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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 26 October 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, 193-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Arn Hryn 9II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Hrynhenda, Magnússdrápa 9’ 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. 193-4.

Síðan vas, þats sunnr með láði
siklingr ýtti flota miklum;
skíði vas þá skriðar of auðit
skorðu; renndi Visundr norðan.
Samnask bað til hverrar hǫmlu
— hræðask menn við ættar klæði
Gjúka; þótti gǫfugt eiki
girzkum malmi — Peitu hjalma.

Síðan vas, þats siklingr ýtti miklum flota sunnr með láði; þá vas {skíði skorðu} of auðit skriðar; Visundr renndi norðan. Bað hjalma Peitu samnask til hverrar hǫmlu; menn hræðask við {klæði ættar Gjúka}; eiki þótti gǫfugt girzkum malmi.

Later it happened that the sovereign launched a great fleet south along the coast; then {the ski of the ship’s prop} [SHIP] was granted motion; Visundr (‘Bison’) charged from the north. He [Magnús] urged helmets from Poitou to rally at every rowing position; men fear {the raiment of the offspring of Gjúki <legendary king>} [ARMOUR]; the oaken vessel seemed splendid with its Russian metal.

Mss: H(5v), Hr(6vb) (H-Hr); Flat(190rb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] vas þats (‘var þat er’): vann þá Flat;    láði: landi Hr, Flat    [3] of: om. Flat    [7] Gjúka: ‘giuku’ Flat;    eiki: ‘ecke’ Flat    [8] girzkum: so Hr, ‘gorðzkvm’ H, ‘gerzskum’ Flat;    malmi: so Hr, Flat, hjalmi H;    Peitu: ‘petu’ Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 2. Hrynhenda, Magnúsdrápa 9: AI, 335, BI, 308, Skald I, 156; Fms 6, 47 (Mgóð ch. 24), Fms 12, 131; Flat 1860-8, III, 271, Andersson and Gade 2000, 110, 468 (MH); Whaley 1998, 159-62.

Context: Stanzas 9 and 10, concerning Magnús’s voyage south, are quoted as a prelude to the legendary account of a feast in Denmark at which Hǫrðaknútr entertained Magnús, only to be himself poisoned by a draught which Álfífa, mother of Sveinn, had intended for the Norw. guest. Snorri in Hkr omits reference to the poisoning. He does not quote st. 9 but sets st. 10 within an account of Magnús’s voyage south to claim Denmark after the death of Hǫrðaknútr in England.

Notes: [3-4]: Parallels with Bjhit Lv 2/7-8V are noted in the context of the biographical link between the two skalds by Frank (1978, 114-5). — [4] Visundr ‘(“Bison”)’: The ship built by Óláfr helgi and inherited by Magnús; see Note to ÞjóðA Magnfl 4/8. — [5] hǫmlu ‘rowing position’: The term hamla has been taken to refer to a rowlock—a loop of leather or rope which holds the oar in place (e.g. Skj B has hamlebåndene for hǫmlur in ÞjóðA Sex 14/3, although til hverrar hǫmlu in the present st. is translated til hver åre ‘to every oar’). Jesch observes that C11th warships ‘did not use such simple devices as loops to control their oars’ and, noting that skaldic examples of hamla are normally in the context of the gathering of a troop, suggests ‘oarsman’s place’ (2001, 156-7). — [6] hræðask ‘fear’: This interesting use of the pres. tense is established by the rhyme hræðask : klæði. — [8] girzkum malmi ‘Russian metal’: The ms. form ‘g᷎ðzkv̄’ (i.e. gǫrðzkvm, cf. ‘dām᷎k’ beside ‘danmǫrk’ elsewhere in H) is here assumed to be a graphic variant of gerzkr/gerðskr, cf. the variant forms ‘ger(ð)zki’, ‘gærzke’ and ‘gørzci’ for (Guðleikr) gerzki in mss of ÓH 1941, I, 120. Another, less likely, possibility is that it represents the m. dat. sg. of an adj. *garzkr ‘from Garðar’. Girzkr could mean either ‘Russian, from Garðar’ or ‘Greek’ (cf. Note to st. 4/4). The girzkr malmr which adorns the ship could be weapons which the warriors carry on board along with their armour, or perhaps, since málmr elsewhere in ON poetry means ‘gold’, ornament on the prow, stern and / or mast-head. In the main ms., ‘hialmi’ is clearly a case of dittography from ‘hialma’ later in the l. — [8] hjalma Peitu ‘helmets from Poitou’: The phrase is probably used metonymically here to refer to Magnús’s helmeted warriors. This is not paralleled elsewhere, although the personal names Hjálmr and Hjálmarr may have arisen from the notion that a man was the ‘helmet’ of his people. There is a precedent for the mention of a ‘Poitou-made helmet’, in Sigv Nesv 15/3, 4I (1016), and a French helmet appears in Sigv Nesv 5/6I. Arms from Poitou were apparently renowned, for peita came to be used in poetry as an appellative for ‘spear’.

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