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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 30 November 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, 200-1

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Arn Hryn 14II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 14’ 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. 200-1.

Hefnir, fenguð yrkisefni,
Ôleifs; gervik slíkt at môlum;
Hlakkar lætr þú hrælǫg drekka
hauka; nú mun kvæði aukask.
Fjórar hefr þú, randa rýrir
reyrar setrs, á einum vetri
— allvaldr, estu ofvægr kallaðr —
ǫrva hríðir frœkn of gǫrvar.

{Hefnir Ôleifs}, fenguð yrkisefni; gervik slíkt at môlum; þú lætr {hauka Hlakkar} drekka {hrælǫg}; nú mun kvæði aukask. {Rýrir {setrs {reyrar randa}}}, þú hefr frœkn of gǫrvar {fjórar hríðir ǫrva} á einum vetri; allvaldr, estu kallaðr ofvægr.

{Avenger of Óláfr} [= Magnús], you furnished matter for the verse; I fashion such [deeds] into words; you allow {hawks of Hlǫkk <valkyrie>} [RAVENS/EAGLES] to drink {the corpse-sea} [BLOOD]; now the poem will swell. {Diminisher {of the home {of the reed of shields}}} [SWORD > SHIELD > WARRIOR], you have, daring, performed {four blizzards of arrows} [BATTLES] in one season; mighty ruler, you are called invincible.

Mss: (519r), 39(18ra), F(41va), E(9v), J2ˣ(256r) (Hkr); H(13r), Hr(11rb) (H-Hr); 20dˣ(16v), 873ˣ(16v), 1005ˣ(3v), 19ˣ(1v) (Knýtl, ll. 5-8)

Readings: [3] þú: om. E, J2ˣ    [5] randa rýrir: rimmur reyrar 1005ˣ, ‘rumnur reyrar’ 19ˣ    [6] setrs: setr H, Hr;    vetri: ‘vettri’ F    [7] ofvægr: ‘ofueg’ 20dˣ    [8] ǫrva hríðir: ‘aurferd hirder’ 1005ˣ, 19ˣ;    frœkn of (‘frǫcn um’): frœkn ok E, ‘frækinn’ H, Hr, ‘frønk um’ 873ˣ, ‘frægn af’ 1005ˣ;    gǫrvar: gjǫrvan 1005ˣ, 19ˣ

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa 14: AI, 336, BI, 309, Skald I, 157; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 70, ÍF 28, 64, Hkr 1991, 598-9 (Mgóð ch. 35), F 1871, 191, E 1916, 32; Fms 6, 91 (Mgóð ch. 41), Fms 12, 140; ÍF 35, 131 (Knýtl ch. 22); Whaley 1998, 171-3.

Context: In Hkr and H-Hr, Magnús winters peacefully in Denmark after his victory off Helgenæs (Helganes) and the flight of Sveinn Úlfsson (see Note to st. 15/6), and two sts are quoted to summarise his achievements, first Okík Magn 1 and then st. 14. In Knýtl, Magnús, it is stated, fought four battles in Denmark against Sveinn Úlfsson—at Ærø (Erri), off Århus (Áróss), at Copenhagen (Hǫfn) and on Fyn (Fjón), and there were further, lesser, engagements.

Notes: [All]: The st. is ascribed in Knýtl to Arnórr jarlaskáld in Magnússdrápa; the title is not specified in Hkr or H-Hr. — [2] môlum ‘words’: Kreutzer (1977, 86) cites this context as a particularly clear case of ml being used specifically to refer to the poetry itself, as opposed to the yrkisefni ‘matter for verse, for composition’ (l. 1). The translation here preserves the broader, more basic sense of ml, ‘words, speech’. — [5, 8] fjórar hríðir ǫrva ‘four blizzards of arrows [BATTLES]’: The ‘four battles’ fought in a single season (lit. ‘winter’) are probably those of Wollin (Jóm), Rügen (Ré), Århus (Áróss) and Lyrskovshede (Hlýrskógsheiðr), all fought in 1043, and the st. seems to have been understood so by Snorri (Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, ÍF 28). The author of Knýtl, as the context there suggests, thought otherwise. That the victory at Lyrskovshede followed the sacking of Wollin/Jóm is probable (so all but one version of the Icel. annals for 1043, Storm 1888, 17, 108, 317 and 469, with p. 58 as the exception; Schreiner 1930-3, 39 favoured dating Lyrskovshede before Wollin).

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