Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Eskál Vell 1I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 283.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Hugstóran biðk heyra
— heyr, jarl, Kvasis dreyra —
foldar vǫrð á fyrða
fjarðleggjar brim dreggjar.

Biðk {hugstóran vǫrð foldar} heyra á brim {dreggjar {fyrða {fjarðleggjar}}}; heyr, jarl, {dreyra Kvasis}.

I bid {the high-minded guardian of the land} [RULER = Hákon jarl] listen to the surf {of the dregs {of the men {of the fjord-bone}}} [ROCK > DWARFS > POEM]; hear, jarl, {the blood of Kvasir <mythical being>} [POEM].

Mss: R(21r), Tˣ(21v), W(46), U(27r), B(4r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] ‑stóran: ‑stórar U    [2] heyr: hyr B    [3] á: ok U;    fyrða: ‘fi(r)ða’(?) Tˣ    [4] ‑leggjar: ‘‑leggiat’ B;    dreggjar: ‘dreggiat’ W, B

Editions: Skj AI, 122, Skj BI, 117, Skald I, 66, NN §1884B; SnE 1848-87, I, 244-7, II, 306, 521, SnE 1931, 92, SnE 1998, I, 12.

Context: In SnE (Skm), Vell 1 and 4 and later 2 and 3 are cited among several stanzas which illustrate kennings for ‘poetry’.

Notes: [All]: Both of the poem-kennings in this typical introductory stanza, in which the skald asks for a hearing, refer to the myth of the origin of the mead of poetry, which is told by Snorri Sturluson at the beginning of Skm (SnE 1998, I, 3-5; for the myth see also Introduction to SkP III). The dwarfs kill Kvasir, the divine being created by the Æsir and the Vanir at their peace-making, and brew the mead of poetry from his blood mixed with honey. This mead subsequently comes into the hands of the giants and then of Óðinn. The poem-kennings here, as in the following stanzas, use a periphrasis for ‘mead of poetry’ as a metonym for ‘poem’ or ‘poetry’ (see SnE 1998, I, 6, 11-14; Meissner 427-30). The name Kvasir in this kenning has been explained by words for an alcoholic drink made from crushed fruit (ARG II, 67-8; AEW: Kvasir). Frank (1981, 159-60) claims that Snorri misunderstood his sources when presenting his interpretation of the myth of the origin of the mead of poetry. She interprets kvasir ‘unmythologically’ as a word for ‘fermenting mash’, whose dreyr ‘blood (liquid)’ is intoxicating drink. However, this needs further qualification in order to form a periphrasis for the mead of poetry, so that Frank is obliged to assume that the reference to giants [or dwarfs] in the second kenning (l. 4) also applies to the first. — [1, 3, 4] heyra á brim ‘listen to the surf’: In other contexts brim dreggjar ‘surf of yeast/dregs’ could have formed an ale-kenning which in turn formed the base-word of a poem-kenning (LP: brim, though cf. Krömmelbein 1983, 172). Here, however, it appears that brim ‘surf’ is not part of the poem-kenning proper, whose base-word is dregg ‘dregs’. Rather, ‘listen to the surf’ is part of a metaphoric image spanning the introductory stanzas of Vell which likens the poem’s effect on the listener to that of an onrushing wave (see Marold 1994a, 473; cf. Frank 1981, 158; Krömmelbein 1983, 178). In the introductory sts 1-5 the poet combines metaphors and kennings in a very unconventional way, imagining the recitation of the poem as a wave growing and roaring before the ruler, or issuing from inside the poet through his mouth and booming against the cliffs of his teeth, or passing over the ruler’s men. Into this metaphorical framework the poet inserts the kennings for ‘poem’ (see Note to [All] above), sometimes adjusting their base-words to this imagery. — [3-4] fyrða fjarðleggjar ‘of the men of the fjord-bone [ROCK > DWARFS]’: The kenning is here assumed to refer to dwarfs, since they brewed the mead of poetry. It could alternatively refer to the giants, who are known as mountain-dwellers, but they obtained the mead as ransom from the earlier owners, the dwarfs.


  1. Bibliography
  2. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Meissner = Meissner, Rudolf. 1921. Die Kenningar der Skalden: Ein Beitrag zur skaldischen Poetik. Rheinische Beiträge und Hülfsbücher zur germanischen Philologie und Volkskunde 1. Bonn and Leipzig: Schroeder. Rpt. 1984. Hildesheim etc.: Olms.
  6. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. 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.
  8. Frank, Roberta. 1981. ‘Snorri and the Mead of Poetry’. In Dronke et al. 1981, 155-70.
  9. Krömmelbein, Thomas. 1983. Skaldische Metaphorik. Studien zur Funktion der Kenningsprache in skaldischen Dichtungen des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Hochschulproduktionen 7. Kirchzarten: Burg-Verlag.
  10. SnE 1931 = Snorri Sturluson. 1931. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar. Ed. Finnur Jónsson. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  11. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  12. SkP III = Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Ed. Kari Ellen Gade in collaboration with Edith Marold. 2017.
  13. ARG = Vries, Jan de. 1956-7. Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. 2 vols. 2nd edn. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  14. Marold, Edith. 1994a. ‘Der Skalde und sein Publikum’. In Uecker 1994, 462-76.
  15. Internal references
  16. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  17. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)
  18. Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 280.
  19. Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 1’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 283.

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.