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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 24 May 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, 154

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — ESk Frag 3III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 3’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 154.

The half-stanza (ESk Frag 3) commemorates the gift of a precious drinking horn and was likely part of a poem composed for a ruler or magnate in return for his munificence. Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 364) assigned it to a no-longer extant poem about the Norwegian chieftain Eindriði ungi ‘the Young’, probably because Einarr is said to have composed poetry in his honour (SnE 1848-87, III, 269, 286, and cf. ESk Geisl 45/3VII). There is, however, nothing in this stanza to warrant such an attribution. The name of the poet is given as Einarr in all mss, but no patronymic is recorded for him (see Note to Frag 2 [All] above). Because Einarr often describes the items he has received as gifts in return for his poetry (see ESk Øxfl above), the attribution of this stanza to him is likely to be correct. The helmingr is recorded in mss R (main ms.), , A, B (and 744ˣ) and C of Skm (SnE).

Næst sék orm á jastar
ítrserki vel merkðan
(nemi bjóðr, hvé ferk) flœðar
(fjarðbáls, of þat máli).

Næst sék orm, vel merkðan, á {ítrserki {flœðar jastar}}; nemi {bjóðr {fjarðbáls}}, hvé ferk máli of þat.

Next I see a serpent, well engraved, on {the splendid shirt {of the yeast’s flood}} [BEER > DRINKING HORN]; may {the donor {of fjord-fire}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] learn how I treat that in speech.

Mss: R(38v), Tˣ(40r), A(13v), B(6r), 744ˣ(37r), C(8r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Næst: ‘Æst’ C;    orm á: orma C;    orm: ‘[…]m’ B, ‘ọṛm’ 744ˣ;    jastar: rastar C    [2] merkðan: ‘merkt[…]’ B, merkta 744ˣ, C    [3] nemi bjóðr hvé ferk flœðar (‘nemi bioðr hve ec fer flæþar’): ‘[…]lodar’ B, ‘nemi bíoðr hue ek fer flódar’ 744ˣ;    hvé: hví C;    flœðar: ‘flodar’ Tˣ    [4] fjarð‑: fjaðr‑ A, B;    þat: so A, B, hlyn R, Tˣ, C;    máli: mála C

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 3: AI, 480, BI, 452, Skald I, 222; SnE 1848-87, I, 504-5, II, 453, 536, 602, III, 106, SnE 1931, 177, SnE 1998, I, 97.

Context: Fjarð- ‘fjord-’ is given among the heiti for ‘sea’ in Skm.

Notes: [3, 4] hvé ferk máli of þat ‘how I treat that in speech’: Lit. ‘how I fare with speech about that’. For fara ‘go, travel, fare’ with dat. in the meaning ‘compose’, see LP: fara 10 and ESk Geisl 8/4VII hvé ferk verka ‘how I deliver the work’. — [4] þat ‘that’: So A, B. The variant hlyn (m. acc. sg.) ‘maple’ (R, , C) could be construed as a part of a man-kenning (of hlyn fjarðbáls ‘about the tree of the fjord-fire’; so SnE 1998, I, 97), but that reading leaves an awkward half-kenning bjóðr ‘donor’ (of the drinking vessel) as the subject of the clause. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SnE 1848-87, III) retains of hlyn, which he construes with flœðar ‘of the flood’ (l. 3) and takes as a kenning for ‘ship’ (of hlyn flœðar ‘about the maple of the flood’). While that is certainly possible, it leaves an unsatisfactory kenning for ‘drinking horn’ (ítrserki jastar ‘the splendid shirt of yeast’, ll. 1-2), and, furthermore, the stanza describes a splendid drinking horn and not a ship.

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