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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 1 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, 198-200

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

13 — Arn Hryn 13II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 13’ 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. 198-200.

Skjǫldungr, lézt við skíra valdit
Skotborgarô Venða sorgum;
yngvi, vas sá frægr, es fenguð,
fǫrnuðr þinn, við helming minna.
Vári, lá þar valkǫstr hæri,
— vas þér sigr skapaðr grams ins digra —
virðum kunnr, an víða runnin
varga ætt of klífa mætti.

Skjǫldungr, lézt valdit sorgum Venða við skíra Skotborgarô; yngvi, sá fǫrnuðr þinn, es fenguð við minna helming, vas frægr. Vári kunnr virðum, valkǫstr lá þar hæri an ætt varga, runnin víða, mætti of klífa; sigr ins digra grams vas skapaðr þér.

King, you caused griefs for the Wends by the gleaming Kongeå; sovereign, that success of yours, which you won with a smaller troop, was famed. Defender, renowned to men, a corpse-pile lay there higher than the clan of wolves, run from far and wide, could climb over; victory of the stout lord was granted you.

Mss: H(9r), Hr(9rb) (H-Hr); Flat(191va) (Flat)

Readings: [1] lézt: lét Hr;    valdit: valdi Flat    [4] fǫrnuðr: fǫrnuð Hr, ‘for naudr’ Flat    [5] Vári (‘vare’): vaxi Hr, ‘vorru’ Flat    [6] skapaðr: skaptr Hr    [7] kunnr: kunn all;    runnin: so Hr, Flat, runninn H    [8] ætt of: ætt ef Hr, ættum Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa 13: AI, 336, BI, 309, Skald I, 157, NN §816; Fms 6, 68 (Mgóð ch. 34), Fms 12, 133; Flat 1860-8, III, 281, Andersson and Gade 2000, 121-2, 469 (MH); Whaley 1998, 168-71.

Context: In H-Hr, the defeated Wends flee as far as the Kongeå (Skotborgará) where, caught up by Magnús’s men, they surge into the water. So many are slain that their bodies make a causeway. In Flat, the st. follows Arn Magndr 10, with a brief link.

Notes: [All]: H-Hr cites the st. from Arnórr’s ‘i hrynhendu’ (H) or ‘i hrunhendu’ (Hr). — [2] Venða (m. gen. pl.) ‘for the Wends’: Lit. ‘of the Wends’. On the spelling, see Note to st. 11/6. — [5] vári ‘defender’: A point of difficulty. The reading ‘vare’ is partially secured by the versification, as [v] is required by the alliterative pattern and [r] by the internal rhyme. The vowel is almost certain to be long, since of all Arnórr’s hrynhent ll. only st. 2/2 fails to begin with a long syllable, and hnika there is doubtless corrupt, so that if no emendation is made the word is vári. (a) Vári may be related to the verb verja and hence have the sense ‘defender’ (so AEW: vári 1). It appears in ÚlfrU Húsdr 2/4III, where it is probably to be construed with ragna ‘of the gods’ or ragna rein- ‘gods’ land’ to form an appellation for Heimdallr, who figures elsewhere as guardian of the gods (e.g. Grí 13, Lok 48). In the present st. vári ‘defender’ would be an apostrophe addressed to Magnús and would be qualified by virðum kunnr ‘renowned to men’. In meaning it would be similar to other heiti for ‘prince’ such as skyli ‘defender’ and vísi ‘leader’. This has been adopted here as the most satisfactory interpretation of vári, but there are alternatives, of which the following are the most plausible. (b) Konráð Gíslason suggested that the original text had a word meaning ‘son’ or ‘descendant’ which would be defined by the gen. grams ins digra hence ‘son of the stout lord [of Óláfr]’ (l. 6) (Nj 1875-8, II, 352 n.), and Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1903, 108-9) took up this suggestion, proposing that vári ‘relative’, etymologically linked with várar fem. pl. ‘faith, compact’, was the word in question; cf. also Vár, goddess of truces. Finnur Jónsson, in Skj B, postulated verja as the word meaning ‘son’. (c) Kock also proposed emending to verja, but read valkǫstr verja ‘corpse-heap of men’ (NN §816). This expression, however, would be tautologous and it has no parallel in ON, except for the still more unlikely construction proposed by Kock for Arn Magndr 11/4 (see Note below). — [6] sigr ins digra grams ‘victory of the stout lord’: This phrase may allude to the legend that Óláfr helgi posthumously helped his son Magnús to victory at the battle of Lyrskovshede (Hlýrskógsheiðr). According to Flat (1860-8, III, 279), Magnús spurred on his men with the words, ver sko᷎lum sigr fꜳ þuiat hinn helgi Olafr konungr fer med oss ‘We shall win victory, for the holy king Óláfr goes with us’. Compare also the words of Einarr Skúlason who, composing a century after the event, says that Óláfr sigr gaf sínum ... frǫmum arfa ‘gave his distinguished heir victory’ (ESk Geisl 30/1, 4VII). If interpretation (b) of l. 5 vári (above) were adopted, sigr and grams ins digra could not be construed together and interpreted thus. — [7] kunnr virðum ‘renowned to men’: Emendation is necessary since the ms. reading kunn could only qualify ætt varga ‘clan of wolves’ (l. 8), and it seems unlikely that wolves should be described as ‘renowned to men’, especially when the synonymous kunnr ǫldum and kunnr þjóðum are applied to the hero in sts 5 and 15.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated