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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

3. Magnússdrápa (Magndr) - 19

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.

Magnússdrápa (‘Drápa about Magnús’) — Arn MagndrII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 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. 206-29.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19 

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 3. Magnúsdrápa (AI, 338-43, BI, 311-15); stanzas (if different): 13 | 14

SkP info: II, 221-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

12 — Arn Magndr 12II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 12’ 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. 221-2.

Vítt hefk heyrt at heiti
Helganes, þars elgi
vágs inn víða frægi
vargteitir hrauð marga.
Røkr ǫndurt bað randir
reggbúss saman leggja;
rógskýja helt rýgjar
regni haustnôtt gegnum.

Hefk heyrt, at heiti vítt Helganes, þars {inn víða frægi vargteitir} hrauð {marga elgi vágs}. Ǫndurt røkr bað {reggbúss} leggja saman randir; {regni {rýgjar {rógskýja}}} helt gegnum haustnôtt.

I have heard that it is called broad Helgenæs, where {the widely famed wolf-cheerer} [WARRIOR] stripped {many elks of the wave} [SHIPS]. At the beginning of twilight {the ship-tree} [SEAFARER] called for shields to be set together; {the rain {of the troll-woman {of strife-clouds}}} [SHIELDS > AXE > BATTLE] persisted through the autumn night.

Mss: (516v), 39(17va), F(41ra), E(9r), J2ˣ(254r) (Hkr); FskBˣ(58v-59r), FskAˣ(223-224) (Fsk); H(12r), Hr(10vb) (H-Hr); Flat(191vb) (Flat, ll. 1-4); R(33v), Tˣ(35r), W(76), U(32r), A(10v), C(5r) (SnE, ll. 5-8); 2368ˣ(114) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Vítt: Hitt FskAˣ;    hefk (‘hefi ec’): hæfir FskBˣ, hǫfum FskAˣ;    heyrt: ‘hæyt’ FskBˣ;    heiti: héti F, E, H, Hr, Flat, ‘hæyti’ FskAˣ    [2] þars (‘þar er’): þar FskAˣ    [3] vágs: ‘vægs’ FskAˣ, ‘vox’ Flat;    inn: ‘menn’ FskBˣ, ins Flat    [4] ‑teitir: teitr Hr;    hrauð: so E, J2ˣ, H, Hr, rauð Kˣ, 39, F, FskBˣ, FskAˣ, Flat;    marga: margan FskBˣ, Flat    [5] Røkr: reykr F, FskAˣ, C, rekr FskBˣ, rekkr Hr, ‘rek[...]’ U;    ǫndurt: ‘andrt’ FskBˣ, ǫndur FskAˣ, ‘[...]dvrt’ U;    bað: var U;    randir: om. H, randar C    [6] regg‑: regn‑ FskBˣ, ‘r[...]’ U    [7] róg‑: so 39, F, E, H, Hr, R, Tˣ, W, U, A, C, 2368ˣ, rógs Kˣ, J2ˣ, FskBˣ, FskAˣ;    ‑skýja: skyggja J2ˣ, ‘skyiara’ Hr, ‘sk[...]a’ U;    helt: lét Hr;    rýgjar: ‘rygia’ R, Tˣ, W, C, 2368ˣ    [8] regni: regin or regni R, rogni W, ‘r[...]ni’ U, regn C;    gegnum: í gegnum C

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 3. Magnúsdrápa 12: AI, 340-1, BI, 314, Skald I, 159, NN §822; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 63, ÍF 28, 56-7, Hkr 1991, 593-4 (Mgóð ch. 33), F 1871, 189, E 1916, 30; Fsk 1902-3, 214 (ch. 42), ÍF 29, 224 (ch. 50); Fms 6, 83 (Mgóð ch. 40), Fms 12, 137; Flat 1860-8, III, 285, Andersson and Gade 2000, 126, 470-1 (MH); SnE 1848-87, I, 414-15, II, 325, 436, 585, SnE 1931, 148, SnE 1998, I, 65; LaufE 1979, 373; Whaley 1998, 205-8.

Context: In Hkr and H-Hr, it is remarked that the battle off Helgenæs (Helganes) began in the evening, and that at the outset Magnús had a smaller force but larger and better-manned ships. In Fsk, the same battle is summarily narrated up to the point where, after a night-long battle, Sveinn flees ashore. In Flat, on the other hand, the st. follows a description of Sveinn’s flight to Sweden after the battle of Århus (Áróss), Magnús’s capture of Sveinn’s ships and treasure, and his reprisals on the men of Skåne (Skáney). SnE and LaufE quote st. 12/5-8 to show that maðr er kendr til viða—that a kenning for ‘man’ (here reggbúss) can have ‘tree’ as its base-word.

Notes: [All]: The battle off Helgenæs (Helganes) and its aftermath are also commemorated in sts 13-18 below, Ókík Magn 1, ÞjóðA Magnfl 8-18, ÞjóðA Magn 1-14 and Arn Hryn 14-15. — [1] vítt ‘broad’: (a) The adj. is here taken as qualifying Helganes. The epithet may be conventional (cf. st. 9/4) but also aptly describes the rhomboidal peninsula, which would appear broad from both the mainland and the sea. (b) Vítt could alternatively be an adv. ‘widely, far and wide’ modifying hefk heyrt ‘I have heard’. — [7] rýgjar ‘of the troll-woman’: (a) The reading is here taken, as by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, as rýgjar, gen. sg. of the f. noun meaning ‘mighty woman, ogress’ (ÍF 28, 56-7 n., following Nj 1875-8, II, 518); it forms part of an axe-kenning (cf. Meissner 148) which in turn is determinant to a battle-kenning. (b) An alternative also proposed by Bjarni is that rýgr, again like other words for ‘troll-woman’ or ‘giantess’ (e.g. gnepja and vígglǫð), might be an axe-heiti in itself. Róg rýgjar ‘strife of the axe’ would then be ‘battle’, rógský rýgjar ‘clouds of battle’ would be ‘shields’ and the regn of shields once more ‘battle’. (c) Skj B reads the minority variant ‘rygia’ as acc. pl. of Rygjar (men of Rogaland), hence bað Rygja leggja saman randir ‘asked the Rygjar to set their shields together’. (d) Kock (NN §822) reads Rygja and construes rógskýja ... Rygja regni ‘the Rogalanders’ battle’. — [8] gegnum ‘through’: Gegnum is established here by the aðalhending on regni, but the variant gǫgnum is established by aðalhendingar on Hǫgna (st. 13/6) and Rǫgnvalds (Arn Þorfdr 2/4). Both variants are attested in other skaldic rhymes from the C11th, e.g. þegnar : gegnum (Halli XI Fl 4/6), and Rǫgnvalds : gǫgnum (Sigv Austv 12/4I).

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