Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA)
11th century; volume 2; ed. Diana Whaley;
1. Magnússflokkr (Magnfl) - 19
2. Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi (Magn) - 14
3. Runhent poem about Haraldr (Run) - 4
4. Sexstefja (Sex) - 32
5. Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr (Har) - 7
6. Fragments (Frag) - 5
7. Lausavísur (Lv) - 11
Þjóðólfr Arnórsson (ÞjóðA) is listed in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262) among the poets of Magnús inn góði ‘the Good’ Óláfsson and Haraldr harðráði ‘Hard-rule’ Sigurðarson, and virtually all his extant poetry seems to have been composed in honour of them, or in association with them; hence it dates from the period 1035-1066. The text of Skáldatal in AM 761 a 4°ˣ (SnE 1848-87, III, 259) also credits Þjóðólfr with poetry for Haraldr Þorkelsson, son of Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’ and one of the Dan. magnates present in Norway during the reign of Sveinn Álfífuson (1030-35). No identifiable fragments of this remain, but if true the tradition would suggest that Þjóðólfr was born not much later than 1010. Hemings þáttr Áslákssonar (Hem) has him die at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, and there is no record of him after that date, though Lv 11 has the air of being composed after the battle. Þjóðólfr was, according to Skáldatal and Fsk (ÍF 29, 245), the brother of another skald, Bǫlverkr Arnórsson (Bǫlv), and according to Sneglu-Halla þáttr (Snegl) in Flat (1860-8, III, 415), was from an undistinguished family in Svarfaðardalur, northern Iceland. The same þáttr (p. 421) names his father not as Arnórr but as Þorljótr, in the context of a scurrilous anecdote told against Þjóðólfr by Sneglu-Halli (SnH), who also taunts him with having composed the otherwise unknown Sorptrogsvísur ‘Dustbin Vísur’. The þáttr nevertheless describes him as accomplished (menntr vel) and courteous (kurteis maðr), highly favoured by King Haraldr and chief of his poets (haufutskꜳlld sitt, p. 415). Þjóðólfr’s poetry, rich in allusion and imagery, has continued to be widely admired, and it gains colour and vigour from the fact that he participated in many of the campaigns he depicts. It undoubtedly also reflects the fact that he was one of an exceptional circle of poets patronised by Haraldr (see Turville-Petre 1968), and much of his poetry shares topics and imagery with that of his contemporary Arnórr jarlaskáld (Arn), though there is no account of the dealings between these two. Þjóðólfr figures in several anecdotes centring on poetic composition: see Contexts to Lv 2-6, though we have no way of knowing whether he was so touchy about his reputation as the Context to Lv 4, and Snegl, would suggest; he also features as a go-between figure in Brands þáttr ǫrva, which cites no poetry. For brief biographies of Þjóðólfr see, e.g. SnE 1848-87, III, 578-9; LH 1894-1901, I, 627-32; Hollander 1945, 189-96.
In addition to the works edited here as Þjóðólfr’s, there have been further attributions to him. Þfagr Sveinn 7 is attributed to Þjóðólfr in Mork (1928-32, 165-6) and Flat (1860-8, III, 341), but to Þorleikr fagri in other sources; ÞKolb Eirdr 17I is attributed to Þjóðólfr in the U ms. alone, and Þfisk Lv 3 is attributed to him in F. Further, Flat, by citing Okík Magn 1 after ÞjóðA Magnfl 18 without announcing a change of skald implicitly assigns the latter to Þjóðólfr. We might perhaps also imagine Þjóðólfr having a hand in Anon (HSig) 2, the st. collaboratively composed by Haraldr’s men. A further set of six sts presented are anonymous in the medieval sources but are presented in this edn as Halli XI Fl (for reasons explained in Halli Biography below). These are printed among Þjóðólfr’s works in CPB II, 210-11 and listed under his name in SnE 1848-87, III, 583-4; Poole also finds ‘the ascription to Þjóðólfr Arnórsson … tempting, on stylistic grounds’ (1991, 75).
Preserved mainly in the kings’ sagas, above all in Hkr, Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre presents exceptional problems of reconstruction, which are discussed at some length in the Introductions to the individual poems or sets of sts. The chief problem is that Þjóðólfr certainly composed a major dróttkvætt poem for each of his patrons Magnús (Magnússflokkr, Magnfl) and Haraldr (Sexstefja, Sex), but that in each case there is also a set of sts that may or may not belong in the main encomium. The decision has been taken here to print them separately: fourteen sts depicting the aftermaths of Magnús’s major battles at Århus (Áróss) and Helgenæs (Helganes) are presented as ‘Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi’ (Magn), and seven describing the launch of Haraldr’s great levied fleet from Nidelven (the river Nið) as ‘Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr’ (Har). As a reference aid, the arrangement of Þjóðólfr’s oeuvre in SkP and Skj is shown here.
|15||Náði jarl at eyða ||19|
|16||Rǫnn lézt, ræsir Þrœnda,||20|
|17||Hizig laut, es heitir ||21|
|18||Flýði jarl af auðu, ||22|
|19||Háðisk heilli góðu||25|
Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi (ÞjóðA Magn)
|1||Hrauð leifs mǫgr áðan ||Magnfl 15|
|2||Misst hafa Sveins at sýnu, ||Magnfl 16|
|3||Gær sák grjóti stóru ||Lv 1|
|4||Spurði einu orði ||Magnfl 17|
|5||Saurstokkinn bar svíra ||Magnfl 18|
|6||Hrindr af hrókalandi ||Lv 2|
|7||Menn eigu þess minnask, ||Lv 3|
|8||Skjǫld bark heim frá hjaldri ||Magnfl 23|
|9||Bauð leifs sonr áðan ||Magnfl 24|
|10||Nú taka Norðmenn knýja,||Lv 4|
|11||Brum jǫrn at œrnu||Lv 5|
|12||Svíðr of seggja búðir||Lv 6|
|13||Fjǫrð lét fylkir verða||Lv 7|
|14||Ek hef ekki at drekka||Lv 8|
Runhent poem about Haraldr (ÞjóðA Run)
|6||Þjóð veit, at hefr háðar||7|
|7||Stólþengils lét stinga||6|
|8||Ok hertoga hneykir||25|
|9||Reist eikikjǫlr austan||8|
|10||Vatn lézt, vísi, slitna,||9|
|11||Gegn skyli herr, sem hugnar||10|
|12||Frn hefr sveit við Sveini||11|
|13||Lét vingjafa veitir||12|
|14||Fast bað fylking hrausta||13|
|15||Alm dró upplenzkr hilmir||14|
|16||Flest vas hirð, sús hraustum||15|
|17||Sogns kvðu gram gegnan||16|
|18||Sveinn át sigr at launa||17|
|19||Nús of verk, þaus vísi,||18|
|20||Létu lystir sleitu||19|
|21||Tók Holmbúa hneykir||20|
|22||Gagn brann greypra þegna; ||21|
|23||Fœrði fylkir Hǫrða,||22|
|24||Áræðis naut eyðir||23|
|25||Refsir reyndan ofsa||24|
|26||Mǫrk lét veitt fyr verka||26|
|27||Ǫrð sær Yrsu burðar||27|
|28||Lét hræteina hveiti||32|
|29||Blóðorra lætr barri||30a|
|30||Geirs oddum lætr greddir||30b|
|31||Gera vas gisting byrjuð||29|
|32||Hár skyli hirðar stjóri||35|
Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr (ÞjóðA Har)
|1||Skeið sák framm at flœði, ||Lv 18|
|2||Slyngr laugardag lǫngu ||Lv 19|
|3||Rétt kann rœði slíta ||Lv 20|
|4||Sorgar veit, áðr slíti ||Lv 21|
|5||Eigu skjól und skógi ||Lv 22|
|6||Hléseyjar lemr hvan ||Lv 23|
|7||Haraldr þeysti nú hraustla ||Lv 24|
|1|| Nús valmeiðum víðis||Lv 9|
|2||Jarl/Ǫrr lætr, odda skúrar ||Sex 28|
|3||Ganga él of Yngva ||Sex 31|
|4||Snart við sæþráð kyrtat ||Sex 33|
|5||Útan bindr við enda ||Sex 34|
|1||Leiða langar dauða ||Lv 10 |
|2||Sumar annat skal sunnar ||Lv 11|
|3||[Logit hefr Baldr at Baldri]|
|4||Mildingr rauð í móðu ||Lv 13|
|5||Varp ór þrætu þorpi ||Lv 14|
|6||Sigurðr eggjaði sleggju|| Lv 15|
|7||Haddan skall, en Halli ||Lv 16|
|8||Út stendr undan báti ||Lv 17|
|9||Ǫld es, sús jarli skyldi ||Lv 25|
|10||Skalka frá, þótt fylkir ||Lv 26|
|11||Ǫld hefr afráð goldit ||Lv 27|
Reconstructions of the Þjóðólfr corpus are offered by Finnur Jónsson in SnE 1848-87, III, 579-90, which is the basis (almost unchanged) for Skj (AI, 361-83, BI, 332-53), and the Skj ordering is retained in Skald (I, 168-77); other major contributions are by Guðbrandur Vigfússon in CPB (II, 198-212) and by Fidjestøl (1982, 133-43, 172).
The principal eds consulted in the course of re-editing Þjóðólfr’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, 361-83; BI, 332-53 and Ernst Albin Kock’s in Skald I, 168-77, 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): CPB II, 198-212; Kock and Meissner 1931, I, 57-60; Hollander 1945,190-6 (annotated translations only), Poole 1991, 59-63; and (with seven sts) Turville-Petre 1976, 97-102. Such works as these, together with others containing comment on the poetry, are cited as appropriate in the Notes.
Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi —
Diana Whaley 2009, ‘ Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Stanzas about Magnús Óláfsson in Danaveldi’ 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. 88-103. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=3298> (accessed 27 June 2022)
Skj: Þjóðolfr Arnórsson: (AI, 361-8, BI, 332-8)
in texts: H-Hr, Hkr, MGóð
SkP info: II, 88-103
||Hrauð Ôleifs mǫgr áðan |
— jǫfurr vá sigr — ins digra
(fregnat slíkt ór Sogni)
sjau skip (konur hnipnar).
|The son of Óláfr inn digri (‘the Stout’) [= Magnús] had previously cleared seven ships; the ruler won victory; women from Sogn will not receive such news with sorrow.|
||Misst hafa Sveins at sýnu, |
(hǫrð es heldr of orðin)
heimkvômu (fǫr beima).
Hrœrir hausa þeira
hreggi œst ok leggi
— sær þýtr auðs of ôrum —
unnr á sanda grunni.
|Sveinn’s comrades have clearly lost out on their home-coming, sword-Gautr <= Óðinn> [WARRIOR]; the men’s expedition has turned out rather harsh. The wave, stirred up by the storm, tosses their skulls and limbs on the floor of the sands; the sea roars over the envoys of wealth [GENEROUS MEN].|
||Gær sák grjóti stóru |
— gein hauss fyrir — steini
— fóra fylking þeira
fast — harðliga kastat.
Ofan keyrðum vér — orðum
jǫrð muna Sveinn of varða —
(staðar hefr stafn í miðju)
strandhǫgg (numit landi).
|Yesterday I saw massive stones, rock, hurled mightily; a skull gaped in their path; their troop did not advance strongly. We herded cattle for slaughter down to the shore; Sveinn will not defend the land with words [alone]; the prow has anchored midway along the coast.|
||Spurði einu orði |
— ǫld blóðroðna skjǫldu,
satts, at svá mǫrg átti —
Selunds mær, hverr vé bæri.
Auðtróðu varð auðit
yfir of skóg at spróga;
títt bar týmargr flótti
til Hringstaða iljar.
|The maiden in Sjælland (Selund, Zealand) learned in a single word who carried the standard; it is true that so many men had blood-reddened shields. For the wealth-pole [WOMAN] her lot was to dash through the forest; a great many fugitives took their soles [feet] speedily to Ringsted (Hringstaðir). |
||Saurstokkinn bar svíra |
snarr Skônunga harri;
undrs, nema allvaldr Lundar
aldrprúðr fyrir haldi.
Gær flugu mold ok mýrar
(merki jarls ins sterkja
slóð drap framm at flóði)
flaugardǫrr (of hauga).
|The valiant ruler of the Skánungar [= Magnús] went with a mud-spattered neck; it is a wonder unless the life-splendid overlord of Lund [= Magnús] holds out. Flighted spears flew yesterday over earth and bogs; the standard of the powerful jarl beat a track across the hills onwards to the sea.|
||Hrindr af hróka landi |
hregg af eikiveggjum
— sunnr leikr eldr of unninn
óðr — í lopt upp glóðum.
Bœr logar hǫlfu hæra
hjónum nær á Fjóni;
ræfr þola nauð ok næfrar;
Norðmenn sali brenna.
|A storm from the land of cormorants [SEA] flings embers from oak walls up into the air; to the south raging fire sports, once kindled. The settlement blazes twice as high hard by the households on Fyn; roof and shingles endure distress; Norwegians burn down halls.|
||Menn eigu þess minnask |
manna Sveins at kanna,
víga Freyr, sízt vôru,
vef-Gefn, þríar stefnur.
Vôn es fagrs á Fjóni
fljóðs; dugir vôpn at rjóða;
verum með fylkðu folki
framm í vápna glammi.
|Men have to remember, Freyr <god> of battles [WARRIOR], to get to know the weaving-Gefn <= Freyja> [WOMAN] of Sveinn’s men, since there were three encounters. There’s prospect of a lovely woman on Fyn; it’s good to redden weapons; let’s take our place with the ranked troop, forward in the tumult of weapons [BATTLE].|
||Skjǫld bark heim frá hjaldri |
— hlauzk mér til þess — gauzkan
— ramr vas suðr á sumri
sverðdynr — ok þó brynju.
Vôpn gatk fríð, en fljóði
fyrr sagðak þat kyrru;
þar fekk’k hjalm, es hilmir
harðfengr Dani barði.
|I carried a Gautish shield home from the battle, and even a byrnie; this was my lot; a mighty sword-tumult [BATTLE] took place in the south in the summer. I got handsome weapons, and I had said that before to the tranquil lady; I gained a helmet there, where the valiant ruler thrashed the Danes.|
||Bauð Ôleifs sonr áðan |
upp á land at standa;
gekk með manndýrð mikla
Magnús reiðr af skeiðum.
Snarr bað hilmir herja
— hérs skark — í Danmǫrku;
fleygir hvasst of hauga
hestr of Skáney vestan.
|Óláfr’s son [= Magnús] previously gave the order to advance onto the land; Magnús strode, angry, with great splendour from the ships. The bold ruler bade [them] go ravaging in Denmark; there is tumult here; the horse charges swiftly across the hills, from the west across Skåne.|
||Nú taka Norðmenn knýja |
— nær gǫngum vér stǫngum —
(berkak) Magnúss merki
(minn skjǫld á hlið sjaldan).
Skýtra skeifum fœti
Skáney yfir sláni
— fár vegr es mér fegri
fundinn — suðr til Lundar.
|Now the Norwegians start to press forward Magnús’s banners; we march close to the standard-poles; it’s not seldom that I carry my shield [lit. I don’t carry seldom my shield] at my side. The lanky fellow [I, the skald] does not dash with foot aslant across Skåne south to Lund; few routes have seemed lovelier to me.|
||Bôrum jôrn at œrnu |
ískǫld á lið vísa;
skjótt ríða nú skreyttar
Rauðr leikr of bœ breiðum
bráðr at óru ráði
eldr, en ernir valda
atblásendr því vási.
|We carried ice-cold irons [weapons] in good measure against the prince’s troop; the Skánungar’s fancy hopes for the outcome are now dispersing [lit. riding] swiftly. Red fire sports, hasty, over the broad settlement at our behest, and brisk inflamers bring about that trouble.|
||Svíðr of seggja búðir |
— siklingr í her miklum
eyðir byggð sem bráðast —
bjartr eldr Danaveldi.
Móðr berr halr of heiði
halds Danmarkar skjǫldu;
vér hlutum sigr, en sárir
Sveins menn fyrir renna.
|Bright fire flames across the dwellings of men in the realm of the Danes; the prince, in a great army, destroys the settlement with all haste. A warrior, weary of defending Denmark, carries shields across the heath; we won victory, but Sveinn’s men run wounded away.|
||Fjǫrð lét fylkir verða |
forntraddan mó spornat
(leynumk lítt) á Fjóni
(liðs skjǫldunga á miðli).
Muna fyr Magnús synja
menn Sveins, þeirs nú renna,
— upp fara mǫrg í morgin
merki — stórra verka.
|Last year the ruler had [men] tramp the anciently-trodden moor [lit. had the moor ancient-tramped] on Fyn; we [I] hardly hide in the midst of the princes’ troop. Sveinn’s men, who are now fleeing, will not deny great deeds on Magnús’s part; many banners mount aloft this morning.|
||Ek hef ekki at drekka |
annars nema sjá þenna,
— sýgk ór sǫltum ægi
sylg — es jǫfri fylgik.
Liggr fyr oss, en uggum
alllítt Svía, kǫllum,
— drýgt hǫfum vás fyr vísa —
víð Skáneyrar síða.
|I have nothing other to drink than this sea, as I follow the king; I suck a slurp from the salt ocean. The broad coast of Skanör lies before us, but we fear the Swedes very little, I [lit. we] declare; we have gone through hardship for the prince’s sake.|