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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 51VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 51’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 48-9.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Tôkn gerir bjǫrt, þaus birta
brandél á Girklandi,
— mál finnsk of þat mǫnnum —
margþarfr Haralds arfi.
Fregnk, at allt (né ógnar
innendr, meguð finna)
dýrð Óláfs ríðr dála
dagræfrs (konung hæfra).

{Haralds margþarfr arfi} gerir bjǫrt tôkn, þaus {brandél} birta á Girklandi; mál finnsk mǫnnum of þat. Fregnk, at Óláfs dýrð ríðr allt dála {dagræfrs}, né meguð, innendr ógnar, finna hæfra konung.

{Haraldr’s very useful heir} [= Óláfr] makes clear signs, which {sword-showers} [BATTLES] manifest in Greece; talk arises among men about that. I hear that Óláfr’s fame rides all across {the day-roof} [SKY/HEAVEN]; you, doers of battle, will not be able to find a more worthy king.

Mss: Flat(2rb), Bb(118ra)

Readings: [1] gerir: so Bb, eru Flat;    birta: so Bb, birtask Flat    [3] mál: mærð Bb;    of: so Bb, um Flat    [4] margþarfr: ‘marg þarfr’ corrected from ‘marg þꜳþr’ Flat, ‘man þarfr’ Bb    [5] at: om. Bb;    allt: alls Bb;    ógnar: so Bb, ‘aungir’ Flat    [7] ríðr: viðr Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 468, Skj BI, 439-40, Skald I, 216-17, NN §2053; Flat 1860-8, I, 5, Cederschiöld 1873, 8, Chase 2005, 101, 157-8.

Notes: [1-4]: Bb’s text is preferred here (as in Skj B and Skald), as Flat’s raises difficulties of w.o. (especially in l. 3) and sense. Chase 2005, 101 offers a reading based on Flat. — [4] Haralds arfi ‘Haraldr’s heir’: A reference to Óláfr’s father Haraldr grenski (‘the one from Grenland’) and perhaps also an allusion to his ancestor Haraldr hárfagri (‘Fine-hair’), with whom Óláfr liked to associate himself, claiming that the kingdom of Norway established by Haraldr hárfagri was his rightful paternal inheritance (Hkr, ÍF 27, 44). — [6] né meguð ‘you will not be able’: The form is 2nd pers. pl., a direct address to the audience. Both Skj B and Skald emend to megu, making the verb 3rd pers. pl., but this is not necessary. The topic of outdoing is already familiar from sts 11, 13, 14, and 21. — [8] dagræfrs (gen. sg.) ‘day-roof [SKY/HEAVEN]’: On the poetic use of the gen. to designate place, see NS §141.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873b. ‘Bandamanna saga’. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  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. NS = Nygaard, Marius. 1906. Norrøn syntax. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. 1966.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Internal references
  12. 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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