Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson (Arn)

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

4. Þorfinnsdrápa (Þorfdr) - 25

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.

files
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.

 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, 254-5

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Arn Þorfdr 21II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 21’ 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. 254-5.

Hvárntveggja sák hǫggva
hirð á Péttlandsfirði
— ór þrifusk mein at meiri —
mínn auðgjafa sína.
Sær blezk, en dreif dreyri
døkkr á saumfǫr kløkkva;
skaut á skjaldrim sveita;
skokkr vas blóði stokkinn.

Sák {hvárntveggja auðgjafa mínn} hǫggva hirð sína á Péttlandsfirði; mein ór þrifusk at meiri. Sær blezk, en døkkr dreyri dreif á kløkkva saumfǫr; sveita skaut á skjaldrim; skokkr vas stokkinn blóði.

I watched {both my wealth-givers} [GENEROUS MEN] hack down their own retainers in the Pentland Firth; our [my] pain grew the more. The sea churned, and dark blood dashed on the pliant nail-row; gore spurted on the shield-rail; decking was spattered with blood.

Mss: Flat(132rb), R702ˣ(40r) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] Hvárntveggja: Hvortveggi R702ˣ;    sák (‘sa ek’): sá R702ˣ;    hǫggva: ‘ho᷎gna’ R702ˣ    [2] Péttlands‑: ‘fetlandz’ R702ˣ    [3] ór (‘uor’): mér R702ˣ    [4] ‑gjafa: ‑gjafi R702ˣ    [5] blezk: so R702ˣ, ‘blerr’ Flat    [6] saumfǫr: ‘rvmspo᷎r’ R702ˣ;    kløkkva (‘klocka’): ‘klockri’ or ‘klockvi’ R702ˣ    [7] skjaldrim sveita: skjǫldin hvíta R702ˣ    [8] skokkr: skokk R702ˣ;    stokkinn: stokkin R702ˣ

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 21: AI, 347-8, BI, 320-1, Skald I, 162; Flat 1860-8, II, 415, Orkn 1913-16, 71, ÍF 34, 68-9 (ch. 26); Whaley 1998, 260-2.

Context: Þorfinnr, hard pressed in the battle off Rauðabjǫrg, retires for a short time and then rejoins the fighting, now with the support of Kálfr Árnason and his six crews. He brings up his ship against Rǫgnvaldr’s in a fierce struggle.

Notes: [All]: Uncharacteristically, R702ˣ contains many nonsensical readings while Flat has a superior text and is therefore adopted as the main ms. — [1-2, 4] sák hvárntveggja auðgjafa mínn hǫggva hirð sína ‘I watched both my wealth-givers [GENEROUS MEN] hack down their own retainers’: (a) The 1st-pers. mode of the Flat reading matches that of l. 3 and Arnórr’s known presence at this battle; this is also adopted in Skj B. (b) The R702ˣ readings are also viable, giving ‘each of my wealth-givers watched his retainers being hacked down’. — [2] Péttlandsfirði ‘Pentland Firth’: This is the first record of the name Péttlandsfjǫrðr in ON, which commemorates the Picts, the early inhabitants of mainland Scotland, south across the Firth from Orkney. — [5] blezk ‘churned’: Flat’s ‘blerr’ is not a known verbal form; but the R702ˣ variant blezk (‘blezt’) would be 3rd pers. sg. pret. indic. of blandask ‘mix’ and would give good sense. The usual construction is blandask e-u or blandask við e-t, so that here one must assume either that blóði ‘with blood’ is implied, or that blezk simply means ‘blended with itself, churned’. — [6] á kløkkva saumfǫr ‘on the pliant nail-row’: (a) Saumfǫr, lit. ‘stitch-row’, the row of nails along each strake, is recorded in ON prose although not elsewhere in poetry, and it occurs in ModIcel. It is kløkkr ‘pliant’ in the sense that it gives with the motion of the ship in heavy seas. Lie (1954, 158-9 and n. 7) took saumfǫr as a pars-pro-toto expression for ‘ship’ here, which may be justified since, as Jesch points out (2001, 140), it is the wood rather than the nails that give pliability. (b) The R702ˣ variant ‘rvmspo᷎r’ is obscure, though rúm n. is a compartment of a ship, the space given to each pair of oars. — [7] skjaldrim ‘the shield-rail’: The outside of the gunwale, on which shields were hung. On the evidence of the Gokstad and Skuldelev 5 ships, it seems that this was a narrow ledge attached to the top strake (Jesch 2001a, 141). — [8] skokkr ‘decking’: As a nautical term, skokkr is confined to skaldic poetry, and in none of the six contexts in which it occurs is its precise reference clear. But, partly on the basis of etymology and partly by inference from the use of skokk in Swed. dialect, it appears that skokkr is virtually synonymous with þiljur, designating the loose decking planks on the bottom of the ship (see Lindquist 1928; Ljunggren 1939, 26-8; Jesch 2001a, 151-3). See also Bǫlv Hardr 4/8, 5/8, 8/5 and Kolli Ingdr 4/7.

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