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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gísl Illugason (Gísl)

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

2. Lausavísa (Lv) - 1

Skj info: Gísl Illugason, Islandsk skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 440-4, BI, 409-13).

Skj poems:
1. Erfikvæði um Magnús berfœtt
2. Lausavísa

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).

Lausavísa — Gísl LvII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Gísl Illugason, Lausavísa’ 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. 430-1.


Skj: Gísl Illugason: 2. Lausavísa, 1096 (AI, 444, BI, 413); stanzas (if different): [v]

SkP info: II, 430-1

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Gísl Lv 1II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Gísl Illugason, Lausavísa 1’ 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. 430-1.

Kátr skalk enn, þótt ætli
aldrán viðir skaldi
(jǫrn taka oss at orna)
unda teins (at beinum).
Hverr deyr seggr, en, svarri,
snarts dreng skapat hjarta,
(prúðr skalk enn í óði)
eitt sinn (á þrek minnask).

Kátr skalk enn, þótt {viðir {teins unda}} ætli skaldi aldrán; jǫrn taka at orna oss at beinum. Hverr seggr deyr eitt sinn, en, svarri, snart hjarta [e]s skapat dreng; prúðr skalk enn minnask á þrek í óði.

I’ll still be cheerful, although {the trees {of the wounds’ rod}} [SWORD > WARRIORS] intend to rob the poet of his life; the irons begin to warm us [me] to the bones. Every man dies some time, but, lady, a valiant heart has been given to the young warrior; brave, I shall yet again commemorate deeds of courage in poetry.

Mss: H(87r), Hr(60va) (H-Hr); 5(49va), 219(1va), papp4ˣ, 392ˣ(147v) (JBp)

Readings: [1] skalk (‘skal ek’): skal 219;    þótt: þó papp4ˣ, 392ˣ    [2] aldrán: aldrtjón 5, aldr rán 219, papp4ˣ, 392ˣ;    viðir: ‘gora’ 219, ‘giora’ papp4ˣ, 392ˣ;    skaldi: skjaldar 5    [4] at: á 219;    beinum: beini Hr, papp4ˣ, 392ˣ    [5] en: so Hr, 5, hinn H, papp4ˣ, enn 219, 392ˣ    [6] dreng: drengs 5, papp4ˣ, 392ˣ    [7] prúðr: brúðr Hr, fróðr papp4ˣ, 392ˣ;    skalk (‘skal ek’): vil ek 219    [8] þrek: þat 5, 219

Editions: Skj: Gísl Illugason, 2. Lausavísa: AI, 444, BI, 413, Skald I, 204, NN §§2270, 2990 Anm.; ÍF 3, 336-7 (GíslIll ch. 4), Fms 7, 35 (Mberf ch. 18); Biskupa sögur 1858-78, I, 222, JBp 2003, 64, ÍF 15, 320-1.

Context: Gísl has been imprisoned by King Magnús berfœttr Óláfsson for the slaying of Magnús’s retainer, Gjafvaldr. He is awaiting execution and recites this st. to his Icel. compatriots (c. 1096).

Notes: [All]: Gísl is able to escape from the execution through the intervention of Jón Ǫgmundarson, later bishop of Hólar. — [2] viðir ‘the trees’: Gera ‘do, inflict’ (so 219, papp4ˣ, 392ˣ) is a lectio facilior which leaves the kenning viðir teins unda ‘the trees of the wounds’ rod’ (ll. 2, 4) without a base-word. — [5] svarri ‘lady’: For such apostrophes to unknown women, see Note to Hharð Gamv 3/1. — [6] dreng (m. dat. sg.) ‘to the young warrior’: For the different meanings of this word, see LP: drengr and Goetting 2006. The noun is an i-stem (no ending in the dat. sg.). Drengs (m. gen. sg.) ‘of the young warrior’ (so 5, papp4ˣ, 392ˣ) is also a possible reading. — [7] prúðr ‘brave’: Fróðr ‘wise’ (so papp4ˣ, 392ˣ) is metrically possible, but secondary and makes little sense in the context. — [8] eitt sinn ‘some time’: Could also go with the last cl. (so Skj B), but the phrase hverr seggr deyr eitt sinn ‘every man dies some time’ seems to be a commonplace (see NN §2270; Þjǫk Lv l. 8IV).

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