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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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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, 53-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

57 — ESk Geisl 57VII

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Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 57’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 53-4.

Nús oss, þaus vann vísir,
verk fyr þjóð at merkja
nauðr í nýjum óði,
næst; ríðrat þat smæstu.
Krapt skulum guðs, en er giptu,
gunnstyrks lofi dýrka,
lér hjaldrfrǫmum hôrar
heims læknir gram þeima.

Nús oss nauðr at merkja fyr þjóð í nýjum óði verk, þaus vísir vann næst; ríðrat þat smæstu. Skulum dýrka lofi krapt gunnstyrks guðs, en er {læknir heims} lér hôrar giptu þeima hjaldrfrǫmum gram.

Now it is a necessity for us [me] to make known to people, in new poetry, the deeds which the king accomplished next; that is not least important. We should honour with praise the power of the battle-strong God, for is {the healer of the world} [= God] grants great fortune to the battle-prominent king.

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

Readings: [1] oss: so Bb, om. Flat;    vísir: vísi Bb    [4] ríðrat: ‘ridr a’ Bb;    smæstu: smæstum Bb    [5] en: so Bb, ‘þess er’ Flat    [6] gunn‑: geð‑ Bb    [7] hjaldr‑: so Bb, ‘halld’ Flat    [8] læknir: so Bb, læknis Flat

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 57: AI, 470, BI, 441, Skald I, 217; Flat 1860-8, I, 6, Cederschiöld 1873, 8, Chase 2005, 107, 160.

Notes: [1, 3] nús oss nauðr ‘now it is a necessity for us [me]’: Bb’s addition of oss must be adopted here, in order to provide the correct number of syllables and internal rhyme. — [5-8]: Flat’s version of l. 5, Krapt skulum guðs, þess’s giptu is both unmetrical and presents a syntactic problem for the interpretation of the second helmingr, for þess’s ‘the one who’ can only refer to God, but this connection leaves heims læknis dangling. The only way to resolve the difficulty is to adopt Bb’s readings en (l. 5) and læknir (l. 8), as do Skj B and Skald. — [6] gunnstyrks (gen. sg.) ‘battle-strong’: This epithet, applied to God, is varied in Bb as geðstyrks ‘mind-strong, resolute’. — [6] dýrka ‘honour’: The rhyme with -styrks is irregular, unless shortening of <ý> is assumed to have occurred (ANG §127.5); cf. 7/4. — [7] hjaldrfrǫmum ‘battle-prominent’: Flat’s reading, haldfrǫmum ‘tenaciously prominent’, if it is not an error, is hap. leg. and difficult to make sense of. Bb’s hjaldrfrǫmum ‘battle-prominent’ is both easier to understand and more conventional (compounds in hjaldr- are fairly common in skaldic verse). — [8] læknir heims ‘the healer of the world’: Cf. 21/4 grœðari alls ‘healer of all’. The kenning anticipates the miracle of healing in the following sts.

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