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.

 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, 272-3

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — Arn Hardr 11II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 11’ 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. 272-3.

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.

Hlítstyggr hilmir hafðit lítit brjóst fyr sér, né bifðisk bǫðsnart hjarta konungs í {hjalmþrimu}, þars herr sá þat til {þengils hersa}, at blóðugr hjǫrr {ins barra hneitis dǫglinga} beit skatna.

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.

Mss: (582v), F(53rb), E(27v), J2ˣ(297v) (Hkr); FskAˣ(306-307) (Fsk); Mork(19v) (Mork); Flat(204ra) (Flat); H(76r), Hr(54ra) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] Hafðit: so Mork, Flat, H, Hr, Hafði Kˣ, F, E, J2ˣ, ‘Hafðeð’ FskAˣ;    bifðisk: bifðusk Hr    [2] ‑snart: ‑svart FskAˣ    [3] ‑þrimu: ‑þrumu FskAˣ;    hilmir: fylkir FskAˣ    [4] hlít‑: lið‑ FskAˣ;    fyr sér: ok þó Flat    [5] þars: ‘þas er’ Flat;    til: er Flat, því at Hr;    þengils: þarfar Mork, Flat, H, Hr;    hersa: herjar F    [6] herr at: ‘siatnade’ Hr;    herr: menn Mork, Flat, H    [7] ins: en Hr;    barra: bara Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 14: AI, 352, BI, 324-5, Skald I, 164; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 209, ÍF 28, 189-90, Hkr 1991, 685 (HSig ch. 92), F 1871, 249, E 1916, 97; Fsk 1902-3, 292 (ch. 59), ÍF 29, 286-7 (ch. 69); Mork 1928-32, 277-8, Andersson and Gade 2000, 272, 481-2 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 395 (MH); Fms 6, 418 (HSig ch. 119), Fms 12, 165-6; Whaley 1998, 287-9.

Context: In Hkr and H-Hr, the Norwegians are deceived by the apparent flight of the English into breaking their shield-wall. Seeing what straits his men are in, Haraldr plunges into the thick of the fighting with such vigour that the English (in Hkr) are on the point of fleeing. In Fsk, Mork and Flat, the Engl. cavalry gain the upper hand by sheer force of numbers, so that the Norwegians break ranks.

Notes: [All]: The st. is attributed in Mork and Flat to Arnórr ‘in his poem’ (í sínu kvæði). — [1, 4] hafðit lítit brjóst fyr sér ‘had no small courage in himself’: Brjóst can mean ‘breast, chest’, hence figuratively ‘courage’ or ‘defence, defender(s)’, and fyr sér can mean ‘in front of him(self)’, or ‘in, of him(self)’ as in the phrase mikill/lítill fyrir sér ‘great/insignificant in himself’. These alternative senses combine with the alternative readings hafði and hafðit to yield several possible interpretations of this st., the most satisfactory of which are: (a) The reading adopted here (and so Jón Þorkelsson 1884, 41, and Skj B), with the suffix -t negating lítit. (b) Reading hafði: ‘He had little defence in front of him’ (so ÍF 28), implying that Haraldr was in the forefront of the fighting. — [4] hlítstyggr ‘shunning mediocrity’: This cpd adj. occurs in only one other context, Steinþ Frag l. 4III, where it is applied to Óðinn. Styggr ‘shy of, shunning’ is recorded in compounds with first elements meaning ‘delay’ (bilstyggr), ‘flight’ (flóttstyggr, flugstyggr) or ‘guile/harm’ (læstyggr, meinstyggr). The meaning of hlít- is more elusive. (a) Hlít f. ‘sufficiency’ and hlíta við ‘suffice, do’ suggest the meaning ‘shunning (mere) sufficiency, mediocrity’, i.e. ‘energetic, zealous’, adopted above for hlítstyggr, and this finds support in the adj. óhlítuligr ‘not trivial, great’ applied to the battle of Århus (Áróss) in Okík Magn 1/6. (b) The verb hlíta, governing the dat., can mean ‘rely on’. Hlítstyggr could therefore mean ‘shunning reliance (on others), relying solely on himself’, as in the adj. einhlítr, lit. ‘one-reliant, sole-relying’.

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