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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 23I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 23’ 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. 311.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

text and translation

Varð fyr Vinða myrði
víðfrægt, en gramr síðan
gerðisk mest at morði,
mannfall við styr annan.
Hlym-Narfi bað hverfa
hlífar flagðs ok lagði
Jalks við ǫndurt fylki
ǫndur †fꜹrf† at landi.

Víðfrægt mannfall varð fyr {myrði Vinða} við annan styr, en síðan gerðisk gramr mest at morði. {{{Hlífar flagðs} hlym}-Narfi} bað hverfa {ǫndur Jalks} †fꜹrf† at landi ok lagði við ǫndurt fylki.
‘There was a widely renowned slaughter before the killer of the Wends [= Hákon jarl] in the second battle, and then the ruler eagerly set out for battle. The Narfi <supernatural being> of the din of the troll-woman of the shield [(lit. ‘din-Narfi of the troll-woman of the shield’) AXE > BATTLE > WARRIOR = Ragnfrøðr?] ordered the ski of Jálkr <sea-king> [SHIP] to be turned … towards land and pulled up alongside the front of the host.

notes and context

Hákon jarl takes the entire host south toward Staðr (Stadlandet) and learns that King Ragnfrøðr has moved into Sogn with his forces. Learning of this, he heads there, lands, stakes out the battlefield and positions his troops on it.

[1-4]: Many suggestions have been made for the interpretation of this helmingr, which consists of two main clauses. (a) The construal above is the most straightforward, and is adopted in ÍF 26 and Hkr 1991. A difficulty here is that síðan ‘then’ (l. 2) would seem to imply that having created mannfall ‘slaughter’, Hákon readied himself for a further battle, although only two (in the north of Sunnmøre and in Sogneforden) are recounted in the prose sources and Ragnfrøðr is said to have fled from Norway after the battle in Sogn (Hkr, ÍF 26, 247; Fsk, ÍF 29, 115), leaving Hákon in control. Possibly the meaning is that Hákon was always ready for battle, or conceivably that the gramr ‘ruler’ is Ragnfrøðr, who was preparing for more strife (cf. Note to ll. 5-8). (b) It is perhaps in order to obviate this difficulty that most interpreters construe the first clause as Gramr varð fyr Vinða myrði við annan styr ‘The ruler encountered the killer of the Wends in a second battle’. En and síðan (l. 2) are then construed with the second clause: en síðan gerðisk mest víðfrægt mannfall at morði ‘and then an immense, widely renowned slaughter arose in battle’ (Fms 12; Vell 1865, 60; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 149-50; Skj B). This produces a better narrative sequence but assumes extreme fragmentation in l. 2: víðfrægt, en, gramr, síðan.



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 Helgason skálaglamm, 3. Vellekla 24: AI, 128, BI, 121, Skald I, 68, NN §§403, 404, 1828, 1885, 2244; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 286, IV, 76-7, ÍF 26, 246, Hkr 1991, I, 164 (ÓTHkr ch. 18), F 1871, 107; Fms 1, 95, Fms 12, 35, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 102-3 (ÓT ch. 56).


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