Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

2. Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa (Hryn) - 20

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

Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa (‘Falling/flowing metre, Drápa about Magnús’) — Arn HrynII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa’ 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. 181-206.

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Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa, 1046 (AI, 332-8, BI, 306-11); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3

in texts: Flat, FoGT, Gramm, H-Hr, Hkr, Knýtl, LaufE, LaufE, MGóð, MH, Mork, ÓH, Skm, SnE, SnEW, TGT

SkP info: II, 181-206

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Kljúfa létk í kaupfǫr dúfu
knarra minn við borð in stinnu.
I made my vessel cleave the billow with its firm strakes on a trading voyage.
2 Seinkun varð, þás hlébarðs hanka
hnikaði ôr in ljóta bára.
Delay came about, as the foul breaker drove against the oar of the bear of the cleat [SHIP].
3 Magnús, hlýð til máttigs óðar;
manngi veit ek fremra annan;
yppa rôðumk yðru kappi,
Jóta gramr, í kvæði fljótu.
Haukr réttr estu, Hǫrða dróttinn,
hverr gramr es þér stóru verri;
meiri verði þinn an þeira
þrifnuðr allr, unz himinn rifnar.
Magnús, hear a mighty poem; I know no other [to be] more outstanding; I mean to raise up your prowess, prince of the Jótar [DANISH KING = Magnús], in a swift poem. You are a just hawk, lord of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús]; every prince is far below you [lit. worse by much than you]; may your whole success be greater than theirs, until the sky tears apart.
4 Herskip vannt af harða stinnum
hlunni geyst í Salt it Eystra;
skjǫldungr, stétt á skǫrum hvéldan
skeiðar húf með girzku reiði.
Vafðir lítt, en vendir bifðusk;
varta hrǫkk, en niðr nam søkkva;
geystisk hlýr, en hristi* bára,
hrími stokkin, búnar grímur.
You made warships surge [lit. surged, propelled] from the most firm launcher into the Baltic; king, you boarded the warship’s hull, curved by its jointed planks, [and] with Russian tackle. You wavered little, but masts shuddered; the prow jolted, and started to plunge; the bow surged on, and the billow, flecked with rime, shook the adorned figure-heads.
5 Rauðar bôruð randir síðan,
rimmu Yggr, of sœnskar byggðir;
eigi gaztu liðskost lágan;
landsfolk sótti þér til handa.
Austan þurðuð, ulfa ferðar
ǫldum kunnr, með hvíta skjǫldu,
tungurjóðr, til tírarþinga
teknir menn ok dǫrr in reknu.
Next you carried red shields, Yggr <= Óðinn> of battle [WARRIOR], through Swedish settlements; you did not gain a poor pick of troops; the men of the land put themselves in your hands. Tongue-reddener of the pack of wolves, renowned to peoples [WARRIOR], you swept from the east, men chosen for glorious encounters, with white shields and inlaid spears.
6 Austan komt með allra hæstum,
Yggjar môs, í þrœnzkar byggðir,
fiðrirjóðr, en fjandmenn yðra
falma kvôðu, œgishjalmi.
Breiðask vissu, blágamms fœðir
benja kolgu, yðrir dolgar
— hræddir urðu fjǫrvi at forða
fjandmenn þínir — vesǫld sína.
Feather-reddener of the gull of Yggr <= Óðinn> [RAVEN > WARRIOR], you came from the east into the Trøndelag settlements with the highest of all helmet of terror, and they said that your enemies faltered. Your foes, feeder of the dark vulture of the surf of wounds [BLOOD > RAVEN > WARRIOR], knew that their wretchedness was growing; your enemies were forced, fearful, to save their lives.
7 Ungan frák þik, eyðir, þrøngva,
ulfa gráðar, þeira ráði;
skildir stǫkk með skœðan þokka
skeiðar brands fyr þér ór landi.
Queller of the greed [FEEDER] of wolves [WARRIOR] I have heard that you, when young, constrained their course; the shield-provider of the warship’s prow [SEA-WARRIOR = Sveinn Álfífuson] bolted before you, with baleful thought, from the land.
8 Eignask namtu óðal þegna
allan Nóreg, gotna spjalli;
manngi ryðr þér mildingr annarr,
Mœra gramr, til landa œri.
Confidant of men [RULER], you came to win the patrimony of liegemen, all of Norway; no other monarch, lord of the Mœrir [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús], will clear himself lands when younger than you.
9 Síðan vas, þats sunnr með láði
siklingr ýtti flota miklum;
skíði vas þá skriðar of auðit
skorðu; renndi Visundr norðan.
Samnask bað til hverrar hǫmlu
— hræðask menn við ættar klæði
Gjúka; þótti gǫfugt eiki
girzkum malmi — Peitu hjalma.
Later it happened that the sovereign launched a great fleet south along the coast; then the ski of the ship’s prop [SHIP] was granted motion; Visundr (‘Bison’) charged from the north. He [Magnús] urged helmets from Poitou to rally at every rowing position; men fear the raiment of the offspring of Gjúki <legendary king> [ARMOUR]; the oaken vessel seemed splendid with its Russian metal.
10 Ljótu dreif á lypting útan
lauðri — bifðisk goll it rauða —
— fastligr hneigði fúru geystri
fýris garmr — ok skeiðar stýri.
Stirðum helzt umb Stafangr norðan
stôlum — bifðusk fyrir álar —
— uppi glóðu élmars typpi
eldi glík — í Danaveldi.
Foul surf surged in against the after-deck and the helm of the warship; the red gold shuddered; the powerful hound of the fir-tree [WIND] pitched the rushing ship of fir. You steered sturdy prows from the north past Stavanger to the realm of the Danes; currents shuddered in front; the mast-heads of the storm-steed [SHIP] glowed aloft like fire.
11 Heyra skalt, hvé herskjǫld bôruð,
hilmis kundr, til Venða grundar
— heppinn drótt af hlunni sléttum
hélug bǫrð — í stefjaméli.
Aldri frák, en, vísi, valdið
Venða sorg, at dǫglingr spenði
— flaustum varð þá flóð of ristit —
fleiri skip til óðals þeira.
Ruler’s kinsman, you shall hear in a refrain-section how you carried the war-shield to the land of the Wends; you dragged, fortunate, rime-spread prows from the smooth launcher. Never have I heard that a sovereign steered more ships against their patrimony, and, prince, you cause grief for the Wends; then the flood was carved by ships.
12 Skjǫldungr, fórt of óþjóð eldi;
auðit vas þá flotnum dauða;
hæstan kynduð, hlenna þrýstir,
hyrjar ljóma sunnr at Jómi.
Hvergi þorði hallir varða
heiðit folk í virki breiðu;
buðlungr, unnuð borgarmǫnnum
bjǫrtum eldi stalldræp hjǫrtu.
King, you went with flame through the evil tribe; then death was fated to men; crusher of thieves [JUST RULER], you kindled a towering blaze of fire south in Wollin. The heathen host dared not at all to defend halls in the broad stronghold; royal one, you caused terror-struck hearts in the townsmen, by means of bright flame.
13 Skjǫldungr, lézt við skíra valdit
Skotborgarô Venða sorgum;
yngvi, vas sá frægr, es fenguð,
fǫrnuðr þinn, við helming minna.
Vári, lá þar valkǫstr hæri,
— vas þér sigr skapaðr grams ins digra —
virðum kunnr, an víða runnin
varga ætt of klífa mætti.
King, you caused griefs for the Wends by the gleaming Kongeå; sovereign, that success of yours, which you won with a smaller troop, was famed. Defender, renowned to men, a corpse-pile lay there higher than the clan of wolves, run from far and wide, could climb over; victory of the stout lord was granted you.
14 Hefnir, fenguð yrkisefni,
Ôleifs; gervik slíkt at môlum;
Hlakkar lætr þú hrælǫg drekka
hauka; nú mun kvæði aukask.
Fjórar hefr þú, randa rýrir
reyrar setrs, á einum vetri
— allvaldr, estu ofvægr kallaðr —
ǫrva hríðir frœkn of gǫrvar.
Avenger of Óláfr [= Magnús], you furnished matter for the verse; I fashion such [deeds] into words; you allow hawks of Hlǫkk <valkyrie> [RAVENS/EAGLES] to drink the corpse-sea [BLOOD]; now the poem will swell. Diminisher of the home of the reed of shields [SWORD > SHIELD > WARRIOR], you have, daring, performed four blizzards of arrows [BATTLES] in one season; mighty ruler, you are called invincible.
15 Keppinn vannt, þats æ mun uppi,
Yggjar veðr, meðan heimrinn byggvisk;
valgammr skók í vápna rimmu
viðr Helganes blóðugt fiðri.
Yngvi, fekktu ǫll með hringum,
— jarl vissi sik foldar missa —
þjóðum kunnr, en þú tókt síðan,
þeira flaust, við sigri meira.
You fought, vigorous, a wind-storm of Yggr <= Óðinn> [BATTLE], which will always be extolled while the world is peopled; the corpse-vulture [RAVEN/EAGLE] ruffled his bloody plumage in the roar of weapons [BATTLE] at Helgenæs. Sovereign renowned to men, you seized all their vessels, every one; the jarl [Sveinn Úlfsson] knew he had lost land, and you gained then a greater victory.
16 Ótti, kunnuð elgjum hætta
œðiveðrs á skelfðan grœði,
fengins golls, eða fœðið ella
flestan aldr und drifnu tjaldi.
Glíkan berr þik hvǫssum hauki,
hollvinr minn, í lypting innan
— aldri skríðr und fylki fríðra
farligt eiki — Visundr snarla.
Terror of seized gold [GENEROUS MAN], you know how to risk elks of the raging gale [SHIPS] on the piled-up swell, or else you pass the most part of your life under the spray-drenched awnings. Visundr (‘Bison’) carries you swiftly, like a keen hawk, my true friend, inside the after-deck; a goodly oaken ship will never glide beneath a finer prince.
17 Eigi létuð, jǫfra bági,
yðru nafni mannkyn hafna;
hvártki flýrðu, hlenna þreytir,
hyr né malm í broddi styrjar.
Hlunna es, sem rǫðull renni,
reiðar búningr, upp í heiði,
— hrósak því, es herskip glæsir
hlenna dolgr — eða vitar brenni.
Subduer of princes [RULER], you did not allow the race of men to neglect your name; destroyer of thieves [JUST RULER], you flee neither fire nor steel in the forefront of battle. The array of the chariot of rollers [SHIP] is as though the sun were racing up in the bright sky, or beacons flaring; I praise the way that the foe of thieves [JUST RULER] adorns his warships.
18 Mǫnnum lízk, es mildingr rennir
Meita hlíðir sævar skíði,
unnir jafnt sem ósamt renni
engla fylki himna þengils.
It seems to men, as the ruler makes the ski of the ocean [SHIP] skim the slopes of Meiti <sea-king> [SEA], just as though the host of angels of the skies’ prince [= God] were skimming the waves with him.
19 Eyðendr, fregnk, at elska þjóðir
— inndrótt þín es hǫfð at minnum —
grœði lostins goði it næsta
geima Vals í þessum heimi.
I hear that people love the clearer of the Valr <horse> of the ocean [SHIP > SEA-WARRIOR], lashed by the swell, next after God in this world; your personal troop is held in memory.
20 Skjǫldungr, mun þér annarr aldri
œðri gramr und sólu fœðask.
King, another lord loftier than you will never be born under the sun.
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