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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 30 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, 31

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

30 — ESk Geisl 30VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 30’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 31.

Rauns, at sigr gaf sínum
snjallr lausnara spjalli
— hrósak verkum vísa
vígdjarfs — frǫmum arfa.
Greitt gumnum létta
guðs ríðari * stríðum
rǫskr þiggr allt, þats œskir,
Óláfr af gram sólar.


It is a fact that {the brave confidant of the Saviour} [= Óláfr] gave his distinguished heir victory; I praise the deeds of the battle-bold prince. {God’s knight} [SAINT = Óláfr] can easily alleviate the afflictions of men; brave Óláfr gets all he desires from {the king of the sun}. [= God]

context: H-Hr concludes the account of the battle with the following comment: Þat gaf ok öllum vel skilja, at eigi mátti hann sigra við svá lítit lið ... nema sá sigr væri honum veittr af vꜽrum herra drottni Jesú Kristó, háleitum himnakonúngi, fyrir verðleika síns ástvinar Ólafs konúngs, sem Einar prestr Skúlason segir... ‘It was also very apparent to all, that he would not have been able to be victorious with such a small band ..., unless that victory had been given to him by our master lord Jesus Christ, the exalted king of heaven, on account of the merits of his beloved friend King Óláfr, as the priest Einarr Skúlason says ...’, followed by this st.

notes: [5-8]: The stef is written out in full in Flat, but abbreviated in Bb. The Flat scribe abbreviates it everywhere but here and in st. 18. The text differs slightly here, suggesting that the scribe wrote it out from memory: this second version has ‘ridari i stridum’ (l. 6) where st. 18 has ‘ridadri stridum’ and þats (‘þat er’, l. 7) where the first reads sem. The scribe’s reason for writing the stef here has to do with the layout of the ms. When he finished copying the first helmingr of st. 30 he found that one ruled l. remained at the foot of column a, enough space for four ll. of dróttkvætt. Rather than begin a new st. and split the text between two columns of writing, he filled out the space with the stef.

texts: Flat 30, H-Hr 40 [1-4]

editions: Skj Einarr Skúlason: 6. Geisli 30 (AI, 464-5; BI, 434); Skald I, 214; Flat 1860-8, I, 4, Cederschiöld 1873, 5, Chase 2005, 80, 147; Fms 6, 70.


GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 2ra, 58 - 2ra, 58  image  image  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 117va, 32 - 117va, 34  image  image  
AM 66 fol (H) 9v, 23 - 9v, 24 [1-4] (H-Hr)  image  image  image  image  
GKS 1010 fol (Hr) 9va, 13 - 9va, 15 [1-4] (H-Hr)  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated