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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, 13-14

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — ESk Geisl 8VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 13-14.

Heyrðu til afreks orða,
Eysteinn konungr beinna!
Sigurðr, hygg at því, snøggum,
sóknsterkr, hvé ferk verka.
Drengr berr óð fyr Inga;
yðart biðk magnit styðja
mærð, þás miklu varðar,
máttig hǫfuð áttar.

Heyrðu, Eysteinn konungr, til beinna orða afreks! Sóknsterkr Sigurðr, hygg at því, hvé ferk snøggum verka! Drengr berr óð fyr Inga; biðk magnit yðart styðja mærð, þás varðar miklu, {máttig hǫfuð áttar}.

King Eysteinn, listen to straightforward words of great deeds! Battle-strong Sigurðr, consider this, how I deliver the swift work! The man bears [I bear] poetry before Ingi; I ask that your power support the praise, which is of great importance, {mighty heads of the nation} [= Eysteinn, Sigurðr, Ingi].

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

Readings: [4] ferk (‘ek fer’): ‘ek fr’ Bb    [6] yðart (‘yduart’): ‘ydara’ Bb;    magnit: om. Bb;    styðja: so Bb, styrkva Flat    [7] þás (‘þa er’): þat er Bb    [8] máttig: ‘maktugt’ Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 8: AI, 460, BI, 428-9, Skald I, 212, NN §2052; Flat 1860-8, I, 2, Cederschiöld 1873, 2, Chase 2005, 58, 132-3.

Notes: [1] heyrðu til afreks orða ‘listen to words of great deeds’: Both mss have the suffixed pron. -ðu here. Omitting the pron. (as do Finnur Jónsson and Kock) normalises the syllable count of the l. but spoils the rhyme, which is between heyrð- and orð-. On early cliticisation, of which there are three examples in this st., see ANG §472. — [2] Eysteinn: Eysteinn Haraldsson was Einarr Skúlason’s principal patron and the commissioner of the poem (cf. st. 71). He was reigning jointly with his brothers Sigurðr and Ingi at the time Geisl was composed: see Introduction. — [6] yðart biðk magnit styðja ‘I ask that your power support [the praise]’: The l. is difficult both metrically and syntactically and the two mss diverge in several respects. Bb’s reading of the final word, styðja ‘support’, is preferred here over Flat’s styrkva, as it does not require emendation, it makes better sense and provides aðalhending with -. Chase 2005, 58 and 132 proposes the emendation styrkna ‘to become strong’ from Flat and reads yðvart biðk magnit styrkna ‘I desire that your power be strengthened’, assuming the scribe may have made the common error of writing u for n and arguing that styrkna is feasible if the l. is read as a parenthesis and mærð is understood to be syntactically parallel with óð ‘poetry’. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends Bb to yðvarrar biðk styðja | mærð, þats miklu varðar, | máttigt hǫfuð áttar ‘I ask the mighty head of your line to strengthen the poem, which is of great importance’, and Kock conflates the two texts: yðvart biðk magn styðja | mærð, þats miklu varðar, | máttig, hǫfuð áttar! ‘I ask that your strength, mighty heads of the nation, support the poem, which is of great importance’ (NN §2052). — [8]: The pl. form máttig hǫfuð in Flat makes better sense than Bb’s sg. mektugt hǫfuð in the context of an address to three joint monarchs. In Finnur’s reading, ‘mighty head of your line’ could refer either to Eysteinn (which would be rather insulting to Sigurðr and Ingi) or to S. Óláfr.

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