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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 6I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 6’ 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. 290.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Ok oddneytir úti
eiðvandr flota breiðan
glaðr í Gǫndlar veðrum
— gramr svafði bil — hafði.
Ok rauðmána reynir
rógsegl Heðins bóga
upp hóf jǫfra kappi
etjulund at setja.

Ok {eiðvandr oddneytir}, glaðr í {veðrum Gǫndlar}, hafði breiðan flota úti; gramr svafði bil. Ok {reynir {rauðmána bóga Heðins}} hóf upp {rógsegl} kappi jǫfra at setja etjulund.

And {the oath-true arrow-user} [WARRIOR], glad in {the winds of Gǫndul <valkyrie>} [BATTLES], had a great fleet out at sea; the ruler ended delay. And {the tester {of the red moon of the arm of Heðinn <legendary hero>}} [SHIELD > WARRIOR] raised {the strife-sail} [SHIELD] with the vigour of rulers to calm the spirit of aggression.

Mss: (112v), 39(3vb), F(19vb), J1ˣ(67v), J2ˣ(64v-65r) (Hkr); 61(7rb), 325IX 1 a(3ra), Bb(9va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] odd‑: óð‑ J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    ‑neytir: ‑neyðir J1ˣ, ‘‑nexstir’ 325IX 1 a, Bb;    úti: ýti 61, ‘vt[...]’ 325IX 1 a    [2] eiðvandr flota: ‘[...]a’ 325IX 1 a    [2, 3] breiðan glaðr í: ‘(b)rei[...] glad[...]’(?) 325IX 1 a    [3] veðrum: ‘veiðrum’ J1ˣ    [6] bóga: so 39, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61, ‘bogra’ Kˣ, ‘boga’ 325IX 1 a, ‘bega’ Bb    [8] ‑lund: ‑lundr 61, 325IX 1 a, ‑sund Bb;    setja: segja at segja J1ˣ, segja J2ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 123, Skj BI, 118, Skald I, 66, NN §§393, 1825, 1826, 1853A, 2241; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 236, IV, 66-7; ÍF 26, 208-9, Hkr 1991, I, 138-9 (HGráf ch. 6), F 1871, 89; Fms 1, 56, Fms 12, 31-2, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 55 (ch. 35).

Context: After the death of Sigurðr jarl, his son Hákon is able to hold on to power in Þrándheimr (Trøndelag) for three years with the help of his friends. He fights several battles against the Eiríkssynir (Gunnhildarsynir), at which many are killed. Hkr cites sts 6-8 in unbroken sequence; ÓT inserts a brief link between sts 6 and 7.

Notes: [1-4]: There have been various opinions as to how l. 3 relates to the main and intercalary clauses of the first helmingr. (a) In this edn, the intercalary clause consists only of gramr svafði bil ‘the ruler ended delay’ (l. 4; cf. NN §393; ÍF 26; Hkr 1991); Kock (NN §1825) collected many examples of this kind of division of the fourth line. Line 3, glaðr í veðrum Gǫndlar is taken as part of the main clause, qualifying oddneytir, hence ‘the arrow-user [WARRIOR], glad in the winds of Gǫndul [BATTLES]’ (following Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 105-6). Keeping the same arrangement of clauses, ‘in the winds of Gǫndul’ might instead be taken as a prepositional phrase meaning that the ruler had deployed his fleet in battle (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B; ÍF 26; Hkr 1991), but this is less likely because it would have to be linked to úti ‘out at sea’ in l. 1. Alternative clause arrangements are as follows. (b) The intercalary clause could comprise glaðr gramr svafði bil í veðrum Gǫndlar ‘the glad ruler ended delay in the winds of Gǫndul [BATTLES]’ (Fms 12; Vell 1865, 8; CPB II, 44; Reichardt 1928, 10-12). The meaning of this is problematic because, at the time of battle, any delay has already been overcome. Moreover, the syntax and word order would hardly be acceptable. (c) The intercalary clause could comprise glaðr gramr svafði bil ‘the glad ruler ended delay’ (Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B). Whereas Kock (NN §§393, 1825) rejects this version because of its convoluted word order, Reichardt (1928, 11) thinks it more poetic. — [5, 6] reynir rauðmána bóga Heðins ‘the tester of the red moon of the arm of Heðinn <legendary hero> [SHIELD > WARRIOR]’: It is impossible to decide whether reynir, the base-word of the kenning, should be translated as ‘tester’ or as its homonym ‘rowan tree’, because both result in a standard warrior-kenning (‘tester of the sword’ or ‘tree of the sword’; see Meissner 299, and cf. SnE 1998, I, 40, 148). — [7] kappi jǫfra ‘with the vigour of rulers’: (a) This edn, with almost all others, takes the dat. kappi ‘with vigour’ with the verb hóf upp ‘raised’. Kappi is interpreted as an instr. dat. or dat. of manner, of which there are prose examples involving abstract nouns (NS §110), though these normally occur in specific circumstances which are not precisely matched here. The jǫfra (gen. pl.) ‘rulers’ are unidentified but could be Hákon’s supporters, or jǫfra could be an adjectival gen., ‘lordly’, as jarla seems to be in Arn Mdr 5/1II orðgnótt jarla ‘lordly wealth of words’. (b) Jǫfra could be taken with etjulund, but this entails separating jǫfra and kappi, which are consecutive and form a natural phrasal unit. (c) In order to avoid such separation, Kock (NN §1826) takes kappi as a variation of etjulund ‘inclination for strife’, both being dat. objects of setja in the sense ‘to settle, calm, allay’. However, the suggestion is unconvincing because apposition like this is rare in skaldic style (tellingly Kock only produces WGmc parallels). Moreover, Kock claims setja máli as a parallel, but that means ‘to settle a dispute’ (Fritzner: setja 4), whereas here setja would mean ‘to calm an emotion’ (Fritzner: setja 5), and would be construed with the acc.


  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. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  7. CPB = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and F. York Powell, eds. 1883. Corpus poeticum boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon. Rpt. 1965, New York: Russell & Russell.
  8. 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.
  9. NS = Nygaard, Marius. 1906. Norrøn syntax. Kristiania (Oslo): Aschehoug. Rpt. 1966.
  10. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  11. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  12. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  13. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  14. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  15. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  16. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  17. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  18. Vell 1865 = Freudenthal, Axel Olof. 1865. Einar Skålaglams Vellekla / öfversatt och förklarad af Axel Olof Freudenthal. Helsingfors: Frenckell.
  19. Internal references
  20. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ 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 [check printed volume for citation].
  21. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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, pp. clxiii-clxvi.
  22. Not published: do not cite (HGráfII)
  23. Katrina Attwood (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Máríudrápa 5’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 482-3.

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