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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 17VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 17’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 21.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Vakit frák víg á Stikla-
(víðlendr) -stǫðum síðan
(Innþrœndum lét undir
almreyrs lituðr dreyra).
Heims þessa frák hvassan
— hvatir felldu gram skatnar —
— þeir drýgðu bǫl — brigðu
branddríf numinn lífi.

Síðan frák vakit víg á Stiklastǫðum; {víðlendr lituðr {almreyrs}} lét undir Innþrœndum dreyra. Frák {hvassan branddríf} numinn brigðu lífi þessa heims; hvatir skatnar felldu gram; þeir drýgðu bǫl.

Then I heard that a battle broke out at Stiklestad; {the widely-landed reddener {of the elm-reed}} [ARROW > WARRIOR] caused the wounds of the Innþrœndir to bleed. I heard that {the brave sword-driver} [WARRIOR] was taken from the transitory life of this world; rash men killed the king; they committed evil.

Mss: Flat(2ra), Bb(117rb)

Readings: [4] almreyrs: alm reyr Flat, ‘almreys’ Bb    [8] brand‑: baug‑ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 462, Skj BI, 431, Skald I, 213; Flat 1860-8, I, 3, Cederschiöld 1873, 3, Chase 2005, 67, 138.

Notes: [1, 2] Stiklastǫðum ‘Stiklestad’: The battle of Stiklestad, in Verdalen, Trøndelag, at which Óláfr lost his life, took place on 29 July 1030. The p. n. occurs with tmesis every time it appears in poetry, doubtless because of the double alliteration on ‘st’, which would require resolution of the two short syllables (-staðir), impossible in position 3 in skaldic poetry before C14th. — [3] Innþrœndum (poss. dat. pl.): The Innþrœndir were people from the inner districts of Trøndelag. — [4] lituðr almreyrs ‘reddener of the elm-reed [ARROW > WARRIOR]’: Bb’s ‘almreys’, presumably for almreyrs ‘of the elm-reed’, is preferred over Flat’s triple cpd almreyrlituðr ‘elm-reed-reddener’, which is exceptional in skaldic usage. — [8] branddríf ‘sword-driver’: A typical warrior-kenning, but there may also be a foreshadowing of the Hneitir miracle (sts 47-50), in which the supernatural Óláfr causes his sword to move under its own power.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873b. ‘Bandamanna saga’. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873a. Geisli eða Óláfs Drápa ens Helga er Einarr orti Skúlason: efter ‘Bergsboken’ utgifven. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10. Lund: Berling.
  5. Chase, Martin, ed. 2005. Einarr Skúlason’s Geisli. A Critical Edition. Toronto Old Norse and Icelandic Studies 1. Toronto, Buffalo and London: Toronto University Press.
  6. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.

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