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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;

3. Magnússdrápa (Magndr) - 19

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.

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.

 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, 227-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

18 — Arn Magndr 18II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 18’ 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. 227-8.

Enn rauð frôn á Fjóni
— fold sótti gramr dróttar —
— ráns galt herr frá hônum —
hringserks lituðr merki.
Minnisk ǫld, hverr annan
jafnþarfr blôum hrafni
— ert gat hilmir hjarta —
herskyldir tøg fylldi.

Enn rauð {lituðr hringserks} frôn merki á Fjóni; gramr dróttar sótti fold; herr galt ráns frá hônum. Ǫld minnisk, {hverr herskyldir} fylldi annan tøg jafnþarfr blôum hrafni; hilmir gat ert hjarta.

Further, {the painter of the mail-shirt} [WARRIOR] reddened bright banners on Fyn; the retinue’s lord attacked the land; the people paid [dearly] for their robbery of him. Let men recall {which troop-commander} [RULER] has lived out his second decade equally generous to the dark raven; the sovereign was endowed with a spirited heart.

Mss: (518v-519r), 39(18ra), F(41va), E(9v), J2ˣ(255v-256r) (Hkr); FskBˣ(59r), FskAˣ(224) (Fsk); H(12v), Hr(11rb) (H-Hr); Flat(191vb) (Flat)

Readings: [1] Enn: Ek J2ˣ, Næst FskBˣ, FskAˣ, H, Hr, Flat;    rauð: bar E, J2ˣ;    frôn: fram E, J2ˣ, Flat    [2] fold: fram F;    gramr: so all others, gram Kˣ    [3] ráns: þar E, J2ˣ;    frá: firir FskBˣ    [4] lituðr: so 39, F, E, J2ˣ, FskBˣ, H, Hr, Flat, litaðr Kˣ, FskAˣ    [5] Minnisk: minntisk FskBˣ, minnti Flat;    hverr: hvert Flat;    annan: so E, J2ˣ, Hr, annarr Kˣ, 39, F, FskBˣ, H, Flat    [6] ‑þarfr: þarf FskBˣ, ‘þrafn’ Flat    [7] ert: ǫrt F, E, J2ˣ, H, Hr, Flat, snart FskBˣ    [8] ‑skyldir: ‑skyldi Hr;    tøg: tók J2ˣ, taugr Hr

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 3. Magnúsdrápa 18: AI, 343, BI, 315, Skald I, 160, NN §§824, 1134; Hkr 1893-1901, III, 69, ÍF 28, 63, Hkr 1991, 598 (Mgóð ch. 34), F 1871, 190-1, E 1916, 31; Fsk 1902-3, 215-16 (ch. 42), ÍF 29, 225-6 (ch. 50); Fms 6, 89-90 (Mgóð ch. 41), Fms 12, 139; Flat 1860-8, III, 285, Andersson and Gade 2000, 126-7, 471 (MH); Whaley 1998, 215-18.

Context: The prose link-passages merely paraphrase and briefly introduce the st. Flat and Fsk follow the quotation with a remark that the st. refers to Magnús reaching twenty years of age.

Notes: [2] gramr ‘lord’: The nom. sg. variant, rather than acc. sg. gram as in , is required by the syntax. — [3] ráns ‘robbery’: The precise reference of rán is not clear from the st. nor from the prose accounts. Probably the Danes’ intention to deprive Magnús of rule (and hence of revenue) is meant. — [5] minnisk ‘let (men) recall’: Despite the obscurities of the helmingr, the words hverr herskyldir jafnþarfr hrafni ‘which troop-commander, equally generous to the raven’ (ll. 5, 6, 8) clearly make a claim about Magnús’s superior prowess. In such a comparison (ǫld) minnisk must be subj., ‘let men (see if they can) recall’, though formally the verb could be indic., ‘men recall/will recall’. — [5, 8] fylldi annan tøg ‘lived out his second decade’: Lit. ‘completed (his) second ten’. (a) The reading adopted here, as also in Skj B, is based on annan, which is the lectio difficilior since unlike the variant annarr it does not go with the immediately preceding hverr ‘who, which’. It is supported by the words following the st. in Flat and Fsk (see Context above), which would seem to reflect a traditional explanation that the st. referred to Magnús reaching his twentieth year, although the text as it stands in Flat and Fsk cannot yield that meaning since it has the variant annarr rather than annan. The ‘twenty’ could be battles, but this is not specified, and it seems more likely that the idiom is akin to fylla lífsdaga sína ‘complete the days of one’s life’. Hence the sense is that no other warrior so young had been jafnþarfr blum hrafni ‘equally generous to the dark raven’, i.e. had served the raven so well by making carrion of so many of his foes. The construction is comparable to that in st. 19. (b) The reading annarr has the stronger ms. authority, and is favoured by Kock in Skald. If it were adopted, the construction would be minnisk ǫld, hverr annarr herskyldir, jafnþarfr blum hrafni, fylldi tøg ‘let men recall which other troop-commander has, equally generous to the dark raven, completed ten’. The ‘ten’ would presumably be ten battles, though nothing in the context indicates this, and it is difficult to see why the concordant hverr annarr would have been corrupted to hverr annan. — [7] ert ‘spirited’: (a) The spelling ert occurs again in the text of Arn Hardr 15/5 in mss Mork, H and Hr (with the variant ‘aurtt’, normalised ǫrt, in Flat), but not in any of the very numerous citations listed under ǫrr in LP. The prose lexicons, too, completely lack any record of an adj. err, although the similar forms ern and errinn are known, both meaning ‘brisk, bold’. Err could perhaps be an independent form which, like them, has a different etymology to ǫrr (see AEW on these words), but which has escaped the lexicographers’ notice because it has been ‘normalised’ to ǫrr. (b) The variant ‘avrt’ is n. sg. nom./acc. of the familiar adj. ǫrr ‘ready, bold, generous’, and the collocation with ‘heart’ is matched in Þorm Lv 23a/1V = Lv 23b/1I Ǫrt vas leifs hjarta ‘Bold was Óláfr’s heart’. Ert could simply be a graphic variant of this since <e/ø> and <ø/ǫ> are common doublets, and noun err occurs as a variant of ørr ‘scar’ (Fritzner IV: err).

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