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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 14VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 14’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 18-19.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli
131415

Réð um tolf, sás trúði,
tírbráðr, á guð, láði
(þjóð muna þegna* fœða)
þría vetr (konung betra),
áðr fullhugaðr felli
folkvaldr í dyn skjalda
(hann speni oss) fyr innan
Ǫlvishaug (frá bǫlvi).

Tírbráðr, sás trúði á guð, réð láði þría vetr um tolf — þjóð muna fœða betra konung þegna* —, áðr {fullhugaðr folkvaldr} felli í {dyn skjalda} fyr innan Ǫlvishaug; hann speni oss frá bǫlvi.

The fame-eager one, who believed in God, ruled the land for three winters beyond twelve — the people will not raise a better king of thanes —, before {the very wise army-ruler} [= Óláfr] fell in {the din of shields} [BATTLE] on the inner side of Alstahaugen; may he guide us away from evil.

Mss: Flat(2ra), Bb(117rb)

Readings: [1] um: ok Bb    [3] þegna*: þegnar Flat, þengill Bb;    fœða (‘fæda’): ‘bidia’ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 461, Skj BI, 430, Skald I, 212, NN §§ 932, 1853B; Flat 1860-8, I, 2, Cederschiöld 1873, 3, Chase 2005, 64, 136-7.

Notes: [3]: Flat’s reading þegnar has been emended here to þegna*, as a nom. pl. noun cannot be the subject of the sg. verb muna ‘will not’. Skj B, Skald and NN §932 prefer to adopt Bb’s þengill, thus providing a noun subject for réð ‘ruled’, and emend ‘bidia’ to bíða ‘await, get’ (first proposed by Cederschiöld 1873), giving Tírbráðr þengill … þjóð muna bíða betra konung ‘Eager for fame, the prince … the people will not get a better king’. — [8] Ǫlvishaug: Lit. ‘Ǫlvir’s mound’, Alstahaugen, Trøndelag: cf. LP: Ǫlvishaugr; Rygh 1897-1936, XV, 89 identifies it with the farmstead of Alstadhaug in Skogn, Trøndelag. Einarr doubtless knew that Óláfr fell at Stiklestad (ON Stiklastaðir; cf. sts 17 and 43). Ǫlvishaugr may be an allusion to a battle recorded in the sagas of S. Óláfr (Hkr, II, 178-81; and ÓH 1941, 261-9) as well as in the Annales regii (s.a. 1021), Gottskalks Annall (s.a. 1021), and Oddaverja Annáll (s.a. 1020) (printed in Storm 1888, 106, 316 and 468 respectively). A powerful man from the Trondheim region named Ǫlvir á Eggju persisted in conducting pagan sacrifices on a grand scale long after Óláfr’s imposition of Christianity, and Óláfr finally invaded the district with a large army. He interrupted the rites, killing Ǫlvir and sentencing others to imprisonment, mutilation, banishment, or execution. And thus, says Snorri, he returned all the people to the true faith, gave them teachers, and built and consecrated churches. References to these events reinforce the theme hann speni oss frá bǫlvi ‘may he guide us away from evil’. Just as at Ǫlvishaugr Óláfr protected his people from the evil of paganism, by his martyr’s death at Stiklestad (where he was killed by Kálfr Árnason, who, according to Hkr, II, 182, 385, married Ǫlvir’s widow) he gained the power to protect Norway supernaturally. Ǫlvishaugr was just a few miles from Stiklestad, and Einarr’s audience would have recognized the correspondence between the two places and events.

References

  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. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873b. ‘Bandamanna saga’. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873a. Geisli eða Óláfs Drápa ens Helga er Einarr orti Skúlason: efter ‘Bergsboken’ utgifven. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10. Lund: Berling.
  8. 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.
  9. Storm, Gustav, ed. 1888. Islandske annaler indtil 1578. Christiania (Oslo): Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond. Rpt. 1977. Oslo: Norsk-historisk kjeldeskrift-institutt.
  10. 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.
  11. ÓH 1941 = Johnsen, Oscar Albert and Jón Helgason, eds. 1941. Saga Óláfs konungs hins helga: Den store saga om Olav den hellige efter pergamenthåndskrift i Kungliga biblioteket i Stockholm nr. 2 4to med varianter fra andre håndskrifter. 2 vols. Det norske historiske kildeskriftfond skrifter 53. Oslo: Dybwad.
  12. Internal references
  13. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
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