Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

ESk Geisl 43VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 43’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 42-3.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Hneitir, frák, at héti,
hjaldrs at vápna galdri,
Óláfs hjǫrr, þess’s orra
ilbleikum gaf steikar.
Þeim klauf þengill Rauma
þunnvaxin ský gunnar
— rekin bitu stôl — á Stikla-
stǫðum valbastar rǫðli.

Frák, at hjǫrr Óláfs, þess’s gaf steikar {ilbleikum orra hjaldrs} at {galdri vápna}, héti Hneitir. {Þeim rǫðli valbastar} klauf {þengill Rauma} {þunnvaxin ský gunnar} á Stiklastǫðum; rekin stôl bitu.

I heard that the sword of Óláfr, who gave meat {to the pale-footed blackcock of battle} [RAVEN] at {the chant of weapons} [BATTLE], was called Hneitir. {With that sun of the sword-hilt} [SWORD] {the king of the Raumar} [= Óláfr] clove {the thin-grown clouds of battle} [SHIELDS] at Stiklestad; inlaid steel weapons bit.

Mss: Flat(2rb), Bb(117vb-118ra)

Readings: [2] at: af Bb    [3] Óláfs: ǫðlings Bb    [4] steikar: so Bb, ‘stikar’ Flat    [6] ‑vaxin: vaxins Bb    [7] Stikla‑: ‘stika’ Flat, ‘stiklar’ Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 467, Skj BI, 437-8, Skald I, 216, NN §§941, 942; Flat 1860-8, I, 5, Cederschiöld 1873, 6-7, Chase 2005, 93, 153-4.

Notes: [All]: Sts 43-50 are occupied with the story of the fate of King Óláfr’s sword Hneitir ‘cutter’. According to Óláfs þáttr Geirstaðaálfs (Flat 1860-8, II, 6-9; Fms 4, 37-8), this sword had belonged to Óláfr Geirstaðaálfr. When he died, it was buried with him, but he later appeared in a dream to Hrani Hróason and instructed him to break into the burial mound, take the sword, and give it to Ásta, then in labour with the birth of her son, S. Óláfr, who received it from his mother at the age of eight. Some versions of Óláfs saga report that after killing a huge boar with the sword, Óláfr changed its name from Bæsingr ‘son of an exiled mother’ to Hneitir ‘cutter’, þvíat honum þótti þat hneita önnur sverð fur hvassleika sakir ‘because it seemed to him to outdo other swords where sharpness is concerned’ (Fms 4, 57-8). The story of what happened to Hneitir after S. Óláfr’s death is the longest miracle account in Geisl and is not found in any of the prose legends. Einarr may well have known of it from oral tradition (see Chase 2005, 41-2 and nn. 121-6) and Snorri Sturluson evidently knew it from Einarr’s drápa, which he mentions specifically in Hkr (ÍF 28, 369-71). Hneitir is there said to have been picked up after the battle at Stiklestad by a Swedish soldier and to have passed down in his family until it came into the possession of a member of the Varangian guard in Byzantium. The sword was bought by the Byzantine emperor after it appeared to have miraculous powers and was hung over the altar of a church the Varangians had dedicated to S. Óláfr. — [6] þunnvaxin (n. acc. pl.) ‘thin-grown’: This adj. presumably implies that the shields became thinner as they were hacked by swords. — [8] rǫðli valbastar ‘with the sun of the sword-hilt [SWORD]’: Valbǫst f. is the name of a decorative metal plate on the handle of a sword (cf. LT, 275); cf. Egill Lv 42/8V eld valbasta ‘fire of sword-hilts [SWORD]’. Schrodt 1975 argues that valbǫst is a sword-heiti meaning ‘corpse-striker’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  3. Cederschiöld, Gustaf J. Chr., ed. 1873b. ‘Bandamanna saga’. Acta Universitatis Lundensis 10.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Schrodt, Richard. 1975. ‘Zwei altnordische Waffen(teil)namen und Egil Skallagrímsson, Lv 40’. ANF 90, 151-5.
  9. 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.
  10. LT = La Farge, Beatrice and John Tucker. 1992. Glossary to the Poetic Edda, based on Hans Kuhn’s Kurzes Wörterbuch. Skandinavistische Arbeiten 15. Heidelberg: Winter.
  11. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  12. Internal references
  13. 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].
  14. Not published: do not cite (MberfII)
  15. Not published: do not cite (ÓGeirII)
  16. Martin Chase 2007, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr Skúlason, Geisli’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 5-65.
  17. Not published: do not cite (Egill Lv 42V (Eg 122))

Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.