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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Eskál Vell 12I

Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, Vellekla 12’ 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. 298.

Einarr skálaglamm HelgasonVellekla

Hvarfat aptr, áðr erfðan,
óðstafr, fǫður hafði,
(herforðuðr réð Hǫrða)
hjǫrveðrs (konungs fjǫrvi).
Varðat Freyr, sás fœri,
folkskíðs, né mun síðan,
— því bregðr ǫld við aðra —
jarls ríki framm slíku.

ðstafr {hjǫrveðrs}} hvarfat aptr, áðr hafði erfðan fǫður; {herforðuðr} réð fjǫrvi {konungs Hǫrða}. Varðat {Freyr {folkskíðs}}, né mun síðan, sás fœri framm slíku ríki jarls; því bregðr ǫld við aðra.

{The furious stave {of the sword-storm}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR] did not return before he had done honour to his father’s memory; {the army-protector} [RULER] had power over the life {of the king of the Hǫrðar} [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr gráfeldr]. There has not been {a Freyr <god> {of the battle-ski}} [SWORD > WARRIOR], nor will there be afterwards, who proceeded with such power of a jarl; so say the people to one another.

Mss: FskBˣ(19v), 51ˣ(17r), 302ˣ(27r), FskAˣ(78), 52ˣ(30r-v), 301ˣ(28r) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Hvarfat: hvarf FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [2] óð‑: odda‑ FskBˣ, odd‑ corrected from odda‑ 51ˣ, 302ˣ, ‘o‑’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ;    ‑stafr: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, ‑starf FskBˣ, ‑staf corrected from ‑starf 51ˣ, 302ˣ    [3] ‑forðuðr: ‑vǫrðuðr FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ, ‑forðaðr FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ;    Hǫrða: herða FskAˣ, 52ˣ    [4] konungs: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, konungr FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ    [6] mun: mun corrected from ‘nam’ FskBˣ    [7] bregðr: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, bragðr FskBˣ, 51ˣ, 302ˣ

Editions: Skj AI, 125, Skj BI, 119, Skald I, 67, NN §§400, 1884B, 2240A; Fsk 1902-3, 68-9 (ch. 14), ÍF 29, 111 (ch. 16).

Context: Haraldr gráfeldr, who had Hákon’s father Sigurðr Grjótgarðsson killed, is lured into a trap in Limafjǫrðr (Limfjorden) instigated by Hákon jarl with the complicity of the Danish king, Haraldr blátǫnn ‘Blue-tooth’. Haraldr gráfeldr dies in the battle. The Danish king installs Hákon as his jarl in Norway.

Notes: [1] áðr ‘before’: The mss have áðr enn ‘before’, where enn is the later form of an. The syllable produces a hypermetrical line, however, and is removed here, as in other eds of this poem, as part of the normalisation process (see ‘Normalisation on metrical grounds’ in General Introduction). — [1, 2] hafði erfðan fǫður ‘he had done honour to his father’s memory’: Erfa means ‘to honour a deceased relative and take one’s leave of him’ (Fritzner: erfa), often through a memorial feast, but here the reference is clearly to Hákon honouring his father by avenging him; cf. the praise of Hákon’s revenge in st. 9. LP: erfa similarly interprets it as the equivalent of ‘to avenge’. — [2, 4] óðstafr hjǫrveðrs ‘the furious stave of the sword-storm [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’: The mss offer either ‘ostafr’ or ‘odd(a)sta(r)f’. Although oddstafr ‘arrow-stave’ is a possible warrior-kenning it is not acceptable here because the kenning would have two determinants (odd- ‘arrow, point’ and hjǫrveðrs ‘sword-storm’). A minor emendation produces óð- ‘furious’ in óðstafr, which functions as an adj. qualifying the entire kenning.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. 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.
  5. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  6. Fsk 1902-3 = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1902-3. Fagrskinna: Nóregs kononga tal. SUGNL 30. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. ÍF 29 = Ágrip af Nóregskonunga sǫgum; Fagrskinna—Nóregs konungatal. Ed. Bjarni Einarsson. 1985.

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