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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Lv 1aI

Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Lausavísur 1a’ 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. 331.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonLausavísur

Gerðak veig of virða
víðis illrar tíðar
(þat vann ek, meðan aðrir)
ǫrr Váfaðar (svôfu).
Komkat þess, þars þótti,
þingsættis, fé betra
— meiðr sparir hodd við hróðri
hverr — en skald it verra.

Illrar tíðar gerðak ǫrr {veig Váfaðar} of {virða víðis}; vann ek þat, meðan aðrir svôfu. Komkat {þess þingsættis}, þars fé þótti betra en skald it verra; hverr meiðr sparir hodd við hróðri.

At an unfortunate time I composed, eager, {strong drink of Váfuðr <= Óðinn>} [POETRY] about {men of the ocean} [SEAFARERS]; I did that while others slept. I have not come {to that assembly-reconciler} [RULER] where money seemed better but the poet worse; each tree [man] withholds treasure from praise poetry.

Mss: 291(34r), Flat(25ra), 510(59r) (Jvs); M(95va) (Eg)

Readings: [1] Gerðak: ‘Gio᷎rda ue⸜t⸝ ek’ 510, ‘Geyrða ek’ M;    veig: víg Flat, om. 510, M    [2] víðis: vǫrð 510, M;    illrar tíðar: þann er sitr á jǫrðu 510, þann er sitr at jǫrðu M    [3] þat vann ek: iðrumk þess 510, M    [4] ǫrr Váfaðar: ‘orua ued urs of’ Flat, ‘aur uꜳ̋dermenn’ 510    [5] Komkat þess þars þótti (‘komkaþ ec þes þar er þotte’): ‘katr er þrotz þar er þotti’ Flat, komkat ek þrótt þann er þœtti 510, hykkat ek hodda stǫkkvi M    [6] þingsættis betra: þrenna linns at finna 510, ‘hinnig sotta sotta ek gram þottu’ M    [7] meiðr sparir hodd við hróðri: færi mik fyrða mæri 510, fýsinn frœknum vísa M    [8] hverr: ‘fere’ 510, ‘ferri’ M;    en: om. 510, M;    skald it: ‘skíalld enn’ 510, skald in M;    verra: verri 510

Editions: Skj AI, 131-2, Skj BI, 124, Skald I, 69, NN §2752; Fms 11, 127, Jvs 1879, 72, Jvs 1882, 109, Jvs 1969, 178, 215, Flat 1860-8, I, 188; Eg 1886-8, 290, ÍF 2, 270-1, Eg 2001, 152, Eg 2003, 164.


In Jvs, Einarr complains that Hákon jarl has shown him little honour (sómi) of late, compared to what he had formerly enjoyed, and threatens to defect to the leader of the Jómsvíkingar, Sigvaldi Strút-Haraldsson. In Eg (A-redaction only), the stanza is precipitated by the jarl’s refusal to listen to Einarr’s drápa Vellekla (Eskál Vell), because he is angry with the poet for unspecified reasons.

Notes: [All]: There is less divergence between the Jvs mss versus M in ll. 1-4 than in ll. 5-8, where there are some marked differences between the readings of all lines, except for the second part of l. 8. M shows the greatest similarity to 510, but also has readings that seem to be independent of any extant Jvs ms. — [1] veig ‘strong drink’: Omitted in 510 and M, but present in 291 and undoubtedly correct, as it restores metrical and alliterative regularity to the line, as well as providing the base-word of a conventional kenning for ‘poetry’. Flat’s víg ‘killing’ is not appropriate in context. — [2] víðis ‘of the ocean’: This, the Jvs A-redaction reading (291 and Flat) from víðir ‘ocean, sea’, is retained here as the reading of the main ms. and the lectio difficilior. It requires an otherwise unprecedented kenning type, virða víðis ‘men of the ocean’, which Ólafur Halldórsson (Jvs 1969, 215) tentatively construes to mean ‘seafarers’. In the context of this stanza, however, one would expect a kenning for Hákon jarl, which the 510, M reading vǫrð virða ‘guardian of men [RULER]’ would provide. — [5, 6] komkat þess þingsættis ‘I have not come to that assembly-reconciler [RULER]’: For the use of verbs of motion + gen., see NS §141, though the genitives in the examples there denote places through or across which the subject is travelling rather than a person who is being sought. Þingsættis, the reading of 291 and Flat, is tentatively construed here as a kenning for a ruler who reconciles others at the assembly. It is without precedent, however, in the skaldic corpus. Ólafur Halldórsson (Jvs 1969, 215) emended to þingsetrs ‘of the assembly-seat’, which is also unprecedented in poetry and not particularly suitable in context. Lines 5-6 in the A-redaction mss of Jvs are likely to be corrupted. They lack hendingar and their general sense seems obscure; do they mean that Einarr has never come across a ruler who paid more for bad poetry and did not reward good? — [7-8]: These lines in the Jvs A-redaction mss again suggest corruption. Meiðr ‘tree’ as a man-heiti is suspicious, as it usually functions as the base-word of a man-kenning. 


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. Eg 2003 = Bjarni Einarsson, ed. 2003. Egils saga. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  7. NS = Nygaard, Marius. 1906. Norrøn syntax. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. 1966.
  8. ÍF 2 = Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar. Ed. Sigurður Nordal. 1933.
  9. Eg 1886-8 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1886-8. Egils saga Skallagrímssonar tilligemed Egils större kvad. SUGNL 17. Copenhagen: Møller & Thomsen.
  10. Eg 2001 = Bjarni Einarsson, ed. 2001. Egils saga Skallagrímssonar. I. A-redaktionen. EA A 19. Copenhagen: Reitzel.
  11. Jvs 1879 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1879. Jómsvíkinga saga (efter Cod. AM. 510, 4:to) samt Jómsvíkinga drápa. Lund: Gleerup.
  12. Jvs 1882 = Petersens, Carl af, ed. 1882. Jómsvíkinga saga efter Arnamagnæanska handskriften No. 291 4:to i diplomatariskt aftryck. SUGNL 7. Copenhagen: Berling.
  13. Jvs 1969 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1969a. Jómsvíkinga saga. AM 291 4to. Reykjavík: Prentsmiðja Jóns Helgasonar HF.
  14. Internal references
  15. Not published: do not cite (EgV)
  16. Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla’ 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. 280.

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