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, 257-8

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

23 — Arn Þorfdr 23II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 23’ 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. 257-8.

Hringstríði varð hlýða
herr frá Þursaskerjum
— rétt segik þjóð, hvé þótti
Þórfinnr — til Dyflinnar.

Herr varð hlýða {hringstríði} frá Þursaskerjum til Dyflinnar; segik þjóð rétt, hvé Þórfinnr þótti.

People had to heed {the ring-harmer} [GENEROUS RULER] from Þursasker to Dublin; I tell men truly how Þorfinnr was regarded.

Mss: (330v) (Hkr); Holm2(32r), 325V(33va), 325VI(19vb), 75a(24vb), 73aˣ(79r-v), Holm4(24ra), 325VII(17r), Flat(102va), Bb(160vb), Tóm(119r) (ÓH); Flat(133ra) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] Hringstríði: Hringstríðr 73aˣ, Tóm, Hrafnsfœði Flat(133ra);    varð: var Holm2, 325V, 75a;    hlýða: hlyðinn Holm2, 325V, 75a, 73aˣ    [2] frá: fyrir Holm2, 75a;    Þursa‑: ‘þyssa’ 325VII, ‘þíassa’ Tóm    [3] rétt: réttr Holm4;    segik (‘segi ec’): segi Holm2, 325V, segit 75a, segir 73aˣ;    þjóð: þér 75a, 73aˣ;    hvé: so 325V, 325VI, 75a, 73aˣ, 325VII, Flat(102va), Flat(133ra), hverr Kˣ, Holm2, Holm4, Bb, Tóm    [4] Þórfinnr: so 325V, Flat(102va), Bb, Tóm, Flat(133ra), Þorfinns Kˣ, Holm2, 75a, 73aˣ, Holm4, 325VII, ‘þorf’’ 325VI

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 23: AI, 348, BI, 321, Skald I, 162; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 214, ÍF 27, 174, Hkr 1991, 374 (ÓH ch. 103); Flat 1860-8, II, 182, ÓH 1941, I, 255 (ch. 89); Flat 1860-8, II, 421, Orkn 1913-16, 86, ÍF 34, 81 (ch. 32); Whaley 1998, 362-4.

Context: The st. is preceded in Hkr and ÓH by a comment on Þorfinnr’s pre-eminence, which ends with a remark that he gained possession of Shetland, the Orkneys and the Hebrides, and had great power in Scotland and Ireland. Orkn claims nine earldoms in Scotland, all the Hebrides and great power in Ireland.

Notes: [2] Þursaskerjum ‘Þursasker’: Lit. ‘Giants’ skerries’. Dublin (til Dyflinnar) (l. 4) presumably marks the south-western extremity of Þorfinnr’s sphere of influence, so that one would expect Þursasker to be its north-eastern limit, just as it is the eastern boundary of Scandinavian Scotland in Hák ch. 265 (1977-82, 149; ms. ‘þussa-sker’). Finnbogi Guðmundsson’s identification of Þursasker with The Skerries, a group of islets in the extreme east of the Shetland Isles, is therefore plausible (ÍF 34). Quite close by are fishing grounds which Crawford (1987, 75) notes had the traditional name ‘de Tussek’, possibly a reminiscence of Þursa-/Þussasker. — [3-4] hvé Þórfinnr þótti ‘how Þorfinnr was regarded’: The variant readings hvé/hverr and Þorfinns/Þorfinnr yield four possible ways in which the ll. can be interpreted. Whichever readings are adopted, the result is a subordinate cl. dependent on rétt segik þjóð ‘I tell men truly’. (a) Hvé þótti Þorfinnr, lit. ‘what kind of man Þorfinnr seemed / how Þorfinnr was regarded’, is found in mss 325V, Flat and probably also 325VI. This reading is adopted here, following ÍF 34, 81, though it is only marginally superior to (b) and (c) below. (b) Hverr þótti Þorfinns is the reading of the main ms. and two others. If the meaning were ‘who was considered Þorfinnr’s (subject)’ it would accord particularly well with the remainder of the helmingr, but this assumption may be slightly forced. (c) Hverr þótti Þorfinnr, lit. ‘who Þorfinnr was considered to be’, could have the sense ‘what ... like, how great’, but this is the reading only of the often unreliable mss Bb and Tóm; it is nevertheless adopted in Skj B and retained in Skald. (d) The remaining option, hvé þótti Þorfinns (in three mss), makes no sense.

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