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Runic Dictionary

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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 20 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, 211-12

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

3 — Arn Magndr 3II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Magnússdrápa 3’ 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. 211-12.

Gekk á Svíþjóð søkkvi
Sveins, es fremð vann eina;
fýstisk Ôleifs austan
afkart sonar hjarta.
Nôtt beið ok dag dróttins
dygg ferð Jaðarbyggva;
fýst bað gram* í geystu
gífrs veðri sér hlífa.

{Søkkvi Sveins}, es vann fremð eina, gekk á Svíþjóð; afkart hjarta {sonar Ôleifs} fýstisk austan. Dygg ferð Jaðarbyggva beið dróttins nôtt ok dag; fýst í {geystu veðri gífrs} bað gram* hlífa sér.

{The queller of Sveinn} [= Magnús], who performed nothing but triumph, marched into Sweden; the prodigious heart {of the son of Óláfr} [= Magnús] was urging from the east. The worthy host of the people of Jæren awaited their liege night and day; urgently, in {[their] troubled gale of the troll-woman} [MIND], they begged the prince to protect them.

Mss: Hr(3vb) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] Svíþjóð: ‘suíod suíþiod’ Hr    [7] gram*: gramr Hr    [8] veðri: veðr Hr

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 3. Magnúsdrápa 3: AI, 338-9, BI, 311-12, Skald I, 158, NN §2020; Fms 6, 22-3 (Mgóð ch. 10), Fms 12, 126; Whaley 1998, 187-9.

Context: Cf. sts 1 and 2. Continuing his journey westwards, Magnús goes ashore and prepares to take the overland route north into Norway.

Notes: [1] Svíþjóð ‘Sweden’: The ms. ‘suíod suíþiod’ is clearly a case of scribal dittography. — [1-2] søkkvi Sveins ‘the queller of Sveinn [= Magnús]’: Lit. ‘sinker of Sveinn’. A highly specific kenning, which neatly anticipates the flight of Sveinn Álfífuson from Norway on the arrival of Magnús, reported in st. 4. Similarly, sonar leifs ‘of the son of Óláfr’ in ll. 3-4 may presage Magnús’s recovery of his father’s realm in st. 4. — [4] afkart ‘prodigious’: For the various meanings of this adj., see Anon Pl 27/6VII. That the vowel of ‑kart in the present st. is short is suggested by the rhyme afkart : hjarta, and this may be supported by the rhyme of afkárr/afkarr on fjarri in Pl 27/6VII and of launkarr on fjar- in Bjhít Lv 5/8V (cf. Note to st. 5/1 afkárlig, and see further Whaley 1998, 188 on the short vowel). — [7, 8] fýst bað gram* hlífa sér ‘urgently, they begged the prince to protect them’: (a) Fýst is taken here as the n. form of the p. p. fýstr, lit. ‘impelled, encouraged,’ used adverbially, hence ‘urgently’. Dygg ferð Jaðarbyggva ‘the worthy host of the people of Jæren’ is construed as being the implied subject of bað ‘begged’ as well as the explicit subject of beið ‘awaited’, and gram ‘prince’ as the object of bað; sér refers back to ferð. The emendation of gramr to gram is justifiable on the grounds that the scribe of Hr frequently alters the text when puzzled by its syntax. (b) Kock (NN §2020) construed ll. 7-8 similarly, but read fýst as f. nom. sg. of fýstr, qualifying ferð, hence ‘eager host’. (c) Finnur Jónsson’s solution in Skj B was to construe: gramr bað fýst ... hlífa sér ‘the prince bade [his own] zeal be his defence’, but this seems semantically difficult. — [7-8] í geystu veðri gífrs ‘in [their] troubled gale of the troll-woman [MIND]’: Geystr, lit. ‘made to rush, rushing, aroused’, can mean ‘disturbed, troubled, upset’ in a figurative sense (see Fritzner: geystr 2); it can also mean ‘powerful’, as when applied to the wolf’s greed in Skarp Lv 5/7V. Veðri (ms. ‘vedr’) is a small emendation necessary to metre and syntax. The dat. case is indicated by the prep. í and the n. dat. sg. adj. geystu. Kennings on the pattern ‘wind of the troll-woman’ can refer either to ‘mind, thought’ or to ‘courage’ (as in Gsind Hákdr 8I). See also Stúfr Stúfdr 1/3. Given the possible meanings of geystr and veðr gífrs, the phrase as a whole could refer (a) to the gramr ‘prince’ (Magnús) and mean ‘in his raging, mighty spirit’, or (b) to the ferð Jaðarbyggva ‘the host of the people of Jæren’ and mean ‘in their troubled thoughts’. It was suggested above that ferð is likely to be the implied subject of bað in l. 7. Í geystu veðri gífrs then yields the best sense if it is construed with (the understood) ferð, and this analysis is followed here (as also Skald and NN).

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