Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 56VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 56’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 52-3.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Ruddu gumnar gladdir
— gǫfugr þengill barg drengjum —
vagna borg, þars vargar
vápnsundrat hræ fundu.
Nennir ǫll at inna
øngr brimloga sløngvir
dǫglings verk, þess’s dýrkar,
dáðsnjalls, alla.

Gladdir gumnar ruddu borg vagna, þars vargar fundu vápnsundrat hræ; gǫfugr þengill barg drengjum. {Øngr sløngvir {brimloga}} nennir at inna ǫll verk dáðsnjalls dǫglings, þess’s dýrkar alla

The happy warriors cleared the fortress of wagons, where wolves found the weapon-torn carrion; the noble king saved men. {No slinger {of sea-fire}} [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] is minded to tell all the deeds of the quick-acting ruler, the one who glorifies the whole

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

Readings: [1] Ruddu: Eyddu Bb    [2] gǫfugr: ‘gavfur gr’ Bb    [4] ‑sundrat: sundruð Bb    [5] ǫll: so Bb, ǫld Flat    [6] øngr (‘eingr’): so Bb, ungr Flat;    sløngvir: slungins Flat, ‘slaungir’ Bb    [7] þess’s: so Bb, ‘þau er’ Flat;    dýrkar: so Bb, dýrka Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 469, Skj BI, 441, Skald I, 217; Flat 1860-8, I, 6, Cederschiöld 1873, 8, Chase 2005, 106, 160.

Notes: [1-4]: Flat is followed here, though Bb, which is followed by Skj B and Skald, also makes good sense. Differences are that Bb reads eyddu ‘they emptied, laid waste, destroyed’ in l. 1 and has pl. vápnsundruð hræ ‘the weapon-torn corpses’ in l. 4. — [3] borg vagna ‘the fortress of wagons’: Both Snorri (Hkr, ÍF 28, 371) and John Kinnamos (in Brand 1976, 16) describe the Petchenegs’ tactic of drawing their wagons into a fortified circle. — [5-8]: Both ms. versions of this helmingr pose problems and both may be corrupt. Here Bb has been followed (so also Skj B and Skald), and Flat’s version is discussed below. Bb’s version requires one emendation (sløngvir, l. 6; Skj A reads ‘slaungvir’, but no ‘v’ is visible in the ms.) and the sense required for dýrkar (l. 7) is somewhat unusual (Skj B som forherliger hele verden ‘who glorifies the whole world’). The problems produced by Flat’s version are as follows: — [5] inna ‘tell, relate’: A verb used frequently in religious poetry. However, the syntax of its usage in Flat, ungr nennir at inna ǫld verk ‘a young [man] is minded to tell men the works’, requires inna to be used with the dat, which is unprecedented. — [6] ungr ‘young’: The adj. in Flat must be understood as a noun, possibly referring to the skald, though, if so, the reference to youth is merely conventional, since Einarr was hardly young at the time he recited Geisl. — [7, 8, 6] verk dáðsnjalls dǫglings slungins brimloga ‘the works of the quick-acting ruler of scattered sea-fire’: There are two reasons to be suspicious of this kenning; the first is that dǫglingr is never used as the base-word of a kenning for a secular ruler, only for God or Christ, and this is borne out by one other example in st. 5/7, and the second is that dǫglingr is not the right sort of base-word in a kenning for a generous ruler, which should belong to a category such as ‘distributor’, ‘spender’, ‘waster’ or similar.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj A = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15a. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. A: Tekst efter håndskrifterne. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1967. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  4. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873b. ‘Bandamanna saga’. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. Brand, Charles M., trans. 1976. Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Kinnamos. Records of Civilisation, Sources and Studies 95. New York and Guildford: Columbia University Press.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  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].
  13. Not published: do not cite (MberfII)
  14. Martin Chase 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr Skúlason, Geisli’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 5-65.

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