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Þórarinn loftunga (Þloft)

11th century; volume 1; ed. Matthew Townend;

3. Glælognskviða (Glækv) - 10

Few biographical facts are known about Þórarinn loftunga ‘Praise-tongue’ (Þloft). In introducing Þórarinn’s service to King Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (Cnut the Great), Snorri Sturluson (ÍF 27, 307; cf. ÓH 1941, I, 473) records in general terms that he was an Icelander and a great poet (skáld mikit) who had spent a great deal of time with kings and other chieftains. Knýtl (ÍF 35, 124) gives a similar portrait, and adds that Þórarinn was gamall ‘old’ when he first came to Knútr. However, all of Þórarinn’s extant poetry derives from his service to Knútr and his son Sveinn, and these are the only monarchs for whom Þórarinn is recorded as a poet in Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267). Þorm Lv 10/1-2 also refers to Knútr rewarding Þórarinn with gold over a long period (for the anecdote in which it is quoted see ÓHLeg 1982, 124-8; ÓH 1941, II, 799-804), and his pre-Knútr career must remain hypothetical. Parts of three poems are preserved: Hǫfuðlausn (Hfl) and Tøgdrápa (Tøgdr) for Knútr, and Glælognskviða (Glækv) for Sveinn, probably composed in this order, and between c. 1027 and 1034; for circumstances of composition and preservation see individual Introductions below. The evidence of the poems suggests that Þórarinn entered Knútr’s service in either England or Denmark, accompanied him on his journey to Norway in 1028, and after 1030 remained at Sveinn’s court in Norway at least until c. 1032. For previous discussions of Þórarinn’s career see LH I, 601-3, Malcolm (1993), and Townend (2005, 256-7).

Glælognskviða — Þloft GlækvI

Matthew Townend 2012, ‘ Þórarinn loftunga, Glælognskviða’ 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. 863. <> (accessed 19 January 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

for reference only:  10x 

Skj: Þórarinn loftunga: 3. Glælognskviða, 1032 (AI, 324-7, BI, 300-1)

SkP info: I, 865

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

1 — Þloft Glækv 1I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Matthew Townend (ed.) 2012, ‘Þórarinn loftunga, Glælognskviða 1’ 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. 865.

Þats dullaust,
hvé Danir gerðu
dyggva fǫr
með dǫglingi.
Þar vas jarl
fyrst at upphafi,
ok hverr maðr,
es honum fylgði,
annarr drengr
ǫðrum betri.

Þats dullaust, hvé Danir gerðu dyggva fǫr með dǫglingi. Þar vas jarl fyrst at upphafi, ok hverr maðr, es fylgði honum, annarr drengr, betri ǫðrum.

It is without concealment, how the Danes made a faithful journey with the monarch [= Sveinn]. There the jarl [= Haraldr Þorkelsson] was first and foremost, and every man who followed him, each warrior, [was] better than the next.

Mss: (481r-v), E(1v) (Hkr); Holm2(70v), 325VI(38va), 321ˣ(268), Holm4(66va), 61(128ra), 325V(84va), Bb(202ra), Flat(126va), Tóm(158r) (ÓH); FskAˣ(192) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Þats (‘Þat er’): þat var E, Holm2, 325VI, 321ˣ, Holm4, 61, 325V, Bb, Flat, Tóm, FskAˣ;    dullaust: ‘dulaust’ 325VI, ‘dallaust’ Tóm    [2] hvé: er 325VI, at FskAˣ    [3] dyggva: dýra 325VI, 321ˣ, ‘docka’ 61, Flat, Tóm    [5] Þar: þat Holm2    [6] fyrst: om. 325VI, 321ˣ    [7] hverr maðr: hverr drengr 325VI, 321ˣ, svá hverr FskAˣ    [9] drengr: var 325VI, 321ˣ    [10] betri: nýtri Holm4, FskAˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórarinn loftunga, 3. Glælognskviða 1: AI, 324-5, BI, 300, Skald I, 152; Hkr 1893-1901, II, 512, IV, 173-4, ÍF 27, 399 (ÓHHkr ch. 239), E 1916, 1; ÓH 1941, I, 594 (ch. 239), Flat 1860-8, II, 369; Fsk 1902-3, 183-4 (ch. 29), ÍF 29, 201 (ch. 35); Magerøy 1948, 9-10, 16, 18-19.

Context: In ÓH-Hkr and Fsk the stanza is quoted following an account of the journey of Sveinn Álfífuson from Denmark to Norway, to take up rule there after the death of Óláfr.

Notes: [All]: In Fsk, the stanza is attributed to Þórarinn loftunga, while ÓH-Hkr introduces it more fully with Þess getr Þórarinn loftunga í kvæði því, er hann orti um Svein Álfífuson, er kallat er GlælognskviðaÞórarinn loftunga tells of this in the poem which he composed about Sveinn Álfífuson, which is called Glælognskviða’. — [All]: Troubled by the fact that this stanza has ten lines in all mss, Skj B punctuates with a full stop, dash, and indentation after l. 4, while Skald subdivides the ten lines into sts 1 (ll. 1-4) and 1b (ll. 5-10). Magerøy assumes that two lines have been lost at the end, and that originally it was a twelve-line stanza. — [1] þats ‘it is’: All mss other than read (normalised) Þat vas ‘It was’; however, ’s reading is to be retained here, since it gives a three-syllable line, as expected for odd lines in kviðuháttr. — [3] fǫr ‘journey’: As the title Glælognskviða suggests (see Introduction), Þórarinn’s account of Sveinn’s journey from Denmark to Norway stands in a line of journey-poems for Knútr and his dynasty, following Sigvatr Þórðarson’s Knútdr, which details Knútr’s journey from England to Denmark and on to Helgeå c. 1026, and his own Tøgdr, which details Knútr’s journey from Denmark to Norway in 1028. Indeed ll. 3-4 here seem to echo Sigv Knútdr 8/3 dýr vas dǫglings fǫr ‘the king’s journey was glorious’. — [5] jarl ‘the jarl’: Snorri Sturluson identifies this as Haraldr Þorkelsson, Fsk as Úlfr Þorgilsson or Sprakaleggsson. Snorri is likely to be correct: Haraldr was the son of Þorkell inn hávi ‘the Tall’, Knútr’s comrade in the conquest of England (jointly celebrated in Anon Liðs), and was the husband of Gunnhildr, Knútr’s niece and the widow of Hákon jarl Eiríksson, Knútr’s regent in Norway c. 1028-30 (see Keynes 1994, 66; Townend 2005, 261-2). — [6] fyrst ‘first’: This is omitted in 325VI and 321ˣ, and in Skj B and Skald, as it results in a five-syllable line. Fyrst may have been introduced in the course of transmission, encouraged by the existence of a set phrase fyrst at upphafi ‘first and foremost’ (Fritzner: fyrst 3, upphaf 3) — [6] at upphafi ‘at the start’: Upphaf is a technical term for the first part of a drápa, so there may be some poetic play here as Þórarinn uses the term in the stanza which (at least now) opens his poem. The word can also mean ‘advancement, honour’ (Fritzner: upphaf 1; CVC: upphaf 3), so the line might be understood as ‘foremost in honour’. — [7-10]: The nom. sg. noun phrases hverr maðr ‘every man’ and [hverr] annarr drengr ‘each warrior’ are in apposition, and annarr … ǫðrum betri form a phrase (with vas understood: see Hkr 1893-1901, IV). The lines appear to carry through the hierarchical ordering begun in ll. 5-6: the Danes are being ranked in terms of their distinction, perhaps even in terms of the sequence of ships in their fleet (cf. anecdotes in the kings’ sagas in which the order of sailing or mooring is allied to the granting or withholding of honour, e.g. ÍF 26, 248-9). The ‘B’ redaction of Fsk, which, unlike the ‘A’ redaction, does not cite the stanza but rather summarizes it, reads (with Fsk’s nýtri for betri) Sveinn konungr hafði haft með sér mikinn Danaher; þar var enn fyrsti maðr Úlfr jarl Sprakaleggssonr, ok með hónum hverr annarr drengr ǫðrum nýtri ‘King Sveinn had gathered to himself a great army of Danes; the first man there was Úlfr jarl Sprakaleggssonr, and with him every warrior [was] more capable than the next’ (ÍF 29, 201 and n.). — [8] honum ‘him’: The length of the vowel in the first syllable appears to be shortened here for metrical purposes, to allow resolution and the equivalent of a four-syllable line (Finnur Jónsson 1901, 75-6).

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated