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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 40VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 40’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 40.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

text and translation

Veitk, at Vinðr fyr skauti
(verðr bragr af því) skerði
gjalfrs Niðbranda grundar
(greiddr) sárliga meiddu,
ok endr frá trú týndir
tírar sterks ór kverkum
auðskýfanda óðar
ôr grimmliga skôru.

Veitk, at Vinðr meiddu {skerði {Niðbranda}} sárliga fyr skauti {grundar gjalfrs}; bragr verðr greiddr af því; ok týndir endr frá trú skôru grimmliga {ôr óðar} ór kverkum {auðskýfanda}, tírar sterks.
‘I know that the Wends mutilated the diminisher of Nið <river>-flames [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] painfully by the edge of the land of ocean-din [SEA]; poetry is made from that; and [men] lost long ago from the faith cut horribly the oar of poetry [TONGUE] from the throat of the distributor of riches [GENEROUS MAN], strong in honour.

notes and context

Chase 2005, 90 presents the following text, based on Flat:

Veitk, at Vinðr fyr skauti
verðr bragr (en þeir skerðu)
gjalfrs niðranda grundar
greiddr (sárliga) meiddu,
ok endr fyr trú týndir
tírar sterks ór kverkum
auðskýfanda óðar
r grimmliga skru.

Veitk, at Vinðr meiddu skauti grundar gjalfrs fyr niðranda, en þeir skerðu sárliga – bragr verðr greiddr; ok endr fyr trú týndir skru grimmliga óðar r ór kverkum tírar sterks auðskýfanda ‘I know that the Wends mutilated the twig of the land of noise [MOUTH > TONGUE] on the riverbank, and they cut [it] painfully. Poetry is made; and men lost from the faith long ago horribly cut the oar of poetry [TONGUE] from the throat of the most honourable distributor of riches [MAN]’. In this interpretation skauti (dat. sg.) (l.1) is understood as ‘twig’ (lit. ‘corner, flap, edge’ of something) and taken with grundar gjalfrs to produce a tongue-kenning, while Flat’s niðranda (l.3) is taken with fyr (l. 1) to produce the sense ‘on the riverbank’. Nið is here understood as referring to any body of water, and randi is taken as a poetic form of rǫnd ‘rim, edge’. Fyr niðranda means ‘beside the seacoast’ or ‘on the riverbank’, perhaps a pun on the name Niðaróss ‘estuary of the Nið’. — Sts 40-1 recount a miracle of S. Óláfr which is also told in the prose versions (see Chase 2005, 40-1 and n. 120). A group of Wends took a man named Halldórr and cut out his tongue. Halldórr then visited Óláfr’s shrine on his feast day and was cured. The account in AM 325 4° IV (Louis-Jensen 1970) says that this took place while Cardinal Nicholas Breakspear was in Norway, in the year before Geisl’s recital, and that this and the cure involving Kolbeinn (see sts 37-9) were witnessed by a monk named Hallr. Geisl is the only account of the miracle that specifies a location for the maiming (according to the interpretation below). — The text above is based mainly on Bb (as in Skj B and Skald) on the grounds that it produces better and less syntactically strained sense, especially in l. 1 (fyr skauti) and l. 4, where Flat’s text requires sárliga to be set off by two different sentence boundaries.



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.

editions and texts

Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 40: AI, 466, BI, 437, Skald I, 215, NN §1794; Flat 1860-8, I, 4, Cederschiöld 1873, 6, Chase 2005, 90, 151-2.


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