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Þorleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson (Þjsk)

10th century; volume 1; ed. Kate Heslop;

I. 1. Poem about Hákon (Hák) - 2

Þorleifr jarlsskáld ‘Jarl’s poet’ (Þjsk), son of Ásgeirr rauðfeldr ‘Red-cloak’, was born at Brekka in Svarfaðardalur in northern Iceland in the mid to late tenth century, and must have been alive c. 970-c. 995. It is impossible to be more definite about his dates as neither Svarfdœla saga nor Þorleifs þáttr jarlaskálds (ÞorlJ) in Flat, the only narrative sources, has a consistent chronology (ÍF 9, xcii, xcvii). Many sources mention Þorleifr as a skald: Ldn (ÍF 1, 254), both versions of Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 256, 266), Sneglu-Halla þáttr (ÍF 9, 285-6), ÓTOdd (ÍF 25, 191), and HaukrV Ísldr 18IV. Some stanzas are attributed to Þorleifr in Hkr, ÓT, TGT and FoGT, but the bulk of the poetry attributed to him and almost all the biographical information about him is preserved only in ÞorlJ (ÍF 9, 312-29).

According to ÞorlJ, Þorleifr flees Iceland for Norway as a young man, but soon leaves for Denmark after a dispute over trading rights ends with Hákon jarl Sigurðarson burning his ship and executing his crew (Lv 5). He is said to have composed a forty-stanza encomium for King Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’ of Denmark (Drápa about Sveinn tjúguskegg; Sveindr), but only the stef ‘refrain’ is extant. While staying with Sveinn, he visits Norway and gets his revenge on Hákon by performing a níð poem (Jarlsníð; Jarl) which causes the jarl’s hair to fall out; one stanza is cited in ÞorlJ. After this Sveinn gives Þorleifr his byname, jarlaskáld ‘Jarls’ poet’ and speaks a stanza about the níð (Svtjúg Lv). However, the þáttr’s use of the genitive plural jarla ‘of jarls’ may be incorrect, for TGT calls him jarlsskáld ‘Jarl’s poet’, Skáldatal lists him as a skald of Hákon but not Eiríkr (and the U version calls him ‘Hákonarskáld’), and Þorleifr is not known to have composed poetry about any other jarl (Nj 1875-8, II, 283-4; ÍF 9, xcvii n. 1; see Almqvist 1965-74, I, 197 for a contrary view). The names of poet and þáttr therefore appear with alternation of jarls- and jarla- in printed sources, and the present edition uses jarls- for the poet and jarla- for the þáttr. Þorleifr subsequently returns to Iceland and settles at Höfðabrekka in Myrdalur in the south of the country. He is, according to ÞorlJ, assassinated at the Alþingi by an enchanted wooden golem, a trémaðr with a man’s heart which Hákon has created with the help of his tutelary goddesses, Þorgerðr Hǫlgabrúðr and Irpa (cf. Lv 6). Þorleifr’s burial mound at Þingvellir is said to have still been visible at the time the þáttr was composed, probably in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century (Harris 1993, 672). Much of this narrative is clearly fictional, and there is reason to suspect the genuineness of most of the stanzas attributed to Þorleifr in ÞorlJ (see Notes to Sveindr and Lv 5 and 6). However, widespread references in reliable sources put Þorleifr’s activity as a skald, his association with Hákon, and his composition of níð about the jarl beyond doubt.

Poem about Hákon — Þjsk HákI

Kate Heslop 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þorleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson, Poem about Hákon’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 369.

stanzas:  1   2 

Skj: Þórleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson: 1. Hákonardrápa, o. 986 (AI, 141, BI, 132)

SkP info: I, 371

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Þjsk Hák 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson, Poem about Hákon 2’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 371.

Hǫfðum í þér, kun,
es at hjǫrrógi drógumk,
— þú rautt Skǫglar skýja
skóð — forvistu góða.

 

We had a fine leader in you, kon, when we advanced to {the sword-strife}; [BATTLE] you reddened {the harmer {of the clouds of Skǫgul}}. [SHIELDS > SWORD]

context: The helmingr is cited to exemplify a sub-class of the rhetorical figure solecismus (TGT; it is an example of the similar figure protheseos paralange according to FoGT). This type of solecismus, according to TGT, involves the replacement of a word by another which belongs to the same part of speech but is inappropriate in context (þá er hinn sami partr er óviðrkæmiliga settr); FoGT gives the same explanation but limits the figure to the class of prepositions. In the present stanza the authors of the Grammatical Treatises regard í þér ‘in you’ in l. 1 as a solecism for af þér ‘from you’ (though see Notes to ll. 1 and 4 below).

notes: The stanza is attributed to Þorleifr in all mss, though FoGT has only ‘Þorleifr’ and W (TGT) only ‘jarlsskáld’.

texts: FoGT 1, TGT 25, Gramm 27, Gramm 126

editions: Skj Þórleifr jarlsskáld Rauðfeldarson: 1. Hákonardrápa 2 (AI, 141; BI, 132); Skald I, 73, NN §§2443A, D, 3396K; SnE 1848-87, II, 114-15, 410, TGT 1884, 17, 75, 182-3, TGT 1927, 51, 95, TGT 1998, 132-3; SnE 1848-87, II, 190, FoGT 1884, 120; ÞorlJ 1883, 160.

sources

AM 748 I b 4° (A) 4v, 11 - 4v, 11 (TGT)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 761 b 4°x (761bx) 471r - 471r  transcr.  image  
AM 242 fol (W*) 103, 6 - 103, 7 (TGT)  transcr.  image  image  image  
AM 242 fol (W*) 111, 19 - 111, 20 (FoGT)  transcr.  image  image  image  
Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated