This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas

login: password: stay logged in: help

Einarr skálaglamm Helgason (Eskál)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Edith Marold;

2. Vellekla (Vell) - 37

Little is certain about the life of Einarr skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ Helgason (Eskál), except that he came from a noble family from western Iceland. They were descendants of Bjǫrn austrœni ‘the Easterner’, i.e. ‘the Norwegian’, son of Ketill flatnefr ‘Flat-nose’. According to Ldn (ÍF 1, 123), Einarr’s mother was Niðbjǫrg, daughter of an Irish king. Einarr’s brother Ósvífr was the father of Guðrún Ósvífsdóttir, the heroine of Laxdœla saga. A few anecdotes link Einarr to Egill Skallagrímsson. Egils saga (Eg, ÍF 2, 268-73) tells of Einarr visiting Egill and the two talking at length about poetry. The meeting led to a long friendship, which is reflected in similarities between the two skalds’ poetry (de Vries 1964-7, I, 176). A valuable shield given to Egill by Einarr inspired Egill to compose a Skjaldardrápa or shield poem honouring the gift, of which only the first stanza has survived (Egill SkjalddrV).

Einarr must have lived c. 940-c. 990. He presumably spent much of his life at the court of Hákon jarl Sigurðarson in Norway, for whom he composed Vellekla (Eskál Vell) and another poem, Hákonardrápa (Eskál Hákdr). Two stanzas (Eskál HardrIII) that possibly stem from one or more Haraldsdrápur in honour of Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’ Gormsson indicate that he might have spent time at the Danish court, perhaps as a companion of Hákon jarl. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266, 280) mentions Einarr only as one of Hákon jarl’s skalds. Besides these poems, three lausavísur are preserved in Jvs, Fsk, Flat and Eg. The first two are part of a typical skald anecdote about court poetry and its reward, and are preserved in versions that differ sufficiently for them to be printed in both SkP I (Eskál Lv 1a and Lv 2a) and SkP V (Eskál Lv 1bV (Eg 124) and Lv 2bV (Eg 125)). The third (Eskál Lv 3) concerns the death of Þorleifr skúma Þorkelsson (Þskúm), an Icelandic retainer of Hákon jarl, at the battle of Hjǫrungavágr (Liavågen, c. 985).

According to Jvs (1969, 178-9), Einarr’s nickname skálaglamm ‘Tinkle-scales’ refers to a pair of precious and magically resounding scales (OIcel. skálar/skálir) with which Hákon jarl rewarded him for Vell (see Introduction to Eskál Lv 1-3). This explanation (apparently accepted in Finnur Jónsson 1907, 284) may, however, be a later etymological invention, and skálaglamm could instead derive from OIcel. skáli ‘hall, free-standing house’ either as part of a sky-, breast- or shield-kenning (Lie 1975, 643), or more likely as a ‘loud sound (glamm) in the hall’, in reference to his art of recitation. Jvs (1969, 178) also tells that Einarr earlier had the nickname Skjaldmeyjar-Einarr ‘Einarr of the shield-maiden’. Skjaldmeyjar are armed women who took part in battles (cf. Akv 16), but nothing is known about how Einarr got this nickname. According to Ldn and Jvs, Einarr drowned in Breiðafjörður on a voyage home (Ldn, ÍF 1, 123; Jvs 1969, 205); they add a legend according to which his scales (Jvs), or his shield and his coat (Ldn), wash ashore, inspiring the names of the islands Skáleyjar, Skjaldey and Feldarhólmr.

Vellekla (‘Lack of Gold’) — Eskál VellI

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘ Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 280. <> (accessed 27 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37 

Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm: 3. Vellekla, o. 986 (AI, 122-31, BI, 117-24); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37

SkP info: I, 295

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Eskál Vell 10I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 10’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 295.

Rignði hjǫrs á hersa
hríðremmis fjǫr víða
— þrimlundr of jók Þundi
þegns gnótt — méilregni.
Ok hald-Viðurr haulda
haffaxa lét vaxa
Laufa veðr at lífi
lífkǫld Hôars drífu.

{Méilregni} {{hjǫrs hríð}remmis} rignði víða á fjǫr hersa; þrimlundr of jók Þundi gnótt þegns. Ok {hald-Viðurr {haffaxa}} lét {lífkǫld veðr Laufa} vaxa at lífi haulda {drífu Hôars}.

{The arrow-rain} [BATTLE] {of the strengthener {of the storm of the sword}} [(lit. ‘storm-strengthener of the sword’) BATTLE > WARRIOR] rained widely on the life of the hersar; the battle-minded one increased the abundance of retainers for Þundr <= Óðinn>. And {the steering Viðurr <= Óðinn> {of sea-horses}} [SHIPS > SEAFARER] let {the life-cold storms of Laufi <sword>} [BATTLES] grow against the life of men {in the snow-storm of Hárr <= Óðinn>} [BATTLE].

Mss: (113r), 39(3vb), F(19vb), J1ˣ(67v-68r), J2ˣ(65r) (Hkr); 61(7rb), 325IX 1 a(3ra), Bb(9va-b) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] hríð‑: so all others, ‘h[...]rð‑’ Kˣ;    ‑remmis: ‘‑remnis’ J2ˣ    [3] þrim‑: þver‑ 39, F, þrym‑ 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    ‑lundr: ‑lyndr 39, F, 61, ‘‑lunðar’ J1ˣ, ‑lundar J2ˣ;    of: ok J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb    [4] þegns: þegn 39, F, ‘þ(e)gns’(?) J1ˣ;    gnótt: gnótt ok 39, F;    méil‑: men‑ F, mél‑ 61, meðal‑ Bb    [5] hald‑: hjald‑ 61, haldinn‑ Bb;    Viðurr: rúnr Bb    [6] haf‑: hár‑ Bb    [7] Laufa: ‘lꜹpa’ 39, J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    veðr: veðrs Bb;    lífi: lífum 39, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb    [8] líf‑: lið‑ 39;    Hôars: ‘harlldz’ 325IX 1 a, Haralds Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm, 3. Vellekla 11: AI, 124, BI, 118, Skald I, 66-7, NN §§303A, 398, 2241; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 237-8, IV, 68-9, ÍF 26, 210-1, Hkr 1991, I, 140 (HGráf ch. 6), F 1871, 90; Fms 1, 57, Fms 12, 32, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 56 (ch. 35).

Context: See st. 9.

Notes: [All]: There is no intervening prose between sts 9 and 10, but 10/1-4 and 10/5-8 are thematically much more similar than sts 9 and 10/1-4 and are therefore given as a unitary stanza here and in most eds. In contrast, ÓT 1958-2000, Davidson 1983, 264-5, 170 and Hkr 1991 combine st. 9 and 10/1-4 into one stanza and let 10/5-8 stand as a single helmingr. — [1, 2] hjǫrs hríðremmis ‘of the strengthener of the storm of the sword [(lit. ‘storm-strengthener of the sword’) BATTLE > WARRIOR]’: Hríðremmis is attested in all mss as a gen., so the warrior-kenning qualifies méilregni ‘arrow-rain [BATTLE]’. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) placed the warrior-kenning in the intercalary clause instead, hence Þrimlundr hjǫrs hríðremmir of jók Þundi gnótt þegns ‘The battle-minded strengthener of the storm of the sword [BATTLE > WARRIOR] increased the abundance of retainers for Þundr <= Óðinn>’, which requires the emendation of -remmis to -remmir, contrary to all mss, and leads to a much more complicated syntax for the helmingr. Because þrimlundr as a nominalised adj. can take the subject position in the intercalary clause (Kock NN §398; Reichardt 1928, 200), the emendation is unnecessary. Finnur Jónsson later (1934a, 20) changed his view and the later view is followed by this edn. — [1] hersa ‘of the hersar’: Hersar are district chieftains, noblemen of lesser rank than a jarl. Here the term seems to refer to the commanders serving the Eiríkssynir or Gunnhildarsynir (Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 110). — [4] méilregni ‘the arrow-rain [BATTLE]’: Méil occurs only here and in Hfr Hákdr 9/4III méilskúr ‘arrow-shower’. It is presumably of the same origin as mél ‘bit, mouth-piece of a bridle’. Exactly what the word means is not known; in combination with ‘rain/shower’ it is likely to mean a projectile weapon: arrow or spear (LP: méilregn; ÍF 26; on méil- cf. also Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 110; Kristensen 1907, 235-6, 240). Because the verb rignði ‘it rained’ is impersonal, regni ‘rain’ appears as a dat. object. — [5, 6] hald-Viðurr haffaxa ‘the steering Viðurr <= Óðinn> of sea-horses [SHIPS > SEAFARER]’: Hald- means ‘to steer’ here (cf., e.g., Sigv Nesv 2/5) and refers to the seafarer controlling the ships. — [5] haulda ‘of men’: The ONorw. form haulda rather than OIcel. hǫlða is indicated by the rhyme on hald-. Although Einarr was an Icelander, he would have been familiar with the Norw. form through living at a Norwegian court. For hauldr see ANG §§105 Anm., 238.1b. — [8] lífkǫld ‘life-cold’: I.e. inimical to life. — [8] drífu Hôars ‘in the snow-storm of Hárr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE]’: Drífu can be acc., gen. or dat., and previous eds have construed the phrase in various ways. (a) It is understood here and in most eds as being a dat. of location, with the sense ‘in battle’. (b) If the battle is thought of as an equivalent to a period of time, drífu could be a temporal acc., hence ‘at/throughout the battle’ (cf. NS §98). (c) Fms 12 combined hǫlða and drífu Hôars into a kenning, ‘the men of the snow-storm of Hárr [BATTLE > WARRIORS]’, but hǫlðar cannot form a kenning with drífu Hôars because it is an independent term (so Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 112). (d) Konráð’s own suggestion of combining drífu Hôars with haffaxa ‘of sea-horses [SHIPS]’ to form a kenning for ‘battle at sea’ is unconvincing. (e) Kock (NN §2241) takes drífu Hôars in apposition to veðr Laufa ‘the weather of Laufi <sword> [BATTLE]’, but apposition involving kennings is rare at best.

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