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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, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 22 January 2022)

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, 223-4

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

14 — Arn Magndr 14II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, 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. 223-4.

Skeiðr tók Bjarnar bróður
ballr Skônungum allar
— þjóð røri þeirar tíðar
þingat — gramr með hringum.

Gramr, ballr Skônungum, tók allar skeiðr {bróður Bjarnar} með hringum; þjóð røri þingat þeirar tíðar.

The monarch, baleful to the Skánungar, seized all the warships {of Bjǫrn’s brother} [= Sveinn], every one; men rowed up at the right moment.

Mss: (517r), 39(17vb), E(9r), J2ˣ(254v) (Hkr); FskBˣ(59r); H(12r), Hr(11ra) (H-Hr); Flat(191vb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] tók: tókt FskBˣ;    bróður: bróðir FskBˣ, Flat    [2] ballr: baldr 39, FskBˣ, hallr Flat;    Skônungum: ‘skæningum’ FskBˣ, kann ungum Flat    [3] røri: reyri J2ˣ, H;    þeirar: þeirra Flat

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 3. Magnúsdrápa 13: AI, 341-2, BI, 314, Skald I, 159; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 64, ÍF 28, 58, Hkr 1991, 594 (Mgóð ch. 33), E 1916, 30; Fsk 1902-3, 214 (ch. 42), ÍF 29, 224-5 (ch. 50); Fms 6, 85 (Mgóð ch. 40), Fms 12, 138; Flat 1860-8, III, 284, Andersson and Gade 2000, 126, 470 (MH); Whaley 1998, 209-11.

Context: In Hkr, Fsk and H-Hr, the st. appears in the account of the battle at Helgenæs (Helganes). Flat by contrast attaches the st. to the battle south of Århus (Áróss), citing it immediately after st. 15.

Notes: [1] bróður Bjarnar ‘of Bjǫrn’s brother’: This is Sveinn Úlfsson. Bjǫrn is mentioned together with Sveinn in Knýtl (ÍF 35, 97, 141) and Mork (1928-32, 223). An English earl, he was treacherously killed by Swegn Godwineson (ASC ‘C’ s. a. 1049, ‘D’ s. a. 1050, ‘E’ s. a. 1046). — [2] ballr Skônungum ‘baleful to the Skánungar’: (a) The idiom ballr e-m ‘baleful, harsh, fearsome to sby’ may be paralleled in Bdr 5/7-8 réðo ... hví væri Baldri ballir draumar ‘discussed … why his dreams were baleful to Baldr’ (NK 277), if dat. sg. Baldri ‘to Baldr’ is construed, as here, with ballir ‘baleful’, hence ‘discussed … why Baldr’s dreams were baleful’ (réðo … hví draumar væri ballir Baldri). There does not appear to be a more secure example of ballr e-m (e.g. ONP has none), but such a construction might have been encouraged by the phonetically and semantically similar bella e-m ‘harm sby’ (strong verb), or by adj. phrases such as reiðr e-m ‘angry with sby’ or hættr e-m as in hættr Serkjum ‘dangerous to Saracens’ (ÞjóðA Sex 2). The postulated phrase ballr Sknungum is also compatible with the tradition that the people of Skåne (Skáney, now southern Sweden but then Dan. territory) earned Magnús’s hostility by supporting his enemy Sveinn. This interpretation is adopted by Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson (ÍF 28, 58 n.). (b) Finnur Jónsson in Skj B and Kock in Skald, on the other hand, emend to gen. pl. Sknunga, which they take with gramr, hence ‘monarch of Skánungar’. — [3] þeirar tíðar ‘at the right moment’: So Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson, who renders tíð as heillastund (?) ‘fortunate time (?)’ (ÍF 28, 58 n.). Although tíð f. normally has a neutral sense which can be qualified by góð ‘good’ or ill ‘bad, evil’, the possibility that it can have a favourable sense is suggested by its antonym ótíð ‘bad season, bad weather, inappropriate time’ and by the adj. tíðr ‘accustomed, popular, beloved’.

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