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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;

4. Þorfinnsdrápa (Þorfdr) - 25

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.

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

Þorfinnsdrápa (‘Drápa about Þorfinnr’) — Arn ÞorfdrII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa’ 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. 229-60.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25 

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 5. Þórfinnsdrápa (AI, 343-8, BI, 316-21); stanzas (if different): 1 | 3 | 4 | 12 | 13 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18

SkP info: II, 249

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

17 — Arn Þorfdr 17II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 17’ 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, p. 249.

Stǫng bar jarl at Engla
ættgrund, en rauð stundu
— vé bað vísi knýja —
verðung ara tungu.
Hyrr óx; hallir þurru;
herdrótt rak þar flótta;
eim hratt, en laust ljóma,
limdolgr, náar himni.

Jarl bar stǫng at ættgrund Engla, en verðung rauð stundu tungu ara; vísi bað knýja vé. Hyrr óx; hallir þurru; herdrótt rak þar flótta; {limdolgr} hratt eim, en laust ljóma náar himni.

The jarl bore his standard onto the native soil of the English, and his retinue reddened at once the eagle’s tongue; the leader called for banners to advance. Flame grew; halls collapsed; the war-band drove [men] to flight there; {the foe of branches} [FIRE] flung out smoke, and hurled light close to the sky.

Mss: R702ˣ(38v), Flat(132ra), SLR(28) (ll. 7-8) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] at: á Flat    [2] rauð: so Flat, hrauð R702ˣ;    stundu: stundum Flat    [4] verðung: so Flat, ‘vo᷎rdung’ R702ˣ    [5] hallir: halir Flat    [6] her‑: so Flat, heim‑ R702ˣ;    þar: om. Flat    [7] eim: ‘œímr’ Flat    [8] ‑dolgr: ‑dolgs Flat;    náar (‘nær’): nærr Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 16: AI, 346-7, BI, 319, Skald I, 162; Flat 1860-8, II, 412, Orkn 1913-16, 64-5, ÍF 34, 61-2 (ch. 24); Whaley 1998, 253-5.

Context: As for st. 16, since st. 17 follows it directly.

Notes: [All]: An analysis of the motifs which make up this st. is offered in Whaley 1998, 58-61. — [2] stundu ‘at once’: (a) The translation is supported by þegar ‘at once’ at the corresponding point in Orkn’s prose narrative. Stundu usually appears in the phrase af stundu, as in Arn Hardr 10/8 fundusk þeir af stundu ‘they engaged at once’, but stundu, although not otherwise recorded, could be a shortened variant of the phrase (so ÍF 34, 62 n.), since the skalds’ handling of prepositional phrases is often freer than that of prose writers (NS §118b). (b) The variant stundum ‘at times’ does not give good sense. — [6] herdrótt ‘the war-band’: (a) The herdrótt which puts men to flight is presumably the same as the verðung ‘retinue’ in l. 4: Þorfinnr’s men. (b) Heimdrótt ‘native troop’ is a hap. leg. In the context of st. 17 it would refer to the English as defending army; but the evidence of sts 17-18 is that they were routed. — [7] hratt eim ‘flung out smoke’: This is taken as predicate to limdolgr ‘fire’ (l. 8). The variant eimr hratt ‘smoke belched forth’ (so Flat) would also be possible, with an absolute, impersonal use of hrinda (cf. Fritzner: hrinda 1, final example). — [7, 8] limdolgr … laust ljóma náar himni ‘the foe of branches [FIRE] … hurled light close to the sky’: Limdolgr is here taken as an active subject to laust as well as to hratt, although it would also be reasonable to take en laust ljóma ... náar himni ‘and light was cast up against the sky’ as a separate, impersonal construction. These ll. are reminiscent of the image of fire towering against the sky in Vsp 57.

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