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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson (Eyv)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Russell Poole;

2. Háleygjatal (Hál) - 16

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).

Háleygjatal (‘Enumeration of the Háleygir (people of Hálogaland)’) — Eyv HálI

Russell Poole 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Háleygjatal’ 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. 195.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13 

for reference only:  1x   3x   11x 

Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir: 2. Háleygjatal, c. 985 (AI, 68-71, BI, 60-2); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3-4 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13-14 | 14 | 15 | 16

SkP info: I, 199

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Eyv Hál 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Háleygjatal 2’ 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. 199.

Þann skjaldblœtr
skattfœri gat
Ása niðr
við járnviðju,
þás þau mær
í manheimum
skatna vinr
ok Skaði byggðu,
sævar beins,
ok sunu marga
við Óðni gat.

{Skjaldblœtr niðr Ása} gat {þann skattfœri} við járnviðju, þás þau mær, {vinr skatna} ok Skaði, byggðu í {{{sævar beins} man}heimum} ok {ǫndurdís} gat marga sunu við Óðni.

{The shield-worshipped kinsman of the Æsir <gods>} [= Óðinn] begat {that tribute-bringer} [JARL = Sæmingr] with the female from Járnviðr, when those renowned ones, {the friend of warriors} [= Óðinn] and Skaði [giantess], lived in {the lands {of the maiden {of the bone of the sea}}} [(lit. ‘maiden-lands of the bone of the sea’) ROCK > GIANTESS > = Jǫtunheimar ‘Giant-lands’], and {the ski-goddess} [= Skaði] bore many sons with Óðinn.

Mss: (13r), F(2va), J2ˣ(6r-v) (Hkr)

Readings: [1] skjald‑: skald‑ F    [4] við: í J2ˣ;    ‑viðju: ‑viði J2ˣ    [5] mær: so J2ˣ, mærr Kˣ, meirr F    [6] man‑: mann‑ J2ˣ    [8] byggðu: bjoggu J2ˣ    [11] ‑dís: Gnô J2ˣ

Editions: Skj: Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir, 2. Háleygjatal 3-4: AI, 68, BI, 60, Skald I, 37; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 21, IV, 2-3, ÍF 26, 21-2, Hkr 1991, I, 12 (Yng ch. 8), F 1871, 7; Krause 1990, 146-55.

Context: After Skaði’s failed marriage to Njǫrðr, she marries Óðinn and they have many sons, one of whom is called Sæmingr. The stanza is followed by the comment that Hákon jarl reckoned his lineage back to Sæmingr.

Notes: [All]: Earlier eds assume that ll. 9-12 belong to a separate stanza from ll. 1-8 (Skj; ÍF 26; Davidson 1983, 96-7) but in this edn they are treated as a single stanza (see Note to st. 2/9 below and Poole 2007b, 162-5). — [1] skjaldblœtr ‘shield-worshipped’: The element -blœtr appears to be etymologically related to blót, blóta ‘sacrifice, worship’; on its morphology, see Hkr 1893-1901, IV. The description ‘shield-worshipped’ may allude to a practice of incantation by warriors from under their shields as a prelude to battle (Hávm 156; possibly also Egill Lv 30V (Eg 59)); Tacitus reports a similar practice among Germanic warriors as a form of divination before battle (Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1902, 196-8; Anderson 1938, 1, 3, 1; Mattingly 1970, 103; Marold 2001b, 96 and n. 38). Another explanation of skjaldblœtr might be that shields were sacrificed to Óðinn, although clear archaeological or literary evidence for such a practice in the Viking Age is lacking. The reading of F, skaldblœtr ‘worshipped by skalds’, is preferred by Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B) but is probably a lectio facilior (Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1902, 196). — [2] skattfœri ‘tribute-bringer [JARL = Sæmingr]’: An unusual kenning seemingly based on the idea that a jarl acknowledges a king as his overlord by bringing tribute (ÍF 26). This son of Óðinn and Skaði is not identified in the stanza but Torfaeus agrees with SnE in identifying Sæmingr as Hákon’s founding ancestor (see Context and Introduction).  — [3] niðr Ása ‘the kinsman of the Æsir <gods> [= Óðinn]’: The god who fathers Sæmingr jarl is identified as Óðinn later in the stanza, as also in Yng (ÍF 26, 21) and the Prologue to SnE (2005, 6, where Hál is mentioned but not quoted), but his paternity is assigned to Yngvi-Freyr in the Prologue to Hkr (ÍF 26, 4). — [4] járnviðju ‘the female from Járnviðr’: This is to be identified as Skaði, as the poem presently explains (cf. Hkr 1893-1901, IV). Vsp 40/2 represents Járnviðr as a forest in the east where a troll-woman gives birth to giants in the form of wolves (cf. Gylf, SnE 2005, 14; Simek 1993, 179). The p. n. means ‘Iron-wood’. — [5] mær ‘renowned ones’: This adj. appears to be n. pl. of mærr, agreeing with þau, the mixed-gender pron. referring to Óðinn and Skaði (so ÍF 26), though the ms. evidence is equivocal. Finnur Jónsson preferred the reading meir, which he took in the sense ‘subsequently’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B). — [6] manheimum ‘the lands of the maiden (lit. “maiden-lands”)’: This cpd is tentatively taken here as forming an inverted kenning with l. 9, sævar beins ‘of the bone of the sea [ROCK]’: see Note. A form Mannheimar ‘lands/worlds of men’ is used to refer to part of Sweden in the prose that immediately follows st. 2 in Yng (ÍF 26, 22; mss and J2ˣ have mann-, while F has man). For attempts to harmonise mann- with Eyvindr’s man-, see e.g. Eggert Ó. Brím (1895, 5), who takes man- to mean ‘love’; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Krause (1990, 149); Steinsland (1991, 216). — [9] sævar beins ‘of the bone of the sea [ROCK]’: This belongs to a kenning type also found in Þjóð Yt (e.g. 23/6). Its application within the stanza has proved difficult to determine. (a) Beins sævar is construed here with manheimum ‘maiden-lands’ in l. 6 to form an inverted kenning for Jǫtunheimar (‘Giant-lands’) (Poole 2007b, 165). In Gylf (SnE 2005, 23) Skaði is said to have her home in the mountains, in contrast to her first husband Njǫrðr, who is at home by the sea, and this allows the giantess-kenning to be equated with jǫtunn, normally ‘giant’ rather than ‘giantess’. The elements of the extended kenning cross the boundary between helmingar, as also, e.g., in st. 9/2, 5. (b) Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1902, 198) treats ll. 1-8 and 9-12 as a unity, as in this edn, but posits that beins sævar joins with ǫndurdís ‘ski-goddess’ to form a kenning for Skaði as giantess. However, such use of a double determinant (ǫndur- and beins sævar) would be hard to parallel. (c) Other eds supposed that beins sævar referred back to a lost part of the stanza (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; Noreen 1921, 59-62; ÍF 26, 22 n.; Krause 1990; Hkr 1991), but there is no reason to postulate such a loss. — [11] ǫndurdís ‘the ski-goddess [= Skaði]’: Skaði was celebrated for her skiing and hunting (SnE 2005, 24; cf. Simek 1993, 286).

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