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Einarr skálaglamm Helgason (Eskál)

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

3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 3

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.

Lausavísur — Eskál LvI

Margaret Clunies Ross 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Lausavísur’ 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. 330.

stanzas:  1a   2a   3 

Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm: 4. Lausavísur (AI, 131-2, BI, 124-5); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2

SkP info: I, 332

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2a — Eskál Lv 2aI

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Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Lausavísur 2a’ 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. 332.

Sœkjum jarl, þanns auka
ulfs verð þorir sverðum;
hlǫðum við borð á barða
baugskjǫldum Sigvalda.
Drepr eigi sá sveigir
sárlinns, es gram finnum,
— rǫnd berum út á andra
Endils — við mér hendi.

Sœkjum jarl, þanns þorir auka {verð ulfs} sverðum; hlǫðum baugskjǫldum við borð á barða Sigvalda. {Sá sveigir {sárlinns}} drepr eigi hendi við mér, es finnum gram; berum rǫnd út á {andra Endils}

Let us visit the jarl who dares to increase {the wolf’s food} [CORPSES] with swords; let us load shields with bosses onto the side of Sigvaldi’s ship. {That wielder {of the wound-snake}} [SWORD > WARRIOR] will not push me away with his hand, when we [I] visit the ruler; let us carry shields out aboard {the skis of Endill <sea-king>} [SHIPS]

Mss: 291(34r), 7(36v), Flat(25ra), 510(59r) (Jvs); M(95va-b), 453ˣ(83v), 462ˣ(98r) (Eg)

Readings: [1] þanns auka: þann auki 453ˣ, 462ˣ    [2] ulfs: ulf 510;    verð: so all others, verðr 291;    þorir sverðum: þar er sverði 453ˣ, 462ˣ    [3] hlǫðum: hlaupum 510, skipum M, skiptum 453ˣ, 462ˣ;    við borð á: vér borð á 7, borðróinn M, borðum 453ˣ, 462ˣ    [4] ‑skjǫldum: mildum 510    [5] Drepr: drept 510;    eigi: om. M, er 453ˣ, 462ˣ;    sá: svá 7;    sveigir: so all others, ‘sv[...]gir’ 291    [6] es: af 510;    gram: so all others, grams 291    [7] rǫnd: rand Flat    [8] Endils: endis 510;    mér: so all others, meirr 291

Editions: Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm, 4. Lausavísur 2: AI, 132, BI, 124, Skald I, 69-70, NN §414; Fms 11, 128, Jvs 1879, 72, Jvs 1882, 110, Jvs 1962, 33, Jvs 1969, 179, 215-6, Flat 1860-8, I, 188; Eg 1886-8, 291, ÍF 2, 271, Eg 2001, 152, Eg 2003, 164-5, Eg 2006, 150.

Context: See also Introduction, and Context to Lv 1a. In the 291 version of Jvs, after Einarr has spoken Lv 1a, he tests Hákon jarl by making as if to run from his ship. When he reaches the landing stage, he speaks this second stanza, directing it to Sigvaldi. Afterwards the jarl calls him back and secures Einarr’s loyalty with his gift of magically tinkling scales. In the A-redaction of Eg, by contrast, Lv 2bV (Eg 125) follows directly on Lv 1bV (Eg 124) with the prose link Ok enn kvað hann ‘And again he declared’. The C-redaction does not have Lv 1bV (Eg 124), so that the stanza’s reference to the rival patron, Sigvaldi, is unexplained.

Notes: [All]: This stanza is recorded in four mss of Jvs and in the C- as well as the A-redaction of Eg. — [3]: Here M has the quite different skipum borðróinn barða ‘let us line (Sigvaldi’s) ship, rowed from the sides (with shields with bosses)’. Both versions are viable, as far as sense is concerned. M’s version is very similar to Bragi Þórr 4/1-2III Ok borðróins barða | brautar hringr inn ljóti ... ‘And the ugly ring of the road of the ship, rowed from the sides [SEA > = Miðgarðsormr] …’. The collocation of borðróinn ‘rowed from the side, side-rowed’ with barði ‘ship’ does not occur anywhere else in skaldic verse and both Lie (1952) and Olsen (1962a, 51-2) have considered Einarr (or whoever was responsible for the M text) deliberately echoed Bragi’s lines, Lie also comparing ll. 7-8 á andra Endils ‘on board the skis of Endill <sea-king> [SHIPS]’ with Bragi Þórr 2/3III á ǫndri Eynæfis ‘on the ski of Eynæfir <sea-king> [SHIP]’. Barði is frequently the name of a ship, rather than a common noun for ‘ship’, as it appears to be here (cf. Jesch 2001a, 136-7). Mss 453ˣ and 462ˣ have skiptum ‘let us divide, share out’, instead of M’s skipum ‘let us arrange, place in line’ (on the ship’s side). — [7]: The line is identical to Þorm Lv 15/7V

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