Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to ESk Geisl 19VII

[5-8]: These ll. seem to be corrupt in both mss and there have been various suggested readings, all of which involve some emendation. The general sense of the passage is clear: it is a reference to the eclipse of the sun that is said to have occurred at Christ’s Crucifixion. In an aside the poet also mentions his ‘speech-tools’. In the cl. beginning at harra hauðrtjalda, the verb brá (3rd pers. sg. pret.) must be used impersonally, as skini ‘shining’ (taking Bb’s reading) is dat. But it is difficult then to understand the case of dauða (harra hauðrtjalda) unless it is dat. instr., viz. ‘through or by the death of the lord of earth-tents’. Thus the sense of this part of the helmingr must be ‘that the shining of the sun ceased through the death of the lord of earth-tents [SKY/HEAVEN > = Christ]’. This then leaves unexplained the first and last words of l. 7. Skj B construes these two elements as part of a cpd adj. happmætr ‘bringing good fortune’, qualifying skini, whose two elements are separated by tmesis, as does Chase 2005, 69 and 141. Kock (Skald and NN §933) adopts Bb’s reading hept and construes it with the intercalary hept máltól nýtask mér, translating tungans band jag nu kan lossa ‘I can now undo the tongue’s binding’, properly ‘fettered speech-tools are [now] of use to me’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Chase, Martin, ed. 2005. Einarr Skúlason’s Geisli. A Critical Edition. Toronto Old Norse and Icelandic Studies 1. Toronto, Buffalo and London: Toronto University Press.


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