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 Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr —
Diana Whaley 2009, ‘ Þjóðólfr Arnórsson, Stanzas about Haraldr Sigurðarson’s leiðangr’ 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. 147-58. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=3300> (accessed 28 November 2021)
in texts: FGT, Gramm, H-Hr, HÍ, Hkr, HSig
SkP info: II, 147-58
||Skeið sák framm at flœði, |
fagrt sprund, ór ô hrundit;
kennd, hvar liggr fyr landi
lǫng súð dreka ins prúða.
Orms glóa fǫx of farmi
frôn, sízt ýtt vas hônum
— bôru búnir svírar
brunnit goll — af hlunni.
|I saw the warship, beautiful lady, propelled out of the river onto the ocean; look where the long side-planking of the splendid dragon-ship lies offshore. The gleaming manes of the serpent [dragon-ship] shine out above the cargo, since it was launched from the rollers; the decorated necks bore burnished gold.|
||Slyngr laugardag lǫngu |
lið-Baldr af sér tjaldi,
út þars ekkjur líta
orms súð ór bœ prúðar.
Vestr réð ór Nið næsta
nýri skeið at stýra
ungr, en árar drengja,
allvaldr, í sæ falla.
|The troop-Baldr <god> [RULER] throws, on a Saturday, the long awning off [lit. off himself], where fine women gaze at the side-planking of the serpent [dragon-ship], [looking] out from the town. The youthful overlord set about steering the brand-new longship west out of Nidelven (Nið), and the oars of the warriors plunge into the sea.|
||Rétt kann rœði slíta |
ræsis herr ór verri;
ekkja stendr ok undrask
ára burð sem furðu.
Ært mun, snót, áðr sortuð
sæfǫng í tvau ganga
(þǫll leggr við frið fullan)
ferkleyf (á þat leyfi).
|The prince’s troop know how to whip the oars expertly up from the stroke; the woman stands and wonders at the handling of the oars, as a marvel. There’ll be rowing [enough], lady, before the tarred sea-gear [oars], splittable in four, break in two; the fir-tree <woman> gives her approval to this in complete peace.|
||Sorgar veit, áðr slíti |
sæfang ór mar strǫngum
herr, þars heldr til varra,
hár sjau tøgum ára.
Norðmeðr róa naðri
neglðum straum inn heglða
— úts, sem innan líti
arnarvæng — með jarni.
|Anguish will be felt, before the troop whips the sea-gear [oar] out of the powerful sea, where the oarport holds [each of] the seventy oars in place for the stroke [lit. strokes]. The Norwegians row the snake [ship] nailed with iron on the hail-beaten current; [looking] out, it is like seeing an eagle’s wing from within.|
||Eigu skjól und skógi |
skafnir snekkju stafnar;
læsir leiðangrs vísi
lǫnd herskipa brǫndum.
Almenningr liggr innan
— eið láta sér skeiðar
hábrynjaðar hlýja —
hverja vík í skerjum.
|The planed stems of the vessel get shelter in the lee of the wood; the fleet’s prince encloses the lands with the prows of warships. The host lies at anchor in every bay in the skerries; the longships, armoured around the oarports, let the headland protect them.|
||Hléseyjar lemr hôvan |
hryngarð konungr barði;
neytir þá til þrautar
þengill snekkju strengja.
Eigis jarni bjúgu
indæll skaði lindis;
gnegr af gaddi digrum
grjót ok veðr in ljótu.
|The king strikes the high roaring enclosure of Læsø [SEA] with the prow; the prince then uses the warship’s cables to the limit. Not at all is the harmer of the lime-tree [WIND] easy on the curved iron [anchor]; rocks and the foul weather gnaw at the stout anchor-fluke.|
||Haraldr þeysti nú hraustla |
helming sinn at Elfi;
náttar Nóregs dróttinn
nær at landamæri.
Gramr á þing við Þumla;
þars eindagaðr Sveini
hrafni skyldr, nema haldi,
hans fundr, Danir undan.
|Haraldr has now rushed his troop boldly towards the Götaälv (Elfr); the lord of Norway [= Haraldr] overnights close to the lands’ boundary. The prince holds an assembly off Þumli; there a meeting with him, owed to the raven, is appointed for Sveinn, unless the Danes head away.|