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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 37VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 37’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 37-8.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

text and translation

Gǫfug réð Hǫrn ór hǫfði
hvítings um sǫk lítla
auðar aumum beiði
ungs manns skera tungu.
Þann sôm vér, es vôrum,
válaust numinn máli
hodda njót, þars heitir
Hlíð, fôm vikum síðan.

{Gǫfug Hǫrn hvítings} réð skera tungu ór hǫfði {aumum beiði auðar} um sǫk lítla ungs manns. Vér sôm {þann njót hodda}, válaust numinn máli, es vôrum fôm vikum síðan, þars heitir Hlíð.
‘A noble Hǫrn <= Freyja> of the drinking horn [WOMAN] decided to cut the tongue out of the head of a poor seeker of riches [MAN] for little fault of the young man. We [I] saw that user of treasure [MAN], without doubt deprived of speech, when we were [I was] a few weeks later at the place called Lia.

notes and context

This st. is quoted in Hkr, Msona, ch. 33 (mss 39, E, and ) and in ÓH (Flat, Bb, Holm2, Holm4, 73aˣ, Tóm). It is introduced by the following prose passage (as normalized in Hkr, ÍF 28, 271-2): Kolbeinn hét maðr, ungr ok fátœkr, en Þóra, móðir Sigurðar konungs Jórsalafara, lét skera tungu ór hǫfði honum, ok var til þess eigi meiri sǫk en sá inn ungi maðr, Kolbeinn, hafði etit stykki hálft af diski konungsmóður ok sagði, at steikari hafði gefit honum, en hann þorði eigi við at ganga fyrir henni. Síðan fór sá maðr mállauss langa hríð. Þess getr Einarr Skúlason í Óláfsdrápu ‘There was a man named Kolbeinn, young and poor, and Þóra, the mother of King Sigurðr the Jerusalem-traveller (sic), had his tongue cut out, and there was no more reason for this than that the young man, Kolbeinn, had eaten half a morsel from the plate of the king’s mother, and said that the cook (who was afraid to confess this to her) had given it to him. After that the man went around unable to speak for a long time. Einarr Skúlason reports this in Óláfsdrápa.’ Following the st., the sagas continue: Hann sótti síðan til Þrándheims ok til Niðaróss ok vakði at Kristskirkju. En um óttusǫng Óláfsvǫkudag inn síðara þá sofnaði hann ok þóttisk sjá Óláf konung inn helga koma til sín ok taka hendi sinni í stúfinn tungunnar ok heimta. En hann vaknaði heill ok þakkaði várum dróttni feginsamliga ok inum helga Óláfi konungi, er hann hafði heilsu ok miskunn af þegit, hafði farit þannug mállauss ok sótti hans heilagt skrín, en þaðan fór hann heill ok skorinorðr ‘He later went to Trondheim and Niðaróss and kept a watch at Kristkirken. And about the time of matins on the eve of the second feast of S. Óláfr he fell asleep and thought he saw the holy King Óláfr come to him and take with his hand the stump of his tongue and pull on it. And he awoke healed and joyfully thanked our Lord and the holy King Óláfr, from whom he had obtained health and mercy. He had come to that place without speech and sought out his holy shrine, and he went home well and articulate’.

This st. is also in AM 61 fol, but is illegible. — Sts 37-9 recount a miracle of a servant whose tongue had been cut out for a minor offence on the order of the mother of King Sigurðr munnr, Þóra Gutthormsdóttir. The man, named Kolbeinn, made a pilgrimage to S. Óláfr’s shrine, where he fell asleep. Óláfr appeared to him then and pulled the stump of his tongue. The pain awakened him and he found himself cured. This must have been a rather risky narrative for Einarr to tell in the presence of Sigurðr and with the king’s own mother labelled a wrongdoer. It is perhaps for this reason that Geisl adds the corroborative, supposedly eyewitness detail of ll. 5-8. — [1-4]: Cf. the verbal parallels in the early prose versions: þoꝛa gothoꝛms. dottir modir sigvrdar k(onungs) let [s]cera tungo oꝛ hofði maɴi er kolbeiɴ het of eigi meiri sakar en hann hafdi tekit af krasadiski heɴar ‘Þóra Gutthormsdaughter, the mother of King Sigurðr, had the tongue cut out of the head of a man named Kolbeinn for no more reason than that he had taken from her plate of dainties’ (Louis-Jensen 1970, 36); Þora het kona, Guðþorms dotter, moðer Sigurðar, er skera let tungu or hofði manne, þæim er Kolbæinn het, firir æingi mæiri soc, en hann hafðe tækit af krasadisci hænnar nokcot ‘Þóra was the name of a woman, the daughter of Gutthormr, the mother of Sigurðr, who had the tongue cut out of the head of the man named Kolbeinn, for no more reason, than that he had taken something from her plate of dainties’ (ÓHLeg 1982, 228).



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

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