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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 27 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, 184-5

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Arn Hryn 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 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. 184-5.

Seinkun varð, þás hlébarðs hanka
hnikaði ôr in ljóta bára.

Seinkun varð, þás in ljóta bára hnikaði ôr {hlébarðs hanka}.

Delay came about, as the foul breaker drove against the oar {of the bear of the cleat} [SHIP].

Mss: A(5r), W(104) (TGT)

Readings: [1] varð: verðr W;    hlébarðs: so W, hlébarð A    [2] hnikaði: hnika A, ‘hnika’ or ‘hinka’ W

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa 3: AI, 333, BI, 306, Skald I, 155, NN §810; SnE 1848-87, II, 126, 413, TGT 1884, 82, 19-20, TGT 1927, 57, TGT 1998, 152-3; Whaley 1998, 143-5.

Context: The ll. are used to illustrate macrologia, which Óláfr hvítaskáld defines as a long sentence containing matter irrelevant to the skald’s subject. Óláfr adds that the figure is common at the beginning of poems, and after the citation explains that Arnórr here tells of his own difficult journeys, which is not relevant to the praise of the king.

Notes: [All]: The st. is cited from Magnússdrápa in TGT. — [All]: (a) The analysis adopted here is syntactically the most straightforward (and was adopted by Kock, NN §810). The couplet could be construed in two other ways, both of which are less satisfactory since they assume a complex intertwining of clauses which is uncharacteristic of Hryn. (b) Seinkun varð r hlébarðs hanka, þás in ljóta bára hnikaði ‘There was delay on the oar of the bear of the cleat [SHIP], as the foul breaker tossed’. Here r is a dat. of respect or disadvantage and hnikaði is intransitive. (c) Seinkun hlébarðs hanka varð, þás in ljóta bára hnikaði r ‘There was delay on the bear of the cleat [SHIP] as the foul breaker drove against the oar’. In this construal, hlébarðs hanka ‘of the bear of the cleat [SHIP]’ is taken as an objective gen. governed by seinkun ‘delay’. It was adopted by Björn Magnússon Ólsen, TGT 1884, 192-3 (reading pres. verðr, hnikar), and by Finnur Jónsson in Skj B; it was rejected by Kock, NN §810. — [1] hlébarðs hanka ‘of the bear of the cleat [SHIP]’: Only the gen. sg. ‑barðs is compatible with the syntax of the couplet. The hanki ‘cleat’ is a loop or other device which holds the cordage for the sails in a given position (cf. Jesch 2001a, 166). Hanka here is taken as gen. sg. ‘of the cleat’, but gen. pl. ‘of cleats’ is also possible. Hlébarðr (also a giant name in Hárb 20, NK 81) is clearly an animal term forming, with hanka, a stereotypical ship-kenning, but the particular animal is not certain. (a) It occurs as a term for ‘bear’ in Þul Bjarnar 1/6III, in Grett Lv 15/5V and elsewhere, and ship-kennings with a base-word meaning ‘bear’ are well attested (Meissner 218). (b) Hlébarðr is a heiti for ‘wolf’ in Þul Vargs 1/6III, and ‘wolf’ is also attested in kennings for ‘ship’, although rather less frequently than ‘bear’ (Meissner 220). (c) Hlébarðr is held to be an adoption, altered by folk etymology, of MLat. leopardus (Alexander Jóhannesson 1951-6, 1026; AEW), and it is conceivable that Arnórr meant ‘leopard’ here (cf. bru léón ‘lion of the wave [SHIP]’ in Svtjúg LvI), but he does not in general show a taste for such exotic references. (d) Krömmelbein’s solution produces an implausible kenning (TGT 1998, 153). — [2] hnikaði ‘drove against’: Ms. hnika (inf. or 3rd pers. pl. pres. indic.) does not fit into the syntax of the couplet, and the best solution is to emend to the past sg. form. (So Finnur Jónsson in Skj B, and see Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson 1895-7, II, 66-7 for a metrical objection to the alternative emendation, to hnikar ‘drives against’.) That hnika belonged to the first weak, or a-stem, conjugation is inferred from modern usage (e.g. Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4: hnika) and from the Óðinn-heiti Hnikuðr (Þul Óðins 1/8III and Grí 48, NK 67), variant to the commoner Hnikarr. The verb is not recorded elsewhere in ON, and yet its meaning can be established. In ModIcel. it can either be intransitive, meaning ‘move, sway’, or else it can govern a dat. object and mean ‘move’. In Blöndal’s two examples the object is something heavy, which suggests that hnikaði in Arnórr’s l. could mean ‘drive, thrust against’. The related ON verb hnekkja ‘throw back, thwart’ supports this. For a sceptical view of this and similar forms, see Kuhn 1939, 180-4. — [2] ôr ‘oar’: This forms a very natural phrasal unit with hlébarðs hanka, hence ‘oar of the bear of the cleat [SHIP]’, cf. typpi élmars ‘mast-heads of the storm-steed [SHIP]’ in st. 10. The phrase is taken as dat. sg. object of hnikaði ‘drove against’, which gives excellent sense in the context, since delay or drag (seinkun) in the ship’s advance would result from the counter-thrust of the sea against the oar. For an alternative interpretation, see LP (1860): hlæbarðr.

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