Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gísl Illugason (Gísl)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

1. Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr (Magnkv) - 20

Skj info: Gísl Illugason, Islandsk skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 440-4, BI, 409-13).

Skj poems:
1. Erfikvæði um Magnús berfœtt
2. Lausavísa

Gísl belonged to the Icel. family of the Gilsbekkingar, who were said to be descendants of the C9th poet Bragi inn gamli ‘the Old’ Boddason (BragiIII). Gísl was the great-grandson of the skald Tindr Hallkelsson (TindrI), the uncle of poet Gunnlaugr ormstunga ‘Serpent-tongue’ Illugason (GunnlIV). See ÍF 3, 331, Genealogies II a-b in ÍF 3 and SnE 1848-97, III, 625-6. Details about Gísl’s life are given in Gísls þáttr Illugasonar (GíslIll) in H-Hr (Fms 7, 29-40; ÍF 3, 329-42) and in Jóns saga helga (JBp; JBp 2003, 10, 63-72). Gísl was born in 1079, and when he was six years old, his father was killed by a certain Gjafvaldr, a slaying Gísl later avenged. King Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ Óláfsson sentenced Gísl to death for the killing of Gjafvaldr, who was one of his retainers, but Gísl escaped execution (see Gísl Lv below). He then travelled with Magnús to Ireland in charge of hostages and became Magnús’s court poet (Skáldatal, SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 276). He also seems to have participated in Magnús’s expedition to the west in 1098 and in his campaign in Sweden (c. 1100-2; see Magnkv 11 and 19). Gísl later lived in Iceland until old age and had one son, Einarr (JBp 2003, 72). In addition to the memorial poem below composed about Magnús berfœttr, Gísl is said to have composed another encomium to Magnús on the occasion described in the lv. below, but no sts from that poem survive (see SnE 1848-87, III, 626-7; ÍF 3, 340-1).

Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr — Gísl MagnkvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Gísl Illugason, Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr’ 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. 416-30.

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Skj: Gísl Illugason: 1. Erfikvæði um Magnús berfœtt, o. 1104 (AI, 440-4, BI, 409-13)

in texts: H-Hr, Mork

SkP info: II, 416-30

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Ungr framði sik,
þars alendr vildu
lofsælan gram
landi ræna
Imðar faxa,
en jǫfurr sótti
Báleygs viðu
með blôum hjǫrvi.
The young one excelled where the nourishers of Imð’s <troll-woman’s> steed [WOLF > WARRIORS] wished to rob the praise-blessed lord of his land, and the prince attacked Báleygr’s <= Óðinn’s> trees [WARRIORS] with the dark sword.
2 Ýtti ór Ósló
til Egils fundar
lofðungr liði
lands at krefja.
Fylgðu ræsi
ok Rygir sunnan
linns láðgefendr
ór lǫgum tvennum.
The lord led his troop from Oslo to the meeting with Egill to reclaim his land. Dispensers of the snake’s land [(lit. ‘land-dispensers of the snake’) GOLD > GENEROUS MEN] from two law-districts and the Rygir accompanied the ruler from the south.
3 Séa knátti þá
siklings flota
vel vígligan
ok vanan sigri,
es fyr Yrjar
í aga miklum
óþrotligt lið
árar kníði.
Then one could see the sovereign’s fleet, well war-equipped and accustomed to victory, when the indefatigable crew smote the oars off Ørland in heavy seas.
4 Átti hilmir
húsþing við sæ;
þat vas fyr innan
Ǫrvahamra.
Bjósk at brenna,
en búendr flýðu,
stórráðr konungr,
af Staði útan.
The ruler convened an assembly by the sea; that was on the inner side of Ǫrvahamrar. The imperious king prepared to burn, and farmers fled out from Stadsbygd.
5 Hyrr sveimaði;
hallir þurru;
gekk hár logi
of herǫð þeira.
Séa knátti þar,
es salir fellu,
landrôð konungs,
of liði Þóris.
Fire surged; halls collapsed; the high flame swept across their herǫð. There one could see the king’s government as dwellings fell around Þórir’s troop.
6 Raufsk við róstu
— rymr varð í her —
helmingr Egils
við Hlaðir útan.
Môttut hersar
við Haða dróttni
láðgǫfguðum
landi ráða.
Egill’s unit scattered in the tumult out by Lade; a roar resounded throughout the army. The hersar could not hold the country against the land-endowed lord of the Haðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús].
7 Sættisk síðan
— siðr batnaði —
hugfullr konungr
við hatendr sína.
Þann gaf brǫgnum,
es búendr ôttu,
rétt, ráðspakir
rœkðum launa.
The very courageous king then reconciled himself with his enemies; conduct improved. He gave people those privileges, which the sensible farmers were to repay with solicitude.
8 Gramr vann gǫrvan,
en glatat þjófum,
kaupmǫnnum frið,
þanns konungr bœtti,
svát í elfi
øxum hlýddi
flaust fagrbúin
í fjǫru skorða.
The ruler achieved complete peace for merchants, which the king had improved, and he destroyed thieves, so that in the river one could buttress the splendidly equipped ships with axes on the shore.
9 Tók á Skíði,
en Skotar flýðu,
jǫfra œgir
Ívistar gram.
Hafði fylkir,
sás frami téði,
Lǫgmann konung
í liði sínu.
The terrifier of princes [RULER = Magnús] captured the lord of North Uist [= Lǫgmaðr] in Skye, and the Scots fled. The leader, whom courage aided, kept King Lǫgmaðr in his company.
10 Ættlǫndum vann
eyja dróttar
folkvǫrðr und sik
fjórum þrungit,
áðr an hitti,
sás hamalt fylkði,
veðrsmiðr Viðurs
valska jarla.
The people’s guardian [RULER] subjugated four ancestral territories of the men of the isles, before the smith of Viðurr’s <= Óðinn’s> wind [(lit. ‘Viðurr’s wind-smith’) BATTLE > WARRIOR], who marshalled his troops in a wedge-shaped array, met the Norman earls.
11 Hôðum hildi
með Haralds frænda
Ǫnguls við ey
innanverða,
þars af reiði
ríkisvendir
konungr ok jarlar
kapp sitt brutu.
We waged war with Haraldr’s kinsman [= Magnús] on the inner side of Anglesey, where the royal sceptres, the king and the earls, tested their courage with rage.
12 Margan hǫfðu
Magnúss liðar
bjǫrtum oddi
baugvang skorit.
Varð hertoga
hlíf at springa
kapps vel skipuð
fyr konungs darri.
Magnús’s companions had cut many a ring-meadow [SHIELD] with the bright spear-point. The shield of the army-leader, magnificently equipped, was forced to shatter by the king’s spear.
13 Bǫðkennir skaut
bôðum hǫndum;
allr vá hilmis
herr prúðliga.
Stukku af almi,
þeims jǫfurr sveigði,
hvítmýlingar,
áðr Hugi felli.
The battle-teacher [WARRIOR] shot with both hands; all the lord’s army fought splendidly. White-muzzled arrows flew from the elm-bow which the king bent, before Hugh fell.
14 Hǫfðu seggir
— þá vas sókn lokit —
heimfǫr þegit
at hǫfuðsmanni.
Landsmenn litu
of liði gǫfgu
segl sædrifin
sett við húna.
The men had obtained leave from the leader to return home; then the battle had ended. The countrymen saw foam-sprayed sails, secured to the mast-tops, above the splendid troop.
15 Vágr þrútnaði,
en vefi keyrði
steinóðr á stag
storðar galli.
Braut dýrr dreki
und Dana skelfi
hrygg í hverri
hafs glymbrúði.
The sea swelled, and the raging destruction of the sapling [STORM] drove the sails against the stays. The precious dragon beneath the terrifier of the Danes [= Magnús] broke the back in every roaring-bride of the ocean [WAVE].
16 Blár ægir skaut
búnum svíra;
gjalfr hljóp í gin
gollnu hǫfði.
Skein af hausum
sem himins eisa
dǫglings dreka
djúps valfasti.
The dark ocean struck against the adorned neck; the surge leaped into the jaws of the golden head. The corpse-flame [SWORD (brandr ‘fire’)] of the deep [GOLD] shone like the cinder of heaven [SUN] from the skulls of the ruler’s dragon.
17 Framðisk síðan
á Svía dróttni
austr við Elfi
Upplanda gramr.
Liðskelfir tók
ór lǫgum Gauta
fimtán herǫð
fránni eggju.
The ruler of Opplandene [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús] then distinguished himself against the lord of the Svíar [SWEDISH RULER = Ingi] east by the Götaälv. The troop-terrifier [WARRIOR] took fifteen herǫð from the law-districts of the Gautar with the sharp sword-edge.
18 Reið folkhvǫtuðr
fyrst í gǫgnum
sǫmnuð Svía
sigri hnugginn.
Malmr dreyrugr varð
á meðal hlaupa
hauss ok herða
hans andskota.
The fight-inciter [WARRIOR] rode first through the ranks of the Svíar, deprived of victory. The bloody iron must leap between the skull and shoulders of his enemies.
19 Hol merki blés,
en Huginn gladdisk
fránn, of hǫfði
feðr Sigurðar.
Þann sák fylki
með frama mestum
snǫrpu sverði
til sigrs vega.
The billowing banners blew above the head of Sigurðr’s father [= Magnús] and gleaming Huginn <raven> rejoiced. I saw that leader fighting for victory with the sharp sword with the greatest glory.
20 Fylgðak frœknum,
sem framast kunnak,
Eysteins fǫður
í Atals drífu.
Opt brák hjǫrvi
með Haralds frænda
vanr vásfǫrum,
þars vega þurfti.
I followed the bold father of Eysteinn [= Magnús] in Atall’s <sea-king’s> snow-storm [BATTLE] as best I could. Often I, accustomed to hard journeys, brandished the sword with Haraldr’s kinsman [= Magnús], where one needed to fight.
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