This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Runic Dictionary

login: password: stay logged in: help

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 23 September 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, 262-3

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Arn Hardr 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Haraldsdrápa 2’ 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. 262-3.

Hjalmôru lét heyra,
hizis rauð fyr Nizi,
tyggi, tyrfings eggjar
tvær, áðr mannfall væri.
Naðrs borð skriðu norðan
nýs at allvalds fýsi;
hlaut til Hallands skjóta
hrafnþarfr konungr stafni.

Tyggi lét {hjalmôru} heyra, [e]s rauð tvær eggjar tyrfings hizi fyr Nizi, áðr mannfall væri. Borð nýs naðrs skriðu norðan at fýsi allvalds; hrafnþarfr konungr hlaut skjóta stafni til Hallands.

The sovereign made {helmet-envoys} [WARRIORS] hear that he reddened the two edges of the sword there by the Nissan, before slaughter of men came about. The bulwarks of the new serpent [ship] slid from the north at the desire of the mighty ruler; lavish to ravens, the king got to speed his prow to Halland.

Mss: Mork(13r) (Mork); Flat(200va) (Flat); H(56v), Hr(41rb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] lét: so Flat, lézk þú Mork, H, lézk Hr;    heyra: heyja Flat    [2] hizis (‘hiz er’): ‘hitz er’ Flat, H, Hr;    rauð: so all others, rautt Mork    [3] tyggi: ‘tyrfe’ Hr;    tyrfings: so all others, ‘tyrfins’ Mork    [4] mann‑: so all others, man‑ Mork    [5] Naðrs borð: naðr borðs Flat, naðrs borði Hr    [6] at: á Hr    [7] skjóta: skuta Hr    [8] stafni: ‘sta(n)fe’(?) Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 2: AI, 349, BI, 322, Skald I, 163, NN §837; Mork 1928-32, 211-12, Andersson and Gade 2000, 230, 478 (MH); Flat 1860-8, III, 363 (MH); Fms 6, 318 (HSig ch. 78), Fms 12, 156-7; Whaley 1998, 269-71.

Context: In Mork’s and Flat’s account of the battle at the Nissan (Niz) estuary, the Norwegians have cleared the enemy ships and Sveinn Úlfsson (Sven Estridsson) has fled ashore. ÞjóðA Sex 17 and Arn Hardr 2, 3 and 4 are added as an appendix, without any indication of the exact stage in the battle to which they refer. In H-Hr, Hardr 2 is integrated into an account of the Danes scattering after Haraldr boarded Sveinn’s ship, rushing forward and hacking to both sides.

Notes: [All]: For this battle, see also ÞjóðA Sex 13-18, Stúfr Stúfdr 7, Steinn Nizv, Steinn Úlffl and sts 3-4 below. — [1] lét hjalmôru heyra ‘made helmet-envoys [WARRIORS] hear’: The object is the es-cl. depicting Haraldr’s reddening of the sword, and those who hear may be the terrified and doomed enemy, or Haraldr’s own troops. Alternatively, the sense may be that news of Haraldr’s triumphs spread widely (pers. comm. P. J. Frankis gratefully acknowledged). — [1] lét ‘made’: The 2nd pers. sg. pret. indic. ‘letz þu’ in the main ms. Mork is incongruous in the context of a memorial poem, and of the 3rd pers. sg. verbs in the st. — [2] hizis ‘that there’: The monosyllabic ms. spellings ‘hiz/hitz’ may reflect a scribal attempt to rid the opening of the l., perhaps written ‘hizi er’, of the superfluous syllable. The syllable is better removed by the use of contracted forms (bragarmál, SnE 1999, 8), here elision of the vowel in es. — [5, 6] nýs naðrs ‘of the new serpent [ship]’: The phrase is particularly apt here, since, according to HSigHkr ch. 59, the winter before the encounter at the Nissan (Niz), Haraldr had a dragon-prowed ship built according to the dimensions of Óláfr Tryggvason’s ship Ormr inn langi ‘the Long Serpent’. In ÞjóðA Sex 14/8, which also concerns the Nissan battle, Haraldr’s ship is again referred to as naðr. — [8] hrafnþarfr ‘lavish to ravens’: Lit. ‘useful to, supplying the needs of, ravens’, by providing carrion; cf. varghollr ‘gracious to wolves’, in ÞjóðA Sex 13/2 and elsewhere. The adj., a compressed equivalent of Arn Magndr 18/6 -þarfr hrafni ‘generous to the raven’, is a hap. leg.

© 2008-