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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 9I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 9’ 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. 293.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Berk fyr hefnð, þás Hrafna
(hljóm*) lof (togins skjóma
þann) nam vǫrðr at vinna
(vann) síns fǫður hranna.

Berk lof fyr hefnð, þás {vǫrðr {Hrafna hranna}} nam at vinna fǫður síns; vann {þann hljóm* togins skjóma}.

I bear praise for the revenge that {the guardian {of the Hrafnar <horses> of the waves}} [SHIPS > SEAFARER] took for his father; [he] made {the din of the drawn sword} [BATTLE].

Mss: (113r), 39(3vb), F(19vb), J1ˣ(67v), J2ˣ(65r) (Hkr); 61(7rb), 325IX 1 a(3ra), Bb(9va) (ÓT)

Readings: [1] fyr: frá 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb;    þás (‘þa er’): enn F    [2] hljóm*: hljóms all;    lof: ‘lop’ 39, F, Bb;    togins: so 325IX 1 a, Bb, togin Kˣ, 39, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 61    [3] þann: þat Kˣ, 39, F, J1ˣ, 61, 325IX 1 a, Bb, þar J2ˣ;    nam: varð 325IX 1 a, Bb    [4] síns: sinn 39, F, Bb

Editions: Skj AI, 124, Skj BI, 118, Skald I, 66, NN §§303B, 397, 1884B; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 237, IV, 68, ÍF 26, 210, Hkr 1991, I, 139 (HGráf ch. 6), F 1871, 90; Fms 1, 56, Fms 12, 32, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 56 (ch. 35).

Context: Stanzas 9 and 10 are cited in uninterrupted sequence, and are introduced as Einarr’s account of how Hákon jarl avenged his father.

Notes: [All]: Vell 1865, 18 presents this helmingr together with st. 8 as one stanza, but this seems unconvincing because in Hkr and ÓT they are separated by a prose sentence (see Context). Some eds link st. 9 with 10/1-4, and that is compatible with the layout in the mss, but see Note to st. 10 [All]. — [All]: This helmingr has been the subject of many interpretations, none of which is fully convincing. Almost all interpreters agree on the following part of the stanza: fyr hefnð, þás vǫrðr hrafna hranna vann fǫður síns ‘for the revenge that the guardian of the Hrafnar <horses> of the waves [SHIPS > SEAFARER] took for his father’. Fms 12 and Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 108-9) construe fǫður síns with hefnð; but since this produces a tripartite division of l. 4, it is better to leave it in the subordinate clause. For the rest of the helmingr, several emendations have been proposed and suggestions made as to how to achieve the most satisfactory sentence structure. — [1, 3, 4] vǫrðr Hrafna hranna ‘the guardian of the Hrafnar <horses> of the waves [SHIPS > SEAFARER]’: Hrafn (‘Raven’) is the name of the horse of Áli, the adversary of the Swedish king Aðils (see LP: 2. Hrafn), hence it stands for ‘horse’ in ship-kennings of the type ‘horse of the sea’. — [2] lof ‘praise’: Most interpreters view lof as the obvious object of berk ‘I bear’ (l. 1), even though it does not occur until l. 2. The exception is Kock (NN §397), who, striving for the simplest syntax, conjoins berk directly to fyrir hefnd ‘I recite the revenge’, i.e. ‘I speak of the revenge’. There is, however, no known instance of a collocation bera fyrir (with fyrir as an adv.) with this meaning. — [2, 3] þann hljóm* togins skjóma ‘the din of the drawn sword [BATTLE]’: All mss have hljóms. (a) To avoid an emendation, a few eds (Fms 12; Konráð Gíslason 1895-7, I, 108-9; Hkr 1991) conjoin hljóms and lof to mean ‘praise of the sound’ (a praise-poem?). However, no parallel expression is known (Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 161; Finnur Jónsson 1924a, 322), and moreover this creates a difficulty with the remainder of the line, toginn/togins skjóma ‘the drawn sword’. Sveinbjörn Egilsson (Fms 12), Konráð Gíslason (1895-7, I, 109) and Hkr 1991 read toginn (as in mss , 39, F, J1ˣ, 61), taking toginn skjóma as the object of vinna ‘do’, and retain ms. þat, to produce an intercalary Þat nam at vinna toginn skjóma ‘That affair caused the sword to be drawn’, i.e. ‘That affair could not be brought about without battle’ (LP (1860): toginn; cf. LP: 2. vinna 7). (b) Although an intercalary clause as such is possible, the expression lof hljóms is so unusual that numerous eds including this one have chosen to emend hljóms to hljóm. This joins with togins (as in mss Bb, 325IX 1 a) skjóma to form a battle-kenning corresponding to the common pattern ‘noise of the sword’ (Meissner 186-8), and the kenning serves as the object of nam vinna ‘made’ (lit. ‘began to do’) (Finnur Jónsson 1891a, 161; ÓT 1892, 369; Hkr 1893-1901, IV; Skj B). (c) Reichardt (1928, 90) suggests a third solution in which he connects the battle-kenning to lof ‘praise’ in order to retain the gen. hljóms: berk lof togins skjóma hljóms fyr hefnd ‘I bear praise for the sound of the drawn sword [BATTLE] for revenge’. This is possible, but as Finnur Jónsson (1934a, 19-20) notes, ‘I praise revenge’ is a more natural expression than ‘I praise the fight for revenge’, especially since the prep. fyr is unusual here. — [3] þann ‘the’: The deictic pron. þat in the mss has nothing to refer to, and is therefore emended here to þann. An alternative emendation would be to hann ‘he’ (so Eggert Ó. Brím, ÓT 1892, 369). This would provide an explicit subject for vann ‘made’ but would entail assuming an awkward tripartite division in l. 3, as well as (unavoidably) in l. 2.


  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. Fms = Sveinbjörn Egilsson et al., eds. 1825-37. Fornmanna sögur eptir gömlum handritum útgefnar að tilhlutun hins norræna fornfræða fèlags. 12 vols. Copenhagen: Popp.
  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. 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.
  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. LP (1860) = Sveinbjörn Egilsson, ed. 1860. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis. Copenhagen: Societas Regia antiquariorum septentrionalium.
  9. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  10. Hkr 1893-1901 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1893-1901. Heimskringla: Nóregs konunga sǫgur af Snorri Sturluson. 4 vols. SUGNL 23. Copenhagen: Møller.
  11. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  12. F 1871 = Unger, C. R., ed. 1871. Fríssbók: Codex Frisianus. En samling af norske konge-sagaer. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  13. Finnur Jónsson. 1934a. Tekstkritiske bemærkninger til skjaldekvad. Det kgl. danske videnskabernes selskab. Historisk-filologiske meddelelser 20.2. Copenhagen: Levin & Munksgaard.
  14. Konráð Gíslason. 1895-7. Efterladte skrifter. 2 vols. I: Forelæsninger over oldnordiske skjaldekvad. II: Forelæsninger og videnskablige afhandlinger. Copenhagen: Gyldendal.
  15. ÓT 1958-2000 = Ólafur Halldórsson, ed. 1958-2000. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar en mesta. 3 vols. EA A 1-3. Copenhagen: Munksgaard (Reitzel).
  16. Reichardt, Konstantin. 1928. Studien zu den Skalden des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Palaestra 159. Leipzig: Mayer & Müller.
  17. ÓT 1892 = Eggert Ó. Brím, ed. 1892. Saga Óláfs Tryggvasonar. Reykjavík: Ísafoldarprentsmiðja.
  18. Vell 1865 = Freudenthal, Axel Olof. 1865. Einar Skålaglams Vellekla / öfversatt och förklarad af Axel Olof Freudenthal. Helsingfors: Frenckell.
  19. Finnur Jónsson. 1891a. ‘Vellekla: Tekstkritiske bemærkninger’. ÅNOH, 147-82.
  20. Finnur Jónsson. 1924a. ‘Skjaldekvadenes forståelse’. ANF 40, 320-31.
  21. Internal references
  22. 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].
  23. Not published: do not cite (HrafnIV)
  24. Diana Whaley 2012, ‘The Greatest Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason / Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar in mesta (ÓT)’ 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, pp. clxiii-clxvi.
  25. Not published: do not cite (HGráfII)

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