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Runic Dictionary

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

2. Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa (Hryn) - 20

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.

Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa (‘Falling/flowing metre, Drápa about Magnús’) — Arn HrynII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘ Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa’ 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. 181-206. <> (accessed 3 December 2021)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20 

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa, 1046 (AI, 332-8, BI, 306-11); stanzas (if different): 1 | 2 | 3

SkP info: II, 195-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Arn Hryn 10II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 10’ 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. 195-6.

Ljótu dreif á lypting útan
lauðri — bifðisk goll it rauða —
— fastligr hneigði fúru geystri
fýris garmr — ok skeiðar stýri.
Stirðum helzt umb Stafangr norðan
stôlum — bifðusk fyrir álar —
— uppi glóðu élmars typpi
eldi glík — í Danaveldi.

Ljótu lauðri dreif útan á lypting ok stýri skeiðar; it rauða goll bifðisk; {fastligr garmr fýris} hneigði geystri fúru. Helzt stirðum stôlum norðan umb Stafangr í Danaveldi; álar bifðusk fyrir; typpi {élmars} glóðu uppi glík eldi.

Foul surf surged in against the after-deck and the helm of the warship; the red gold shuddered; {the powerful hound of the fir-tree} [WIND] pitched the rushing ship of fir. You steered sturdy prows from the north past Stavanger to the realm of the Danes; currents shuddered in front; the mast-heads {of the storm-steed} [SHIP] glowed aloft like fire.

Mss: (506v-507r), 39(15ra), F(39ra), E(6r), J2ˣ(247r) (Hkr); H(5v), Hr(6vb) (H-Hr); Flat(190rb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Ljótu: Ljótum J2ˣ, Ljótir Hr;    dreif: varp H, Hr, Flat    [2] lauðri: ‘laudír’ Hr;    bifðisk: bifðusk E, Hr, bifisk Flat    [3] ‑ligr: ‑liga Hr, Flat;    geystri: so 39, F, H, Hr, Flat, ‘geistri’ Kˣ, glæstri E, J2ˣ    [4] fýris: ‘fyrris’ Flat;    garmr: gramr 39, E, angr H, Hr, Flat;    ok: so E, J2ˣ, H, Hr, Flat, um Kˣ, 39, F;    stýri: stýra Flat    [5] Stirðum: stríðum Flat;    helzt (‘hellztu’): hélt H, Hr, héldu Flat;    umb: om. F, Flat, fyrir H, Hr    [6] bifðusk: bifðisk F, Flat;    fyrir álar (‘fyri alar’): ‘fvri alar’ 39, ‘fyrris alar’ Flat    [7] ‑mars: ‘‑mas’ Hr, Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa 10: AI, 335, BI, 308, Skald I, 156, NN §813, 814; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 37, ÍF 28, 34, Hkr 1991, 578 (Mgóð ch. 19), F 1871, 179, E 1916, 19; Fms 6, 47-8 (Mgóð ch. 24), Fms 12, 131; Flat 1860-8, III, 271, Andersson and Gade 2000, 110-11, 468 (MH); Whaley 1998, 162-4.

Context: See st. 9. In Hkr, st. 10 is preceded by a short description of the ship Visundr: it has more than thirty benches and a gilded bison’s head and tail at prow and stern. In Flat, no comment separates the two sts, but they are followed by a remark that Magnús’s journey is referred to. In H-Hr a brief comment that Magnús sailed south to Denmark links the two.

Notes: [1] lypting ‘the after-deck’: The presumed derivation from lypta ‘lift’ (AEW: lypta) suggests a raised structure, and the skaldic contexts (here, in st. 16, ESk Lv 6/8 and Sigv Erlfl 3/7I) would suggest a space that is enclosed or defended in some way. However, Jesch (2001a, 153) finds little archaeological evidence for such a feature except for the slightly raised decking aft in the Gokstad ship, and cf. the ‘elevated half-deck’ in the Oseberg ship mentioned by Shetelig and Falk (1937, 260, 270). — [2] it rauða goll ‘the red gold’: The reference may be to gilding on the whole ship, or else, as Snorri seems to take it in the Hkr Context (above), specifically to the prow and stern. Skj B adopts an unnecessary emendation here, dismissed by Kock in NN §813. — [4] garmr fýris ‘hound of the fir-tree [WIND]’: The variant angr fýris ‘grief of fir’ (so H, Hr, Flat) would make equally good sense in the context: cf. Meissner 102 for similar wind-kennings. — [4] ok ‘and’: (a) The reading ok (so E, J2ˣ, H, Hr, Flat) gives good sense, linking lypting ‘after-deck’ (l. 1) with stýri skeiðar ‘warship’s helm’ (l. 4), also in the stern, so that the two complete the cl. ljótu lauðri dreif á ‘foul surf surged against’. Ok stýri skeiðar could be alternatively taken with it rauða goll bifðisk ‘the red gold shuddered’ (l. 2), but ‘helm’ and ‘gold’ are a rather ill-assorted pair. (b) The variant um stýri skeiðar (so , 39, F) would also work: ljótu lauðri dreif útan á lypting um stýri skeiðar ‘foul surf surged in against the after-deck around the helm of the warship’. (c) It is also conceivable that stýri skeiðar is acc. sg. of a kenning referring to Magnús as seafarer (so Fms 12, 131). ‘Agent noun’ kennings with stýrir as base-word and ‘ship’ as determinant are recorded: see LP: stýrir. — [6] álar bifðusk fyrir ‘currents shuddered in front’: Álar is most logically construed as subject to bifðusk ‘shuddered, foamed’. Ms. ‘fyri’ is here assumed to be the stressed adverb, normalised fyrir, and translated ‘in front (of the advancing ship)’; the spellings ‘fyri’ and ‘firi’ are well attested in early mss as alternatives to ‘fyrir’ etc. Kock (NN §814) suggested (havet bävade) därvid ‘(the sea trembled) at that’. — [7-8] typpi élmars glóðu uppi glík eldi ‘the mast-heads of the storm-steed [SHIP] glowed aloft like fire’: Like its cognate toppr, typpi probably means both ‘mast-heads’ and ‘forelocks’ and therefore resonates with both levels of imagery: the actual ship and the metaphorical ship-as-steed. The simile of mast-heads glowing like fire may be inspired by the similar image in Sigv ErfÓl 16I. Reinskou (1922, 34-5) pointed out that both skalds are referring to the ship Visundr, and suggested that gilding on the mast-head, since not mentioned in earlier poetry, may have been an innovation in Óláfr helgi’s time. Hougen (1974, 18-19) doubted whether the skalds’ references to gold and gilded prows on ships out at sea are more than a poetic hyperbole, but cf. Encomium Emmae Reginae (ed. Campbell 1998, 12-13) for another C11th example.

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