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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 21 January 2022)

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, 276-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

15 — Arn Hardr 15II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 15’ 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. 276-8.

Myrkts, hverr meira orkar,
mér, alls greppr né sérat,
— harðrs í heimi orðinn
hrafngrennir — þrek jǫfnum.
Ert gat óslætt hjarta
(eljunfims) und himni
mest (hefr mildingr kostat
minni hvers grams vinnur).

Myrkts mér, alls greppr né sérat, hverr orkar meira, jǫfnum þrek; {harðr hrafngrennir} [e]s orðinn í heimi. Gat mest ert, óslætt hjarta und himni; mildingr hefr kostat minni vinnur hvers eljunfims grams.

It is dark to me, for the poet does not see it, who will achieve more, equal feats of strength; {the harsh raven-feeder} [WARRIOR] has departed this world. He was endowed with the boldest, keenest heart under heaven; the gracious one has put to the test the lesser deeds of every mettlesome lord.

Mss: Mork(19v) (Mork); Flat(204rb) (Flat); H(76v), Hr(54va) (H-Hr)

Readings: [2] sérat: ‘sæi at’ Flat    [3] harðrs í heimi (‘harþr er iheimi’): ‘hardr vr heim’ Hr;    heimi: ‘hemí’ Flat    [4] þrek jǫfnum: þræls jafnan Flat    [5] Ert: ‘aurtt’ Flat;    óslætt (‘vslett’): óskelfr Flat, ósljótt H, Hr    [6] eljun‑: ‘æ sin‑’ Flat;    und: við Flat    [7] kostat: kostut Mork, Hr, kǫstuð Flat, kostuð H    [8] grams vinnur: gramr vinnr Hr

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 17: AI, 353, BI, 325, Skald I, 164, NN §§840, 841, 1934A; Mork 1928-32, 281, Andersson and Gade 2000, 274, 482 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 397 (MH); Fms 6, 422-3 (HSig ch. 119), Fms 12, 166; Whaley 1998, 295-7.

Context: As for st. 14. H-Hr prefaces the st. with a paraphrase amounting to, ‘Arnórr declares himself unsure whether any king under the sun will have fought with such pride and courage as King Haraldr’.

Notes: [2] ‘not’: as the negative particle (distinct from the conj. ‘nor, and not’) is well attested in ON poetry composed in ljóðaháttr or based on Goth. or Ger. heroic subject matter, but extremely rare in dróttkvætt composition before 1200. Engl. or Anglo-Dan. influence has been suspected here and in Ótt Knútdr 11I (Kuhn 1936, 432-3; Hofmann 1955, 78, 104-5). — [3] [e]s orðinn í heimi ‘has departed this world’: (a) The sense is clearly that Haraldr has died, but [e]s orðinn could either mean ‘has died’, or else ‘is lost by death’, cf. Hfr ErfÓl 26/1, 4I hefk orðinn goðfǫður ‘I have lost [my] godfather’ (and see Dronke 1969, 121, note to Am 21/4). Kock (NN §1934A) sees the utterance as a reprise of the description of Haraldr’s fall in battle (sts 11-13), and Andersson and Gade (2000, 274) translate ‘has fallen in this world’. (b) Harðrs í heimi orðinn hrafngrennir, if taken in its more straightforward sense, ‘the raven-feeder has become harsh in the world’, would appear a strange statement to make of one already dead, but it is not impossible, in view of the use of the perfect tense in ll. 7-8. (c) Skj B reads ór heimi ‘from the world’, but this is only the reading of the generally unreliable Hr. — [4] jǫfnum þrek ‘equal feats of strength’: (a) The phrase is taken here as dat. object to orkar ‘achieves’, standing in apposition to meira. (b) The alternative, adopted in Skj B, of construing þrek jǫfnum as an adverbial phrase, yields poor sense: ‘who will achieve more with strength equal to his’. — [5, 7] mest ert ‘the boldest’: Lit. ‘the most bold’. (a) The superlative mest is here construed with ert, óslætt in l. 5, hence ‘boldest, keenest’. This is a rare construction, but not unparalleled: cf. NS §64 and Skí 27/5 (NK 74), where meirr leiðr performs the function of the comparative form leiðari ‘more hateful’. On the form ert, see Note to Arn Magndr 18/7. (b) Mest could alternatively well qualify hefr kostat ‘has put to the test’ (l. 7), hence ‘the gracious one has tested to the utmost the lesser deeds of every mettlesome lord’. But the first sentence, ‘he was endowed with a bold, keen heart under heaven’, would then be rather tepid praise, since such statements normally contain superlatives (cf. Fidjestøl, 1982, 190-3 on the ‘highest under heaven’ motif). — [7, 8] hefr kostat minni vinnur ‘has put to the test the lesser deeds’: (a) Although kosta ‘try, put to the test’ normally takes a gen. object, it can also take the acc. (NS §131 b. Anm.). This construal follows that of Kock (NN §841), though his translation amounts to ‘(the prince) has for the most part found (every lord’s) deeds to be the less’. Emendation of ms. ‘costot, kostvð’ to normalised kostat ‘tried, put to the test’, a n. sg. p. p. to accompany the auxiliary hefr ‘has’ seems unavoidable. (b) Finnur Jónsson’s analysis in Skj B is unacceptable since it involves two alterations of the text, assumes an otherwise unrecorded noun kostuðr, and splits l. 7 into four segments.

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