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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 48VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 48’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 46-7.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

text and translation

Missti maðr, es lýsti,
— morginn vas þá — borgar
styrks mundriða steindrar
styrsnjallr roðins galla.
Nýtr gat séð á sléttri
seimþiggjandi liggja
grundu gylðis kindar
gómsparra sér fjarri.

Styrsnjallr maðr missti {styrks, roðins galla {steindrar borgar mundriða}}, es lýsti; morginn vas þá. {Nýtr seimþiggjandi} gat séð {gómsparra gylðis kindar} liggja fjarri sér á sléttri grundu.
‘The battle-bold man missed the strong, reddened destruction of the stained stronghold of the sword-hilt [SHIELD > SWORD] when it grew light; it was morning then. The useful gold-receiver [MAN] was able to see the gum-spar of the wolf’s offspring [SWORD] lying far from him on the flat ground.

notes and context

[1-4]: There is a considerable disparity between Flat’s and Bb’s texts of the first helmingr, but Bb’s must be preferred as Flat’s ll. 3-4 are ungrammatical as they stand and the sword-kenning possible in these ll. is unsatisfactory. One would have to read styrks steindrar mundriða borgar Regins váða ‘(the man missed) the strong sword hilt of the fortress of Reginn’s peril [SWORD > SHIELD > SWORD]’, with Bb’s steindrar for Flat’s steindra (gen. pl.), understanding mundriði (lit. ‘that which causes the hand to move quickly’) as a metonym for a sword. Borgar Regins váða would provide both a sword- and a shield-kenning. According to the Vǫlsung legends, the dwarf Reginn made his foster son Sigurðr a powerful sword named Gramr, with which Sigurðr killed the dragon Fáfnir and later Reginn himself. ‘Reginn’s peril’ would thus be a kenning for sword; its fortress is the shield. The mundriði of the shield is in turn another sword-kenning. But this is not very plausible, and Bb’s reading of ll. 3-4 is better on several counts, even though galla (l. 4; nom. galli), which normally means ‘defect, fault’ has to be taken in the more abstract sense of ‘destruction’.



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 48: AI, 468, BI, 439, Skald I, 216; Flat 1860-8, I, 5, Cederschiöld 1873, 7, Chase 2005, 98, 155-6.


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