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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 8VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 8’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 13-14.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Heyrðu til afreks orða,
Eysteinn konungr beinna!
Sigurðr, hygg at því, snøggum,
sóknsterkr, hvé ferk verka.
Drengr berr óð fyr Inga;
yðart biðk magnit styðja
mærð, þás miklu varðar,
máttig hǫfuð áttar.

Heyrðu, Eysteinn konungr, til beinna orða afreks! Sóknsterkr Sigurðr, hygg at því, hvé ferk snøggum verka! Drengr berr óð fyr Inga; biðk magnit yðart styðja mærð, þás varðar miklu, {máttig hǫfuð áttar}.

King Eysteinn, listen to straightforward words of great deeds! Battle-strong Sigurðr, consider this, how I deliver the swift work! The man bears [I bear] poetry before Ingi; I ask that your power support the praise, which is of great importance, {mighty heads of the nation} [= Eysteinn, Sigurðr, Ingi].

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

Readings: [4] ferk (‘ek fer’): ‘ek fr’ Bb    [6] yðart (‘yduart’): ‘ydara’ Bb;    magnit: om. Bb;    styðja: so Bb, styrkva Flat    [7] þás (‘þa er’): þat er Bb    [8] máttig: ‘maktugt’ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 460, Skj BI, 428-9, Skald I, 212, NN §2052; Flat 1860-8, I, 2, Cederschiöld 1873, 2, Chase 2005, 58, 132-3.

Notes: [1] heyrðu til afreks orða ‘listen to words of great deeds’: Both mss have the suffixed pron. -ðu here. Omitting the pron. (as do Finnur Jónsson and Kock) normalises the syllable count of the l. but spoils the rhyme, which is between heyrð- and orð-. On early cliticisation, of which there are three examples in this st., see ANG §472. — [2] Eysteinn: Eysteinn Haraldsson was Einarr Skúlason’s principal patron and the commissioner of the poem (cf. st. 71). He was reigning jointly with his brothers Sigurðr and Ingi at the time Geisl was composed: see Introduction. — [6] yðart biðk magnit styðja ‘I ask that your power support [the praise]’: The l. is difficult both metrically and syntactically and the two mss diverge in several respects. Bb’s reading of the final word, styðja ‘support’, is preferred here over Flat’s styrkva, as it does not require emendation, it makes better sense and provides aðalhending with -. Chase 2005, 58 and 132 proposes the emendation styrkna ‘to become strong’ from Flat and reads yðvart biðk magnit styrkna ‘I desire that your power be strengthened’, assuming the scribe may have made the common error of writing u for n and arguing that styrkna is feasible if the l. is read as a parenthesis and mærð is understood to be syntactically parallel with óð ‘poetry’. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) emends Bb to yðvarrar biðk styðja | mærð, þats miklu varðar, | máttigt hǫfuð áttar ‘I ask the mighty head of your line to strengthen the poem, which is of great importance’, and Kock conflates the two texts: yðvart biðk magn styðja | mærð, þats miklu varðar, | máttig, hǫfuð áttar! ‘I ask that your strength, mighty heads of the nation, support the poem, which is of great importance’ (NN §2052). — [8]: The pl. form máttig hǫfuð in Flat makes better sense than Bb’s sg. mektugt hǫfuð in the context of an address to three joint monarchs. In Finnur’s reading, ‘mighty head of your line’ could refer either to Eysteinn (which would be rather insulting to Sigurðr and Ingi) or to S. Óláfr.


  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. 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.
  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. Internal references
  11. Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘(Biography of) Einarr Skúlason’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 140.
  12. Not published: do not cite (MberfII)
  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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