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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 25 June 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, 167

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

17 — ESk Frag 17III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 17’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 167.

This stanza (ESk Frag 17) is found in mss R (ll. 1-2), A, B (and 744ˣ) and C (ll. 1-2) of Skm (SnE). Ms. A, which contains the entire stanza, is the main ms. The full name of the poet (Einarr Skúlason) is given in all mss, but in B he is mistakenly identified as Einarr skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ (EskálI). The stanza describes a sea-voyage, and it may have been part of an encomium or composed under similar circumstances as ESk Lv 8-9, 14-15.

Œsir hvasst at hraustum
Himinglæva þyt sævar
— glymr Unnar vex — grenni
Gǫndlar skúfs ok Dúfa.
Brædd strýkr Blóðughadda
— brimsolgin fellr Kolga —
hlýr, þars Hefring stœrir
haflauðr of við rauðan.

Himinglæva ok Dúfa œsir þyt sævar hvasst at {hraustum grenni {skúfs Gǫndlar}}; glymr Unnar vex. Blóðughadda strýkr brædd hlýr, þars Hefring stœrir haflauðr of rauðan við; Kolga fellr brimsolgin.

Himinglæva and Dúfa violently stir up the howling of the sea against {the valiant feeder {of Gǫndul’s <valkyrie’s> skua}} [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]; the roar of Unnr increases. Blóðughadda strokes the tarred bows where Hefring increases the sea-foam around the red wood; Kólga falls sea-swollen.

Mss: A(13v), B(6r), 744ˣ(35v), R(38v) (ll. 1-2), C(7v) (ll. 1-2) (SnE)

Readings: [1] at: so R, C, af A, B    [2] þyt: ‘þvt’ R, þýtr C    [3] glymr Unnar: ‘[…]’ B, ‘glýmrunnar’ 744ˣ;    grenni: ‘[…]e’ B, ‘gre᷎nne’ 744ˣ    [4] skúfs: ‘[…]ufs’ B, ‘skufs’ 744ˣ    [7] hlýr þars Hefring stœrir (‘hlyr þar ær hæfring stærir’): ‘[…]’ B, ‘hlýr skilr hefring st u er’ 744ˣ    [8] rauðan: ‘rauða[…]’ B, ‘raudan’ 744ˣ

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 17: AI, 482, BI, 454, Skald I, 223; SnE 1848-87, I, 500-1, II, 451, 534, 600, III, 103-4, SnE 1931, 175, SnE 1998, I, 95.

Context: In Skm the stanza is cited because it enumerates the names of six of the nine daughters of Ægir, a sea-giant in Old Norse myth. Ægir is a personification of the sea, and his daughters are the waves.

Notes: [All]: All of the heiti for ‘wave’ found in this stanza are also listed in Þul Waves, and the two stanzas are indeed so similar that it is tempting to suggest that the latter, which is anonymous, may have been composed by Einarr as well. The heiti are also listed in Þul Sjóvar 4 and in the prose of Skm (SnE 1998, I, 36). — [1] œsir ‘stir up’: Lit. ‘stirs up’: The verb is in the sg. but it has a coordinate subject (see NS §70). — [2] Himinglæva: One of Ægir’s daughters, ‘heaven-bright one’ (i.e. reflections of the sky on the surface of the sea). See also Þul Waves l. 3 and Þul Sjóvar 4/4. — [3] Unnar ‘of Unnr’: Unnr means ‘wave’. See also Þul Waves l. 7 and Þul Sjóvar 4/5. — [4] skúfs ‘skua’: An arctic bird of prey (Stercorarius skua). See also Note to Þul Fugla 3/5-6. — [4] Dúfa: The third daughter of Ægir, ‘rocking one’. See also Þul Waves l. 8 and Þul Sjóvar 4/6. — [5] Blóðughadda: This daughter’s name translates as ‘bloody-haired one’. It is not clear why a wave should be bloody-haired, unless it refers to the colour of the sea at sunset. See also Þul Waves l. 6 and Þul Sjóvar 4/8. — [6] Kolga ‘Kólga’: Ægir’s fifth daughter is ‘cool one’. See also Þul Waves l. 7 and Þul Sjóvar 4/3. — [7] Hefring: The sixth and last daughter of Ægir named here is ‘self-lifting one’. See also Þul Waves l. 3 and Þul Sjóvar 4/1. — [8] of rauðan við ‘around the red wood’: Or ‘around the red ship’ if við ‘wood’ is taken as pars pro toto for ‘ship’ (see Note to Frag 16/2 above). This prepositional phrase could also go with the second clause of the helmingr (so Skj B; Skald).

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