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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, 60-1

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

66 — ESk Geisl 66VII

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 66’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 60-1.

Ǫld nýtr Óláfs mildi
— jǫfurs dýrð hǫfum skýrða —
þróttar hvass at þessum
þreksnjǫll frama ǫllum.
Lúti landsfolk ítrum
lim salkonungs himna;
sæll es hverr, es hollan
hann gervir sér, manna.

Þreksnjǫll ǫld nýtr mildi Óláfs hvass þróttar at ǫllum þessum frama; hǫfum skýrða dýrð jǫfurs. Landsfolk lúti {{{himna sal}konungs} ítrum lim}; sæll es hverr manna, es gervir hann hollan sér.

Strong and bold mankind enjoys the mercy of Óláfr, keen of strength with regard to all these [instances of] honour; we [I] have made clear the fame of the king. Let the people of the land bow before {the bright limb {of the king {of the hall of the heavens}}} [(lit. ‘the bright limb of the hall-king of the heavens’) SKY/HEAVEN > = God (= Christ) > SAINT = Óláfr]; blessed is every man who makes him friendly to himself.

Mss: Flat(2va), Bb(118va)

Readings: [3] þróttar: so Bb, þrotnar Flat;    hvass: so Bb, hárs Flat;    at: frá Flat, af Bb    [4] þreksnjǫll: so Bb, þingsnjalls Flat;    frama: so Bb, verǫld Flat;    ǫllum: so Bb, alla Flat    [5] Lúti: ‘loti’ Bb;    lands‑: land Bb    [6] sal‑: so Bb, ‘‑salmls’ Flat;    ‑konungs: konungi Flat, konunguns Bb    [7] hollan: hyllan Bb

Editions: Skj: Einarr Skúlason, 6. Geisli 66: AI, 471-2, BI, 444, Skald I, 218; Flat 1860-8, I, 7, Cederschiöld 1873, 10, Chase 2005, 116, 165-6.

Notes: [All]: Some emendation is necessary to make sense of this st., whichever ms. is taken as base; however, Flat’s version poses more serious problems, especially in the first helmingr, in terms of syntax, metre and sense, so Bb’s has been followed for the most part. Line 3 in the Flat version has no hending, and the epithet hárs ‘old’ (m. gen. sg.) can only qualify Óláfs (l. 1), and is not plausible in context; þrotnar ‘dwindles away’ (3rd pers. sg. pres. indic.) is similarly implausible, and has no obvious subject, verǫld alla ‘all the world’ being acc. — [6] salkonungs ‘of the hall-king’: Emendation is necessary here, as neither ms. is satisfactory.

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