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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 6VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 6’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 11-12.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Veitti dýrðar dróttinn
dáðvandr gjafar anda;
(môl kynnask þau) mǫnnum
máttigs (framir vátta).
Þá reis upp, sús einum,
alþýð, guði hlýðir,
— hæstr skjǫldungr býðr hauldum
himinvistar til — kristni.

{Dáðvandr dróttinn dýrðar} veitti mǫnnum gjafar máttigs anda; framir kynnask {þau môl vátta}. Þá reis alþýð kristni upp, sús hlýðir einum guði; hæstr skjǫldungr býðr hauldum til himinvistar.

{The carefully-acting lord of glory} [= God] gave to men the gifts of the mighty spirit; excellent men study {those sayings of witnesses} [SCRIPTURES]. Then universal Christendom rose up, that obeys one God; the highest prince invites men to heavenly hospitality.

Mss: Flat(2ra), Bb(117ra)

Readings: [2] gjafar: so Bb, gjafir Flat    [3] kynnask: sanna Bb    [4] vátta: ‘vottar’ Bb    [5] Þá: þaðan Bb    [8] himinvistar: himins vistar Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 460, Skj BI, 428, Skald I, 211; Flat 1860-8, I, 1, Cederschiöld 1873, 2, Chase 2005, 56, 130-1.

Notes: [1] dýrðar ‘of glory’: Dýrðar can be construed with either dróttinn ‘Lord’ (l. 1) or váttr ‘witness’ (l. 4). Dróttinn dýrðar ‘Lord of glory’ would be analogous to the Scriptural ‘Lord of glory’ (1 Cor. II.8) and ‘king of glory’ (Ps. XXIII.7-10). The syntax of the helmingr supports this interpretation, and is adopted here, but dýrðar váttr as a kenning for martyr is attested later in Geisl (62/3) and in Anon Pl 26/3. — [2, 4] gjafar máttigs anda ‘the gifts of the mighty spirit’: A theological commonplace (dona Spiritus Sancti). Throughout the Middle Ages and beyond the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit figure prominently in pious exercises and theological systems. — [3-4]: Both Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) and Kock (Skald) prefer Bb’s equally plausible readings sanna and váttar in ll. 3-4, giving the sense framir váttar sanna þau ml ‘excellent witnesses affirm those sayings’. — [3] vátta ‘of witnesses’: Vátta (nom. pl. váttar) refers to the Apostles, who witnessed the glory of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and who later earned the crown of martyrdom. — [7] hauldum ‘noble farmers, men’: Both mss give the Norw. form of the word hǫlðr, which is necessary to maintain skothending. According to Noreen the change o/au before l + consonant did not occur in Iceland until around 1300 (cf. ANG §105 and Anm.). The syntax of the helmingr is good, making the possibility of scribal tampering unlikely. Einarr may have chosen the form to avoid aðalhending in an odd-numbered l. In 4/6 he uses the forms hǫlða (ms. ‘holda’) and meginfjǫlði (ms. ‘meginfioldi’) ‘multitude’ to form an aðalhending.


  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. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  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. Internal references
  10. Not published: do not cite (MberfII)
  11. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)
  12. Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Plácitusdrápa 26’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 197-8.
  13. 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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