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.

files
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.

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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

in texts: Flat, Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, HSig, LaufE, MH, Mork, ÓH, ÓHHkr, Skm, SnE

SkP info: II, 260-80

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Rauð, en rýrt varð síðan
— rann eldr of sjǫt manna —
frána egg á Fjóni,
Fjónbyggva lið, tyggi.
The sovereign [Haraldr] reddened his bright blade in Fyn, and the troop of Fyn-dwellers was then diminished; flame ran through settlements of men.
2 Hjalmôru lét heyra,
hizis rauð fyr Nizi,
tyggi, tyrfings eggjar
tvær, áðr mannfall væri.
Naðrs borð skriðu norðan
nýs at allvalds fýsi;
hlaut til Hallands skjóta
hrafnþarfr konungr stafni.
The sovereign made helmet-envoys [WARRIORS] hear that he reddened the two edges of the sword there by the Nissan, before slaughter of men came about. The bulwarks of the new serpent [ship] slid from the north at the desire of the mighty ruler; lavish to ravens, the king got to speed his prow to Halland.
3 Hrauð, sás hvergi flýði,
heiðmærr Dana skeiðir
glaðr und golli roðnum,
geirjalm, konungr hjalmi.
Skjaldborg raufsk, en skúfar
— skaut hoddglǫtuðr oddum
bragna brynjur gǫgnum
buðlungr — of ná sungu.
The bright-renowned king, who nowhere fled spear-clangour [BATTLE], cleared, glad under gold-reddened helmet, the warships of the Danes. The shield-wall shattered, and swords sang out over corpses; the hoard-destroyer [GENEROUS RULER], the monarch, shot spear-points through the mail-coats of warriors.
4 Gekkat Sveinn af snekkju
saklaust inn forhrausti
— malmr kom harðr við hjalma —
— hugi minn es þat — sinni.
Farskostr hlaut at fljóta
fljótmælts vinar Jóta,
áðr an ǫðlingr flýði,
auðr, frá verðung dauðri.
The very brave Sveinn did not go without cause from his warship; that is my thought; steel struck hard on helmets. The choice vessel of the swift-spoken friend of the Jótar [DANISH KING = Sveinn] was fated to float unmanned, before the noble one fled from his dead retinue.
5 Gengr í ætt, þats yngvi
Upplendinga brenndi
(þjóð galt ræsis reiði,)
rǫnn (þess’s fremstr vas manna).
Vildut ǫflgar aldir,
áðr vas stýrt til váða,
— grams dolgum fekksk galgi —
gagnprýðanda hlýða.
It runs in the family that the prince burned the dwellings of the Upplendingar; the people paid for the wrath of the ruler who was foremost of men. Mighty men were not willing to heed the glorious victor, before their course turned to ruin; the gallows were the lot of the foes of the fierce lord.
6 Eymðit ráð við Rauma
reiðr Eydana meiðir;
heit dvínuðu Heina;
hyrr gerði þá kyrra.
The wrathful harmer of Island-Danes [= Haraldr] did not soften his treatment of the Raumar; the threats of the Heinir fell away; fire made them quiet.
7 Þung rauð jôrn á Englum
eirlaust, né kømr meira,
vísi vel nær Úsu,
valfall of her snjallan.
The leader reddened weighty iron blades ruthlessly on the English hard by the Ouse, and never will greater slaughter come upon a bold host.
8 Fell at fundi stillis
— framm óðu vé — móða
— ámt fló grjót — á gauta
glóðheitr ofan sveiti.
Þjóð hykk þaðra nôðu
þúsundum togfúsa
(spjót flugu) líf at láta
(laus í gumna hausum).
Ember-hot blood flowed at the ruler’s conflict down upon wearied men; dark stones flew; standards stormed forth. I think that men quick on the draw came to lose their lives by thousands there; spears flew free at the skulls of men.
9 Gagn fekk gjǫfvinr Sygna
— gekk hildr at mun — vildra,
hinns á hæl fyr mǫnnum
hreinskjaldaðr fór aldri.
Dunðu jarlar undan
— eir fekka lið þeira —
— mannkyn hefr at minnum
morgun þann — til borgar.
The gift-friend of prized Sygnir [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr] gained victory, he who, bright-shielded, never took to his heels before men; the battle went to his wish. The earls thundered away to the stronghold; their troop did not receive mercy; the race of men holds that morning in memory.
10 Uppgǫngu bauð yngvi
ítr með helming lítinn,
sás á sinni ævi
sásk aldrigi háska.
Enn of England sunnan
ǫflugr herr at berjask
fór við fylki dýran;
fundusk þeir af stundu.
The splendid prince, he who never in his life feared danger, commanded the advance ashore with a small force. But a mighty army marched from the south through England to fight the excellent sovereign; they engaged at once.
11 Hafðit brjóst, né bifðisk
bǫðsnart konungs hjarta
í hjalmþrimu, hilmir
hlítstyggr fyr sér lítit,
þars til þengils hersa
þat sá herr, at skatna
blóðugr hjǫrr ins barra
beit dǫglinga hneitis.
The prince, shunning mediocrity, had no small courage in himself, and the battle-swift heart of the king did not tremble in the helmet-din [BATTLE], where the army saw, watching the lord of hersar [RULER], that the bloody sword of the zealous subduer of princes [RULER] bit men.
12 Olli ofrausn stillis,
ormalátrs þats máttit,
stáls í strǫngu éli
stríðir elli bíða,
sás aldrigi, aldins
ótams lituðr hramma
viggs, í vápna glyggvi
Varðrúnar, sik sparði.
The excess of heroism in the ruler caused [this] in the stern blizzard of steel [BATTLE], that the foe of the reptiles’ lair [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN = Haraldr] could not live to see old age, the stainer of the claws of the old, untamed steed of Varðrún <troll-woman> [WOLF > WARRIOR] who never spared himself in the wind-storm of weapons [BATTLE].
13 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.
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.
14 Vítt fór vǫlsungs heiti;
varð marglofaðr harða,
sás skaut ór Nið nýtla
norðan herskips borði.
The [great] name of the sovereign went far and wide; he was most highly praised, who launched skilfully the warship’s plank from the north out of Nidelven.
15 Myrkts, hverr meira orkar,
mér, alls greppr né sérat,
— harðrs í heimi orðinn
hrafngrennir — þrek jǫfnum.
Ert gat óslætt hjarta
(eljunfims) und himni
mest (hefr mildingr kostat
minni hvers grams vinnur).
It is dark to me, for the poet does not see it, who will achieve more, equal feats of strength; the harsh raven-feeder [WARRIOR] has departed this world. He was endowed with the boldest, keenest heart under heaven; the gracious one has put to the test the lesser deeds of every mettlesome lord.
16 Haraldr vissi sik hverjum
harðgeðr und Miðgarði
— dǫglingr réð til dauða
dýrð slíkri — gram ríkra.
Hefr afreka in* øfra
(ættstýrǫndum dýrri
hnígrat hilmir frægri)
heilǫg fold (til moldar).
Harsh-minded Haraldr knew himself mightier than any lord under Miðgarðr; the monarch commanded such glory till death. The holy land on high [lit. the holy, higher land] has the hero; no prince more renowned, more precious than that ruler of men, will sink to the soil.
17 Bœnir hefk fyr beini
bragna falls við snjallan
Girkja vǫrð ok Garða;
gjǫf launak svá jǫfri.
I raise up prayers for the dealer of warriors’ deaths [WARRIOR] to the wise guardian of the Greeks and of Russia (Garðar) [= God]; thus I repay the prince for his gift.
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