Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 4I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 4’ 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. 287.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Ullar gengr of alla
asksǫgn, þess’s hvǫt magnar,
byrgis bǫðvar sorgar,
bergs grynnilô dverga.

{Grynnilô bergs dverga} gengr of alla asksǫgn {Ullar {sorgar {byrgis bǫðvar}}}, þess’s magnar hvǫt.

{The shoal-wave of the rock of dwarfs} [POEM] passes over the entire ship’s crew {of the Ullr <god> {of the sorrow {of the fence of battle}}} [SHIELD > SWORD > WARRIOR = Hákon], who increases boldness.

Mss: R(21v), Tˣ(21v), W(46), U(27r), B(4r), 744ˣ(23r) (SnE)

Readings: [2] ask‑: ‘[...]sk‑’ B, ask 744ˣ;    ‑sǫgn: ‘‑song’ U;    hvǫt: ‘hot’ U    [3] byrgis: birkis Tˣ, U;    bǫðvar: Boðnar B;    sorgar: serkjar Tˣ, U, sorga B    [4] grynni‑: so B, ‘grymi‑’ R, Tˣ, W, U

Editions: Skj AI, 122, Skj BI, 117, Skald I, 66, NN §390; SnE 1848-87, I, 246-7, II, 306, 521, SnE 1931, 92, SnE 1998, I, 12.

Context: See Context to st. 1.

Notes: [All]: Ms. 744ˣ, a copy of B by Jón Ólafsson, has been used selectively here and in sts 5, 35 and 37 to supply readings (whether these match or differ from the main text) where B is not legible. — [2] asksǫgn ‘ship’s crew’: Askr can denote several things made of ash, including a ship (LP: 1. askr B2). — [4] grynnilô bergs dverga ‘the shoal-wave of the rock of dwarfs [POEM]’: This is again a kenning for ‘poem’ (see Note to st. 1 [All]). (a) The interpretation given here follows from the reading of ms. B and avoids emendation. The basis for the kenning is the pattern ‘liquid of the dwarfs’ ( dverga). It is expanded by a verbal element grynni- from grynna(sk) ‘to shoal, become shallow’, a verbal derivative of ON grunnr ‘shallow’, which can be used impersonally (Fritzner: grynna 1). Hence grynnilô can be regarded as a variant of ModIcel. grunnfall, grunnsjór ‘wave that arises over a shoal’ (Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4, 276). Bergs refers to a skerry (flœðasker ‘skerry, a rock submerged at high tide’) on which the infuriated giant Suttungr maroons the dwarfs who had murdered his kinsmen (SnE 1998, I, 3) and from which they are only able to escape by relinquishing the mead of poetry to the giant. Compare LP: berg, where Finnur Jónsson points out that ModIcel. berg denotes a flat rock, as opposed to bjarg, which denotes a cliff. This seems to apply here as well, cf. also Marold (1994a, 473-4). (b) All other mss give ‘grymilá’, which requires emendation. Skj B and SnE 1998 follow a tentative suggestion by Konráð Gíslason (Nj 1875-8, II, 303) to emend ‘grymilá’ in mss R, Tˣ, U, W to geymilá ‘protective wave’. LP: geymilô explains the kenning bergs geymilô dverga as den i klipper opbevarede bølge, væske, der frelste dværgene, digterdrikken ‘the wave stored in the rocks, liquid that freed the dwarfs, mead of poetry’ (and cf. Krömmelbein 1983, 172). Apparently Finnur Jónsson assumes a dual function of geymi-, which he links both to the storage of the liquid and to the freeing of the dwarfs. Only the second function can be valid, however, because the dwarfs cannot be said to have stored the liquid in the rocks. (b) Kock (NN §390) interprets the mss’ ‘grymila’ as grymmilô ‘the fizzing liquid’, but no such verb as *grymma is attested in ON, and he is forced to rely on MHG and MLG evidence.


  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. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Nj 1875-89 = Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson. 1875-89. Njála: Udgivet efter gamle håndskrifter. Íslendingasögur udgivne efter gamle haandskrifter af Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-selskab 4. Copenhagen: Thiele.
  5. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  7. 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.
  8. Krömmelbein, Thomas. 1983. Skaldische Metaphorik. Studien zur Funktion der Kenningsprache in skaldischen Dichtungen des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Hochschulproduktionen 7. Kirchzarten: Burg-Verlag.
  9. Sigfús Blöndal. 1920-4. Islandsk-dansk ordbog / Íslensk-dönsk orðabók. Reykjavík, Copenhagen and Kristiania (Oslo): Verslun Þórarins B. Þorlákssonar / Aschehoug.
  10. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  11. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  12. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  13. Marold, Edith. 1994a. ‘Der Skalde und sein Publikum’. In Uecker 1994, 462-76.

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