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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 29 June 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, 29-30

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

28 — ESk Geisl 28VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 28’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 29-30.

Gekk sínum bur søkkvir
sólar straums í drauma,
— vald lézk fylgja foldar
framlyndum gram myndu —
áðr á Hlýrskógsheiði
harðgeðr konungr barðisk
— góðs eldis naut gyldir
gnótt — við heiðnar dróttir.


{The enemy {of the sun of the stream}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] appeared to his son in a dream — {the strength of the land} [= Óláfr] said he would help the forward-striving princebefore the hard-minded king fought against the heathen hosts at Lyrskovshede; the wolf enjoyed an abundance of good food.

context: H and Hr quote this st. in their account of the battle of Lyrskovshede. It is introduced as follows: Þess getr Einar Skúlason í Óláfsdrápu, at Óláfr konungr sýndisk Magnúsi konúngi í svefni fyrir þenna bardaga, ok hꜵt at veita honum lið. Hann segir svá ... ‘Einarr Skúlason tells of this in Óláfsdrápa: that King Óláfr showed himself to King Magnús in a dream before this battle, and promised to give him assistance. He says...’.

notes: The miracle of Óláfr’s appearance to his son Magnús in a dream the night before the battle of Hlýrskógsheiðr (Lyrskovshede) is also recounted in C12th historical writings, including Theodoricus’s Historia de Antiquitate Regum Norwagiensium (MHN 48-50), Saxo Grammaticus’s Gesta Danorum (Olrik & Ræder 1931-57, I, 302-3) and Ágr 1929, 37-8; for discussion see Chase 2005, 38-9.

texts: Flat 28, H-Hr 36

editions: Skj Einarr Skúlason: 6. Geisli 28 (AI, 464; BI, 434); Skald I, 214; Flat 1860-8, I, 3-4, Cederschiöld 1873, 4-5, Chase 2005, 78, 146; Fms 6, 66.


GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 2ra, 54 - 2ra, 54  image  image  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 117va, 25 - 117va, 28  image  image  
AM 66 fol (H) 9r, 11 - 9r, 13 (H-Hr)  image  image  image  image  
GKS 1010 fol (Hr) 9ra, 20 - 9ra, 23 (H-Hr)  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated