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Runic Dictionary

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Þorkell hamarskáld (Þham)

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

1. Magnússdrápa (Magndr) - 5

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).

Magnússdrápa — Þham MagndrII

Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘ Þorkell hamarskáld, Magnússdrápa’ 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. 409-14. <> (accessed 17 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5 

Skj: Þórkell hamarskáld: 1. Magnúsdrápa, o. 1104 (AI, 438-9, BI, 407-8)

SkP info: II, 413-14

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Þham Magndr 5II

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Þorkell hamarskáld, Magnússdrápa 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. 413-14.

Uppgǫngu réð yngvi
ítr með helming lítinn;
áræði hykk áðan
Eysteins fǫður treystask.
Hôtt gall hjǫrr, en sótti
— hneit egg við fjǫr seggja —
— malmsœkir rauð mæki —
Magnús í lið gǫgnum.

Ítr yngvi réð uppgǫngu með lítinn helming; hykk {fǫður Eysteins} áðan treystask áræði. Hjǫrr gall hôtt, en Magnús sótti í gǫgnum lið; egg hneit við fjǫr seggja; {malmsœkir} rauð mæki.

The splendid king advanced ashore with a small unit; I believe {Eysteinn’s father} [= Magnús] earlier put faith in his courage. The sword resounded loudly, and Magnús advanced through the troop; the blade thrust at the lives of men; {the weapon-attacker} [WARRIOR] reddened the sword.

Mss: Mork(24v) (Mork); H(93v), Hr(64ra) (H-Hr)

Readings: [1] réð: réð ek H    [7] mæki: mækir Hr

Editions: Skj: Þórkell hamarskáld, 1. Magnúsdrápa 5: AI, 439, BI, 408, Skald I, 201, NN §806; Mork 1867, 155, Mork 1928-32, 335-6, Andersson and Gade 2000, 312, 488 (Mberf); Fms 7, 71 (Mberf ch. 36).

Context: Magnús’s last stand in Ulster on 24 August 1103. The Norw. troops had disembarked from their ships and advanced inland to meet a unit of their men who were bringing supplies from Connacht. They came under a surprise attack by the men of Ulster, and a mighty battle ensued.

Notes: [1-2]: These two ll. echo Arn Hardr 10/1-2. That poem was composed in memory of Magnús’s grandfather, Haraldr harðráði Sigurðarson, who fell at the battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066. Þorkell must have known Arnórr’s encomium and been struck by the similarities of the circumstances surrounding the two battles (leaving the ships, advancing inland and being unprepared for battle). Hence the borrowing was likely intentional. — [2] helming ‘unit’: See Note to Valg Har 4/1. — [3] áðan ‘earlier’: Skj B takes this with the first cl., which creates a convoluted w. o. (see NN §806).

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