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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

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

10. Elfarvísur (Elfv) - 2

We know very little about the life of Einarr Skúlason (ESk). He is called prestr ‘priest’ and is mentioned in a catalogue (c. 1220) of priests of noble birth who were alive in western Iceland in 1143 (Stu 1878, II, 502). It is likely that he came from Borg, belonged to the Mýrar family and was a direct descendant of Þorsteinn Egilsson and a brother of Snorri Sturluson’s maternal grandfather (LH 1894-1901, II, 62-3; ÍF 3, 51 n. 3). He was probably born c. 1090. In 1153, he recited the poem Geisli ‘Light-beam’ (ESk GeislVII) in Kristkirken in Trondheim. He was marshal (stallari) at King Eysteinn Magnússon’s court, and he composed poetry in praise of the Norw. kings Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ and Eysteinn Magnússon, Haraldr gilli(-kristr) ‘Servant (of Christ)’, Magnús inn blindi ‘the Blind’ Sigurðarson, Haraldr gilli’s sons, Ingi, Sigurðr munnr ‘Mouth’, and Eysteinn, and about the Norw. chieftain Grégóríus Dagsson (see SnE 1848-87, III, 254-5, 263-4, 269, 276-7, 286). According to Skáldatal, he also honoured the Norw. magnate Eindriði ungi ‘the Young’ Jónsson as well as Sørkvir Kolsson and Jón jarl Sørkvisson of Sweden and King Sveinn Eiríksson of Denmark (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 258, 260, 268-9, 272, 283, 286). About the latter he recited a poem for which he received no reward (see ESk Lv 3; ÍF 35, 275). The extant portion of his poetic oeuvre consists of the following poems (excluding lvv.): Sigurðardrápa I (Sigdr I, five extant sts about Sigurðr jórsalafari); Haraldsdrápa I (Hardr I, two extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldsdrápa II (Hardr II, five extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldssonakvæði (Harsonkv, two extant sts about the sons of Haraldr gilli); Sigurðardrápa II (Sigdr II, one extant st. about Sigurðr munnr Haraldsson); Runhenda (Run, ten extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Eysteinsdrápa (Eystdr, two extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Ingadrápa (Ingdr, four extant sts about Ingi Haraldsson); Elfarvísur (Elfv, two extant sts about Grégóríus Dagsson); Geisli (GeislVII, seventy-one sts about S. Óláfr); Øxarflokkr (ØxflIII, ten extant sts about the gift of an axe).

It must be emphasised that, although the poetry included in the royal panegyrics below clearly belongs to poems of that genre, with two exceptions (Hardr II and Elfv), all the names of the poems are modern constructs (notably by Jón Sigurðsson and Finnur Jónsson). That also holds true for the assignment of sts to the individual poems. In some cases, sts were assigned to a particular poem for metrical reasons (so Run), in other cases because of the content or the named recipients of the praise. For the sake of convenience, the names of the poems and the sts assigned to them as found in Skj have been retained in the present edn. In addition to the royal encomia, a number of fragments and lvv. attributed to Einarr are preserved in SnE, TGT and LaufE (see ESk Frag 1-18III; ESk Lv 7-15III). These have been edited separately in SkP III. Six lvv. are transmitted in the kings’ sagas and edited below.

Elfarvísur (‘Vísur about the Götaälv’) — ESk ElfvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Elfarvísur’ 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. 565-7. <> (accessed 18 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 10. Elfarvísur, 1160 (AI, 477, BI, 449)

SkP info: II, 566-7

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — ESk Elfv 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Elfarvísur 1’ 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. 566-7.

Margr fell maðr af dreyrgu
marblakks á kaf saxi;
gnógt elði fekksk gýgjar
Glaum; rak ná fyr straumi.
Elfr varð unda gjalfri
eitrkǫld roðin heitu;
vitnis fell með vatni
varmt ǫlðr í men Karmtar.

Margr maðr fell af dreyrgu saxi {marblakks} á kaf; gnógt elði fekksk {Glaum gýgjar}; ná rak fyr straumi. Eitrkǫld Elfr varð roðin {heitu gjalfri unda}; {varmt ǫlðr vitnis} fell með vatni í {men Karmtar}.

Many a man fell from the bloody prow {of the sea-steed} [SHIP] into the deep; abundant nourishment was given {to the Glaumr <horse> of the troll-woman} [WOLF]; carrion drifted before the current. The bitter-cold Götaälv was reddened {by the hot surge of wounds} [BLOOD]; {the warm ale of the wolf} [BLOOD] flowed with the water into {the necklace of Karmøy <island>} [SEA].

texts: GrammSkáld 2 [5-8], H-Hr 351, HákHerð 1 (III 229), Skm 323 [5-8], Hkr 611 (III 229), SnE 325 [5-8]

editions: Skj Einarr Skúlason: 10. Elfarvísur 1 (AI, 477; BI, 449); Skald I, 221; ÍF 28, 358-9 (Hákherð ch. 11), F 1871, 354, E 1916, 216; Fms 7, 266 (Hákherð ch. 11); SnE 1848-87, I, 476-9, II, 350, 455, 538, 594, SnE 1931, 168, SnE 1998, I, 87; SnE 1848-87, II, 397, GrammSkáld 1884, 159.


AM 63 folx (Kx) 679v, 11 - 679v, 18 (Hkr)  image  
AM 45 fol (F) 77ra, 1 - 77ra, 5 (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 47 fol (E) 62r, 10 - 62r, 12 (Hkr)  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 366r, 25 - 366r, 32 (Hkr)  image  
AM 42 folx (42x) 54v, 24 - 54v, 24 (Hkr)  image  
AM 66 fol (H) 129v, 17 - 129v, 17 (H-Hr)  image  image  image  image  
GKS 1010 fol (Hr) 84vb, 17 - 84vb, 17 (H-Hr)  image  
GKS 2367 4° (R) 37r, 26 - 37r, 27 (SnE)  image  image  image  
Traj 1374x (Tx) 38v, 36 - 38v, 36 (SnE)  image  
DG 11 (U) 39v, 22 - 39v, 23 [5-8] (SnE)  image  
AM 748 I b 4° (A*) 14r, 4 - 14r, 6 (SnE)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 757 a 4° (B) 6r, 36 - 6r, 37 (SnE)  image  image  image  image  
AM 744 4°x (744x) 39r - 39r (SnE)  image  
AM 748 II 4° (C) 6v, 8 - 6v, 9 (SnE)  image  image  
AM 748 I b 4° (A*) 1r, 5 - 1r, 7 (GrammSkáld)  transcr.  image  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated