Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 55VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 55’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 51-2.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Vas, sem reyk (af ríki
regn dreif stáls) í gegnum
hjalm-Njǫrðungum, harðan,
heiðingja lið, gingi.
Halft fimta vann heimtan
hundrað, brimi*s sunda,
nýztan tír, þars nœra,
Norðmanna, val þorðu.

Lið heiðingja vas {hjalm-Njǫrðungum}, sem gingi harðan í gegnum reyk; {regn stáls} dreif af ríki. Halft fimta hundrað Norðmanna vann heimtan nýztan tír, þars þorðu nœra {val {sunda brimi*s}}.

The host of heathens was {to the helmet-Nirðir <gods>} [WARRIORS] as if they were going hard through smoke; {the rain of steel} [BATTLE] drove mightily. Four and a half hundreds of Norwegians laid claim to very useful honour, where they dared to feed {the falcon {of the bays of the sword}} [BLOOD > RAVEN].

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

Readings: [1] Vas sem: so Bb, Þá es Flat;    reyk: so Bb, rauk Flat    [2] stáls: so Bb, stál Flat;    í: so Bb, á Flat;    gegnum: so Bb, þegna Flat    [3] ‑Njǫrðungum: ‘niord vnar’ Bb;    harðan: so Bb, harða Flat    [6] brimi*s: brimils Flat, brimirs Bb    [7] þars (‘þar er’): ‘þat er’ Bb;    nœra: so Bb, nærri Flat    [8] þorðu: þorði Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 469, Skj BI, 441, Skald I, 217, NN §946; Flat 1860-8, I, 6, Cederschiöld 1873, 8, Chase 2005, 105, 159-60.

Notes: [1-4]: The syntax is awkward, whichever ms. is adopted as base. Here Flat’s l. 1 has been deemed syntactically impossible, and Bb has been followed for ll. 1-4. — [3] hjalm-Njǫrðungum (dat. pl.) ‘helmet-Nirðir’: Pl. Njǫrðungar, derived from the name of the god Njǫrðr, is used in skaldic poetry (only as the second element of cpd nouns) as a base-word in kennings for men. According to Snorri Sturluson, Njǫrðr controls wind and fire (SnE 1982, 23), and Einarr may have used his name in this hap. leg. kenning to emphasize the imagery of smoke and storm. — [5, 6] halft fimta hundrað ‘four and a half hundreds’: Lit. ‘half of the fifth hundred’; i.e. four ‘hundreds’ and half of another. In the Norse system of reckoning, a hundrað was 120, so the reference is to 540 men. — [7] þars ‘where’: Skj B and Skald follow Bb here, with þats (n. sg.) referring back to halft (l. 5), hence ‘the one that dared to feed...’.


  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. SnE 1982 = Snorri Sturluson. 1982. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1988. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  10. Internal references

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