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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eyv Lv 7I

Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Eyvindr skáldaspillir Finnsson, Lausavísur 7’ 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. 224.

Eyvindr skáldaspillir FinnssonLausavísur

Lítt kvôðu þik láta,
landvǫrðr, es brast, Hǫrða,
benja hagl á brynjum,
— bugusk almar — geð falma,
þás ófolgin ylgjar
endr ór þinni hendi
fetla svell til fyllar
fullegg, Haraldr, gullu.

Lítt kvôðu þik láta geð falma, {landvǫrðr Hǫrða}, es {hagl benja} brast á brynjum; almar bugusk, þás {ófolgin fullegg svell fetla} gullu endr ór hendi þinni, Haraldr, til fyllar ylgjar.

Little did people say you let your courage falter, {land-guardian of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr], when {the hail of wounds} [ARROWS] burst on the mail-shirts; bows were bent, when {the unconcealed fully edged icicles of sword-belts} [SWORDS] resounded once more from your hand, Haraldr, providing the she-wolf with its fill.

Mss: (108r), F(18vb-19ra), J1ˣ(64v), J2ˣ(62r) (Hkr); 61(6va), Bb(8va) (ÓT); FskBˣ(13v), FskAˣ(60) (Fsk); R(34v), Tˣ(35v), W(78), A(11v) (SnE, ll. 1-4)

Readings: [1] kvôðu: kvôðut R;    þik: þitt R    [2] es (‘er’): enn Bb;    Hǫrða: ‘horva’ FskBˣ    [3] benja: brynju R, Tˣ, W, A;    á brynjum: á brynjur FskBˣ, FskAˣ, í benjum R, Tˣ, W, A    [4] bugusk: ‘bugz’ Bb;    almar: almr Bb;    geð: ‘god’ Bb    [5] þás (‘þa er’): þá FskAˣ;    ‑folgin: so Bb, FskBˣ, ‑folginn Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, FskAˣ    [7] svell: spells FskBˣ;    fyllar: fullar J1ˣ, FskAˣ    [8] gullu: gulli Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 72-3, Skj BI, 63-4, Skald I, 39; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 225, IV, 62, ÍF 26, 200, Hkr 1991, I, 132 (HGráf ch. 1), F 1871, 86; Fms 1, 49, Fms 12, 30, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 48 (ch. 30); Fsk 1902-3, 51 (ch. 13), ÍF 29, 97 (ch. 14); SnE 1848-87, I, 432-3, II, 442, SnE 1931, 153, SnE 1998, I, 71; Krause 1990, 237-42.


Fsk states that Eyvindr composed this stanza to placate King Haraldr gráfeldr, who had expressed indignation at the skald’s previous stanza. Hkr has a more elaborate story to the effect that Haraldr had resolved to put Eyvindr to death but their friends reconciled them, on condition that Eyvindr became Haraldr’s skald and served him as he had previously served Hákon; it is noted that Eyvindr and Haraldr were near kinsmen. The first helmingr is cited in SnE to illustrate kennings for ‘arrows’.

Notes: [1-4]: The rather convoluted word order, in particular the tripartite structure of l. 2, is analysed by Reichardt (1928, 114, 177). — [2] landvǫrðr Hǫrða ‘land-guardian of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr]’: Kennings of this type are often merely conventional, with ethnic names such as Hǫrða(r) ‘people of Hǫrðaland (Hordaland)’ standing as pars pro toto for the Norwegian people. However, there may be political reality to the conventional expression here, as suggested by Andersen (1977, 96), since the inherited power-base of the Gunnhildarsynir (Eiríkssynir) was south-west Norway (modern Vestlandet, including Hordaland; cf. ÍF 26, 200). Bagge (2004, 191-4) also notes specifically that their leader Haraldr appears to have taken over Hordaland from Hákon góði, who had affiliations with it through his mother. — [3]: In SnE, the ordering of words in this line gives hagl brynju í benjum ‘the hail of the mail-shirt [ARROWS] (burst) in wounds’. The arrangement in Fsk, Hkr and ÓT yields better sense. — [5] ófolgin ‘unconcealed’: An understatement for ‘unsheathed, drawn’. The word may possibly resonate against Lv 8/8 folginn ‘concealed’, which refers to the standard accusation against Haraldr, that he kept his wealth concealed. — [5, 7] til fyllar ylgjar ‘providing the she-wolf with its fill’: Lit. ‘to the satiety or fullness of the she-wolf’. — [8] fullegg ‘fully edged’: A hap. leg., though cf. adjectives such as harðeggjaðr ‘hard-bladed’ and skarpeggjaðr ‘sharp-bladed’ (LP: fulleggr, harðeggjaðr, skarpeggjaðr). Editors have translated the cpd as ‘fully sharp’ (fuldskarpe, Skj B), ‘piercing’ (bitur, ÍF 26, Hkr 1991) or ‘sharp, keen’ (hvöss, ÍF 29), but fullegg may be more specific. Single-edged swords are known from the beginning of the Viking Age but the more prevalent type was a double-edged weapon that lent itself to slashing movements (Graham-Campbell and Batey 1998 , 35-6). — [8] gullu ‘resounded’: The pl. verb form confirms that svell ‘icicles’, and hence the sword-kenning, is pl. Konráð Gíslason (1892, 70) explains this pl. as implying that Haraldr’s habitual behaviour in battle is being described, rather than his conduct in any specific battle; or perhaps it was considered a distinction for a leader to use (and break?) a series of swords.


  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. 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. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  7. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  8. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  9. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  10. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  12. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  13. Andersen, Per Sveaas. 1977. Samlingen av Norge og kristningen av landet 800-1130. Handbok i Norges historie 2. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget.
  14. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.
  15. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  16. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  17. Konráð Gíslason, ed. 1892. Udvalg af oldnordiske skjaldekvad, med anmærkninger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  18. Krause, Arnulf, ed. 1990. Die Dichtung des Eyvindr skáldaspillir: Edition-Kommentar-Untersuchungen. Altnordische Bibliothek 10. Leverkusen: Literaturverlag Norden Mark Reinhardt.
  19. Graham-Campbell, James and Colleen E. Batey. 1998. Vikings in Scotland: An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  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. Internal references
  22. 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].
  23. 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].
  24. 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.
  25. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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. clxiii-clxvi.
  26. Not published: do not cite (HGráfII)
  27. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)

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