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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 19 January 2022)

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, 235-6

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Arn Þorfdr 5II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 5’ 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. 235-6.

Hilmir rauð í hjalma
hreggi skelkings eggjar;
fór, áðr fimmtán væri,
fetrjóðr Hugins, vetra.
Gǫrr lézk grund at verja
geðfrœkn ok til sœkja
œri Einars hlýra
engr mannr und skýranni.

Hilmir rauð eggjar skelkings í {hreggi hjalma}; {fetrjóðr Hugins} fór, áðr væri fimmtán vetra. Engr mannr und {skýranni} œri {hlýra Einars} lézk gǫrr at verja grund, geðfrœkn, ok sœkja til.

The ruler reddened the sword’s edges in {the storm of helmets} [BATTLE]; {the foot-reddener of Huginn <raven>} [WARRIOR] set forth before he was fifteen winters. No man under {the cloud-hall} [SKY/HEAVEN] younger than {Einarr’s brother} [= Þorfinnr] has declared himself ready to guard his realm, mind-bold, and to mount attacks.

Mss: 332ˣ(18), Flat(131ra), R702ˣ(37v), 48ˣ(343r marg) (Orkn); Kˣ(319r-v), 325XI 2 e(2r) (Hkr, ll. 5-8); Holm2(29r), 325V(32ra), 972ˣ(201va), 75a(21rb), 321ˣ(112), 73aˣ(74r), 68(28r), 61(96vb), Holm4(21rb), Bb(157v), Tóm(116v) (ÓH, ll. 5-8); B(6v), 744ˣ(41r) (SnE, ll. 1-2)

Readings: [2] hreggi: ‘hrægg[...]’ B, hreggi 744ˣ;    skelkings: skilfings Flat, ‘skelkiungs’ R702ˣ, ‘skelkvins’ 48ˣmarg, ‘[...]kelk[...]s’ B, skelkings 744ˣ    [4] fet‑: fjǫt‑ R702ˣ    [5] Gǫrr: ‘Geírr’ Bb;    lézk: ‘leiz’ R702ˣ, lét 75a, 61, Bb    [6] geð‑: so all others, gunn 332ˣ    [7] œri: ‘errínn’ Flat, œri 48ˣmarg, ‘o᷎r’ Bb;    Einars: annars 75a;    hlýra: hlýri Flat, 73aˣ, 61, hlýra 48ˣmarg    [8] engr: ungr Tóm;    mannr: mann Flat, R702ˣ, 73aˣ, 61, Holm4, Tóm;    und: í Flat, und 48ˣmarg, ‘vn’ 325V

Editions: Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 5: AI, 344, BI, 316-17, Skald I, 160; Flat 1860-8, II, 404, Orkn 1913-16, 43, ÍF 34, 43 (ch. 20); Hkr 1893-1901, II, 199, ÍF 27, 160, Hkr 1991, 364 (ÓH ch. 96); ÓH 1941, I, 232 (ch. 81); SnE 1848-87, II, 540; Whaley 1998, 228-30.

Context: In the sagas, the st. follows a sketch of Þorfinnr’s appearance and character, and a statement that at the age of five he received Caithness (Katanes, and Sutherland according to a variant) and the title jarl from his grandfather Malcolm (Melkólmr), King of the Scots. In SnE, ll. 1-2 are quoted to illustrate the use of hilmir within a section on terms for rulers.

Notes: [2] skelkings ‘the sword’s’: Though rare, the term skelkingr, perhaps ‘fearsome one’ (AEW) is paralleled, as a variant, in Þul Sverða 7/1III and cf. ‘skelkuin’ as a variant in Hfr Lv 5/7V. Flat’s skilfings is the lectio facilior and hence perhaps a secondary reading since, although also rare as a sword-heiti, skilfingr is more familiar as a name of Óðinn or a term for ‘prince’ (LP). — [3] fór ‘set forth’: Björn Magnússon Ólsen (1909a, 289) suggested emending to fár ‘few’, since he found fór meaningless in the absence of a phrase indicating direction, but the absolute use of fara is attested in a military context in Sigv Berv 1/4: fer, ef þó skulum berjask ‘I shall go, if we nonetheless have to fight’. — [6] geðfrœkn ‘mind-bold’: This has the authority of all mss except 332ˣ, which has gunnfrœkn ‘battle-bold’. Both readings are well paralleled by synonymous compounds (e.g. gunnbráðr/gunndjarfr; geðrakkr/geðhraustr). — [7] hlýra Einars ‘Einarr’s brother [= Þorfinnr]’: A reference to Þorfinnr’s half-brother Einarr rangmuðr ‘Wry-mouth’, who, after long territorial wranglings between the kinsmen, finally died in 1020 at the hands of Þorfinnr’s henchman Þorkell (Storm 1888, 16, 57, 106, 316 and 468).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated