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.

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.

 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, 273-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Arn Hardr 12II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 12’ 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. 273-4.

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.

Ofrausn stillis olli í {strǫngu éli stáls}, þats {stríðir {ormalátrs}} máttit bíða elli, {lituðr hramma {aldins, ótams viggs Varðrúnar}}, sás aldrigi sparði sik í {glyggvi vápna}.

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].

Mss: Mork(19r) (Mork); Flat(203vb) (Flat); H(75v), Hr(53vb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] stillis: stillir Hr    [2] þats (‘þat er’): er Flat, þar er Hr;    máttit: mttuð Flat, ‘mattið’ H, Hr    [6] lituðr: ‘vítudr’ Flat, ‘b(ru)dr’(?) Hr    [7] viggs: ‘vigs’ all;    glyggvi: ‘gleyse’ Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 13: AI, 351-2, BI, 324, Skald I, 164, NN §2022; Mork 1928-32, 273, Andersson and Gade 2000, 269, 481 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 393 (MH); Fms 6, 417 (HSig ch. 118), Fms 12, 165; Whaley 1998, 289-91.

Context: In Mork and Flat, st. 12 is quoted immediately after st. 10. In H-Hr, an interlude separates sts 10 and 12, in which the Engl. king Harold Godwineson (Haraldr Guðinason) comes to Tostig (Tósti), his own brother but Haraldr Sigurðarson’s ally, with a peace offer that is rejected. The saga reports the common opinion that Tostig’s proposal to return to the ships when confronted by the enemy had been the best. The compiler adds that the Norw. king’s excessive zeal (ofrkapp)—his refusal to act with caution lest it should be construed as cowardice—led to disaster, and the st. is cited to confirm this.

Notes: [1] ofrausn ‘excess of heroism’: Or lit. ‘over-magnificence’. Like the near-synonym ofermōd, lit. ‘over-courage’ in the OE Battle of Maldon (l. 89), this word introduces the rare possibility that heroic excess is being criticised. While rausn implies magnificent deeds and hospitality (cf. Arn Magndr 19/4, Arn Þorfdr 2/3, 6/7), the ofrausn which here causes Haraldr’s death seems to have a near-pejorative sense, as also in Sigv Berv 11/3 and Sturl Hákkv 9/9 (see also Note to Halli XI Fl 4/7 and see Fritzner for prose examples). It could refer generally to his reckless zeal or more specifically to his presumption in marching from the ships without armour, his decision to tackle the superior Engl. host (as suggested by the Context to the st. in H-Hr) or his overweening ambition in invading England: cf. Þjóðólfr’s comment (ÞjóðA Lv 11/4) that it was þarflaust ‘needlessly’ that Haraldr called up troops for the expedition westwards. See also Note to Þfagr Sveinn 6/6. — [2] þats ‘that’: (a) The Mork, H reading þat has been emended by previous eds (beginning with Sveinbjörn Egilsson, SHI 6, 387 n.) to dat. sg. því, since dat. would normally be required by olli, 3rd pers. sg. pret. of valda ‘cause’ (l. 1). However, if því were the object of olli, it would be stressed, not cliticized with es and in an unstressed position. (b) Þats is therefore retained in the present edn, and taken as a conj. functioning like at ‘that’ (a usage found elsewhere, e.g. Ill Har 1/1); the Flat reading er would have a similar function. Olli ‘caused’ is assumed to have a suppressed object ‘this’. Alternatively, the þats-cl. could be taken as its object, albeit acc. rather than dat., or olli could be read as intransitive, with the sense ‘prevailed, determined the outcome’ (see LP: valda for examples). — [6, 7, 8] lituðr hramma aldins, ótams viggs varðrúnar ‘the stainer of the claws of the old, untamed steed of Varðrún <troll-woman> [WOLF > WARRIOR]’: Viggs is a slight and well-justified emendation. Ms. ‘vigs’, presumably vígs ‘of battle’, would not make sense, and would provide a less exact consonantal rhyme with glygg-. Varðrún occurs only here and among the heiti for ‘troll-woman’ in Þul Trǫllkvenna 5/3III.

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