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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Einarr Skúlason (ESk)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

VII. Geisli (Geisl) - 71

Skj info: Einarr Skúlason, Islandsk skjald, 12. årh. (AI, 455-85, BI, 423-57).

Skj poems:
1. Sigurðardrápa
2. Haraldsdrápa I
3. Haraldsdrápa II
4. Haraldssonakvæði(?)
5. Sigurðardrápa
6. Geisli
7. Runhenda
8. Eysteinsdrápa
9. Ingadrápa
10. Elfarvísur
11. Lausavísur
11. Lausavísur
11. Øxarflokkr(?)
12. Ubestemmelige vers, tilhørende forskellige fyrstedigte eller lausavísur

We know very little about the life of Einarr Skúlason (ESk). He is called prestr ‘priest’ and is mentioned in a catalogue (c. 1220) of priests of noble birth who were alive in western Iceland in 1143 (Stu 1878, II, 502). It is likely that he came from Borg, belonged to the Mýrar family and was a direct descendant of Þorsteinn Egilsson and a brother of Snorri Sturluson’s maternal grandfather (LH 1894-1901, II, 62-3; ÍF 3, 51 n. 3). He was probably born c. 1090. In 1153, he recited the poem Geisli ‘Light-beam’ (ESk GeislVII) in Kristkirken in Trondheim. He was marshal (stallari) at King Eysteinn Magnússon’s court, and he composed poetry in praise of the Norw. kings Sigurðr jórsalafari ‘Jerusalem-farer’ and Eysteinn Magnússon, Haraldr gilli(-kristr) ‘Servant (of Christ)’, Magnús inn blindi ‘the Blind’ Sigurðarson, Haraldr gilli’s sons, Ingi, Sigurðr munnr ‘Mouth’, and Eysteinn, and about the Norw. chieftain Grégóríus Dagsson (see SnE 1848-87, III, 254-5, 263-4, 269, 276-7, 286). According to Skáldatal, he also honoured the Norw. magnate Eindriði ungi ‘the Young’ Jónsson as well as Sørkvir Kolsson and Jón jarl Sørkvisson of Sweden and King Sveinn Eiríksson of Denmark (SnE 1848-87, III, 252, 258, 260, 268-9, 272, 283, 286). About the latter he recited a poem for which he received no reward (see ESk Lv 3; ÍF 35, 275). The extant portion of his poetic oeuvre consists of the following poems (excluding lvv.): Sigurðardrápa I (Sigdr I, five extant sts about Sigurðr jórsalafari); Haraldsdrápa I (Hardr I, two extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldsdrápa II (Hardr II, five extant sts about Haraldr gilli); Haraldssonakvæði (Harsonkv, two extant sts about the sons of Haraldr gilli); Sigurðardrápa II (Sigdr II, one extant st. about Sigurðr munnr Haraldsson); Runhenda (Run, ten extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Eysteinsdrápa (Eystdr, two extant sts about Eysteinn Haraldsson); Ingadrápa (Ingdr, four extant sts about Ingi Haraldsson); Elfarvísur (Elfv, two extant sts about Grégóríus Dagsson); Geisli (GeislVII, seventy-one sts about S. Óláfr); Øxarflokkr (ØxflIII, ten extant sts about the gift of an axe).

It must be emphasised that, although the poetry included in the royal panegyrics below clearly belongs to poems of that genre, with two exceptions (Hardr II and Elfv), all the names of the poems are modern constructs (notably by Jón Sigurðsson and Finnur Jónsson). That also holds true for the assignment of sts to the individual poems. In some cases, sts were assigned to a particular poem for metrical reasons (so Run), in other cases because of the content or the named recipients of the praise. For the sake of convenience, the names of the poems and the sts assigned to them as found in Skj have been retained in the present edn. In addition to the royal encomia, a number of fragments and lvv. attributed to Einarr are preserved in SnE, TGT and LaufE (see ESk Frag 1-18III; ESk Lv 7-15III). These have been edited separately in SkP III. Six lvv. are transmitted in the kings’ sagas and edited below.

Geisli (‘Light beam’) — ESk GeislVII

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.

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Skj: Einarr Skúlason: 6. Geisli, 1153 (AI, 459-73, BI, 427-45)

SkP info: VII, 34-5

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

34 — ESk Geisl 34VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 34’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 34-5.

Satts, at silfri skreytta
seggjum hollr ok golli
hér lét Gutthormr gerva
— grams hróðr vas þat — róðu.
Þat hafa menn at minnum
meir; jartegna þeira
mark stendr Krists í kirkju
— konungs niðr gaf þat — miðri.

Satts, at Gutthormr, hollr seggjum, hér lét gerva róðu, skreytta silfri ok golli; þat vas hróðr grams. Þat hafa menn meir at minnum: mark þeira jartegna stendr í miðri Krists kirkju; {konungs niðr} gaf þat.

It is true that Gutthormr, devoted to men, here had an image made, ornamented with silver and gold; that was praise of the king. Men have that still as a reminder: the mark of those miracles stands in the middle of Kristkirken; {the king’s relative} [= Gutthormr] gave that.

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

Readings: [1] Satts (‘Satt er’): so Bb, Satt var Flat    [2] hollr: hollz Bb;    ok: af Bb    [3] Gutthormr: so Bb, ‘guthorm’ Flat;    gerva: so Bb, ‘g[...]fa’ Flat    [4] grams hróðr vas þat róðu: ‘[...]ar þat [...]du’ Flat, grams hróðr er þat róðu Bb    [5] Þat: slíkt Bb    [8] niðr: so Bb, ‘[...]’ Flat;    gaf þat miðri: so Bb, ‘g[...]f [...]id[...]’ Flat

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 34: AI, 465, BI, 435, Skald I, 215, NN §§938, 2247D; Flat 1860-8, I, 4, Cederschiöld 1873, 5, Chase 2005, 84, 149-50.

Notes: [All]: HómNo and ÓHLeg use language strikingly similar to this st. in their accounts of Gutthormr’s donation of the memorial cross: ok let gera þegar roðo ſva myccla ór ſilfri at allz coſtar er hon lengri ok mæri en manzvaxtar. ok pryddi þegar þeſ hælga manz húſ með þærri dyrð ſér til ſalo-bota. ok til minni ok fra-ſagnar iarteina þærra en hinn helgi Oláfr konungr gerði þa við hann ‘and he immediately had such a large silver image made, that it is at least taller and bigger than a man. And he immediately ornamented the house of this holy man with that treasure for the salvation of his soul and as a reminder and a record of the miracles which the holy King Óláfr performed then for him’ (HómNo, 113; cf. ÓHLeg 1982, 212). — [2] hollr ‘devoted’: Finnur Jónsson and Kock choose hollz, the Bb reading. Finnur construes, Gutthormr lét her gerva róðu grams, seggjum holls, skreytta silfri ok golli; þat es hróðr ‘Gutthormr had men make the cross of the king, true to men, adorned with silver and gold; that is praise’ (Skj B). Kock’s version is smoother: he construes seggjum holls grams with hróðr: ‘that is praise of the king, friendly to men’ (NN §§938 and 2247D). The Flat text can also be read as it stands, as given above. — [3, 4, 8]: Flat’s text is all but illegible in ll. 3, 4 and 8. In these cases, Bb is the only witness now, although earlier eds were able to read more of Flat. Skj A reports Flat’s viðr for Bb’s niðr in l. 8. — [6] þeira jartegna ‘of those miracles’: This phrase may be taken either with mark (l. 7), as here, or in the first cl. of helmingr b, with at minnum ‘as a reminder of those miracles’. — [7, 8] í miðri Krists kirkju ‘in the middle of Kristkirken’: This can be understood as a simple reference to the position of Gutthormr’s crucifix in the church, or as a more grandiose claim that the sign of Óláfr’s honour holds a central place in Christendom. The Norwegians were proud of the popularity of Trondheim as a pilgrimage goal. — [8] niðr ‘relative’: According to earlier eds, Flat read viðr ‘wood’, which has obvious associations with the image of the Cross, but makes no sense as the only possible subject of gaf ‘gave’.

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