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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorkell hamarskáld (Þham)

12th century; volume 2; ed. Kari Ellen Gade;

III. Fragment (Frag) - 1

Skj info: Þórkell hamarskáld, Islandsk skjald, omkr. 1100. (AI, 438-9, BI, 407-9).

Skj poems:
1. Magnúsdrápa
2. Lausavísur

Þorkell hamarskáld (Þham) is unknown. His nickname implies that he came from a farm called Hamarr (meaning ‘Crag’; Finnur Jónsson 1907, 246) or that he might have composed about a person with the nickname hamarr ‘Hammer’ (Lind 1920-1, 134). Þorkell must have stayed in Norway prior to 1066, because he composed a poem about Eysteinn orri ‘Black Grouse’ Þorbergsson (d. 1066) whom he seems to have known personally (Skáldatal, SnE 1848-87, III, 269, 286; Mork 1928-32, 279-80). Skáldatal also lists him among the poets of Óláfr kyrri ‘the Quiet’ Haraldsson and his son, Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ (SnE 1848-87, III, 254, 262, 275-6). We do not know whether Þorkell came from Norway or Iceland, but in a helmingr attributed to him in SnE (Skm), he speaks of a gift that a ruler had sent to him of svalan ægi ‘across the cool sea’ (Þham Frag 1/3III), which suggests that he was an Icelander. See also SnE 1848-87, III, 616-18; LH 1894-1901, II, 54-5. In addition to his drápa about Magnús berfœttr and the helmingr in SnE (edited in SkP III), one lv. by Þorkell survives (see Þham Lv below).

Fragment — Þham FragIII

Kari Ellen Gade 2017, ‘ Þorkell hamarskáld, Fragment’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 482. <https://skaldic.org/m.php?p=text&i=3307> (accessed 16 October 2021)

 1 

in texts: Skm, SnE

SkP info: III, 482

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance references search files

 

This helmingr in fornyrðislag metre (Þham Frag) is found in mss R (main ms.), , U, A, B (and 744ˣ) and C of Skm (SnE). The poet is identified as Þorkell hamarskáld in all mss except in U, which has Arnórr (i.e. Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, ArnII). The half-stanza could be a fragment of a royal encomium (see Fidjestøl 1982, 152), but the identity of the donor of the weapon, who appears to be a Norwegian king, cannot be established with any certainty. It could be either Óláfr kyrri ‘the Quiet’ Haraldsson (r. 1067-93) or his son Magnús berfœttr ‘Barelegs’ (r. 1093-1103), because Þorkell is said to have composed encomia in honour of both (see SnE 1848-87, III, 262, 275-6, 618 and Þham MagndrII). The fact that the gift was sent across the ocean could mean that Þorkell, whose ethnicity is unknown, was an Icelander (see Þham Biography in SkP II).
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