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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 28 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, 309

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

22 — Eskál Vell 22I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 22’ 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. 309.

Ok til móts á Meita
mjúkhurðum framm þurðu
með svǫrgœli Sǫrva
sjau landrekar randa.
Glumði allr, þás Ullar
eggþings Heðins veggjar
— gnótt flaut nás fyr nesjum —
Nóregr, saman fóru.

Ok sjau landrekar þurðu framm á {mjúkhurðum Meita} til {móts randa} með {{Sǫrva svǫr}gœli}. Allr Nóregr glumði, þás {Ullar {veggjar Heðins}} fóru saman {eggþings}; gnótt nás flaut fyr nesjum.

And seven commanders rushed onwards aboard {the pliant doors of Meiti <sea-king>} [SHIPS] to {the meeting of shields} [BATTLE] with {the gladdener {of the bird of Sǫrvi <sea-king>}} [RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]. All of Norway resounded, when {the Ullar <gods> {of the wall of Heðinn <legendary hero>}} [SHIELD > WARRIORS] crashed together {in the blade-assembly} [BATTLE]; an abundance of corpses was floating off the headlands.

Mss: (141v), F(23va), J1ˣ(82v), J2ˣ(77v), 325VIII 1(3rb) (Hkr); 61(11v) (ll. 5-8, 1-4), 53(9va), 54(5rb), Bb(15rb) (ÓT); FskBˣ(20v), FskAˣ(81) (Fsk, ll. 1-4)

Readings: [1] Ok til móts: hitt var meir F;    á: at F, 53, 54, Bb, FskBˣ;    Meita: mǫra F, ‘mǫta’ J1ˣ, FskAˣ, ‘mí(u)ta’(?) 325VIII 1, ‘mæra’ Bb    [2] mjúk‑: mjó‑ F, ‘mjok‑’ 53, 54, Bb;    ‑hurðum: ‘‑(h)erdu’(?) 53, ‑herðum 54, Bb    [3] svǫr‑: sǫr‑ F, FskAˣ, spor‑ FskBˣ;    ‑gœli: so F, ‘‑gǫli’ Kˣ, J2ˣ, ‘‑geli’ J1ˣ, ‘‑goli’ 325VIII 1, FskAˣ, ‘‑giæli’ 61, ‘‑gieli’ 53, 54, ‘‑geili’ Bb, ‑gœlis FskBˣ;    Sǫrva: svarfa J1ˣ, svarra Bb, ‘aurgua’ FskBˣ, ‘sarpa’ FskAˣ    [4] sjau: sjá 54, Bb;    land‑: lǫnd‑ FskBˣ;    ‑rekar: ‑reki J1ˣ, ‑reka Bb;    randa: landa Bb, hǫndum FskBˣ, handan FskAˣ    [5] allr: allt F;    þás (‘þa er’): þar er 54, Bb    [6] ‑þings: ‑þing 325VIII 1    [7] gnótt: gnógt 54;    flaut: flaust Bb;    nás: ‘nass’ 325VIII 1, ‘vas’ 53, vás 54    [8] Nóregr: ‘nor̄’ 325VIII 1, nóregs 53, 54, Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm, 3. Vellekla 23: AI, 127, BI, 121, Skald I, 68; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 285-6, IV, 75-6, ÍF 26, 245-6, Hkr 1991, I, 164 (ÓTHkr ch. 18), F 1871, 107; Fms 1, 94, Fms 12, 34-5, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 102 (ÓT ch. 56); Fsk 1902-3, 73 (ch. 14), ÍF 29, 115 (ch. 16).

Context: See Context to st. 21.

Notes: [1-2] mjúkhurðum Meita ‘the pliant doors of Meiti [SHIPS]’: Hurð ‘door, hurdle’ is unusual as the base-word of a ship-kenning but the explanation might be that ships, like doors, are constructed of boards (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Meissner 222). — [4] sjau landrekar ‘seven commanders’: Snorri Sturluson explains the word landreki in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 101) as one who leads a host into the realm of another king or drives a host out of his own realm. However, this implied derivation from reka ‘drive’ is probably wrong (Faulkes, SnE 1998, I, 220), as is the derivation from *landríkr ‘land-ruler’ in LP: landreki. The word more likely derives from rekja ‘to straighten out’ (ÍO: 2 ‑reki; AEW: reki 2) and means ‘commander’, cf. for instance HHund I 32/3. These leaders have been identified either as seven commanders allied with Hákon or as commanders of the two opposing hosts. Their number, seven, is most likely connected to the seven fylki under Hákon’s rule (st. 13), each coming from a different fylki. — [5, 6] Ullar veggjar Heðins ‘the Ullar <gods> of the wall of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SHIELD > WARRIORS]’: Whether this warrior-kenning refers only to Hákon and his warriors or to the two opposing hosts cannot be determined for sure. The image ‘all of Norway resounded’ makes the latter more likely. — [6] eggþings ‘in the blade-assembly [BATTLE]’: The function of this gen. sg. kenning in the helmingr is unclear, but it is tentatively taken here with fóru saman ‘crashed together, went together’ as a rare instance of an adverbial gen. of place (Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 147-8; cf. also NS §141). It could alternatively be taken with nesjum (l. 7) hence ‘headlands of battle’.

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