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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þórarinn loftunga (Þloft)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Matthew Townend;

2. Tøgdrápa (Tøgdr) - 8

Skj info: Þórarinn loftunga, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 322-7, BI, 298-301).

Skj poems:
1. Hǫfuðlausn
2. Tøgdrápa
3. Glælognskviða

Few biographical facts are known about Þórarinn loftunga ‘Praise-tongue’ (Þloft). In introducing Þórarinn’s service to King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great), Snorri Sturluson (ÍF 27, 307; cf. ÓH 1941, I, 473) records in general terms that he was an Icelander and a great poet (skáld mikit) who had spent a great deal of time with kings and other chieftains. Knýtl (ÍF 35, 124) gives a similar portrait, and adds that Þórarinn was gamall ‘old’ when he first came to Knútr. However, all of Þórarinn’s extant poetry derives from his service to Knútr and his son Sveinn, and these are the only monarchs for whom Þórarinn is recorded as a poet in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267). Þorm Lv 10/1-2 also refers to Knútr rewarding Þórarinn with gold over a long period (for the anecdote in which it is quoted see ÓHLeg 1982, 124-8; ÓH 1941, II, 799-804), and his pre-Knútr career must remain hypothetical. Parts of three poems are preserved: Hǫfuðlausn (Hfl) and Tøgdrápa (Tøgdr) for Knútr, and Glælognskviða (Glækv) for Sveinn, probably composed in this order, and between c. 1027 and 1034; for circumstances of composition and preservation see individual Introductions below. The evidence of the poems suggests that Þórarinn entered Knútr’s service in either England or Denmark, accompanied him on his journey to Norway in 1028, and after 1030 remained at Sveinn’s court in Norway at least until c. 1032. For previous discussions of Þórarinn’s career see LH I, 601-3, Malcolm (1993), and Townend (2005, 256-7).

Tøgdrápa — Þloft TøgdrI

Matthew Townend 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þórarinn loftunga, Tøgdrápa’ 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. 851.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Þórarinn loftunga: 2. Tøgdrápa, 1028 (AI, 322-324, BI, 298-299); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

SkP info: I, 861

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

7 — Þloft Tøgdr 7I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórarinn loftunga, Tøgdrápa 7’ 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. 861.

Gjǫld hefk marka
malmdyns fyr hlyn
framm fimm tega
forvíst borit,
þeiras veitti
víghagr fyr brag
mér morðstœrir,
mannbaldr es ek fann.

Hefk forvíst borit framm fyr {hlyn {malmdyns}} gjǫld fimm tega marka, þeiras {víghagr morðstœrir} veitti mér fyr brag, es ek fann mannbaldr.

I have most certainly brought forward before {the maple {of metal-din}} [BATTLE > WARRIOR] repayment for the fifty marks which {the slaying-skilled battle-increaser} [WARRIOR] gave me for a poem, when I met the outstanding man.

Mss: (34), 20dˣ(14r), 873ˣ(14v), 41ˣ(14r) (Knýtl)

Readings: [2] malm‑: malms 41ˣ    [3] tega: tigu JÓ, 20dˣ, 41ˣ, ‘tige’ 873ˣ    [6] fyr: om. 20dˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórarinn loftunga, 2. Tøgdrápa 1: AI, 322, BI, 298, Skald I, 151, NN §§786, 787; Knýtl 1919-25, 53, ÍF 35, 125-6 (ch. 19).

Context: The stanza is quoted in Knýtl, at the conclusion of the story of Þórarinn’s ‘head-ransom’ poem (see his Biography), and is introduced, Síðan orti Þórarinn aðra drápu um Knút konung, ok er þat kǫlluð Tøgdrápa. Þar segir svá ‘Afterwards Þórarinn composed another drápa about King Knútr, and that is called Tøgdrápa. There it says this’.

Notes: [All]: Skj B (followed by Skald) presents this as the first extant stanza of Þloft Tøgdr, perhaps influenced by the introduction in Knýtl (see Context above). However, the gjǫld ‘repayment’ referred to in l. 1 seems to be the present poem, rather than the earlier Þloft Hfl, which is the bragr ‘poem’ mentioned in l. 6; this suggests that this stanza should come at the end of the present poem’s recitation, rather than at the beginning. The sequence of thought and events is thus that Þloft Hfl merited a payment of fifty marks, which in turn merited a repayment through poetic service. See also Fidjestøl (1982, 126, 172), who supports this re-ordering. — [1, 3] fimm tega marka ‘fifty marks’: Lit. ‘five tens of marks’; an enormous sum. Fidjestøl (1984b, 62) calculates that this equates to 25 pounds of high-quality silver, or the value of about 200 cows. The minor emendation of acc. pl. tigu to gen. pl. tega suggested by Kock (NN §786) is necessary since gjǫld ‘(re)payment’ takes the gen. of the thing for which recompense is made (LP: gjald 1). For the root vowel in tega, see ANG §395 Anm. 3. — [4] forvíst ‘most certainly’: (a) Skj B and LP: forvist take this as the noun forvist f. ‘care, custodianship’ (not recorded elsewhere in skaldic poetry), seemingly in apposition to gjǫld (and governing fimm tøgu/tega, hence ‘custodianship of fifty marks’), as the object of borit ‘brought’. (b) Kock, however (NN §786, followed by ÍF 35), offers the preferable interpretation that what we have is the common adv. víst ‘certainly’, preceded by the intensifying prefix for-. — [8] mannbaldr (m. acc. sg.) ‘the outstanding man’: Lit. perhaps ‘human hero’ or ‘hero of a man’, as also in SnSt Ht 36/6III. Baldr is here taken as a common noun cognate with OE bealdor ‘hero, lord’ (cf. AEW: baldr 2), and the usage may be influenced by OE (see Kock, NN §787; Hofmann 1955, 76, 94). By contrast Finnur Jónsson (Skj B; LP: mann-Baldr) assumes that this is the name of the god, giving mann-Baldr with the sense ‘a Baldr among men’.

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