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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 35VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 35’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 35-6.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Menn hafa sagt, at svanni
sunnr, Skônungum kunnir,
oss, um Óláfs messu
almilds baka vildi.
Enn þás brúðr at brauði
brennheitu tók leita,
þá varð grjón at grônu
grjóti danskrar snótar.

Menn, kunnir Skônungum, hafa sagt oss, at svanni sunnr vildi baka um almilds Óláfs messu. Enn þás brúðr tók leita at brennheitu brauði, þá varð grjón danskrar snótar at grônu grjóti.

Men, known to the Skônungar, have told us that a woman in the south wanted to bake on all-generous Óláfr’s feast day. Yet, when the woman went to seek the burning-hot bread, then the dough of the Danish woman had become a grey stone.

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

Readings: [2] sunnr: suðr Bb;    Skônungum: Skneyjum Bb    [3] um: at Bb    [4] almilds: ómildr Bb    [7] grônu: ‘grænu’ Bb    [8] danskrar: danskar Bb;    snótar: so Bb, ‘[...]n[...]’ Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 465, Skj BI, 435-6, Skald I, 215; Flat 1860-8, I, 4, Cederschiöld 1873, 5-6, Chase 2005, 85, 150.

Notes: [All]: Sts 35-6 narrate the miracle of a woman (from Trøndelag according to ÓHLeg 1982, 214-15), forced by her master, an evil Danish count, to bake bread on S. Óláfr’s feast day. (Punishment for working on a saint’s feast day is a common hagiographical motif.) She prayed to S. Óláfr for vengeance, and the loaves were turned to stone in the oven, while the count was blinded. This narrative, which comes from the legendary tradition, follows the Gutthormr miracle in a number of sources (e.g. ÓHLeg 1982, 214; Passio Olaui in Metcalfe 1881, 78-9; HómNo, 115; Hkr, ÍF 28, 137-8; ÓH 1941, 636-7), both accounting for relics that were to be seen in Trondheim cathedral, the silver cross and three rocks kept at Óláfr’s shrine until the Reformation. Many Icel. churches also displayed stones as a reminder of the story: ‘Óláfssteinar’ were kept in the churchyard at Þingvellir as late as 1873 (DI I, 1264-5; see further Chase 2005, 39 and nn. 110 and 111). The miracle of the loaves is also said to account for the fact that the feast of S. Óláfr was observed throughout Denmark (cf. st. 36). — [2] sunnr ‘south’: An early form of suðr (ANG §261), used here for the sake of the aðalhending with kunnir (and liðhenda with Sknungum). — [4] almilds (m. gen. sg.) ‘all-generous’: Cf. ‘sa mildi konungr’ (HómNo, 115); ‘sa milldr konongr’ (ÓHLeg 1982, 214). — [7-8] þá varð grjón at grônu grjóti ‘then the dough had become a grey stone’: Cf. brauð þat allt varð at griote ‘all that bread turned to stone’ HómNo, 115, ÓHLeg 1982, 214.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873b. ‘Bandamanna saga’. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. DI = Jón Sigurðsson and Jón Þorkelsson et al., eds. 1857-1976. Diplomatarium Islandicum. Íslenzkt fornbréfasafn. 16 vols. Copenhagen: Möller; Reykjavík: Félagsprentsmiðju.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. ÓHLeg 1982 = Heinrichs, Anne et al., eds and trans. 1982. Olafs saga hins helga: Die ‘Legendarische Saga’ über Olaf den Heiligen (Hs. Delagard. saml. nr. 8II). Heidelberg: Winter.
  11. HómNo = Indrebø, Gustav. 1931. Gamal norsk homiliebok, Cod. AM 619, 4°. Det norske historiske Kjeldeskrift Fond, Skrifter 54. Oslo: Dybwad. Rpt. 1966. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
  12. Metcalfe, Frederick, ed. 1881. Passio et Miracula Beati Olaui. Oxford: Clarendon.
  13. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  14. Internal references
  15. 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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