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Runic Dictionary

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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 January 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, 48-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

51 — ESk Geisl 51VII

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Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 51’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 48-9.

Tôkn gerir bjǫrt, þaus birta
brandél á Girklandi,
— mál finnsk of þat mǫnnum —
margþarfr Haralds arfi.
Fregnk, at allt (né ógnar
innendr, meguð finna)
dýrð Óláfs ríðr dála
dagræfrs (konung hæfra).

{Haralds margþarfr arfi} gerir bjǫrt tôkn, þaus {brandél} birta á Girklandi; mál finnsk mǫnnum of þat. Fregnk, at Óláfs dýrð ríðr allt dála {dagræfrs}, né meguð, innendr ógnar, finna hæfra konung.

{Haraldr’s very useful heir} [= Óláfr] makes clear signs, which {sword-showers} [BATTLES] manifest in Greece; talk arises among men about that. I hear that Óláfr’s fame rides all across {the day-roof} [SKY/HEAVEN]; you, doers of battle, will not be able to find a more worthy king.

Mss: Flat(2rb), Bb(118ra)

Readings: [1] gerir: so Bb, eru Flat;    birta: so Bb, birtask Flat    [3] mál: mærð Bb;    of: so Bb, um Flat    [4] margþarfr: ‘marg þarfr’ corrected from ‘marg þꜳþr’ Flat, ‘man þarfr’ Bb    [5] at: om. Bb;    allt: alls Bb;    ógnar: so Bb, ‘aungir’ Flat    [7] ríðr: viðr Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 51: AI, 468, BI, 439-40, Skald I, 216-17, NN §2053; Flat 1860-8, I, 5, Cederschiöld 1873, 8, Chase 2005, 101, 157-8.

Notes: [1-4]: Bb’s text is preferred here (as in Skj B and Skald), as Flat’s raises difficulties of w.o. (especially in l. 3) and sense. Chase 2005, 101 offers a reading based on Flat. — [4] Haralds arfi ‘Haraldr’s heir’: A reference to Óláfr’s father Haraldr grenski (‘the one from Grenland’) and perhaps also an allusion to his ancestor Haraldr hárfagri (‘Fine-hair’), with whom Óláfr liked to associate himself, claiming that the kingdom of Norway established by Haraldr hárfagri was his rightful paternal inheritance (Hkr, ÍF 27, 44). — [6] né meguð ‘you will not be able’: The form is 2nd pers. pl., a direct address to the audience. Both Skj B and Skald emend to megu, making the verb 3rd pers. pl., but this is not necessary. The topic of outdoing is already familiar from sts 11, 13, 14, and 21. — [8] dagræfrs (gen. sg.) ‘day-roof [SKY/HEAVEN]’: On the poetic use of the gen. to designate place, see NS §141.

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