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Runic Dictionary

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Gísl Illugason (Gísl)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

1. Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr (Magnkv) - 20

Gísl belonged to the Icel. family of the Gilsbekkingar, who were said to be descendants of the C9th poet Bragi inn gamli ‘the Old’ Boddason (BragiIII). Gísl was the great-grandson of the skald Tindr Hallkelsson (TindrI), the uncle of poet Gunnlaugr ormstunga ‘Serpent-tongue’ Illugason (GunnlIV). See ÍF 3, 331, Genealogies II a-b in ÍF 3 and SnE 1848-97, III, 625-6. Details about Gísl’s life are given in Gísls þáttr Illugasonar (GíslIll) in H-Hr (Fms 7, 29-40; ÍF 3, 329-42) and in Jóns saga helga (JBp; JBp 2003, 10, 63-72). Gísl was born in 1079, and when he was six years old, his father was killed by a certain Gjafvaldr, a slaying Gísl later avenged. King Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ Óláfsson sentenced Gísl to death for the killing of Gjafvaldr, who was one of his retainers, but Gísl escaped execution (see Gísl Lv below). He then travelled with Magnús to Ireland in charge of hostages and became Magnús’s court poet (Skáldatal, SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 276). He also seems to have participated in Magnús’s expedition to the west in 1098 and in his campaign in Sweden (c. 1100-2; see Magnkv 11 and 19). Gísl later lived in Iceland until old age and had one son, Einarr (JBp 2003, 72). In addition to the memorial poem below composed about Magnús berfœttr, Gísl is said to have composed another encomium to Magnús on the occasion described in the lv. below, but no sts from that poem survive (see SnE 1848-87, III, 626-7; ÍF 3, 340-1).

Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr — Gísl MagnkvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Gísl Illugason, Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 416-30. <> (accessed 28 November 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20 

Skj: Gísl Illugason: 1. Erfikvæði um Magnús berfœtt, o. 1104 (AI, 440-4, BI, 409-13)

SkP info: II, 427-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — Gísl Magnkv 16II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Gísl Illugason, Erfikvæði about Magnús berfœttr 16’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 427-8.

Blár ægir skaut        búnum svíra;
gjalfr hljóp í gin        gollnu hǫfði.
Skein af hausum        sem himins eisa
dǫglings dreka        djúps valfasti.

Blár ægir skaut búnum svíra; gjalfr hljóp í gin gollnu hǫfði. {{Valfasti} djúps} skein sem {eisa himins} af hausum dreka dǫglings.

The dark ocean struck against the adorned neck; the surge leaped into the jaws of the golden head. {{The corpse-flame} [SWORD (brandr ‘fire’)] of the deep} [GOLD] shone like {the cinder of heaven} [SUN] from the skulls of the ruler’s dragon.

Mss: Mork(23v) (Mork); H(90r), Hr(62ra) (H-Hr); F(58vb)

Readings: [5] hausum: hǫfðum H    [8] djúps val‑: djúpr sal‑ F

Editions: Skj: Gísl Illugason, 1. Erfikvæði um Magnús berfœtt 16: AI, 443, BI, 412, Skald I, 203, NN §2534; Mork 1867, 147, Mork 1928-32, 322, Andersson and Gade 2000, 302, 486 (Mberf); Fms 7, 51 (Mberf ch. 25); F 1871, 272 (Mberf).

Context: As sts 14-15 above.

Notes: [1] blár ægir ‘the dark ocean’: See Notes to sts 1/8 and 15/8. — [7] dreka ‘dragon’: See Note to st. 15/5. — [8] valfasti ‘the corpse-flame [SWORD (brandr ‘fire’)]’: A kenning for ‘sword’. It seems that we are dealing with an ofljóst (‘too transparent’) construction, i.e. a play on the word brandr, which can mean both ‘sword’ (valfasti) and ‘fire’. Another alternative would be to adopt the F variant salfasti ‘hall-fire’ and read salfasti djúps ‘the hall-fire of the deep’, i.e. ‘the hall-fire of the sea’. The god Ægir was the personification of the sea (see Note to st. 15/8), and, according to the prose introduction to Lok (see NK 96), his hall was lit by white gold (lýsigull) (see also NN §2534 and the detailed discussion in Clunies Ross 1987, 138-50). Kock (NN §2534) emends to djúps svalfasti ‘the cool fire of the deep’ i.e. ‘gold’ while Finnur Jónsson (LP: valfasti 2) merely notes that the cpd in this particular instance means ‘fire’.

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