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Runic Dictionary

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Einarr skálaglamm Helgason (Eskál)

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

3. Lausavísur (Lv) - 3

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.

Lausavísur — Eskál LvI

Margaret Clunies Ross 2012, ‘ Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Lausavísur’ 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. 330. <> (accessed 28 October 2021)

stanzas:  1a   2a   3 

Skj: Einarr Helgason skálaglamm: 4. Lausavísur (AI, 131-2, BI, 124-5); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2

SkP info: I, 333

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Eskál Lv 3I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Lausavísur 3’ 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. 333.

Þat kvað jarl at æri
unnviggs fyr haf sunnan,
þás á seima særi
sárelda spor vôru:
‘Ǫllungis hefr illa,
eybaugs, ef skalt deyja,
— víst hyggjum þat — viggja
valdr, þinn faðir haldit.’

Jarl kvað þat at {æri {unnviggs}} fyr sunnan haf, þás {spor {sárelda}} vôru á {særi seima}: ‘Faðir þinn hefr haldit ǫllungis illa, ef skalt deyja, {valdr {viggja {eybaugs}}}; hyggjum þat víst.’

The jarl said that to {the messenger {of the wave-steed}} [SHIP > SEAFARER = Þorleifr skúma] south of the sea, when {tracks {of wound-fires}} [SWORDS > WOUNDS] were upon {the wounder of riches} [GENEROUS MAN]: ‘Your father has undergone extreme hardship if you must die, {ruler {of steeds {of the island-ring}}} [SEA > SHIPS > SEAFARER]; we [I] think so certainly.’

texts: Flat 226, Fsk 96, Jvs 23, LaufE 162 (391) [1-4]

editions: Skj Einarr Helgason skálaglamm: 4. Lausavísur 3 (AI, 132; BI, 124-5); Skald I, 70, NN §§1888, 2240; Fms 11, 144-5, Jvs 1879, 89, Jvs 1882, 121, Jvs 1962, 39, Jvs 1969, 191, 217, Flat 1860-8, I, 195; Fsk 1902-3, 103 (ch. 20), ÍF 29, 137 (ch. 22); LaufE 1979, 391.


AM 291 4° (291) 37r, 14 - 37r, 16 (Jvs)  transcr.  image  
Holm perg 7 4° (7) 38r, 14 - 38r, 16 (Jvs)  image  
GKS 1005 fol (Flat) 26ra, 27 - 26ra, 29 (Jvs)  image  image  image  
AM 510 4° (510) 63v, 29 - 63v, 31 (Jvs)  image  
OsloUB 371 folx (FskBx) 31r, 10 - 31r, 17 (Fsk)  image  
AM 51 folx (51x) 27v, 20 - 28r, 4 (Fsk)  image  
AM 303 4°x (FskAx) 114, 10 - 114, 17 (Fsk)  image  
AM 301 4°x (301x) 42r, 22 - 42v, 3 (Fsk)  
AM 308 4°x (308x) 114, 10 - 114, 10  
GKS 2368 4°x (2368x) 128 - 128 (LaufE)  image  
AM 743 4°x (743x) 96r - 96r (LaufE)  image  image  
AM 57 folx (57x) 27v, 29 - 28r, 4  
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