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Runic Dictionary

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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

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

III. 3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 9

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.

Lausavísur — ESk LvIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Lausavísur’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 169. <> (accessed 22 January 2022)

stanzas:  7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 11. Lausavísur (AI, 482-5, BI, 454-7)

SkP info: III, 175

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — ESk Lv 12III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Lausavísur 12’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 175.

The helmingr (ESk Lv 12) is found in Orms-Eddu-brot in W (main ms.), which contains a three-page text of Skm not found in any other ms. The first two lines are also given in LaufE (mss 2368ˣ, 743ˣ) and in RE 1665(Ff3), from a LaufE ms. The poet is identified as Einarr in all mss, and the stanza appears to have been part of a lausavísa about a woman.

Hrynja lét in hvíta
hausmjǫll ofan lausa
strind aurriða strandar
stalls af svarðar fjalli.

{In hvíta strind {stalls {aurriða strandar}}} lét {hausmjǫll} hrynja lausa ofan af {fjalli svarðar}.

{The white land {of the resting-place {of the trout of the beach}}} [SERPENT > GOLD > WOMAN] let {the skull’s powder-snow} [HAIR] fall loose down from {the mountain of the scalp} [HEAD].

Mss: W(169) (SnE); 2368ˣ(98), 743ˣ(76v) (LaufE, ll. 1-2)

Readings: [4] svarðar fjalli: ‘[…]’ W

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 11. Lausavísur 10: AI, 484, BI, 456, Skald I, 224; SnE 1848-87, II, 500, III, 183; LaufE 1979, 356.

Context: Hausmjǫll ‘the skull’s powder-snow’ is given as an example of a kenning for ‘hair’.

Notes: [4] af fjalli svarðar ‘from the mountain of the scalp [HEAD]’: Ms. W ends with the word af ‘from’ and fjalli svarðar ‘the mountain of the scalp’ is conjectural. Fjalli (n. dat. sg.) ‘mountain’ is partly secured by the internal rhyme (-all : ‑all-), but aside from the fact that it must be a determinant in a kenning for ‘head’, the preceding word cannot be established with any certainty. Following Sveinbjörn Egilsson, SnE 1848-87, II, 500 suggests the reading skarar fjalli ‘hair’s mountain’ (see ESk Frag 2/4), which is unmetrical (the metre requires a long first syllable in position 3 and skar- is short). Skj B supplies reikar fjalli ‘the parting of the hair’s mountain’ (so also Skald). Both svǫrðr ‘scalp’ and reik ‘parting of the hair’ occur elsewhere in kennings for ‘head’ (see LP: reik; svǫrðr) but, whereas reik is used more commonly as pars pro toto for ‘head’ (see LP: reik 2), svǫrðr is often a determinant in head-kennings, e.g. land svarðar ‘land of the scalp’, stofn svarðar ‘stump of the scalp’, strǫnd svarðar ‘beach of the scalp’; see LP: svǫrðr 1. Svǫrðr also occurs in the two stanzas directly preceding this stanza in W and LaufE (SnSt Lv 7/3, 4 (twice) and Árni Lv 1/8IV).

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