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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Diana Whaley;

5. Haraldsdrápa (Hardr) - 17

Skj info: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 332-54, BI, 305-27).

Skj poems:
1. Rǫgnvaldsdrápa
2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa
3. Magnúsdrápa
4. Et digt om Hermundr Illugason
5. Þórfinnsdrápa
6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde
7. Vers af ubestemmelige digte, samt én lausavísa

Arnórr jarlaskáld ‘Jarls’-poet’ came from Hítarnes in western Iceland, the son of the prosperous farmer and poet Þórðr Kolbeinsson (ÞKolbI, born 974) and Oddný eykyndill ‘Island-candle’ Þorkelsdóttir, who was the subject of the long-running personal and poetic rivalry between Þórðr and Bjǫrn Hítdœlakappi (BjhítV) which is commemorated in Bjarnar saga Hítdœlakappa. According to that saga chronology, Arnórr would have been born c. 1011/12, and he features as a boy in ch. 23 of the saga, and in ch. 60 of Grettis saga. He went abroad, probably in his early twenties, for he is named in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267) among the skalds of King Knútr inn ríki (Cnut the Great) (d. 1035). From the evidence of the memorial poems Rǫgnvaldsdrápa (Arn Rǫgndr), especially st. 2, and Þorfinnsdrápa (Arn Þorfdr), especially sts 3, 4 (cf. Lv 1), he spent several years in the Orkney Islands as poet and intimate of the jarls Rǫgnvaldr (d. c. 1045) and Þorfinnr (d. c. 1065). It is to this that his nickname refers. Arnórr was in Norway during the brief joint rule of Magnús Óláfsson and Haraldr Sigurðarson (c. 1045-6), and his performance of Hrynhenda (Arn Hryn) for Magnús and Blágagladrápa ‘The drápa of Dark Geese (= Ravens (?))’ for Haraldr is the subject of a spirited anecdote (Mork 1928-32, 116-18, Flat 1860-8, III, 321-3, Fms 6, 195-8; referred to below as ‘the Mork anecdote’). The later part of Arnórr’s career is obscure, but there is a second, memorial poem for Magnús, Magnússdrápa (Arn Magndr), and his composition of a Haraldsdrápa (Arn Hardr) in memory of Haraldr (d. 1066) suggests continuing links of some kind with Norway, though he also composed about Icelanders: a fragmentarily preserved poem for Hermundr Illugason (d. c. 1055; Arn HermIII) and a poem for Gellir Þorkelsson (d. 1073) of which Arn Frag 1III might be a remnant. For further outlines of Arnórr’s life and works, see Hollander 1945, 177-83; Turville-Petre 1968, 5-10, 1976, 93-4; Whaley 1998, 41-7.

The majority of Arnórr’s surviving oeuvre takes the form of memorial encomia (erfidrápur) for rulers of Norway or Orkney in the dróttkvætt metre: ten ll. only of Rǫgndr and longer fragments of Magnússdrápa (Magndr), Þorfdr and Hardr. His greatest contribution to the development of skaldic poetry, however, is his authorship of the first known encomium in the hrynhent metre: the Hrynhenda which, since it apostrophises Magnús góði, must predate the memorial Magndr. Arn Frag 1III is in the same metre but probably unconnected (see above). It is possible that Arn Frag 4III is in praise of Knútr inn ríki and the non-royal dedicatees of Herm and Frag 1 have been mentioned above. Arnórr also appears in one recension of Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 262) as a poet of Óláfr kyrri ‘the Quiet’ Haraldsson (d. 1093), and the pres. tense praise of Arn Frag 3III could have been addressed to him, or alternatively to Haraldr in Blágagladrápa. Only one st., Arn Lv 1, seems clearly to be a lv.; it was spoken during a civil conflict in the Orkneys. Herm and the eight other Fragments are printed in SkP III since they are preserved in SnE and LaufE and cannot be certainly assigned to any of the poems in the present volume.

The principal eds consulted in the course of editing Arnórr’s poetry for SkP are listed for each st., and are of two main types: eds of the skaldic corpus (Finnur Jónsson’s in Skj AI, 332-54, BI, 305-27, BI, and E. A. Kock’s in Skald I, 155-65, supported by numerous NN) and eds of the various prose works in which the poetry is preserved. Extracts are also included in anthologies, articles and other works including (with ten or more sts): Munch and Unger 1847, 119-20; CPB II, 184-98; Wisén 1886-9, I, 44-6, 141-2, 199-200 (Hryn only); Kock and Meissner 1931, I, 48-53; Hollander 1945,177-88 (annotated translations only, mainly Hryn); and (with five sts): Turville-Petre 1976, 93-7. Other works containing comment on the poetry are cited as appropriate in the Notes.

file 2006-01-11 - Arnórr Þ reconstructions
file 2007-07-04 - Arnórr mss ordering

Haraldsdrápa (‘Drápa about Haraldr’) — Arn HardrII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa’ 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, pp. 260-80.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17 

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde, o. 1067 (AI, 349-53, BI, 322-6); stanzas (if different): 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19

SkP info: II, 274-5

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

13 — Arn Hardr 13II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 13’ 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, pp. 274-5.

Eigi varð ins œgja
auðligr konungs dauði;
hlífðut hlenna sœfi
hoddum reknir broddar.
Heldr køru meir ins milda
mildings an grið vildi
of folksnaran fylki
falla liðsmenn allir.

Dauði ins œgja konungs varð eigi auðligr; broddar reknir hoddum hlífðut {sœfi hlenna}. Allir liðsmenn ins milda mildings køru meir heldr falla of folksnaran fylki an vildi grið.

The death of the fearsome king was not unadorned; spear-points inlaid with gold did not protect {the slayer of robbers} [JUST RULER]. All the liegemen of the gracious prince chose much rather to fall beside the battle-swift commander than wishing quarter.

Mss: (583r), F(53va), E(27v), J2ˣ(298r) (Hkr); FskAˣ(308) (Fsk); Mork(19v) (Mork); Flat(204ra) (Flat); H(76r), Hr(54ra-b) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] œgja: so E, J2ˣ, FskAˣ, Mork, Flat, yggja Kˣ, ‘ygía’ F, H, ‘yga’ Hr    [3] hlífðut: hlíf þótt F, hlífðu H;    hlenna: ‘hlǫnna’ J2ˣ, senna H;    sœfi: svæfi F    [4] hoddum: hǫddum J2ˣ;    reknir broddar: so FskAˣ, Mork, Flat, Hr, roðnir oddar Kˣ, F, E, J2ˣ, reknir broddan H    [5] meir ins: om. Hr;    meir: menn Flat, menn meirr H;    milda: mæra E, J2ˣ, FskAˣ

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 15: AI, 352, BI, 325, Skald I, 164, NN §§1136, 2989A; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 210-11, ÍF 28, 191, Hkr 1991, 686 (HSig ch. 92), F 1871, 249, E 1916, 98; Fsk 1902-3, 293 (ch. 60), ÍF 29, 288 (ch. 70); Mork 1928-32, 278, Andersson and Gade 2000, 272, 482 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 396 (MH); Fms 6, 420 (HSig ch. 119), Fms 12, 166; Whaley 1998, 291-3.

Context: Once Haraldr Sigurðarson has fallen, the Engl. Harold Godwineson (Haraldr Guðinason) offers peace to his brother Tostig (Tósti) and the surviving Norwegians, but all declare they would rather fall one on top of another than make peace with the English, and they raise a battle-cry, which leads into the second phase of fighting.

Notes: [2] auðligr ‘unadorned’: The statement that the king’s death was not auðligr is capable of some four interpretations, of which (a) has been chosen since it rests on the only other occurrence of the word. (a) Auðligr is recorded in Sturl Hákkv 12/7-8 varat auðligr | allvalds floti ‘the prince’s fleet was not paltry/bare’ i.e. ‘not lacking in fine trappings’. The adj. here may well be a doublet of the i-mutated eyðiligr which appears in Þloft Tøgdr 4/7-8I vasa eyðilig | ǫrbeiðis fǫr ‘not empty/fruitless was the arrow-bidder’s [WARRIOR] expedition’. Auðligr thus seems to derive from the adj. auðr ‘empty, void, desolate’, cf. auðn f. and eyði, n. ‘waste, desert’, and in st. 13 would imply that the king’s death was not without splendour, i.e. that it was dignified by the presence of gilded weapons and by the loyalty of Haraldr’s war-band, both mentioned in the st. Alternatively, the meaning could be ironic: the king’s death was not void, unproductive, for many died with him (so Flo 1902, 131). (b) An alternative interpretation of ll. 1-2, that Haraldr’s death was ‘not fated’, is adopted in Skj B. It is based on the possibility that auðligr is related to the adj. auðinn ‘determined by fate’, auðr m. and auðna f. ‘destiny, fate, fortune’ (cf. skapligr ‘suitable, fit’, related to skap ‘condition’ and skǫp ‘fate’). The skald could perhaps be hinting that the king’s death was due not to an inexorable destiny but to his own stubborn thirst for glory. Compare Note to st. 12/1 ofrausn, including the citation from Þjóðólfr. (c) Auð- could be connected with auðr m. ‘riches, prosperity’ as in auðigr ‘wealthy’ and many compounds, including Arn Þorfdr 21/4 auðgjafi ‘wealth-giver’. Eigi auðligr, hence, could mean ‘not profitable’ (so Fms 12, 166), perhaps referring to death curtailing a relationship of patronage (cf. Glúmr Gráf 11I). (d) Auð- could mean ‘easy/easily’ as in auðkenndr ‘easily recognised’ or auðfenginn ‘easily obtained’. Eigi auðligr would mean in this case ‘not easy’, implying by understatement that Haraldr’s death came about in a bitter or painful way (so Kock, NN §1136). Compare Beowulf 2586, where the OE cognate ēaðe is used in an ironic understatement about the hero’s death, beginning, Ne wæs þæt ēðe [ēaðe] sīð ‘It was no easy journey’ (Beowulf 2008, 88). — [3] hlífðut ‘did not protect’: (a) The meaning of oddar hlífðut sœfi hlenna could be straightforwardly, ‘the [Norwegians’] spear-points did not protect the slayer of robbers [Haraldr]’, i.e. the row of spears afforded no defence. (b) On the other hand, hlífðut could well be an ironic understatement: ‘the [enemy] points did not spare him’—indeed, they were the death of him. — [4] broddar reknir ‘spear-points inlaid’: As the reading of both Fsk and the Mork tradition, it is preferred here to the equally effective Hkr reading oddar roðnir ‘spear-points reddened’. Hodd n. ‘gold, treasure’ normally occurs in the pl. (see LP: 1. hodd), here dat. pl. hoddum.

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