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Runic Dictionary

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

11th century; volume 2; ed. Diana Whaley;

III. 1. Fragments (Frag) - 8

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.

Fragments — Arn FragIII

Diana Whaley 2017, ‘ Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 3. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=1105> (accessed 5 December 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 7. Vers af ubestemmelige digte, samt én lausavísa (AI, 353-4, BI, 326-7); stanzas (if different): 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

SkP info: III, 4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Arn Frag 2III

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments 2’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 4.

Svalg áttbogi ylgjar
ógóðr, en varð blóði
grœðir grœnn at rauðum,
grandauknum ná, blandinn.

{Ógóðr áttbogi ylgjar} svalg grandauknum ná, en grœnn grœðir, blandinn blóði, varð at rauðum.

{The evil offspring of the she-wolf} [WOLF] swallowed a wound-swollen corpse, and the green surge, mingled with blood, turned to red.

Mss: R(37r), Tˣ(38v), U(39v), A(14r), B(6r), 744ˣ(39v), C(6v) (SnE)

Readings: [1] átt‑: at Tˣ, C    [2] varð: so A, 744ˣ, var R, Tˣ, U, C    [3] grœðir: gráðugr C;    at: af C    [4] grandauknum: ‘brandvoxnvm’ U, granauknum C

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde 5: AI, 350, BI, 323, Skald I, 163, NN §2522; SnE 1848-87, I, 478-9, II, 350, 455, 538, 594, III, 99, SnE 1931, 168, SnE 1998, I, 87; Whaley 1998, 312-14.

Context: The helmingr is quoted in Skm (SnE) within a sequence of skaldic fragments illustrating heiti for ‘wolf’, in this case ylgr.

Notes: [All]: The B text is so badly damaged that to note the many illegible places would be unhelpful, and it is therefore represented in the Readings by the transcript in 744ˣ. The helmingr is printed as st. 5 of Arnórr’s erfidrápa ‘memorial drápa’ for Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson (Arn HardrII) in SnE 1848-87, III, 572 (where n. 3 appears as though it refers to this stanza, but does not) and Skj. However, the rather lurid description of the aftermath of a sea-battle could have originated in any of several poems by Arnórr, and the helmingr is therefore best treated as a fragment. — [2, 3] varð at rauðum ‘turned to red’: The variant varð rather than var ‘was’ is needed to produce the construction verða at plus dat. adj. in the sense ‘turn to, become’; cf. Arn Þorfdr 24/1II Bjǫrt verðr sól at svartri ‘The bright sun will turn to black’. — [4] grandauknum ‘wound-swollen’: The cpd (nom. sg.) grandaukinn, which qualifies nár ‘corpse’, is unique, and its meaning uncertain. (a) Grand normally has the sense ‘harm, injury’ (emotional, spiritual or physical). Compounded with aukinn, it could mean ‘swollen with wounds’ (cf. Bjbp Jóms 31/2I bólginn ná ‘swollen corpse’) or conceivably ‘increased (in number) by injury/disaster’. (b) Kock (NN §2522) suggested that grand could mean ‘sand’, cf. ON grand ‘grain’ as in ekki grand ‘not a grain, not a morsel’, grandi n. ‘strip of beach’ and New Norw. grande ‘sand-bank, sand-bar’. Grandaukinn ‘increased, swollen with grand’ could then imply that the dead men had taken in sand and become bloated by it. Bodies are described as lying on sand in ÞjóðA Magn 2/5-6, 8II and Bǫlv Hardr 4/5-8II; ÞSjár Þórdr 3/5-8I says that slain warriors lying in the shallows had sand in their mouths, and Arnórr himself pictures ‘sandy corpses’ being driven ashore in Arn Magndr 15/1-2II. However, in the absence of stronger evidence for grand in the sense ‘sand’, (a) seems the safer solution.

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