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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, 232

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Arn Þorfdr 2II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 2’ 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, p. 232.

Orms felli drakk allan
alkostigr fen hrosta
— rausn drýgði þá ræsir —
Rǫgnvalds niðr í gǫgnum.

{Alkostigr niðr Rǫgnvalds} drakk {fen hrosta} í gǫgnum {allan felli orms}; ræsir drýgði þá rausn.

{The excellent descendant of Rǫgnvaldr} [= Þorfinnr] drank {the swamp of malt} [ALE] through {all the serpent’s slayer} [WINTER]; the ruler practised bounty then.

Mss: 332ˣ(32), R702ˣ(39r), 325III β(1r), 48ˣ(346v marg) (Orkn); 743ˣ(101v) (LaufE)

Readings: [1] Orms felli: ‘Ormspelle’ 743ˣ    [2] fen: ‘fan’ 325III β    [3] drýgði: so R702ˣ, 325III β, 743ˣ, dugði 48ˣmarg;    ræsir: so R702ˣ, 325III β, 743ˣ, ræsis 332ˣ, 48ˣmarg    [4] Rǫgn‑: ‘rg‑’ 743ˣ

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 2: AI, 334, BI, 316, Skald I, 160, NN §824; Orkn 1913-16, 53, ÍF 34, 52 (ch. 20); LaufE 1979, 403; Whaley 1998, 221-2.

Context: In Orkn, the st. is quoted to corroborate a statement that Þorfinnr kept his retainers and other magnates (ríkismenn) in food and drink all through the winter, unlike other rulers who usually restricted such bounty to Yule. In LaufE, it is the first item in an appendix of skaldic extracts; the three kennings are underlined in ms. 743ˣ.

Notes: [All]: Further LaufE mss. have copies of ll. 1-2: see LaufE 1979, 112, 115-16. — [2] fen hrosta ‘swamp of malt [ALE]’: The variant fen ‘marsh, swamp’ is required here, as seemingly also in Egill St 19/1, 3V: fen hrosta ‘swamp of mash [ALE]’ (with ms. fanst emended to fens). See the Note on hrosta in st. 1/3-4, where the ‘ale’ is elevated as part of a poetry-kenning. — [3] ræsir drýgði rausn ‘the ruler practised bounty’: Or, as suggested by the Context, ‘practised splendid hospitality’. The variant rausn dugði ræsis ‘the ruler’s bounty availed/was fitting’ would also make good sense, praising Þorfinnr (the ræsir) by means of understatement. — [4] niðr Rǫgnvalds ‘descendant of Rǫgnvaldr [= Þorfinnr]’: This Rǫgnvaldr is Þorfinnr’s ancestor, Rǫgnvaldr inn ríki Eysteinsson, jarl of Møre (Mœrr) in Norway, traditionally the first Nordic possessor of Orkney and Shetland (e.g. HhárfHkr ch. 22, ÍF 26, 122).

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