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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 30 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, 155

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

4 — ESk Frag 4III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2017, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Fragments 4’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 155.

Jón Sigurðsson (SnE 1848-87, III, 356) assigned this half-stanza (ESk Frag 4) to Einarr’s panegyric about Haraldr gillikristr ‘Servant of Christ’ Magnússon (r. 1130-6) (ESk Hardr III). Although the helmingr appears to have been part of a royal encomium, there is no evidence to support such an attribution. The stanza is preserved in mss R (main ms.), , W, U, A and C of Skm (SnE) and also in LaufE (mss 2368ˣ, 743ˣ). The poet’s name is given as Einarr (without patronymic) in all mss of SnE and in ms. 2368ˣ of LaufE. In 743ˣ the stanza is preceded by so sem q Bersi [open space] og Einar skalagl ‘as Bersi said … and Einarr skálagl[amm]’. This must have resulted from scribal confusion: in SnE the stanza is preceded by HólmgB Lv 6/1-4V (Korm 40) and followed by Eskál Vell 34I. The half-stanza is also preserved in RE 1665(Ii3), which has no independent value.

Glymvindi lætr Gǫndlar
— gnestr hjǫrr — taka mestum
Hildar segl, þars hagli,
hraustr þengill, drífr strengjar.

Hraustr þengill lætr {segl Hildar} taka {mestum glymvindi Gǫndlar}, þars drífr {hagli strengjar}; hjǫrr gnestr.

The brave ruler makes {Hildr’s <valkyrie’s> sail} [SHIELD] catch {the strongest roaring wind of Gǫndul <valkyrie>} [BATTLE] where {hail of the bow-string} [ARROWS] is driven; the sword crashes.

Mss: R(33v), Tˣ(35r), W(77), U(32v), A(11r), C(5r) (SnE); 2368ˣ(121), 743ˣ(92r) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Glymvindi: glymjandi A;    lætr: setr U;    Gǫndlar: so Tˣ, U, A, gǫndla R, W, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ, ‘gaunlar’ C    [2] gnestr: so Tˣ, W, U, A, 2368ˣ, 743ˣ, gnest R, gnast C;    taka: ‘tak[…]’ U;    mestum: mestan A, 2368ˣ    [4] strengjar: so all others, ‘stengiar’ R

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur 4: AI, 480, BI, 452, Skald I, 222; SnE 1848-87, I, 418-19, II, 327, 438, 587, III, 77-8, SnE 1931, 149, SnE 1998, I, 67; LaufE 1979, 383.

Context: Glymvindr Gǫndlar ‘the roaring wind of Gǫndul’ is listed as one of several examples of battle-kennings in Skm. In LaufE, vindr Gǫndlar ‘the wind of Gǫndul’ is a kenning for ‘battle’.

Notes: [1] glymvindi Gǫndlar ‘the roaring wind of Gǫndul <valkyrie> [BATTLE]’: Both glymr Gǫndlar ‘the roar of Gǫndul’ and vindr Gǫndlar ‘the wind of Gǫndul’ are kennings for ‘battle’, but the prefix glym- ‘roar(ing)’ probably has an adjectival force here. For kennings of a similar structure, see Note to Sturl Hrafn 1/3-4II. In LP: glymvindr Finnur Jónsson translates glymvindr Gǫndlar as kamp ‘battle’, but in Skj B he gives skudbyge ‘shower of missiles’. Faulkes (SnE 1998, II, 291) has ‘noisy wind, in kenning for storm of battle … i.e. missiles flying like rain’. See also Meissner 182-3. — [3] Hildar ‘Hildr’s <valkyrie’s>’: As a common noun hildr means ‘battle’, but the word is taken here as a pers. n. to retain the valkyrie-imagery. — [4] drífr ‘is driven’: Lit. ‘drifts’ (3rd pers. sg. pres. indic.). The verb is used impersonally with hagli strengjar ‘hail of the bow-string’ (ll. 3, 4) as the dat. object.

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