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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 43VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 43’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 42-3.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli
424344

Hneitir ‘Hneitir’

hneitir (noun m.): sword

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hjaldrs ‘of battle’

1. hjaldr (noun m.): battle

kennings

ilbleikum orra hjaldrs
‘to the pale-footed blackcock of battle ’
   = RAVEN

to the pale-footed blackcock of battle → RAVEN
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at ‘at’

3. at (prep.): at, to

[2] at: af Bb

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vápna ‘of weapons’

vápn (noun n.; °-s; -): weapon

kennings

galdri vápna,
‘the chant of weapons, ’
   = BATTLE

the chant of weapons, → BATTLE
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galdri ‘the chant’

galdr (noun m.): chant, incantation

kennings

galdri vápna,
‘the chant of weapons, ’
   = BATTLE

the chant of weapons, → BATTLE
Close

Óláfs ‘of Óláfr’

Óláfr (noun m.): Óláfr

[3] Óláfs: ǫðlings Bb

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hjǫrr ‘the sword’

hjǫrr (noun m.): sword

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orra ‘blackcock’

orri (noun m.; °-a; -ar): [blackcock, grouse]

kennings

ilbleikum orra hjaldrs
‘to the pale-footed blackcock of battle ’
   = RAVEN

to the pale-footed blackcock of battle → RAVEN
Close

il ‘to the pale’

il (noun f.; °; -jar): footsole < ilbleikr (adj.)

kennings

ilbleikum orra hjaldrs
‘to the pale-footed blackcock of battle ’
   = RAVEN

to the pale-footed blackcock of battle → RAVEN
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bleikum ‘footed’

2. bleikr (adj.): pale < ilbleikr (adj.)

kennings

ilbleikum orra hjaldrs
‘to the pale-footed blackcock of battle ’
   = RAVEN

to the pale-footed blackcock of battle → RAVEN
Close

steikar ‘meat’

steik (noun f.; °-ar; -ar): steak, meat, roasting

[4] steikar: so Bb, ‘stikar’ Flat

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Þeim ‘With that’

1. sá (pron.; °gen. þess, dat. þeim, acc. þann; f. sú, gen. þeirrar, acc. þá; n. þat, dat. því; pl. m. þeir, f. þǽ---): that (one), those

kennings

Þeim rǫðli valbastar
‘With that sun of the sword-hilt ’
   = SWORD

With that sun of the sword-hilt → SWORD
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þengill ‘the king’

þengill (noun m.): prince, ruler

kennings

þengill Rauma
‘the king of the Raumar ’
   = Óláfr

the king of the Raumar → Óláfr
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Rauma ‘of the Raumar’

2. Raumar (noun m.; °-s; -ar): the Raumar

kennings

þengill Rauma
‘the king of the Raumar ’
   = Óláfr

the king of the Raumar → Óláfr
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þunn ‘the thin’

þunnr (adj.): slender, thin < þunnvaxinn (adj./verb p.p.)

kennings

þunnvaxin ský gunnar
‘the thin-grown clouds of battle ’
   = SHIELDS

the thin-grown clouds of battle → SHIELDS

notes

[6] þunnvaxin (n. acc. pl.) ‘thin-grown’: This adj. presumably implies that the shields became thinner as they were hacked by swords.

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vaxin ‘grown’

vaxa (verb): grow, increase < þunnvaxinn (adj./verb p.p.)

[6] ‑vaxin: vaxins Bb

kennings

þunnvaxin ský gunnar
‘the thin-grown clouds of battle ’
   = SHIELDS

the thin-grown clouds of battle → SHIELDS

notes

[6] þunnvaxin (n. acc. pl.) ‘thin-grown’: This adj. presumably implies that the shields became thinner as they were hacked by swords.

Close

ský ‘clouds’

ský (noun n.; °-s; -): cloud

kennings

þunnvaxin ský gunnar
‘the thin-grown clouds of battle ’
   = SHIELDS

the thin-grown clouds of battle → SHIELDS
Close

gunnar ‘of battle’

gunnr (noun f.): battle

kennings

þunnvaxin ský gunnar
‘the thin-grown clouds of battle ’
   = SHIELDS

the thin-grown clouds of battle → SHIELDS
Close

Stikla ‘Stikle’

stikill (noun m.; °dat. stikli; stiklar): (Stikle-) < Stiklastaðir (noun m.)

[7] Stikla‑: ‘stika’ Flat, ‘stiklar’ Bb

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val ‘of the sword’

1. valr (noun m.; °dat. -i; -ir): corpse, the slain < valbǫst (noun f.): [sword-hilts]

kennings

Þeim rǫðli valbastar
‘With that sun of the sword-hilt ’
   = SWORD

With that sun of the sword-hilt → SWORD

notes

[8] rǫðli valbastar ‘with the sun of the sword-hilt [SWORD]’: Valbǫst f. is the name of a decorative metal plate on the handle of a sword (cf. LT, 275); cf. Egill Lv 42/8V eld valbasta ‘fire of sword-hilts [SWORD]’. Schrodt 1975 argues that valbǫst is a sword-heiti meaning ‘corpse-striker’.

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bastar ‘hilt’

bast (noun n.; °; dat. -um): [hilt, bast] < valbǫst (noun f.): [sword-hilts]

kennings

Þeim rǫðli valbastar
‘With that sun of the sword-hilt ’
   = SWORD

With that sun of the sword-hilt → SWORD

notes

[8] rǫðli valbastar ‘with the sun of the sword-hilt [SWORD]’: Valbǫst f. is the name of a decorative metal plate on the handle of a sword (cf. LT, 275); cf. Egill Lv 42/8V eld valbasta ‘fire of sword-hilts [SWORD]’. Schrodt 1975 argues that valbǫst is a sword-heiti meaning ‘corpse-striker’.

Close

rǫðli ‘sun’

rǫðull (noun m.; °dat. rǫðli): heavenly body

kennings

Þeim rǫðli valbastar
‘With that sun of the sword-hilt ’
   = SWORD

With that sun of the sword-hilt → SWORD

notes

[8] rǫðli valbastar ‘with the sun of the sword-hilt [SWORD]’: Valbǫst f. is the name of a decorative metal plate on the handle of a sword (cf. LT, 275); cf. Egill Lv 42/8V eld valbasta ‘fire of sword-hilts [SWORD]’. Schrodt 1975 argues that valbǫst is a sword-heiti meaning ‘corpse-striker’.

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

Sts 43-50 are occupied with the story of the fate of King Óláfr’s sword Hneitir ‘cutter’. According to Óláfs þáttr Geirstaðaálfs (Flat 1860-8, II, 6-9; Fms 4, 37-8), this sword had belonged to Óláfr Geirstaðaálfr. When he died, it was buried with him, but he later appeared in a dream to Hrani Hróason and instructed him to break into the burial mound, take the sword, and give it to Ásta, then in labour with the birth of her son, S. Óláfr, who received it from his mother at the age of eight. Some versions of Óláfs saga report that after killing a huge boar with the sword, Óláfr changed its name from Bæsingr ‘son of an exiled mother’ to Hneitir ‘cutter’, þvíat honum þótti þat hneita önnur sverð fur hvassleika sakir ‘because it seemed to him to outdo other swords where sharpness is concerned’ (Fms 4, 57-8). The story of what happened to Hneitir after S. Óláfr’s death is the longest miracle account in Geisl and is not found in any of the prose legends. Einarr may well have known of it from oral tradition (see Chase 2005, 41-2 and nn. 121-6) and Snorri Sturluson evidently knew it from Einarr’s drápa, which he mentions specifically in Hkr (ÍF 28, 369-71). Hneitir is there said to have been picked up after the battle at Stiklestad by a Swedish soldier and to have passed down in his family until it came into the possession of a member of the Varangian guard in Byzantium. The sword was bought by the Byzantine emperor after it appeared to have miraculous powers and was hung over the altar of a church the Varangians had dedicated to S. Óláfr.

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