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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 28 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, 9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — ESk Geisl 3VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 3’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 9.

Siðar heilags brá sólar
— setrs vas þat fyr betra
auðfinnǫndum annars
ómjós rǫðuls — ljósi.
Œztr þrifnuðr réð efnask
oss, þás líf á krossi
jarðar allra fyrða
ónauðigr tók dauða.

{Ljósi {sólar heilags siðar}} brá; þat vas {auðfinnǫndum} fyr {betra {ómjós setrs annars rǫðuls}}. Œztr þrifnuðr réð efnask oss, þás tók ónauðigr líf allra fyrða jarðar dauða á krossi.

{The light {of the sun of holy faith}} [= God > = Christ] was extinguished; {for finders of riches} [MEN] that preceded {the better [light] {of the not-small abode of another sun}} [SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ)]. The best prosperity decided to bring itself to us when he, willing, won the life of all the men of earth through death on a cross.

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

Readings: [2] setrs: setr Bb    [3] ‑finnǫndum (‘‑finnandum’): so Bb, ‘‑finnendum’ Flat    [4] ómjós (‘o mioss’): so Bb, ‘o míors’ Flat;    ljósi: so Bb, ‘liorsi’ Flat    [5] réð: nam Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 3: AI, 459, BI, 427, Skald I, 211, NN §§927, 928, 2315A; Flat 1860-8, I, 1, Cederschiöld 1873, 1, Chase 2005, 53, 127-9.

Notes: [1] siðar ‘faith’: This edn, with Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald; NN §2315), reads this as the gen. sg. of the noun siðr ‘religious practice, faith’ and construes: Ljósi sólar heilags siðar brá ‘The light of the sun of holy faith was extinguished’. Another possibility is to read the first word with a long ‘i’, síðar, the comp. form of the adv. síð, with the sense Síðar brá sólar ljósi ‘Later, the light of the sun [= Christ] was destroyed’. Síðar is then a reference to the preceding st., and its initial position in st. 3 may suggest that it is meant as a transition between the two. For this reading, see Chase 2005, 53 and 127. The long form, síðar, is unmetrical, however, as resolution is required in position one to avoid a hypermetrical l. — [2] setrs ‘of the abode’: Flat’s reading requires the assumption of a noun (‘light’) for betra to qualify. Kock (NN §927; Skald) adopts Bb’s setr to give þat vas fyr betra setr ... ‘that was for [the purpose of] a better home ...’. — [2, 4, 3] betra ómjós setrs annars rǫðuls ‘the better [light] of the not-small abode of another sun’: This kenning is likely to refer to the new and more powerful light of the resurrected Christ by contrast with the kenning ljósi sólar heilags siðar ‘the light of the sun of holy faith’ in ll. 1, 4 where the reference is to Christ’s death at the Crucifixion. Alternatively, the phrase vas fyrir could mean ‘heralded’ and its object be understood simply as ‘the better light of heaven’ (so Skj B).

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