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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 10VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 10’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 15-16.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli

Ǫld samir Óláfs gilda
— orðgnóttar biðk dróttin —
oss at óðgerð þessi
ítrgeðs lofi kveðja.
Fannk aldri val vildra
— vallrjóðanda allra
raun samir — rétt í einu
ranni fremðarmanna.

Samir oss kveðja gilda ǫld at þessi óðgerð, lofi ítrgeðs Óláfs; biðk dróttin orðgnóttar. Fannk aldri vildra val fremðarmanna rétt í einu ranni; samir raun {allra vallrjóðanda}.

It is fitting for us [me] to summon able men to this poetry-making, to the praise of high-minded Óláfr; I ask the Lord for word-wealth. I never found a more agreeable selection of men of accomplishment right in one house; it befits the experience {of all field-reddeners} [WARRIORS].

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

Readings: [1] Ǫld: Oss Bb;    Óláfs: enn at Bb;    gilda: þessu Bb    [3] oss at: aldar Bb;    óðgerð: Óláfs Bb;    þessi: gilda Bb    [7] samir: dugir Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 460-1, Skj BI, 429, Skald I, 212, NN §§929, 930, 1204D; Flat 1860-8, I, 2, Cederschiöld 1873, 2, Chase 2005, 60, 133-4.

Notes: [1-4]: There is a discrepancy between the two ms. versions of the first helmingr. Bb reads: Oss samir enn at þessu –, | orðgnóttar biðk dróttin | aldar – Óláfs gilda | ítrgeðs lofi kveðja. This may be translated: ‘It is fitting for us [me] further to summon [people] to this praise of the able, high-minded Óláfr; I ask the Lord of men [= God] for word-wealth’. There are no metrical or grammatical flaws in the Bb version, but the syntax is awkward: both the weak adj. gilda and the strong adj. ítrgeðs must be construed with Óláfs. In the Flat version, ǫld can be construed with gilda, providing a link with the second helmingr that is schematic as well as thematic: ll. 1 and 5 have the same triple-rhyme scheme (ǫld : Ól- : gild-; ald : vál : vild-). Line 2 is a complete parenthetic phrase, preferable to Bb’s biðk aldar dróttin orðgnóttar. Flat probably represents the original text: at some point in the transmission of the Bb version ll. 1 and 3 were transposed, and then later emended by a scribe attempting to make sense of the helmingr. — [4] ítrgeðs (m. gen. sg.) ‘of the high-minded’: The meaning of the first element of the cpd is clear, but there is no precedent for an adj. geðr. Geð, a n. noun, is well attested, and Kock proposes a nominal compound ítrgeð ‘high-minded one’. In his interpretation the helmingr reads ‘it is fitting for us to summon Óláfr’s able men to this poetry-making, to the praise of the high-minded one’ (NN §929). But ítrgeð is unlikely as a noun, and the lexicographers allow an adj. ítrgeðr; cf. LP: ítrgeðr (also CVC; ONP). — [7] samir ‘it befits’: Bb has dugir with much the same meaning and is chosen in both Skj B and Skald, perhaps because samir is also used in l. 1.


  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. 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. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. CVC = Cleasby, Richard, Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and W. A. Craigie. 1957. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. ONP = Degnbol, Helle et al., eds. 1989-. A Dictionary of Old Norse Prose / Ordbog over det norrøne prosasprog. 1-. Copenhagen: The Arnamagnæan Commission.

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