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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 20 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2 

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

SkP info: II, 567

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — ESk Elfv 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Elfarvísur 2’ 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, p. 567.

Mǫrg flutu auð (á úrga)
— alm sveigði lið — (hjalma
rauð flugu stôl) í stríðri
stafnblóðug skip móðu,
áðr á grund af grœðis
gœðinga lið flœði
— sveit varð í rym rítar
rýr — Hôkonar dýrum.

Mǫrg stafnblóðug skip flutu auð í stríðri móðu—lið sveigði alm; rauð stôl flugu á úrga hjalma—, áðr lið gœðinga flœði á grund af {dýrum grœðis} Hôkonar; sveit varð rýr í {rym rítar}.

Many prow-bloody ships floated empty in the swift estuary—the troop bent the bow; red weapons flew at wet helmets—, before the chieftains’ troop fled ashore from Hákon’s {animals of the ocean} [SHIPS]; the company was reduced in {the noise of the shield} [BATTLE].

texts: H-Hr 352, HákHerð 2 (III 230), Hkr 612 (III 230)

editions: Skj Einarr Skúlason: 10. Elfarvísur 2 (AI, 477; BI, 449); Skald I, 221; ÍF 28, 359 (Hákherð ch. 11), F 1871, 354, E 1916, 216; Fms 7, 266-7 (Hákherð ch. 11).


AM 63 folx (Kx) 679v, 19 - 679v, 26 (Hkr)  image  
AM 45 fol (F) 76vb, 38 - 77ra, 1 (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 47 fol (E) 62r, 12 - 62r, 14 (Hkr)  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 366v, 1 - 366v, 8 (Hkr)  image  
AM 42 folx (42x) 54v, 32 - 55r, 32 (Hkr)  image  
AM 66 fol (H) 129v, 19 - 129v, 19 (H-Hr)  image  image  image  image  
GKS 1010 fol (Hr) 84vb, 20 - 84vb, 20 (H-Hr)  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated