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, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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, 328

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

36 — Eskál Vell 36I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 36’ 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. 328.

Gollsendir lætr grundar
— glaðar þengill her drengja —
— hans mæti knák hljóta —
hljót Yggs mjaðar njóta.

{Gollsendir} lætr {hljót grundar} njóta {mjaðar Yggs}; þengill glaðar her drengja; knák hljóta mæti hans.

{The gold-distributor} [GENEROUS MAN = Einarr, I] lets {the recipient of land} [RULER] enjoy {the mead of Yggr <= Óðinn>} [POEM]; the ruler gladdens the host of warriors; I can receive his precious gifts.

Mss: R(33r), Tˣ(34v), W(76), U(31v), A(10r), B(5v), C(4r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] Gollsendir lætr: ‘[…]l sendir l[…]tr’ U    [2] glaðar: glaðr A, gleðr C;    drengja: so C, drengi R, Tˣ, W, A, ‘[…]’ U, lengi B    [3] mæti: ‘[...]’ U, mætti B, C;    knák (‘kna ec’): ‘[...]na ek’ U, kná B;    hljóta: om. B, ‘hlýða’ C    [4] hljót: ‘hljó’ U;    Yggs: ygg C

Editions: Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm, 3. Vellekla 33: AI, 130, BI, 123, Skald I, 69, NN §410; SnE 1848-87, I, 406-7, II, 323, 434, 534, 583, SnE 1931, 145, SnE 1998, I, 62.

Context: The helmingr is quoted in SnE (Skm) to illustrate how ‘gold’ is used in kennings for ‘man’ (specifying gollsendir ‘gold-distributor’).

Notes: [All]: The stanza, with its unequivocal presumption of a reward for the composition, is part of the conclusion of the drápa. Krömmelbein (1983, 175) views it as a stef stanza on the basis of the poetry-kenning, but this is insufficient evidence. Referring to an episode of Jvs, Ohlmarks (1958, 387) claims that the stanza introduced the section about the battle with the Jómsvíkingar (see Introduction). — [1] gollsendir ‘the gold-distributor [GENEROUS MAN = Einarr, I]’: (a) A kenning designating someone other than a ruler as a ‘generous man’ is unusual in a C10th drápa, but there is a parallel in Jór Send 5/1, where the poet Guthormr sindri is referred to as stríðir hringa ‘enemy of rings [GENEROUS MAN]’. (b) Ohlmarks (1958, 387-8) and Davidson (1983, 396-8), following Kock (NN §410), take a different approach, reading Gollsendir lætr hljót mjaðar Yggs njóta grundar ... ‘The gold-distributor [GENEROUS MAN = Hákon jarl] lets the owner of the mead of Yggr [POEM > POET] enjoy land ...’. However, there is little or no evidence for skalds being rewarded with land.

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