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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 6 August 2021)

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, 278-9

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — Arn Hardr 16II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 16’ 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. 278-9.

Haraldr vissi sik hverjum
harðgeðr und Miðgarði
— dǫglingr réð til dauða
dýrð slíkri — gram ríkra.
Hefr afreka in* øfra
(ættstýrǫndum dýrri
hnígrat hilmir frægri)
heilǫg fold (til moldar).

Harðgeðr Haraldr vissi sik ríkra hverjum gram und Miðgarði; dǫglingr réð slíkri dýrð til dauða. Heilǫg fold in* øfra hefr afreka; frægri hilmir, dýrri ættstýrǫndum hnígrat til moldar.

Harsh-minded Haraldr knew himself mightier than any lord under Miðgarðr; the monarch commanded such glory till death. The holy land on high [lit. the holy, higher land] has the hero; no prince more renowned, more precious than that ruler of men, will sink to the soil.

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

Readings: [4] ríkra: ríkar Hr    [5] in*: ins all;    øfra: ǫrva Flat    [6] ætt‑: átt‑ H, Hr;    dýrri: so H, Hr, dýri Mork, dýrum Flat    [7] hnígrat: hingað Flat, ‘hní gratt’ or ‘huí gratt’ Hr

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 18: AI, 353, BI, 325, Skald I, 164, NN §842; Mork 1928-32, 281, Andersson and Gade 2000, 274, 482 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 397 (MH); Fms 6, 423 (HSig ch. 119), Fms 12, 167; Whaley 1998, 298-300.

Context: As for sts 14 and 15.

Notes: [2] Miðgarði: Lit. ‘the middle enclosure’; in Norse cosmography, the home of men, which lies between Ásgarðr, the realm of the gods, and Niflheim, the dark abode of Hel or the dead. The juxtaposition of this phrase with a reference to heaven (see next Note) might suggest that some mythological resonance is active here (cf. Note to Arn Magndr 10/7 Hel). Otherwise, it could be taken simply as ‘on earth’; cf. Þfagr Sveinn 7/2 and Note. — [5, 8] heilǫg fold in* øfra ‘the holy land on high [lit. the holy, higher land]’: There is no m. or n. noun which ‘ens ofra’ (ins øfra ‘of the higher’) in the mss could qualify. (a) The emendation produces what seems a natural expression for ‘heaven’, and it is supported by the occurrence of fold ‘land, earth’ in later heaven-kennings: fold éls ‘storm’s ground’ (Anon Pl 26/5, 7VII) and skýfold ‘cloud-land’ (Anon Mgr 43/6VII). In øfra is also partially paralleled by ofar lǫndum meaning ‘in heaven’ in a similar context in Hfr ErfÓl 27/8I. (b) Kock retains the ms. reading, taking heilǫg fold ens øfra to mean ‘the holy land of the High One (God)’ (NN §842), but it seems unlikely that a mere comparative would be applied to God, and there is no evidence for this. (c) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B emends to et øfra, which he takes with heilǫg fold in the sense ‘up there’ (deroppe). Adverbial it øfra most usually means ‘by the inland route’ and is accompanied by a verb of motion and some indication of destination, but ‘up there, in the air’ does find some support, albeit slight: see Fritzner: efri 1a. — [6] ættstýrǫndum ‘ruler of men’: Lit. ‘rulers of generations’ or ‘rulers among their kin’. This dat. pl. form is difficult to place in the syntax of the helmingr, but since it could make no sense with the first cl. it must belong with the second, dýrri, frægri hilmir hnígrat til moldar ‘(no) prince more precious, more renowned, will sink to the soil’. (a) It is taken here to be a grammatical pl. used for sg., cf. Arn Hryn 19/1 and Note. In the present context the pl. form affords no metrical advantage, so the motivation may be Arnórr’s desire to flatter. Ættstýrǫndum, interpreted thus, fits very well as a dat. of comparison referring to Haraldr in the sentence ‘no prince more precious, more renowned than that ruler of men’. (b) Ættstýrǫndum could alternatively be construed, as by Kock, as a loosely used dat. meaning ‘among rulers of men’ (NN §842). There is no trace of such a usage among Nygaard’s entries for the dat. case (NS §§100-20), but since the use of the dat. is more flexible in skaldic verse than in prose, this interpretation may be considered possible. — [6, 7] frægri; dýrri ‘more renowned; more precious’: These comp. adjectives must be grammatically parallel, qualifying hilmir ‘prince’, the only m. nom. sg. noun in the helmingr. Dýrri cannot qualify afreka ‘hero’, as seemingly assumed in Skj B, since the m. acc. sg. comp. form would be dýrra.

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