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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.

Þorfinnsdrápa (‘Drápa about Þorfinnr’) — Arn ÞorfdrII

Diana Whaley 2009, ‘ 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. <> (accessed 18 September 2021)

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, 247-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

16 — Arn Þorfdr 16II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 16’ 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. 247-8.

Enn vas, sús Engla minnir,
egghríð, né mun síðan
hôr við helming meira
hringdrífr koma þingat.
Bitu sverð, en þar þurði,
þunngǫr, fyr Mǫn sunnan
Rǫgnvalds kind, und randir
ramlig folk, ins gamla.

Enn vas {egghríð}, sús Engla minnir, né mun {hôr hringdrífr} síðan koma þingat við meira helming. Þunngǫr sverð bitu ramlig folk und randir, en {kind Rǫgnvalds ins gamla} þurði þar fyr sunnan Mǫn.

Then came {the edge-blizzard} [BATTLE] which the English remember, and never after will {a lofty ring-strewer} [GENEROUS RULER] come there with a larger force. Slender-wrought swords bit the mighty troops beneath their shields, and {the descendant of Rǫgnvaldr inn gamli (‘the Old’)} [= Þorfinnr] rushed forth there south of Man.

Mss: R702ˣ(38r), Flat(132ra) (Orkn); R(36v), Tˣ(38r), W(82), U(35v) (SnE, ll. 5-8)

Readings: [1] Enn: Ein Flat    [3] hôr: hátt Flat    [4] ‑drífr: so Flat, ‘(mi)’(?) R702ˣ;    koma: ‘komid’ R702ˣ, komit Flat;    þingat: so Flat, hingað R702ˣ    [5] þurði: so Flat, U, þorði R702ˣ, þurðir R, þurðu Tˣ, W    [6] fyr (‘fyrir’): yfir U;    Mǫn: so all others, ‘Mani’ R702ˣ    [7] und: en U    [8] ‑lig: ‑ligt Flat, U

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 15: AI, 346, BI, 319, Skald I, 161-2, NN §832; Flat 1860-8, II, 412, Orkn 1913-16, 64, ÍF 34, 61 (ch. 24); SnE 1848-87, I, 462-3, II, 338, SnE 1931, 164, SnE 1998, I, 82-3, 206; Whaley 1998, 250-3.

Context: In Orkn, Þorfinnr successfully wins a grim battle in England, supported by Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason and troops from Orkney, Caithness and elsewhere in Scotland, Ireland and the Hebrides. The jarls then plunder, kill and burn widely. In SnE, the second helmingr occurs in the same context as Arn Rǫgndr 2 and Þorfdr 4, and is quoted to illustrate the kenning kind Rǫgnvalds ‘descendant of Rǫgnvaldr’.

Notes: [All]: SnE explicitly states that the st. concerns Þorfinnr jarl. — [2, 4] né mun síðan … koma ‘and never after will … come’: Mss ‘komid/komit’ is syntactically unsatisfactory and could well be due to a misreading. The emendation to koma was favoured by Kock (NN §832) and Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34, 61). — [4] hringdrífr ‘ring-strewer [GENEROUS RULER]’: The reading of the main ms., ‘hring mi’, makes no sense. — [4] þingat ‘there’: (a) The variant þingat ‘thither, there’, i.e. ‘to England’ or ‘south of Man’ gives excellent sense and is adopted here. (b) Né mun síðan komit hingat in R702ˣ is interpreted as ‘(it will not henceforth) be made known to us’ (til vor fregnad) in Magnús Ólafsson’s gloss to the st. in R702ˣ, but to take koma in the sense ‘be made known, reported’ is somewhat forced. — [5, 7] kind Rǫgnvalds … þurði ‘the descendant of Rǫgnvaldr [= Þorfinnr] … rushed forth’: The role of the noun phrases ramlig(t) folk ‘mighty troop/troops’ (l. 8) and kind Rǫgnvalds ‘the descendant of Rǫgnvaldr’ is ambiguous: each could be nom., the subject of þurðu/þurði ‘rushed’, or acc., object of bitu sverð ‘swords bit’. However, the hero Þorfinnr is more likely to be depicted rushing forward than being pierced by swords, and so þurði is adopted here with the kind-phrase as its subject. (b) Finnbogi Guðmundsson (ÍF 34, 61 n.) suggested that kind was dat., hence presumably bitu sverð kind Rǫgnvalds ‘swords bit for Rǫgnvaldr’s descendant’ (and cf. Faulkes in SnE 1998, I, 206). But there is nothing in the syntax to show that kind is not acc. sg., which would yield the sense that the hero was wounded, so this seems unlikely. (c) It appears that the scribes of mss and W, and probably of U and Flat, took ‘mighty troop’ as the subject of ‘rushed’, since the two mss ( and W) which read pl. þurðu also have pl. ramlig folk, while the two (U and Flat) which read sg. þurði also have sg. ramligt folk. Skj B adopts þurðu and ramlig folk. (d) The variant þorði ‘dared’ (so R702ˣ) could make sense, but the ms. evidence is against it. — [6] þunngǫr ‘slender-wrought’: The adj. is unique in recorded ON, but þunngjör/-ger is recorded for ModIcel. in Sigfús Blöndal 1920-4, as are fínger(ður) ‘fine-wrought’ and smáger(ður) ‘small-wrought’ and cf. ON þunnsleginn ‘hammered thin’ (Fritzner IV). — [6] Mǫn ‘Man’: Mani (dat. sg.) in the main ms. has no parallel in ON, Mǫn being the usual form. It either represents a misreading or is influenced by the Celtic forms of the name (Manu and variants, Hogan 1910, 536). — [7, 8] kind Rǫgnvalds ins gamla ‘the descendant of Rǫgnvaldr inn gamli (“the Old”) [= Þorfinnr]’: Rǫgnvaldr is called inn ríki ok inn ráðsvinni ‘the powerful and wise-counselled’ in Orkn ch. 3 (ÍF 34, 7), never inn gamli, which may be designed to distinguish him from Rǫgnvaldr Brúsason; see further Note to st. 2/4.

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