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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, 854

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Þloft Tøgdr 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórarinn loftunga, Tøgdrápa 2’ 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. 854.

Uggðu Egðir
ǫrbeiðis fǫr
svans sigrlana
sǫkrammir mjǫk.
Allt vas golli
grams skip framit;
vǫrum sjón sǫgu
slíks ríkari.

Sǫkrammir Egðir uggðu mjǫk fǫr {ǫrbeiðis {svans {sigrlana}}}. Skip grams vas allt framit golli; sjón slíks vǫrum ríkari sǫgu.

The battle-strong Egðir greatly feared the journey {of the eager demander {of the swan {of victory-heaps}}} [CORPSES > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]. The king’s ship was all decorated with gold; the sight of such was to me more powerful than [any] telling.

Mss: (428r) (Hkr); Holm2(57r), Bæb(2va), 68(56v), Holm4(54va), 61(115va), 75c(38v), 325V(67va), 325VII(31r), 325XI 2 g(3rb), Flat(118va), Tóm(145v) (ÓH); DG8(96r) (ÓHLeg); FskAˣ(180) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Uggðu: ‘ygdu’ 61    [2] ǫr‑: auð‑ 61, 75c, Flat, Tóm;    ‑beiðis: ‘bæðes’ 325VII, ‘bæðrs’ FskAˣ;    fǫr: ‘fyr uo᷎r’ Tóm    [3] svans: seims Bæb, svangs 61, Flat, Tóm;    ‑lana: ‘lama’ Bæb, ‑vana FskAˣ    [4] sǫk‑: sak‑ DG8, FskAˣ;    ‑rammir: ‑runnur 61, manna Flat    [6] skip framit: lið búit 61, 75c, 325V, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, FskAˣ, lið framit DG8    [7] vǫrum: var Bæb, 61, 75c, 325VII, Flat, Tóm, váru FskAˣ;    sjón: ‘sen’ 75c    [8] slíks: slík 325XI 2 g;    ríkari: líkari FskAˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórarinn loftunga, 2. Tøgdrápa 3: AI, 322-3, BI, 298, Skald I, 151, NN §1129; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 398, IV, 152, ÍF 27, 308 (ÓHHkr ch. 172); ÓH 1941, I, 475 (ch. 166), Flat 1860-8, II, 306; ÓHLeg 1922, 71, ÓHLeg 1982, 168-9; Fsk 1902-3, 172 (ch. 28), ÍF 29, 192 (ch. 33).

Context: See Context to st. 1 above.

Notes: [1] Egðir: The people of Agðir (Agder). — [2, 3] ǫrbeiðis svans sigrlana ‘of the eager demander of the swan of victory-heaps [CORPSES > RAVEN/EAGLE > WARRIOR]’: The kenning is problematic, since beiðir normally means ‘demander, desirer’ and forms kennings with determinants denoting such concepts as treasure, weapons or battle (see Meissner 290), as in the recurrence of the line ǫrbeiðis fǫr at st. 4/8, with the meaning ‘journey of the arrow-demander [WARRIOR]’. Here the kenning can be analysed in at least two possible ways: (a) As above (so also ÍF 27; ÍF 29). The warrior demands or wishes for the birds of battle in that he intends to make carrion of his enemies. Kock (NN §1129B) adopts the same analysis but interprets -lana differently: see Note to l. 3. (b) Ǫrbeiðis lana sigr-svans ‘of the eager demander of the heaps of the victory-swan [RAVEN/EAGLE > CORPSES > WARRIOR]’ (so LP: 1. ǫrbeiðir, sigrlǫn; ÓHLeg 1982); this unnecessarily assumes the kenning to be inverted. Skj B’s preference is unclear. (c) Meissner 122-3, 290 proposes instead to emend beiðir to beitir, with a suggested meaning ‘one who makes bite, feeder’. — [3] sigrlana ‘of victory-heaps [CORPSES]’: Skj B and Skald both print sig- ‘battle’, but the mss read sigr- ‘victory’, and sigr- is the form given in LP: sigrlǫn. The second element, -lana (f. nom. sg. lǫn) is taken by Kock (NN §1129B) as ‘lane, path’, like its cognate OE lanu. The kenning is unusual, since corpse-kennings are normally based on the pattern ‘food of the beasts of battle’ (Meissner 203), while words for ‘heap, pile’ are not normally part of the kenning structure (e.g. Arn Magndr 11/4II hrækǫstr ‘corpse-mound, corpse-heap’, 15/8II, 17/8II valkǫstr ‘heap of slain’).  — [4] mjǫk ‘greatly’: Skj B takes this adv. as modifying sǫkrammir ‘battle-strong’ rather than uggðu ‘feared’, as here. — [5] golli ‘with gold’: On textual evidence for gold decoration on Viking Age ships see Foote (1978, 64). Traditions concerning the adornments of Danish ships, specifically those of Knútr’s father, Sveinn, are also recorded in the Encomium Emmae Reginae I. 4 (Campbell 1998, 12-15). In the reading of DG8, FskAˣ and some ÓH mss, however, it is the lið ‘troop, force’ in general that is adorned with gold, and not simply Knútr’s ship. — [7] vǫrum ‘was to me’: The variant with short vowel is required to produce neutralisation or resolution in the anacrusis; cf. SteigÞ Kv I/1II and Note.  — [7, 8] ríkari sǫgu ‘more powerful than [any] telling’: The sense seems to be that the poet is glad he saw the ship, rather than simply hearing about it. Snorri Sturluson (ÍF 27, 310) comments that Þórarinn is here boasting that he himself was present on Knútr’s expedition to Norway. The alternative possibility is that this is a rhetorical figure, declaring that the sight was greater than he could possibly tell in words.

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