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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 5 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, 164

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — ESk Frag 14III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 14’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 164.

Like Frag 9-13 above, this helmingr (ESk Frag 14) also describes a sea-voyage, but the content does not make it clear whether it belonged to an encomium. It is preserved in mss R (main ms.), , W, U and B of Skm (SnE). Ms. B is now almost illegible, and 744ˣ has been used in its place. The full name of the poet is given in all mss. Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 354) assigned the half-stanza to Einarr’s panegyric about Sigurðr jórsalafari (ESk Sigdr III; see Introduction to Frag 2 above).

Viknar ramr í Rakna
reksaumr flugastraumi;
dúks hrindr bǫl, þars bleikir
bifgrund, á stag rifjum.

Ramr reksaumr viknar í {flugastraumi Rakna}; {bǫl dúks} hrindr rifjum á stag, þars {bifgrund} bleikir.

The strong seam of driven nails flexes in {the cascade of Rakni <sea-king>} [SEA]; {the harm of the sail} [WIND] forces the reefs against the stay, where {the trembling ground} [SEA] goes white.

Mss: R(26v), Tˣ(27v), W(57), U(30r), B(5r), 744ˣ(32v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] ramr: rammr W, ‘ran’ U;    Rakna: raknar U    [2] ‑saumr: ‑saums 744ˣ    [3] dúks: so U, ‘dugs’ R, Tˣ, om. W, dags 744ˣ;    þars (‘þar er’): so all others, þar R    [4] ‑grund á: so all others, ‑grundar R;    rifjum: ‘r[…]’ U, ‘rífín’ 744ˣ

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 14: AI, 481-2, BI, 453, Skald I, 223, NN §960; SnE 1848-87, I, 328-31, II, 317, 530, III, 54, SnE 1931, 118, SnE 1998, I, 38.

Context: As Frag 9-13 above.

Notes: [1] Rakna ‘of Rakni <sea-king>’: For this name, see Note to Þul Sea-kings l. 8. — [2] í flugastraumi ‘in the cascade’: Lit. ‘in the cliffs’ current’, i.e. a waterfall, a heavy flow of water tumbling over a steep cliff. The first element in this cpd, fluga- is taken here as gen. pl. of flug n. ‘cliff, steep mountainside, precipice’ (see Fritzner: flug 2; so also AEW). Cf. Note to Eil Þdr 1/1 for this meaning of flug-. See also Grett Lv 28/6V (Gr 60) and Note there. Earlier eds, who construe Rakna ‘of Rakni <sea-king>’ as the determinant in a kenning for ‘sea’ (see Note to l. 4 below), interpret flugastraumr as ‘violent current’ without a determinant (so Skj B and LP, Fritzner: flugastraumr), in which fluga- is gen. pl. of flug n. ‘quick speed’ which Fritzner glosses a hurtig Fart (Fritzner: flug 1). That is also a possible interpretation. — [2] reksaumr ‘the seam of driven nails’: Lit. ‘driven seam’, e.g. the seam of nails that holds the overlapping planking together (see also ESk Lv 15/2). — [4] bifgrund ‘the trembling ground [SEA]’: This is an imperfect kenning for ‘sea’ (but see Rv Lv 21/4II svalteigr ‘cool plot [SEA]’), and some earlier eds (Skj B; SnE 1998, I, 38, II, 244) take Rakna ‘of Rakni’ (l. 1) as a determinant: bifgrund Rakna ‘the shaking ground of Rakni’, i.e. ‘the sea’. That construction leaves a dangling prep. (í ‘in’, l. 1), which does not otherwise occur in skaldic syntax (see NN §960). The R variant, bifgrundar (f. gen. sg. or nom./acc. pl.), cannot be construed in a syntactically meaningful way. — [4] stag ‘the stay’: For stag ‘stay’ see Note to Frag 10/3 above. — [4] rifjum ‘the reefs’: The reef (rif) is the horizontal strip of the sail that can be pulled up to shorten the sail (see Falk 1912, 68-9, SnE 1998, II, 376-7 and Jesch 2001a, 163).

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