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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

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

III. 2. Fragments (Frag) - 18

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.

Fragments — ESk FragIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Einarr Skúlason, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 151. <> (accessed 1 July 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18 

Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur (AI, 479-82, BI, 451-4)

SkP info: III, 151

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — ESk Frag 1III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 151.

The half-stanza (ESk Frag 1) is attributed to Einarr Skúlason in all mss. Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 365) assigned it to Øxarflokkr (see Introduction to ESk Øxfl above). Although the helmingr must have belonged to a panegyric for a magnate who has given (or will give) a gift to the poet, it lacks the mythical imagery that characterises the other stanzas grouped under the heading Øxarflokkr. The helmingr is transmitted in mss R (main ms.), , W, U and B of Skm (SnE).

Hvargis Beita borgar
bálgrimmustum skála
hôr of hnossvin órum
heims vafrlogi sveimar.

Hvargis {hôr vafrlogi {skála heims}} sveimar of hnossvin órum, {{{Beita borgar} bál}grimmustum}.

Wherever {the high flickering flame {of the world’s hall}} [SKY > SUN] hovers above our treasure-friend, {most hostile {to the fire {of Beiti’s <sea-king’s> stronghold}}} [(lit. ‘most fire-hostile of Beiti’s stronghold’) SEA > GOLD > GENEROUS MAN].

Mss: R(26v), Tˣ(27v), W(57), U(30r), B(5r) (SnE)

Readings: [2] bál‑: ‘bar‑’ U;    ‑grimmustum: so U, ‑grimmastan all others    [3] of: so all others, af R;    hnossvin: hnossum Tˣ, B, hollum U;    órum: ‘arvm’ U    [4] vafr‑: vafrs‑ Tˣ

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 1: AI, 479, BI, 451, Skald I, 222; SnE 1848-87, I, 330-1, II, 317, 530, III, 54, SnE 1931, 118, SnE 1998, I, 39.

Context: The helmingr illustrates one of several kennings for ‘sun’ (hôr vafrlogi skála heims ‘the high flickering flame of the world’s hall’) in Skm.

Notes: [All]: The helmingr is syntactically incomplete, and the preceding, now-lost four lines must have contained the missing main clause. — [2] -grimmustum (m. dat. sg.) ‘most hostile’: So U. This sup. adj. qualifies hnossvin órum  (m. dat. sg.) ‘our treasure-friend’ (l. 3), and ‑grimmastan (m. acc. sg.) in R, , W and B is ungrammatical. — [4] vafrlogi ‘flickering flame’: Usually refers to an impregnable wall of fire surrounding women’s dwellings in myth and legend (see LP: vafrlogi, and e.g. Skí 8/3, 9/3). See also Note to Þul Elds 2/1 and Kommentar I, 57.

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