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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

2. Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa (Hryn) - 20

Skj info: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, Islandsk skjald, 11. årh. (AI, 332-54, BI, 305-27).

Skj poems:
1. Rǫgnvaldsdrápa
2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa
3. Magnúsdrápa
4. Et digt om Hermundr Illugason
5. Þórfinnsdrápa
6. Erfidrápa om kong Harald hårdråde
7. Vers af ubestemmelige digte, samt én lausavísa

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 7 December 2021)

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

SkP info: II, 189-90

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Arn Hryn 5II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 5’ 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. 189-90.

Rauðar bôruð randir síðan,
rimmu Yggr, of sœnskar byggðir;
eigi gaztu liðskost lágan;
landsfolk sótti þér til handa.
Austan þurðuð, ulfa ferðar
ǫldum kunnr, með hvíta skjǫldu,
tungurjóðr, til tírarþinga
teknir menn ok dǫrr in reknu.

Síðan bôruð rauðar randir, {Yggr rimmu}, of sœnskar byggðir; eigi gaztu lágan liðskost; landsfolk sótti til handa þér. {Tungurjóðr ferðar ulfa, kunnr ǫldum}, þurðuð austan, menn teknir til tírarþinga, með hvíta skjǫldu ok in reknu dǫrr.

Next you carried red shields, {Yggr <= Óðinn> of battle} [WARRIOR], through Swedish settlements; you did not gain a poor pick of troops; the men of the land put themselves in your hands. {Tongue-reddener of the pack of wolves, renowned to peoples} [WARRIOR], you swept from the east, men chosen for glorious encounters, with white shields and inlaid spears.

Mss: (495v), 39(12va), F(37rb), E(3r), J2ˣ(239v-240r) (Hkr); Holm2(73r), 972ˣ(578va), 325VI(41ra), 73aˣ(213r), Holm4(68va), 325VII(41r), 325V(88ra), 61(129va), Bb(205ra), Tóm(160r) (ÓH); Hr(3vb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] síðan: síðar 61    [2] rimmu: ‘rymmu’ J2ˣ, runnar 73aˣ;    Yggr: ‘ygr’ F, 325VI, Holm4, ‘ygs’ Tóm;    of (‘um’): í E, J2ˣ, Holm2, 972ˣ, 325VI, 73aˣ, Holm4, 325VII, 325V, 61, Bb, Tóm, Hr;    sœnskar: ‘sonskar’ J2ˣ, þrœnskar 73aˣ    [3] liðskost: liðkost Holm4, 61, Tóm, ‘lidskot’ Bb    [4] landsfolk: landfolk F, Holm2, 61, Bb, land her 325VI, 73aˣ, Hr    [5] þurðuð (‘þurþut’): þurðusk J2ˣ, þorðut 73aˣ, 325VII, 325V, 61, Hr, ‘þyrdvt’ Bb;    ulfa: umla Tóm;    ferðar: skerðir 61, ferðir Bb    [6] ǫldum: ‘olldu’ 61;    með: yfir 61, yfir 61, við Hr;    skjǫldu: ‘sceylldu’(?) Holm2    [7] tungu‑: tuggu‑ 325V;    til: með 325VI, 73aˣ, yfir 61;    tírar‑: ‘tirrar’ Bb;    ‑þinga: þingum 325VI, 73aˣ, unga 325VII, Tóm, ungrar 61    [8] ok: með Holm4, en 61;    reknu: rekna 61

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa 5: AI, 333-4, BI, 307, Skald I, 156, NN §816 anm. 1, 1133; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 8, ÍF 28, 8, Hkr 1991, 560 (Mgóð ch. 2), F 1871, 169; ÓH 1941, I, 615 (ch. 252); Fms 6, 23 (Mgóð ch. 10), Fms 12, 127; Whaley 1998, 152-5.

Context: In ÓH and Hkr, Snorri prefaces the st. by a comment that Magnús and his force went overland to Hälsingland (Helsingjaland). In H-Hr, the st. follows Hryn 4, separated only by a remark on the support Magnús won in Sweden.

Notes: [All]: The source poem is named as (dat. sg. following í) ‘hermandini’ (variants ‘hryniandini’, ‘hryneande’) in ÓH and as ‘hrunhendu’ in Hr. — [3-4]: Arnórr’s reference to the Swedes’ willing support of Magnús is illuminated by Sigv Ást 1-3I, in which the skald praises Ástríðr, widow of Óláfr helgi, for generously helping her stepson Magnús to win Norway. She put his case to a great force of Swedes, assembled at Hangrar (unidentified p. n.), near Sigtuna (Sigtún), and (presumably) won them over. — [5] þurðuð ‘you swept’: 2nd pers. pl. pret. indic. of þyrja. As the only verb in the helmingr, this must be construed as predicate to nom. pl. teknir menn ‘men chosen’ (l. 8, see Note below). — [7] til tírarþinga ‘for glorious encounters’: (a) Although similar in construction to a kenning, tírarþing is not a true kenning. Þing can stand alone in the sense ‘battle’ (as in Sigv Víkv 11/3I, the only sure example), and tírar ‘of glory’ has here an adjectival rather than substantival role. (b) The variant tirrar is secondary, since preserved only in the unreliable Bb, but it could be gen. sg. of a rare word for ‘sword’ (see Whaley 1998, 154). — [8] menn teknir ‘men chosen’: No recorded use of taka/tekinn, normally ‘take/taken’ suits the present context, but two meanings of taka til are possible if teknir til tírarþinga are construed together. (a) ‘Choose, elect’ occurs, completed either by the name of a position such as konungs ‘king’ or frillu ‘mistress’, by a more abstract term such as gerðar ‘arbitration’, or by an at-cl. (Fritzner: taka til 9). This seems to give the best sense in the present context, although it is not specified by whom Magnús and company are ‘chosen’: presumably God or an abstract destiny. This is Finnur Jónsson’s interpretation in Skj B. Kock accepts the sense ‘chosen’ for teknir, but does not construe it with til tírarþinga, which he takes rather with þurðu ‘rushed’ (NN §1133). (b) Teknir til tírarþinga could alternatively mean ‘famed for glorious encounters’, since taka e-n, e-s til e-s can refer to reputation, as in Hann var til þess tekinn, at honum var verra til hjóna en ǫðrum mǫnnum ‘He had the reputation of being worse off for servants than others’, Grettis saga (Gr, ch. 30, ÍF 7, 101, quoted in Fritzner: taka til 10).

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