This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

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, 56

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

60 — ESk Geisl 60VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 60’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 56.

Tungan vas með tangar
tírkunns numin munni
(vasa sem vænst) ok þrysvar
(viðrlíf) skorin knífi.
Auðskiptir lá eptir
(ǫnd lætr maðr) á strǫndu
(margr of minni sorgir)
meinsamliga hamlaðr.

Tungan tírkunns vas numin með tangar munni ok þrysvar skorin knífi; vasa viðrlíf sem vænst. {Auðskiptir} lá eptir á strǫndu meinsamliga hamlaðr; margr maðr lætr ǫnd of minni sorgir.

The tongue of the one accustomed to praise was taken by the tong’s mouth and cut three times with a knife; that was not a very hopeful treatment. {The wealth-distributor} [MAN] remained lying on the beach painfully mutilated; many a man gives up the ghost from fewer afflictions.

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

Readings: [1] Tungan: Tunga Bb    [2] ‑kunns: ‑kunn Bb;    numin: so Bb, lokin Flat    [3] þrysvar: ‘tysvar’ Bb    [5] Auð‑: aur‑ Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 60: AI, 470, BI, 442, Skald I, 218, NN §§2054, 2792; Flat 1860-8, I, 6, Cederschiöld 1873, 9, Chase 2005, 110, 161-2.

Notes: [1, 2] tungan tírkunns ‘the tongue of the one accustomed to praise’: In Flat’s version, also followed in Skald, understood as a reference to the priest Ríkarðr; Bb’s adj. tírkunn (f. nom. sg.) can be construed with tunga ‘the tongue accustomed to praise [God]’; so Skj B. — [2] numin ‘taken’: Bb’s reading makes sense, while Flat’s lokin, from luka ‘to close, bring to an end’, does not. — [6] þrysvar ‘three times’: This detail is explained in the prose accounts: sidan drogo þeir ut tvngo hans oc skoꝛo af mikit oc spurdo ef hann metti mela en hann leitadi vid at mela þa toko þeir i tungo stufiɴ oc skoꝛo af tysvar þadan af oc i tungo rotom it sidarsta siɴ ‘then they drew out his tongue and cut off a big piece and asked if he could speak, and he tried to speak; then they took the stump of the tongue and cut off two more pieces, the last time cutting out the root of the tongue’ (Louis-Jensen 1970, 37; cf. Hkr, ÍF 28, 336; ÓH 1941, 652-3). — [6] á strǫndu ‘on the beach’: The prose versions tell us that the incident took place on the shore of a lake. Einarr specifies a similar location in his account of the man mutilated by the Wends (st. 40); he may have confused the circumstances of the two miracles.

© 2008-