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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Lv 2II

Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Lausavísur 2’ 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, pp. 569-70.

Einarr SkúlasonLausavísur

text and translation

Erlendr hefir undan
allvalds gleði haldit;
gramr, skaltattu, gumna,
Gapamunn of þat kunna.
Hafa munu heiðar jǫfra
hlíðrœkjanda fríðum
— geta verðr þess fyr gotnum —
galdrs nauðsynjar valdit.

Erlendr hefir haldit undan gleði allvalds; gramr gumna, skaltattu kunna Gapamunn of þat. Nauðsynjar munu hafa valdit {{{fríðum {jǫfra heiðar} galdrs} hlíð}rœkjanda}; verðr geta þess fyr gotnum.
‘Erlendr has fled from the cheer of the mighty ruler; leader of men, you must not fault Gapamunnr (‘Gaping-mouth’) for that. Necessities must have forced the handsome cultivator of the slope of the chant of the chieftains of the heath [(lit. ‘slope-cultivator of the chant of the chieftains of the heath’) GIANTS > GOLD > WOMAN > MAN]; one must recount that before the people.

notes and context

Erlendr gapamunnr falls out of favour with King Sigurðr jórsalafari because he holds the king under water in an attempt to save a man whom Sigurðr is trying drown during a swimming competition. The king asks Einarr Erlendr’s whereabouts.

This episode is also told in Hkr (ÍF 28, 269-70) in a slightly different version and with different characters (an Icelander, Jón, being saved by Sigurðr’s retainer, Sigurðr Sigurðarson). It is one of a series of episodes included in Mork (and Hkr) to document Sigurðr jórsalafari’s growing insanity (see Mork 1928-32, 388-99; ÍF 28, 262, 269). In his old age, Sigurðr suffered increasingly from delusions, and he was aware of his own mental state. According to Mork (1928-32, 397), he uttered the following prophetic statement about the future political situation in Norway: Illa ero þer at staddir Noregs menn at hafa øran konvng ifir yþr. en sva segir mer hvgr vm at þer myndot rꜹþo gulli cꜹpa af stvndo at ec vera helldr konvngr en þeir Haralldr oc M. aɴaʀ er grimr en aɴaʀ vvitr ‘You people of Norway are in a bad way having a mad king ruling you. But my mind tells me that you would soon wish to pay red gold to have me as a king rather than Haraldr and Magnús. One is mean and the other a fool’. — Mork is partly damaged, and H has been chosen as the main ms. The st. must have been composed prior to the death of Sigurðr jórsalafari in 1130.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 11. Lausavísur 2: AI, 483, BI, 455, Skald I, 224, NN §§962, 3108A; Fms 7, 167 (Msona ch. 50); Mork 1867, 192, Mork 1928-32, 392, Andersson and Gade 2000, 352-3, 490 (Msona); F 1871, 303 (Msona).


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