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Runic Dictionary

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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 5 August 2021)

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, 303

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

15 — Eskál Vell 15I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 15’ 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. 303.

Ok herþarfir hverfa
(Hlakkar móts) til blóta
(rauðbríkar fremsk rœkir
ríkr) ásmegir (slíku).
Nú grœr jǫrð sem áðan;
aptr geirbrúar hapta
auðrýrir lætr ôru
óhryggva vé byggva.

Ok herþarfir ásmegir hverfa til blóta; {ríkr rœkir {rauðbríkar {móts Hlakkar}}} fremsk slíku. Nú grœr jǫrð sem áðan; {auðrýrir} lætr {ôru {geirbrúar}} byggva vé hapta aptr óhryggva.

And the sons of the Æsir, beneficial to the people, turn to the sacrifices; {the powerful keeper {of the red board {of the meeting of Hlǫkk <valkyrie>}}} [BATTLE > SHIELD > WARRIOR = Hákon jarl] prospers from this. Now the earth flourishes as before; {the wealth-diminisher} [GENEROUS MAN] lets {the messengers {of the spear-bridge}} [SHIELD > WARRIORS] once again inhabit the sanctuaries of the gods without sorrow.

Mss: (140r), 39(5va-b), F(23ra), J2ˣ(76r-v) (Hkr); FskBˣ(19v), FskAˣ(78) (Fsk)

Readings: [3] rauð‑: ‘rand‑’ FskAˣ;    rœkir: rœkar FskAˣ    [4] ás‑: at‑ FskBˣ;    ‑megir: so 39, F, ‑megi Kˣ, J2ˣ, ‑megri FskAˣ;    slíku: slíka FskAˣ    [6] geir‑: ‘gœrð‑’ FskAˣ;    hapta: ‘hatta’ FskAˣ    [7] ‑rýrir: ‑fyrir FskBˣ;    lætr: lætr at FskBˣ    [8] ‑hryggva: so FskBˣ, FskAˣ, ‑hryggja Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ;    byggva: so FskBˣ, FskAˣ, byggja Kˣ, 39, F, J2ˣ

Editions: Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm, 3. Vellekla 16: AI, 126, BI, 119-20, Skald I, 67, NN §§1814D, 2240A; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 281, IV, 73-4, ÍF 26, 242, Hkr 1991, I, 161 (ÓTHkr ch. 16), F 1871, 105; Fsk 1902-3, 69 (ch. 14), ÍF 29, 111-12 (ch. 16).

Context: For Hkr see the previous stanza. After st. 12, which relates Hákon’s return from Denmark, Fsk reports that Hákon begins sacrificing with even greater zeal than before, whereupon the harvest quickly improves, the grain begins growing again, the herring return and the earth blossoms.

Notes: [1, 2] hverfa til blóta ‘turn to the sacrifices’: The gods who had been denied their sacrifices return and begin accepting them again; see Finnur Jónsson (1891a, 166-7). They are now charitably inclined toward the people (herþarfir). — [4] ásmegir ‘the sons of the Æsir’: I.e. the Æsir, the gods (Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 167). Olsen (1962a, 44-5) refers to a parallel in Vsp 62 and 63, where a second generation of Æsir, sons of the first, found a new world. This would mean Hákon’s reign would be compared to the renewal of the earth after the end of the world. — [5]: The hending is missing from this line, but there is no reason to restore it as proposed by Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 126). The line is reminiscent of Vsp 59, where the green earth rises again out of the sea (Olsen 1962a, 44). ‘now’ constitutes the link to the previous sentence, because the newly growing earth is portrayed as the result of the renewed heathen sacrifices. Hkr (ÍF 26, 221) gives an account of harvests failing and herring disappearing during the rule of the Eiríkssynir (Gunnhildarsynir), and of abundance restored during the rule of Hákon jarl (ÍF 26, 243). — [6-8]: Turville-Petre (1976, 61-2) reads aptr auðrýrir geirbrúar lætr áru hapta óhryggja byggja vé ‘again the destroyer of the wealth of the spear-bridge allows the merry messengers of the gods to inhabit the temples’, but this is unconvincing because the kenning ‘the destroyer of the wealth of the spear-bridge’ is overdetermined. — [6] hapta ‘of the gods’: This designation of a collective of gods (Marold 1992, 707) appears in four other skaldic stanzas: Þjóð Haustl 3/3III, 11/8III, Glúmr Gráf 1/1 and KormǪ Sigdr 5/3III.

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