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Runic Dictionary

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

5. Haraldsdrápa (Hardr) - 17

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.

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.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17 

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

SkP info: II, 268-70

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — Arn Hardr 8II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 8’ 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. 268-70.

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).

Glóðheitr sveiti fell at fundi stillis ofan á móða gauta; ámt grjót fló; vé óðu framm. Hykk togfúsa þjóð nôðu þaðra at láta líf þúsundum; spjót flugu laus í hausum gumna.

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.

Mss: Mork(18v) (Mork); Flat(203va) (Flat); H(74r), Hr(53ra) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] fundi: fundu Hr    [3] ámt: ótt Flat, ‘annt’ Hr    [4] ‑heitr: ‑heit Flat    [5] hykk: ‘hygt’ Flat;    nôðu: ‘nada’ Flat    [6] þúsundum: ‘þushundum’ Hr;    tog‑: taug‑ Flat, tók‑ H, ‘t᷎‑’ Hr    [7] líf: laus Hr;    láta: láti Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 10: AI, 351, BI, 323-4, Skald I, 163-4, NN §839, 2523; Mork 1928-32, 270, Andersson and Gade 2000, 266, 481 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 391 (MH); Fms 6, 409 (HSig ch. 115), Fms 12, 164; Whaley 1998, 281-3.

Context: As for st. 7. In H-Hr, the st. is preceded by a short account, in prose and verse, of the slaughter of the English who were cut off from escape by the stream and the marshy ground.

Notes: [2, 3] á móða gauta ‘upon wearied men’: Móða is here taken as a m. acc. pl. adj. qualifying gauta ‘men’. The word is sometimes used specifically of battle-weariness, e.g. eggmóðr ‘edge-/blade-weary’, applied in Grí 53/1 (NK 68) and Hamð 30/3 (NK 273) to valr ‘the slain’. Gauta has been considered a point of difficulty in the st. (see, e.g., Finnur Jónsson 1934, 46-7). The recorded meanings of gautr, pl. gautar, are threefold: (a) Gautar is an ethnic name referring to the people of Väster- and Östergötland, southern Sweden. (b) Gautr is a name for Óðinn (cf. Gauti and Gautatýr), and as such it can function as a base-word in kennings for ‘man/warrior’. (c) Gautar is instead taken here as the rare heiti for ‘men’ (so also various eds, including those of Fms 12, 164, and Kock, NN §2523), which is probably an extension of the ethnic name, just as got(n)ar ‘men’ is an extension of Gotar ‘Goths’. This usage is matched in the contemporary st. Stúfr Stúfdr 4 spjalli gauta ‘confidant of men’, with the variant gumna ‘of men’. Á móða gauta ‘upon wearied men’ is construed here with sveiti fell … ofan ‘blood flowed down’ (cf. a similar image in Hást Lv 3IV), but it would also fit with ámt grjót fló ‘dark stones flew’. — [3] ámt ‘dark’: The adj. is sg., qualifying the collective grjót ‘stones’. — [6] þúsundum ‘by thousands’: That this is a piece of hyperbole is suggested by the Irish monk Marianus, writing at Mainz at the end of the C11th, who numbers the Engl. dead at over one thousand laymen and a hundred priests (Chronicon 559). — [6] togfúsa (f. acc. sg.) ‘quick on the draw’: An adj. qualifying þjóð ‘men, people’. Togfúss is not attested elsewhere, nor is the simplex tog recorded in poetry, but in prose it usually means ‘rope, line’. Here and in related words the basic notion is of ‘pulling’ (e.g. the verb toga) or ‘drawing’ (e.g. the adjectival p. p. toginn ‘drawn’, applied to swords; see LP). The element tog also appears in the poetic compounds at eggtogi (Egill Hfl 14/8V) and at/á sverðtogi (SnSt Ht 54/6III and Útsteinn Útkv 2/6VIII) ‘at the drawing of the sword’, i.e. ‘in battle’; cf. also tognings ‘of the sword’ (Balti Sigdr 3/3 and Note). Togfúss is hence comparable with cpd adjectives in -fúss ‘eager, quick’ whose first element denotes ‘battle’, e.g. bǫðfúss, sóknfúss and vígfúss, and can fairly confidently be understood as ‘quick on the draw’ or ‘eager for battle’, perhaps with ironic intent here. Guðbrandur Vigfússon nevertheless found togfúsa unsatisfying and believed it to be a scribal substitution for a phrase meaning ‘dike by the Ouse’ (CPB II, 185). The variants taug- and tók- may well be corruptions of tog-. The abbreviated ‘t̂fusa’ in Hr is also expanded to tók- by Finnur Jónsson in Skj A, but probably represents an otherwise unknown torfúsa ‘difficult-eager (?)’, i.e. ‘not eager (?)’ (cf. abbreviated ‘n᷎dan’ for ‘nordan’). The reading torfúsa is adopted by Finnur Jónsson in Skj B (who consequently does not include togfúss in LP) but rejected by Kock in NN §2523.

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