Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

3. Magnússdrápa (Magndr) - 19

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

Magnússdrápa (‘Drápa about Magnús’) — Arn MagndrII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 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. 206-29.

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Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 3. Magnúsdrápa (AI, 338-43, BI, 311-15); stanzas (if different): 13 | 14

in texts: Flat, Fsk, H-Hr, Hkr, LaufE, MGóð, MH, ÓH, Skm, SnE

SkP info: II, 206-29

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

1 Nú hykk rjóðanda reiðu
rógǫrs, þvít veitk gǫrva,
— þegi seimbrotar — segja
seggjum hneitis eggja.
Vasat ellifu allra
ormsetrs hati vetra,
hraustr þás herskip glæsti
Hǫrða vinr ór Gǫrðum.
Now I mean to tell men of the career of the strife-quick reddener of the sword’s edges [WARRIOR], for I know it fully; let gold-breakers [GENEROUS MEN] be silent. The hater of the reptile’s home [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] was not fully eleven winters when [he], the valiant friend of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús], arrayed warships to leave Russia.
2 Þing bauð út inn ungi
eggrjóðandi þjóðum;
fim bar hirð til hǫmlu
hervæðr ara bræðis.
Salt skar húfi héltum
hraustr þjóðkonungr austan;
bôru brimlogs rýri
brún veðr at Sigtúnum.
The young blade-reddener [WARRIOR] summoned men to the assembly; lively, the troop of the feeder of the eagle [WARRIOR] went in war-garb [ARMOUR] to the rowing positions. The valiant mighty king clove the salt with rime-spread hull from the east; sharp gales bore the diminisher of surf-fire [GOLD > GENEROUS MAN] towards Sigtuna (Sigtúnir).
3 Gekk á Svíþjóð søkkvi
Sveins, es fremð vann eina;
fýstisk Ôleifs austan
afkart sonar hjarta.
Nôtt beið ok dag dróttins
dygg ferð Jaðarbyggva;
fýst bað gram* í geystu
gífrs veðri sér hlífa.
The queller of Sveinn [= Magnús], who performed nothing but triumph, marched into Sweden; the prodigious heart of the son of Óláfr [= Magnús] was urging from the east. The worthy host of the people of Jæren awaited their liege night and day; urgently, in [their] troubled gale of the troll-woman [MIND], they begged the prince to protect them.
4 Flýði fylkir reiði
framr þjóðkonungs ramma;
stǫkk fyr auðvin okkrum
armsvells hati gellir.
Létat Nóregs njóta
nýtr þengill gram lengi;
hann rak Svein af sínum
sókndjarfr fǫðurarfi.
The outstanding leader [Sveinn Álfífuson] fled the mighty fury of the nation’s king [Magnús]; the hater of arm-ice [SILVER > GENEROUS MAN], the howler, bolted from our treasure-friend [GENEROUS RULER = Magnús]. The worthy prince did not let the lord enjoy Norway for long; daring in attack, he drove Sveinn from his father’s legacy.
5 Afkarlig varð jarla
orðgnótt, sús hlaut dróttinn;
fylgði efnð, þvís ylgjar
angrtælir réð mæla:
at framm í gný grimmum
grafnings und kló hrafni
fúss lézk falla ræsir
feigr eða Danmǫrk eiga.
The lordly wealth of words with which the liege was endowed was prodigious; his deeds matched what the grief-beguiler [GLADDENER] of the she-wolf [WARRIOR = Magnús] did say: that the prince said, glad, he would fall doomed under the claw of the raven, ahead in the cruel clash of the graven shield [BATTLE], or else possess Denmark.
6 Segja munk, hvé Sygna
snarfengjan bar þengil
hallr ok hrími sollinn
hléborðs visundr norðan.
Setti bjóðr at breiðu
brynþings — fetilstinga
fús tók ǫld við œsi —
Jótlandi gramr branda.
I will tell how the bison of the lee-side [SHIP], listing and encrusted with rime, carried the swift-acting lord of the Sygnir [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús] from the north. The convenor of the byrnie-assembly [BATTLE > WARRIOR], the monarch, steered his prows towards broad Jylland; people received, eager, the impeller of sword-belt stabbers [SWORDS > WARRIOR].
7 Náði siklingr síðan
snjallr ok Danmǫrk allri
— môttr óx drengja dróttins —
dýrr Nóregi at stýra.
Engr hefr annarr þengill
áðr svá gnógu láði
— bráskat bragnings þroski —
barnungr und sik þrungit.
The daring, excellent prince attained then to rule Norway and the whole of Denmark; the strength of the leader of warriors grew. No other lord has, while child-young, thrust under his rule before such ample territory; the manhood of the sovereign did not fail.
8 Vann, þás Venðr of minnir,
vápnhríð konungr síðan;
sveið of ôm at Jómi
illvirkja hræ stillir.
Búk dró bráðla steikðan
blóðugr vargr af glóðum;
rann á óskírð enni
allfrekr bani hallar.
The king worked then a weapon-blizzard [BATTLE], which Wends remember; the ruler singed around dark corpses of evil-doers at Wollin. The bloody wolf dragged a body, swiftly-roasted, from the embers; the most ravenous slayer of the hall [FIRE] darted over unbaptised brows.
9 Fúss lét á Ré ræsir
rammþing háit Glamma;
valska rauð fyr víðu
Vestlandi gramr branda.
The ruler, eager, caused a mighty encounter of Glammi <sea-king> [BATTLE] to be held at Rügen; the sovereign reddened Frankish blades off broad Vestland.
10 Óð með øxi breiða
ódæsinn framm ræsir
— varð of hilmi Hǫrða
hjǫrdynr — ok varp brynju,
þás of skapt, en skipti
skapvǫrðr himins jǫrðu,
— Hel klauf hausa fǫlva —
hendr tvær jǫfurr spendi.
The unsluggish ruler stormed forth with broad axe, and cast off his byrnie; a sword-clash [BATTLE] arose around the ruler of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús], as the prince clenched both hands around the shaft, and the shaping guardian of heaven [= God] allotted earth; Hel clove pallid skulls.
11 Svá hlóð siklingr hôvan
snarr af ulfa barri
(hrósak hugfulls vísa)
hrækǫst (fira* ævi),
at áleggjar Yggjar
allnôttfǫrull máttit,
— ǫld lá vítt — þótt vildi,
vífs marr yfir klífa.
The keen sovereign heaped up so high a corpse-mound of wolves’ barley [CORPSES]—I praise the life of the mettlesome leader of men—that, ever prowling by night, the steed of the wife of the Yggr <= Óðinn> of the river-limb [ROCK > GIANT > GIANTESS > WOLF] could not scale it, though he longed to; men were strewn widely.
12 Vítt hefk heyrt at heiti
Helganes, þars elgi
vágs inn víða frægi
vargteitir hrauð marga.
Røkr ǫndurt bað randir
reggbúss saman leggja;
rógskýja helt rýgjar
regni haustnôtt gegnum.
I have heard that it is called broad Helgenæs, where the widely famed wolf-cheerer [WARRIOR] stripped many elks of the wave [SHIPS]. At the beginning of twilight the ship-tree [SEAFARER] called for shields to be set together; the rain of the troll-woman of strife-clouds [SHIELDS > AXE > BATTLE] persisted through the autumn night.
13 Dǫrr lét drengja harri
drjúgspakr af þrek fljúga
— glœddi eldr af oddum —
almi skept á hjalma.
Létat hilmir hneiti
Hǫgna veðr í gǫgnum
— jôrn flugu þykkt sem þyrnir —
þél harðara sparðan.
The ever-wise lord of warriors made spears, hafted with elm, fly powerfully at helmets; flame sparked from spear-points. The ruler did not allow his sword, harder than a file, to be spared throughout the wind-storm of Hǫgni <legendary hero> [BATTLE]; iron missiles flew thick as thorns.
14 Skeiðr tók Bjarnar bróður
ballr Skônungum allar
— þjóð røri þeirar tíðar
þingat — gramr með hringum.
The monarch, baleful to the Skánungar, seized all the warships of Bjǫrn’s brother [= Sveinn], every one; men rowed up at the right moment.
15 Sveins manna rekr sunnan
sǫndug lík at strǫndum;
vítt sér ǫld, fyr útan
Jótland hvar hræ fljóta.
Vitnir dregr ór vatni
(vann Ôleifs sonr bannat)
— búk slítr vargr í víkum —
valkǫst (ara fǫstu).
Sandy corpses of Sveinn’s men are cast from the south onto the beaches; far and wide people see where bodies float off Jylland. The wolf drags a heap of slain from the water; Óláfr’s son [= Magnús] made fasting forbidden for the eagle; the wolf tears a corpse in the bays.
16 Uppgǫngu vann yngvi
arflógandi gnóga;
gerði hilmir Hǫrða
hjǫrþey á Skáneyju.
The wealth-squandering sovereign launched an ample advance ashore; the prince of the Hǫrðar [NORWEGIAN KING = Magnús] caused a thawing wind of swords [BATTLE] on Skåne (Skáney).
17 Svik réð eigi eklu
allvaldr Dǫnum gjalda;
lét fullhugaðr falla
Falstrbyggva lið tyggi.
Hlóð, en hôla tœðu
hirðmenn ara grenni,
auðar þorn fyr ǫrnu
ungr valkǫstu þunga.
The mighty ruler did not repay the Danes for their deceit meagrely; the high-mettled prince made the troop of Falster-dwellers fall. The young thorn-tree of treasure [MAN] piled up heavy heaps of slain for eagles, and retainers served the feeder of the eagle [WARRIOR] excellently.
18 Enn rauð frôn á Fjóni
— fold sótti gramr dróttar —
— ráns galt herr frá hônum —
hringserks lituðr merki.
Minnisk ǫld, hverr annan
jafnþarfr blôum hrafni
— ert gat hilmir hjarta —
herskyldir tøg fylldi.
Further, the painter of the mail-shirt [WARRIOR] reddened bright banners on Fyn; the retinue’s lord attacked the land; the people paid [dearly] for their robbery of him. Let men recall which troop-commander [RULER] has lived out his second decade equally generous to the dark raven; the sovereign was endowed with a spirited heart.
19 Ungr skjǫldungr stígr aldri
jafnmildr á við skildan
(þess vas grams) und gǫmlum
(gnóg rausn) Ymis hausi.
Never beneath the ancient skull of Ymir <giant> [SKY/HEAVEN] will an equally bounteous young king step aboard a shield-hung vessel; the magnificence of that lord was ample.
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