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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

III. 1. Øxarflokkr (Øxfl) - 10

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.

Øxarflokkr (‘Flokkr about an Axe’) — ESk ØxflIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 140. <> (accessed 20 October 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 11. Øxarflokkr(?) (AI, 477-9, BI, 449-51); stanzas (if different): 11

SkP info: III, 148

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — ESk Øxfl 8III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 148.

Dœgr þrymr hvert, en hjarta
hlýrskildir ræðr mildu
Heita blakks, of hvítum
hafleygr digulskafli.
Aldri má fyr eldi
áls hrynbrautar skála
— ǫll viðr folka fellir
framræði — snæ bræða.

Hvert dœgr þrymr {hafleygr} of {hvítum digulskafli}, en {{Heita blakks hlýr}skildir} ræðr mildu hjarta. Aldri má bræða {snæ skála} fyr {eldi {hrynbrautar áls}}; {fellir folka} viðr ǫll framræði.

Every day {the sea-flame} [GOLD] rests on {the white crucible-snowdrift} [SILVER], and {the shield-provider {of the prow of Heiti’s <sea-king’s> horse}} [(lit. ‘prow-shield-provider of Heiti’s horse’) SHIP > SEA-WARRIOR] has a generous heart. Never can {snow of scales} [SILVER] be melted by {fire {of the eel’s resounding road}} [SEA > GOLD]; {the feller of armies} [WARRIOR] performs all glorious deeds.

Mss: W(75), R(32v-33r), Tˣ(34r-v), U(31v), A(10r), B(3v), 744ˣ(18r-v), C(4r) (SnE); 2368ˣ(92), 743ˣ(72v-73r) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] þrymr: so R, U, þrumir W, Tˣ, A, B, C, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ;    hvert: ‘huortt’ 2368ˣ;    en hjarta: ‘[…]’ R    [2] hlýrskildir ræðr mildu: ‘[…]’ R;    ‑skildir: ‑skildis C;    ræðr: réðu Tˣ;    mildu: mildum U, mildi C    [3] Heita blakks of hvítum: ‘[…]’ R;    hvítum: ‘hv[…]’ U    [4] hafleygr digulskafli: ‘[…]’ R;    ‑leygr: ‘‑læyr’ A, ‘‑ley’ B    [6] hryn‑: ‘h[…]n‑’ U, dyn‑ C;    skála: ‘[…]ala’ R    [7] viðr: so R, Tˣ, A, veðr W, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ, vinnr U, ‘[…]’ B, við 744ˣ, C;    fellir: ‘[…]’ R, ‘follir’ Tˣ, fellis C    [8] framræði snæ: ‘[…]’ R;    ‑ræði: ‑ræða C;    bræða: breiða Tˣ, hræða C

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 11. Øxarflokkr(?) 8: AI, 479, BI, 451, Skald I, 222; SnE 1848-87, I, 404-7, II, 322-3, 433, 517, 582, III, 70, SnE 1931, 144, SnE 1998, I, 62; LaufE 1979, 347.

Context: As st. 7 above. Snær skála ‘snow of scales’ is given as an example of a kenning for ‘gold’ in Skm, and in LaufE that kenning and digulskafl ‘crucible-snowdrift’ are listed as examples of kennings for ‘gold’. See Note to ll. 4, 6, 8 below.

Notes: [All]: This stanza follows st. 7 above in Skm, and it is preceded by Ok enn sem hann kvað ‘And again as he said’. In LaufE the stanza is mistakenly attributed to Einarr skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ Helgason (EskálI), the poet who composed the stanza (Eskál Hardr 1I) which precedes this stanza in that compilation. In 2368ˣ the stanza is presented as two separate helmingar. — [All]: Ms. R is damaged at the top of fol. 33r, and W, which offers the best readings, has been chosen as the main ms. Because B is almost impossible to read, 744ˣ has been used selectively here. — [2, 3] Heita blakks hlýrskildir ‘the shield-provider of the prow of Heiti’s <sea-king’s> horse [(lit. ‘prow-shield-provider of Heiti’s horse’) SHIP > SEA-WARRIOR]’: For a similar kenning for ‘sea-warrior’, see skildir brands skeiðar ‘shield-provider of the warship’s prow’ (Arn Hryn 7/3, 4II). — [4, 6, 8] digulskafli; snæ skála ‘the crucible-snowdrift [SILVER]; snow of scales [SILVER]’: The referent for both of these kennings is ‘silver’, but in Skm the second (and in LaufE both) is taken as a kenning for ‘gold’ (see also Note to Rv Lv 17/2II). — [8] bræða ‘be melted’: The verb is used impersonally. The sense of the clause ‘never can snow of scales [SILVER] be melted by fire of the eel’s resounding road [SEA > GOLD]’ is that cold silver (‘snow’) cannot be melted by hot gold (‘fire’) because, unlike fire, gold does not give off any heat.

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