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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 10I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 10’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 295.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Rignði hjǫrs á hersa
hríðremmis fjǫr víða
— þrimlundr of jók Þundi
þegns gnótt — méilregni.
Ok hald-Viðurr haulda
haffaxa lét vaxa
Laufa veðr at lífi
lífkǫld Hôars drífu.

{Méilregni} {{hjǫrs hríð}remmis} rignði víða á fjǫr hersa; þrimlundr of jók Þundi gnótt þegns. Ok {hald-Viðurr {haffaxa}} lét {lífkǫld veðr Laufa} vaxa at lífi haulda {drífu Hôars}.

{The arrow-rain} [BATTLE] {of the strengthener {of the storm of the sword}} [(lit. ‘storm-strengthener of the sword’) BATTLE > WARRIOR] rained widely on the life of the hersar; the battle-minded one increased the abundance of retainers for Þundr <= Óðinn>. And {the steering Viðurr <= Óðinn> {of sea-horses}} [SHIPS > SEAFARER] let {the life-cold storms of Laufi <sword>} [BATTLES] grow against the life of men {in the snow-storm of Hárr <= Óðinn>} [BATTLE].

Mss: (113r), 39(3vb), F(19vb), J1ˣ(67v-68r), J2ˣ(65r) (Hkr); 61(7rb), 325IX 1 a(3ra), Bb(9va-b) (ÓT)

Readings: [2] hríð‑: so all others, ‘h[...]rð‑’ Kˣ;    ‑remmis: ‘‑remnis’ J2ˣ    [3] þrim‑: þver‑ 39, F, þrym‑ 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    ‑lundr: ‑lyndr 39, F, 61, ‘‑lunðar’ J1ˣ, ‑lundar J2ˣ;    of: ok J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb    [4] þegns: þegn 39, F, ‘þ(e)gns’(?) J1ˣ;    gnótt: gnótt ok 39, F;    méil‑: men‑ F, mél‑ 61, meðal‑ Bb    [5] hald‑: hjald‑ 61, haldinn‑ Bb;    Viðurr: rúnr Bb    [6] haf‑: hár‑ Bb    [7] Laufa: ‘lꜹpa’ 39, J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    veðr: veðrs Bb;    lífi: lífum 39, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb    [8] líf‑: lið‑ 39;    Hôars: ‘harlldz’ 325IX 1 a, Haralds Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 124, Skj BI, 118, Skald I, 66-7, NN §§303A, 398, 2241; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 237-8, IV, 68-9, ÍF 26, 210-1, Hkr 1991, I, 140 (HGráf ch. 6), F 1871, 90; Fms 1, 57, Fms 12, 32, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 56 (ch. 35).

Context: See st. 9.

Notes: [All]: There is no intervening prose between sts 9 and 10, but 10/1-4 and 10/5-8 are thematically much more similar than sts 9 and 10/1-4 and are therefore given as a unitary stanza here and in most eds. In contrast, ÓT 1958-2000, Davidson 1983, 264-5, 170 and Hkr 1991 combine st. 9 and 10/1-4 into one stanza and let 10/5-8 stand as a single helmingr. — [1, 2] hjǫrs hríðremmis ‘of the strengthener of the storm of the sword [(lit. ‘storm-strengthener of the sword’) BATTLE > WARRIOR]’: Hríðremmis is attested in all mss as a gen., so the warrior-kenning qualifies méilregni ‘arrow-rain [BATTLE]’. Finnur Jónsson (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B) placed the warrior-kenning in the intercalary clause instead, hence Þrimlundr hjǫrs hríðremmir of jók Þundi gnótt þegns ‘The battle-minded strengthener of the storm of the sword [BATTLE > WARRIOR] increased the abundance of retainers for Þundr <= Óðinn>’, which requires the emendation of -remmis to -remmir, contrary to all mss, and leads to a much more complicated syntax for the helmingr. Because þrimlundr as a nominalised adj. can take the subject position in the intercalary clause (Kock NN §398; Reichardt 1928, 200), the emendation is unnecessary. Finnur Jónsson later (1934a, 20) changed his view and the later view is followed by this edn. — [1] hersa ‘of the hersar’: Hersar are district chieftains, noblemen of lesser rank than a jarl. Here the term seems to refer to the commanders serving the Eiríkssynir or Gunnhildarsynir (Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 110). — [4] méilregni ‘the arrow-rain [BATTLE]’: Méil occurs only here and in Hfr Hákdr 9/4III méilskúr ‘arrow-shower’. It is presumably of the same origin as mél ‘bit, mouth-piece of a bridle’. Exactly what the word means is not known; in combination with ‘rain/shower’ it is likely to mean a projectile weapon: arrow or spear (LP: méilregn; ÍF 26; on méil- cf. also Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 110; Kristensen 1907, 235-6, 240). Because the verb rignði ‘it rained’ is impersonal, regni ‘rain’ appears as a dat. object. — [5, 6] hald-Viðurr haffaxa ‘the steering Viðurr <= Óðinn> of sea-horses [SHIPS > SEAFARER]’: Hald- means ‘to steer’ here (cf., e.g., Sigv Nesv 2/5) and refers to the seafarer controlling the ships. — [5] haulda ‘of men’: The ONorw. form haulda rather than OIcel. hǫlða is indicated by the rhyme on hald-. Although Einarr was an Icelander, he would have been familiar with the Norw. form through living at a Norwegian court. For hauldr see ANG §§105 Anm., 238.1b. — [8] lífkǫld ‘life-cold’: I.e. inimical to life. — [8] drífu Hôars ‘in the snow-storm of Hárr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE]’: Drífu can be acc., gen. or dat., and previous eds have construed the phrase in various ways. (a) It is understood here and in most eds as being a dat. of location, with the sense ‘in battle’. (b) If the battle is thought of as an equivalent to a period of time, drífu could be a temporal acc., hence ‘at/throughout the battle’ (cf. NS §98). (c) Fms 12 combined hǫlða and drífu Hôars into a kenning, ‘the men of the snow-storm of Hárr [BATTLE > WARRIORS]’, but hǫlðar cannot form a kenning with drífu Hôars because it is an independent term (so Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 112). (d) Konráð’s own suggestion of combining drífu Hôars with haffaxa ‘of sea-horses [SHIPS]’ to form a kenning for ‘battle at sea’ is unconvincing. (e) Kock (NN §2241) takes drífu Hôars in apposition to veðr Laufa ‘the weather of Laufi <sword> [BATTLE]’, but apposition involving kennings is rare at best.


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. 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.
  8. NS = Nygaard, Marius. 1906. Norrøn syntax. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. 1966.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  12. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  13. Davidson, Daphne L. 1983. ‘Earl Hákon and his Poets’. D. Phil. thesis. Oxford.
  14. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  15. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  16. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  17. Kristensen, Marius. 1907. ‘Skjaldenes sprog. Nogle småbemærkninger’. ANF 23, 235-45.
  18. Internal references
  19. Not published: do not cite (HGráfII)
  20. Kate Heslop 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Hákonardrápa’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 212.
  21. Russell Poole (ed.) 2012, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Nesjavísur 2’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 559.

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