s aspersions on the other Danish military leader at Fitjar, see Note to Lv 5/2. For a possible parallel to (or echo of) this kenning, see Note to Bjbp Jóms 13/6, and Poole (1988, 176). (b) For Finnur Jónsson’s interpretations, see Note to l. 5, søkkspennir. (c) Reichardt (1928, 33, cf. NN §1057A; ÍF 26; ÍF 29; Hkr 1991) treated njótr hranna as a kenning for ‘seafarer, steerer of the ship’, taking it as a vocative with imp. halt(u) ‘keep’. But hranna needs to be complemented with a base-word equivalent in function to ‘timber’ or ‘horse’ if it is to yield a standard ship-kenning.

Close

Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

As the two sides engage at Fitjar, Hákon and his opponents exchange taunts. Eyvindr skreyja asks where the king is, wondering if he has hidden or fled, to which Hákon replies loudly, ‘Haltu svá fram stefnunni, ef þú vill finna Norðmanna konung’, ‘Keep coming in this direction, if you want to meet the king of the Norwegians’ (Hkr, cf. the somewhat more elaborate account in Fsk). Eyvindr skáldaspillir’s stanza is cited in corroboration.

Direct speech within a skaldic stanza is rare, and Eyvindr may here be building upon memories of an actual exchange of taunts in the battle (cf. Note to Lv 1 [All]). The wording of the speech in the stanza and the prose narrative (Context above) is closely similar: see Fidjestøl (1993c, 89-90) for discussion.

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