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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Glúmr Geirason (Glúmr)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Diana Whaley;

III. 1. Poem about Eiríkr blóðøx (Eir) - 1

Skj info: Glúmr Geirason, Islandsk skjald omkr. 950-75. (AI, 75-8, BI, 65-8).

Skj poems:
1. Kvad om Erik blodøkse
2. Gráfeldardrápa
3. Lausavísa

Glúmr Geirason (Glúmr) was the son of Geiri (patronymic unknown), a Norwegian who settled in Iceland. Glúmr was born there in the early tenth century and moved with his father and brother from Mývatn, via Húnavatn, to Króksfjörður, Breiðafjörður, because of some killings (Ldn, ÍF 1, 284; he is also mentioned in ÍF 1, 154, 161, 238 and appears in Reykdœla saga, ÍF 10, 204-12). He married Ingunn Þórólfsdóttir, and their son was Þórðr Ingunnarson, who features in Laxdœla saga (ÍF 5, 86-7). Glúmr is named in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273, 274) as the poet of Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’ (d. c. 954) and Haraldr gráfeldr ‘Grey-cloak’ (d. c. 970), and poems for both survive in part. Considerably more of Gráfeldardrápa (Gráf) survives than of the Poem about Eiríkr blóðøx (EirIII), though there is some difficulty in assigning certain stanzas to one or other poem (see Introduction to Gráf). Glúmr is the subject of HaukrV Ísldr 11IV, which depicts him as a zealous fighter who was with Haraldr gráfeldr at his victory at Fitjar (c. 961). Glúmr’s presence at the battle is somewhat in doubt, however, since although the Fsk text of his lausavísa on the subject (Glúmr Lv) contains sák ‘I saw’, the Hkr and ÓT mss have frák ‘I have heard’. From Glúmr Gráf it is clear that Glúmr outlived Haraldr (see Introduction). Edited below are Gráf and Lv, while the fragment of Eir is edited in SkP III since it is preserved only in SnE and TGT.

Poem about Eiríkr blóðøx — Glúmr EirIII

Diana Whaley 2017, ‘ Glúmr Geirason, Poem about Eiríkr blóðøx’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 194. <> (accessed 17 September 2021)


Skj: Glúmr Geirason: 1. Kvad om Erik blodøkse, för 950 (AI, 75, BI, 65-6); stanzas (if different): 2

in texts: Gramm, TGT

SkP info: III, 194

notes: verse 1 in Gramm3; 2 in Hkr

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files


This couplet (Glúmr Eir) is preserved only in TGT and is attributed there to ‘Glúmr’. It is the sole identifiable remnant of a poem about King Eiríkr blóðøx ‘Blood-axe’ (d. 954; see Ruler Biography, SkP I, cxc), the existence of which is assumed from the naming of Eiríkr in l. 2, from the tradition that Glúmr was a poet in Eiríkr’s service (Skáldatal, SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273), and from an extended passage in Fagrskinna (ÍF 29, 79). This states that Glúmr in his poem (í sínu kvæði) tells of the raiding expeditions that Eiríkr undertook while his father Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ was still alive: in Sweden and Denmark, the Baltic, Finnmark (where he met his queen Gunnhildr), and Permia (ON Bjarmaland), and then west to England and other parts of the British Isles. From this and the surviving couplet it has been deduced that the poem must predate Eiríkr’s acquisition of sole power in Norway in the early 930s (cf. SnE 1848-87, III, 445). Certainly the present-tense verb fær ‘gains’ (l. 1) points to composition during Eiríkr’s lifetime. A further stanza, Glúmr Gráf 2I, is printed as part of Eir in Skj, and Gráf 3I and 6I depict campaigns that could be associated with Eiríkr, but there is no decisive evidence of a connection with Eiríkr (see Introduction to Glúmr Gráf I), and Glúmr’s poetry about Eiríkr seems much less well preserved than his Gráf. The couplet from Eir is composed in dunhent ‘echoing-rhymed’, a variant of dróttkvætt in which the second skothending in the odd line is echoed in the aðalhendingar in the following even line (cf. SnSt Ht 24 and Context; also RvHbreiðm Hl 65-6 and SnE 2007, 80-1). The generalised content, the naming of Eiríkr and perhaps the resounding use of hendingar would support the view that this is the stef ‘refrain’ of the poem (Fidjestøl 1982, 91, 185-6), and therefore that the poem was a drápa. The TGT mss A, W are used below, with A as main ms. A further transcript in 761bˣ(132v) appears to be copied from W and is not used in this edn.
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