Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Einarr skálaglamm Helgason (Eskál)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Edith Marold;

2. Vellekla (Vell) - 37

Skj info: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm, Islandsk skjald, d. o. 995. (AI, 122-132, BI, 116-125).

Skj poems:
1. Drape om Hakon jarl
2. Et digt om Harald blåtand(?)
3. Vellekla
4. Lausavísur
4. Lausavísur

Little is certain about the life of Einarr skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ Helgason (Eskál), except that he came from a noble family from western Iceland. They were descendants of Bjǫrn austrœni ‘the Easterner’, i.e. ‘the Norwegian’, son of Ketill flatnefr ‘Flat-nose’. According to Ldn (ÍF 1, 123), Einarr’s mother was Niðbjǫrg, daughter of an Irish king. Einarr’s brother Ósvífr was the father of Guðrún Ósvífsdóttir, the heroine of Laxdœla saga. A few anecdotes link Einarr to Egill Skallagrímsson. Egils saga (Eg, ÍF 2, 268-73) tells of Einarr visiting Egill and the two talking at length about poetry. The meeting led to a long friendship, which is reflected in similarities between the two skalds’ poetry (de Vries 1964-7, I, 176). A valuable shield given to Egill by Einarr inspired Egill to compose a Skjaldardrápa or shield poem honouring the gift, of which only the first stanza has survived (Egill SkjalddrV).

Einarr must have lived c. 940-c. 990. He presumably spent much of his life at the court of Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in Norway, for whom he composed Vellekla (Eskál Vell) and another poem, Hákonardrápa (Eskál Hákdr). Two stanzas (Eskál HardrIII) that possibly stem from one or more Haraldsdrápur in honour of Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’ Gormsson indicate that he might have spent time at the Danish court, perhaps as a companion of Hákon jarl. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266, 280) mentions Einarr only as one of Hákon jarl’s skalds. Besides these poems, three lausavísur are preserved in Jvs, Fsk, Flat and Eg. The first two are part of a typical skald anecdote about court poetry and its reward, and are preserved in versions that differ sufficiently for them to be printed in both SkP I (Eskál Lv 1a and Lv 2a) and SkP V (Eskál Lv 1bV (Eg 124) and Lv 2bV (Eg 125)). The third (Eskál Lv 3) concerns the death of Þorleifr skúma Þorkelsson (Þskúm), an Icelandic retainer of Hákon jarl, at the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen, c. 985).

According to Jvs (1969, 178-9), Einarr’s nickname skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ refers to a pair of precious and magically resounding scales (OIcel. skálar/skálir) with which Hákon jarl rewarded him for Vell (see Introduction to Eskál Lv 1-3). This explanation (apparently accepted in Finnur Jónsson 1907, 284) may, however, be a later etymological invention, and skálaglamm could instead derive from OIcel. skáli ‘hall, free-standing house’ either as part of a sky-, breast- or shield-kenning (Lie 1975, 643), or more likely as a ‘loud sound (glamm) in the hall’, in reference to his art of recitation. Jvs (1969, 178) also tells that Einarr earlier had the nickname Skjaldmeyjar-Einarr ‘Einarr of the shield-maiden’. Skjaldmeyjar are armed women who took part in battles (cf. Akv 16), but nothing is known about how Einarr got this nickname. According to Ldn and Jvs, Einarr drowned in Breiðafjörður on a voyage home (Ldn, ÍF 1, 123; Jvs 1969, 205); they add a legend according to which his scales (Jvs), or his shield and his coat (Ldn), wash ashore, inspiring the names of the islands Skáleyjar, Skjaldey and Feldarhólmr.

Vellekla (‘Lack of Gold’) — Eskál VellI

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Brepols, Turnhout, p. 280.

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Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm: 3. Vellekla, o. 986 (AI, 122-31, BI, 117-24); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37

SkP info: I, 323

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

32 — Eskál Vell 32I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 32’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Brepols, Turnhout, p. 323.

Hvar viti ǫld und einum
jarðbyggvi svá liggja
— þat skyli herr of hugsa —
hjarl sextían jarla?
Þess ríðr fúrs með fjórum
folkleikr Heðins reikar
logskundaðar lindar
lofkenndr himins endum.

Hvar viti ǫld hjarl sextían jarla liggja svá und {einum jarðbyggvi}? Herr skyli of hugsa þat. {Lofkenndr folkleikr} {fúrs reikar Heðins} {þess {lindar log}skundaðar} ríðr með fjórum endum himins.

Where would people know of the territory of sixteen jarls lying in such a way under {one land-owner} [RULER]? The army ought to consider that. {The renowned army-game} [BATTLE] {of the fire of the hair-parting of Heðinn <legendary hero>} [SWORD] {of that impeller {of the fire of the spring}} [(lit. ‘fire-impeller of the spring’) GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] spreads along the four ends of the sky.

texts: Flat 233, ÓT 102 [1-4], ÓTC 39 (I 142), Hkr 170 (I 142)

editions: Skj Einarr Helgason skálaglamm: 3. Vellekla 37 (AI, 131; BI, 124); Skald I, 69, NN §§1887, 2240A, C; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 342-3, IV, 91, ÍF 26, 290, Hkr 1991, I, 195 (ch. 45), F 1871, 126; Fms 1, 187, Fms 12, 46, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 204 (ch. 93); Flat 1860-8, I, 216.

sources

AM 35 folx (Kx) 165r, 7 - 165r, 14 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 39 fol (39) 8vb, 26 - 8vb, 30 (Hkr)  image  
AM 45 fol (F) 27vb, 33 - 27vb, 36 (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 37 folx (J1x) 99v, 13 - 99v, 16 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 92r, 17 - 92r, 24 (Hkr)  image  
AM 61 fol (61) 21ra, 32 - 21ra, 34 [1-4] (ÓT)  image  image  
AM 54 fol (54) 17vb, 21 - 17vb, 23 [1-4] (ÓT)  image  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 28rb, 12 - 28rb, 14 [1-4] (ÓT)  transcr.  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 28va, 52 - 28va, 53 [1-4] (ÓT)  transcr.  image  image  image  
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