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Runic Dictionary

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

4. Þorfinnsdrápa (Þorfdr) - 25

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.

file 2006-01-11 - Arnórr Þ reconstructions
file 2007-07-04 - Arnórr mss ordering

Þorfinnsdrápa (‘Drápa about Þorfinnr’) — Arn ÞorfdrII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘(Introduction to) Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa’ 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. 229-60.

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25 

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld: 5. Þórfinnsdrápa (AI, 343-8, BI, 316-21); stanzas (if different): 1 | 3 | 4 | 12 | 13 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18

SkP info: II, 241-2

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

10 — Arn Þorfdr 10II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 10’ 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. 241-2.

Hátt bar Hjalta dróttinn
hjalm at geira jalmi
— ógnstœrir rauð Írum
odd — í ferðar broddi.
Minn dróttinn naut máttar
mildr und brezkum skildi;
hendi Hlǫðvis frændi
hermenn ok tók brenna.

{Dróttinn Hjalta} bar hjalm hátt í broddi ferðar at {jalmi geira}; {ógnstœrir} rauð odd Írum. Mildr dróttinn minn naut máttar und brezkum skildi; {frændi Hlǫðvis} hendi hermenn ok tók brenna.

{The lord of Shetlanders} [= Þorfinnr] bore his helmet high in the vanguard of his troop in {the tumult of spears} [BATTLE]; {the sweller of battle-dread} [WARRIOR] reddened his point on Irishmen. My bounteous lord made use of his strength beneath a British shield; {Hlǫðvir’s kinsman} [= Þorfinnr] captured warriors and began burning.

Mss: 332ˣ(28-29), Flat(131rb), R702ˣ(38r), 48ˣ(346r marg) (Orkn)

Readings: [2] jalmi: salmi Flat, jalmi 48ˣmarg    [5] naut: hlaut Flat, naut 48ˣmarg    [7] Hlǫðvis: ‘hloðvers’ Flat, R702ˣ, Hlǫðvis 48ˣmarg    [8] ‑menn: mann Flat;    ok: enn Flat, R702ˣ;    tók brenna: tóksk senna R702ˣ

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 10: AI, 345, BI, 318, Skald I, 161; Flat 1860-8, II, 407, Orkn 1913-16, 50-1, ÍF 34, 50-1 (ch. 20); Whaley 1998, 238-40.

Context: Exactly as for st. 9, which st. 10 follows directly.

Notes: [1] dróttinn Hjalta ‘the lord of Shetlanders [= Þorfinnr]’: Here Þorfinnr, as also harri Hjaltlands ‘Shetland’s lord’ in st. 12; but in st. 22 dróttinn Hjalta ‘the lord of Shetlanders’ appears to refer to Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason. — [3] Írum ‘on Irishmen’: Orkn ch. 20, perhaps extrapolating from this st., states that Karl’s ranks included supporters from Ireland. — [6] und brezkum skildi ‘beneath a British shield’: Perhaps the shield was a war-trophy captured in a raid on the Bretar or perhaps ‘British’ shields were prized as being particularly fine. On the meaning of brezkr, see Note to st. 14/3. — [7] frændi Hlǫðvis ‘Hlǫðvir’s kinsman [= Þorfinnr]’: Hlǫðvir Þorfinnsson was paternal grandfather of Þorfinnr. There were few traditions about his career, to judge from Orkn (ÍF 34, 24). — [8] ok tók brenna ‘and began burning’: (a) The cl. follows frændi Hlǫðvis hendi hermenn ‘Hlǫðvir’s kinsman captured warriors’ so that hermenn may be the understood object of brenna inf. ‘burning’, hence ‘Þorfinnr captured [the surviving] warriors and burned [the slain]’, although burning seems usually to be reserved for evil-doers, heathens and insurrectionists (cf. the reference to the burning of the Wendish dead in Arn Magndr 8, also Fidjestøl 1982, 206). Brenna could alternatively refer to the burning of dwellings, and hence anticipate st. 11. (b) The variant enn tóksk senna (R702ˣ) could mean ‘yet again battle began’ (cf. tóksk morð af því ‘killing started up from that’ in Sigv Tryggfl 1/2I), since senna ‘verbal contest’ can stand alone to mean ‘battle’ (see LP). However, a statement that battle began would be inappropriate here.

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