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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Lv 8I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 8’ 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. 226.

Eyvindr skáldaspillir FinnssonLausavísur

Bôrum, Ullr, of alla,
ímunlauks, á hauka
fjǫllum Fýrisvalla
fræ Hôkunar ævi.
Nú hefr folkstríðir Fróða
fáglýjaðra þýja
meldr í móður holdi
mellu dolgs of folginn.

Bôrum {fræ Fýrisvalla} á {fjǫllum hauka} of alla ævi Hôkunar, {Ullr {ímunlauks}}. Nú hefr {folkstríðir} of folginn {meldr {fáglýjaðra þýja Fróða}} í holdi {móður {dolgs mellu}}.

We bore {the seed of Fýrisvellir} [GOLD] on {the mountains of hawks} [HANDS] during the whole of Hákon’s lifetime, {Ullr <god> {of the battle-leek}} [SWORD > WARRIOR]. Now {the afflicter of the people} [= Haraldr] has hidden {the flour {of the little-satisfied bondswomen of Fróði <legendary king>}} [= Fenja and Menja > GOLD] in the flesh {of the mother {of the enemy of the giantess}} [= Þórr > = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)].

Mss: (108v), F(19ra), J1ˣ(65r), J2ˣ(62r-v) (Hkr); 61(6va), Bb(8vb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(14r), FskAˣ(62-63) (Fsk); R(32v), Tˣ(34r), W(75), U(31r), U(43v-44r), C(3v) (SnE, ll. 1-4); A(4r), W(102), B(2v) (TGT, ll. 1-2)

Readings: [1] of (‘vm’): á U(31r);    alla: allan R, C    [2] ímun‑: ‘imum’ Bb;    ‑lauks: ‘letvrs’ R, ‘l[…]ks’ U(31r), ‑leiks C;    á: so all others, ok Kˣ;    hauka: hauga FskBˣ    [3] fjǫllum: ‘fioll[…]’ U(31r);    ‑valla: vallar F, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, U(43v)    [5] hefr: ‘hofir’ Bb;    folkstríðir: full hríð Bb    [6] fá‑: fjǫl J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, Bb, FskAˣ;    ‑glýjaðra: ‘gyliadra’ Bb, ‘glyara’ FskBˣ;    þýja: þylja Bb    [7] meldr: meld FskBˣ, moldar FskAˣ    [8] mellu: moldu Bb;    folginn: folgit 61, Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 73, Skj BI, 64, Skald I, 39-40; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 226, IV, 62-3, ÍF 26, 201-2, Hkr 1991, I, 133 (HGráf ch. 1), F 1871, 86; Fms 1, 50, Fms 12, 30-1, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 49 (ch. 31); Fsk 1902-3, 54 (ch. 13), ÍF 29, 99 (ch. 14); SnE 1848-87, I, 398-9, II, 321, 362, 580-1, SnE 1931, 142, SnE 1998, I, 59; SnE 1848-87, II, 108-9, TGT 1884, 16, 71, TGT 1927, 48, TGT 1998, 124-5; Krause 1990, 243-9.


Fsk places Lv 8 and 9 after Lv 12, with the comment that the sons of Eiríkr have become grasping and pay no heed to the laws of the land; they bury their treasure in the ground like peasants and fail to pay their entourage. The explanation in Hkr is similar. In SnE, the first helmingr is used to exemplify the ‘seed of Hrólfr kraki’ pattern of gold-kenning (see Note to ll. 3-4). In TGT ll. 1-2 are cited by Óláfr Þórðarson to illustrate his Latin source’s account of a poetic blemish (vitium) termed collisio, where the consonant [m] stands between two vowels (see Note to l. 1).

Notes: [All]: The ideology underlying the kennings in this lausavísa is discussed in detail by Frank (1978, 57-60). Lv 8 and 9 are remarkable for their recurrent hendingar using the sounds [ll] or [l], along with other close imitative effects, both phonological and lexical. — [1] bôrum, Ullr ‘we bore, Ullr <god>’: The diagnosis of collisio applies to the final [m] in bôrum, which is preceded and followed by a vowel. Such placement would certainly be a blemish in Latin verse, but not in Old Norse. — [1, 2] Ullr ímunlauks ‘Ullr <god> of the battle-leek [SWORD > WARRIOR]’: The addressee of this vocative remains unidentified (cf. Hkr 1893-1901, IV; ÍF 26) but could conceivably be one of the ‘friends’ (vinum, Lv 13/8) who assist Eyvindr during this period of hardship. The repeated mention of the god Ullr here and in Lv 9/3 seems deliberate, but its significance is difficult to pin down. Although Ullr must have been a major deity, his story is poorly documented in SnE and other medieval texts. Attestations of his name in the toponymic material are confined to Mälaren in Sweden and Viken in Norway (Brink 2007a, 116). It is therefore possible that Eyvindr alludes to him as a favourite god of the people of Viken who were opposed to Haraldr gráfeldr (see Note to Lv 7/2). — [1, 4] of alla ævi Hôkunar ‘during the whole of Hákon’s lifetime’: Cf. the closely similar phrasing in Lv 9/3, 4.  — [3-4] fræ Fýrisvalla ‘the seed of Fýrisvellir [GOLD]’: The legendary Hrólfr kraki, king of Denmark, is said to have scattered gold rings and treasure on the plains of Fýrisvellir in order to distract the Swedish king Aðils (cf. Þjóð Yt 16/2) and his army, and delay their pursuit of him (SnE 1998, I, 59; Yng, ÍF 26, 57; Hrólfs saga kraka, Hrólf 1960, 105). For this reason he is spoken of as ‘sowing gold’. See Meissner 228 for further kennings alluding to this legend. Concomitantly, the base-word ‘seed’ may hint at an underlying theme of the fertility of the land and at the traditional connection of fertility with good rule. The theme of the land is maintained by the choice of the (contrasting) kenning base-words in l. 3: valla, from vellir ‘plains’, and fjǫllum, from fjǫll ‘mountains’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV). — [5] folkstríðir ‘the afflicter of the people [= Haraldr]’: Haraldr gráfeldr, who, in reality, may have enjoyed greater popular support than this invective would suggest (cf. Bagge 2004, 194). — [5-7] meldr fáglýjaðra þýja Fróða ‘the flour of the little-satisfied bondswomen of Fróði <legendary king> [= Fenja and Menja > GOLD]’: The reference is to a legend attested in Grott, which is cited following a prose version of the story in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 52-7; and see Meissner 228 for further kennings alluding to this). Two slave-women, Fenja and Menja, are forced to grind gold for Fróði, the king of Denmark celebrated for his long reign of peace and plenty, but eventually sabotage his scheme (in SnE by grinding salt instead). The allusion may be intended as a hint to Haraldr gráfeldr that his oppressive rule could lead to rebellion. — [7-8] í holdi móður dolgs mellu ‘in the flesh of the mother of the enemy of the giantess [= Þórr > = Jǫrð (jǫrð ‘earth’)]’: The mother of Þórr, who waged war on giants and maimed giantesses, was identified as Jǫrð, which as a common noun means ‘earth’. To hide treasure in her flesh was therefore to hide it in the ground. Cf. the closely parallel kenning structure in Lv 9/6, 8. It would perhaps be possible to take holdi ‘flesh’ here and líki ‘body’ in Lv 9/8 as further kenning elements producing kennings for ‘soil’, though that is not a standard referent.


  1. Bibliography
  2. TGT 1884 = Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1884. Den tredje og fjærde grammatiske afhandling i Snorres Edda tilligemed de grammatiske afhandlingers prolog og to andre tillæg. SUGNL 12. Copenhagen: Knudtzon.
  3. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  4. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. 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.
  7. Frank, Roberta. 1978. Old Norse Court Poetry: The Dróttkvætt Stanza. Islandica 42. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  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. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  13. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  14. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  15. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  16. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  17. TGT 1927 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1927b. Óláfr Þórðarson: Málhljóða- og málskrúðsrit. Grammatisk-retorisk afhandling. Det kgl. Danske Videnskabernes Selskab. Historisk-filologiske meddelelser 13, 2. Copenhagen: Høst.
  18. TGT 1998 = Krömmelbein, Thomas, ed. and trans. 1998. Dritte grammatische Abhandlung. Studia nordica 3. Oslo: Novus.
  19. Krause, Arnulf, ed. 1990. Die Dichtung des Eyvindr skáldaspillir: Edition-Kommentar-Untersuchungen. Altnordische Bibliothek 10. Leverkusen: Literaturverlag Norden Mark Reinhardt.
  20. Bagge, Sverre. 2004. ‘A Hero Between Paganism and Christianity: Håkon the Good in Memory and History’. In Hoff et al. 2004, 185-210.
  21. Brink, Stefan. 2007a. ‘How Uniform Was the Old Norse Religion?’. In Quinn et al. 2007, 105-36.
  22. Hrólf 1960 = Slay, Desmond, ed. 1960a. Hrólfs saga kráka. EA B 1. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  23. Internal references
  24. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  25. 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].
  26. Tarrin Wills 2017, ‘The Third Grammatical Treatise’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  27. 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.
  28. 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Anonymous, Hrólfs saga kraka’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 539.
  29. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)
  30. Not published: do not cite (HGráfII)
  31. Not published: do not cite (YngII)
  32. Not published: do not cite ()
  33. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, Ynglingatal 16’ 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. 36.

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