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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

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

VII. Geisli (Geisl) - 71

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.

Geisli (‘Light beam’) — ESk GeislVII

Martin Chase 2007, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Geisli’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 5-65. <> (accessed 3 July 2022)

stanzas:  1   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   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   58   59   60   61   62   63   64   65   66   67   68   69   70   71 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 6. Geisli, 1153 (AI, 459-73, BI, 427-45)

SkP info: VII, 23-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

20 — ESk Geisl 20VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 20’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 23-4.

Gerðusk brátt, þás barðisk
broddrjóðr við kyn þjóðar,
— gramr vanðit sá synðum
sik — jartegnir miklar.
Ljós brann líki vísa
lǫgskíðs yfir síðan,
þás ǫnd með sér sendis
samdœgris guð framði.

Miklar jartegnir gerðusk brátt, þás {broddrjóðr} barðisk við kyn þjóðar; sá gramr vanðit sik synðum. Síðan brann ljós yfir líki vísa, þás guð framði ǫnd {sendis {lǫgskíðs}} með sér samdœgris.

Great miracles were wrought immediately, when {the point-reddener} [WARRIOR] had fought with the family of the people; that king did not accustom himself to sins. Then light burned over the body of the prince, when God raised the soul {of the sender {of the sea-ski}} [SHIP > SEAFARER] to himself on the same day.

Mss: Flat(2ra), Bb(117va)

Readings: [1] Gerðusk: ‘Gerdiz’ Flat, ‘Giordizt’ Bb;    þás (‘þá er’): þar er Bb    [3] vanðit: ‘vandiz’ Flat, ‘firde’ Bb    [4] miklar: so Bb, ‘milar’ Flat    [5] vísa: ræsis Bb    [7] þás (‘þá er’): því at Bb;    sendis: ‘sendiz’ Flat, ‘syndiz’ Bb    [8] samdœgris: ‘sam dægrs’ Flat, ‘samdægurs’ Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 20: AI, 462-3, BI, 432, Skald I, 213; Flat 1860-8, I, 3, Cederschiöld 1873, 3, Chase 2005, 70, 142.

Notes: [All]: There are numerous variant readings in this st., though in most cases the better choice is clear. However, it is necessary to emend l. 1 Gerðusk (following an original suggestion of Cederschiöld) to give a 3rd pers. pret. m.v. verb ‘were wrought’, l. 3 vanðit ‘[he] did not accustom’, l. 7 sendis ‘of the sender’ (where both mss have -‘z’, probably indicating a m.v. ending) and l. 8 samdægris ‘on the same day’ (to give a six-syllable l.). — [1, 7] þás, þás ‘when, when’: Flat has þás (‘þá er’) ‘when’ in both these cases, but Bb has þars (‘þar er’) ‘where’ in l. 1 and því at ‘because’ in l. 7. These variants make quite a difference to the sense of the st. In the first case, Bb’s version suggests that miracles were wrought on the battlefield, while Flat’s indicates they occurred after the battle has taken place. In the second instance Bb suggests that the light burned over Óláfr’s body because God had taken it to heaven on the same day he died (as in ÓHLeg 1982, 196, quoted in Chase 2005, 36-7), whereas Flat is again concerned with chronology. Skj B adopts Bb’s readings in ll. 1, and 8, but Skald does so in l. 1 only.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated