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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Þorfdr 8II

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2009, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Þorfinnsdrápa 8’ 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. 238-40.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonÞorfinnsdrápa
789

Þrima ‘The battle’

þrima (noun f.): battle, din

[1] Þrima: Þruma Flat, Þrima 48ˣmarg

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þvígit ‘for that’

þvígit (adv.): [for that]

[1] þvígit: þeygi Flat, þvígit 48ˣmarg

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skemmri ‘none the briefer’

skammr (adj.): short

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þat ‘it’

1. sá (pron.; °gen. þess, dat. þeim, acc. þann; f. sú, gen. þeirrar, acc. þá; n. þat, dat. því; pl. m. þeir, f. þǽ---): that (one), those

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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vas ‘happened’

2. vera (verb): be, is, was, were, are, am

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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skjótt ‘swiftly’

2. skjótr (adj.): quick(ly)

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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at ‘that’

4. at (conj.): that

[2] at: með Flat, at 48ˣmarg

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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spjótum ‘with spears’

spjót (noun n.; °-s; -): spear

notes

[2] spjótum ‘with spears’: (a) This is construed above with the cl. rak flótta in which it is embedded, hence ‘put (them) to flight with spears’. (b) The alternative is to take it with þrima vas þvígit skemmri ‘the battle was none the briefer’ (l. 1) (so Björn Magnússon Ólsen 1909a, 296). This analysis entails the separation of at ‘that’ from the cl. it introduces, and, although it might explain þvígit skemmri (‘the battle was none the briefer with spears’, i.e. ‘for all the number of spears’), it does not explain how, after a long battle, Þorfinnr ‘swiftly’ routed his enemies.

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mætr ‘precious’

mætr (adj.; °compar. -ri/-ari, superl. -astr): honoured, respected

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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minn ‘my’

minn (pron.; °f. mín, n. mitt): my

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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dróttinn ‘lord’

dróttinn (noun m.; °dróttins, dat. dróttni (drottini [$1049$]); dróttnar): lord, master

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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rak ‘put’

2. reka (verb): drive, force

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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flótta ‘to flight’

flótti (noun m.): flight, fleeing

notes

[2, 3, 4] þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta ‘it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight’: The best overall assumption seems to be that at dróttinn minn ‘that my lord’ explains þat vas skjótt ‘it happened quickly’ (so also Skj B and ÍF 34, 48). However, it entails that the consecutive at spjótum do not form a unitary phrase ‘by/near spears’, and the scribal emendation to með in Flat may result from a feeling that they ought to. See the following Note.

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Gall ‘screamed’

gjalla (verb): to scream, shriek; to repay, return, pay for

[5] Gall: so Flat, gól 332ˣ, 48ˣmarg

notes

[5] gall; fellu ‘screamed; fell’: ‘Foli’ in 332ˣ is, as Ólafur Halldórsson (1964, 148) points out, a mis-spelling of fǫli, i.e. fœli, 3rd pers. sg. pret. subj. of fela ‘hide, entrust, bury’. This is established by fǫli in 48ˣmarg. But there is no suitable object to this verb (Björn Magnússon Ólsen’s suggestion being eccentric, 1909, 296-7), so that the reading must be rejected in favour of the variant fellu. The variant gall ‘screamed’ not gól ‘sang’ must accordingly be chosen in order to complete the skothending. This is the best solution, but not a perfect one, since it would be difficult to account for the presumed corruption of fellu to fœli.

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grams ‘the ruler’s’

1. gramr (noun m.): ruler

notes

[5, 6] menn grams; sôrum her ‘the ruler’s men; the wounded host’: In view of Arnórr’s usual practice of emphasising the enemy’s losses, these phrases are best taken as references to Scots, while the victorious hann of l. 7 is doubtless Þorfinnr.

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menn ‘men’

maðr (noun m.): man, person

notes

[5, 6] menn grams; sôrum her ‘the ruler’s men; the wounded host’: In view of Arnórr’s usual practice of emphasising the enemy’s losses, these phrases are best taken as references to Scots, while the victorious hann of l. 7 is doubtless Þorfinnr.

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fellu ‘fell’

falla (verb): fall

[5] fellu: so Flat, ‘foli’ 332ˣ, ‘fǫli’ 48ˣmarg

notes

[5] gall; fellu ‘screamed; fell’: ‘Foli’ in 332ˣ is, as Ólafur Halldórsson (1964, 148) points out, a mis-spelling of fǫli, i.e. fœli, 3rd pers. sg. pret. subj. of fela ‘hide, entrust, bury’. This is established by fǫli in 48ˣmarg. But there is no suitable object to this verb (Björn Magnússon Ólsen’s suggestion being eccentric, 1909, 296-7), so that the reading must be rejected in favour of the variant fellu. The variant gall ‘screamed’ not gól ‘sang’ must accordingly be chosen in order to complete the skothending. This is the best solution, but not a perfect one, since it would be difficult to account for the presumed corruption of fellu to fœli.

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gunn ‘The battle’

gunnr (noun f.): battle < gunnmár (noun m.): [battle-gull]

kennings

Gunnmôr
‘The battle-gull ’
   = RAVEN/EAGLE

The battle-gull → RAVEN/EAGLE
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môr ‘gull’

már (noun m.): gull < gunnmár (noun m.): [battle-gull]

kennings

Gunnmôr
‘The battle-gull ’
   = RAVEN/EAGLE

The battle-gull → RAVEN/EAGLE
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of ‘above’

3. of (prep.): around, from; too

[6] of (‘um’): und Flat, um 48ˣmarg

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her ‘host’

herr (noun m.; °-s/-jar, dat. -; -jar, gen. -ja/herra): army, host

notes

[5, 6] menn grams; sôrum her ‘the ruler’s men; the wounded host’: In view of Arnórr’s usual practice of emphasising the enemy’s losses, these phrases are best taken as references to Scots, while the victorious hann of l. 7 is doubtless Þorfinnr.

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sôrum ‘the wounded’

sárr (adj.; °compar. -ari, superl. -astr): sore, painful; wounded

notes

[5, 6] menn grams; sôrum her ‘the ruler’s men; the wounded host’: In view of Arnórr’s usual practice of emphasising the enemy’s losses, these phrases are best taken as references to Scots, while the victorious hann of l. 7 is doubtless Þorfinnr.

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Sandvík ‘of Sandwick (Sandvík)’

Sandvík (noun f.): Sandwick

notes

[8] Sandvík ‘Sandwick’: Etymologically ‘Sandy bay’, the p. n. is quite common, with examples in Shetland and mainland Scotland. The chief Orcadian Sandwick is an inlet and parish on the west coast of Mainland, but since sts 6-8 all seem, on internal evidence and from Orkn, to refer to the same battle, the one off Deerness (Dýrness) on the east coast, it seems that this Sandvík must be just north of Deerness (see st. 6/4 and Context to st. 6).

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ruðu ‘they reddened’

rjóða (verb): to redden

notes

[8] ruðu branda ‘they reddened swords’: (a) This is taken as a cl. complete in itself (so also Kock, NN §829). The understood subject must be Þorfinnr and his men (the minna neyti ‘smaller company’ of l. 3). Another probable example of a pl. verb lacking an explicit subject is brenndu ‘burned’ in st. 11/1. (b) Ruðu has an explicit subject if áðr grams menn fellu ‘before the ruler’s men fell’ (l. 5) and ruðu branda ‘they reddened swords’ are read together as a single sentence, ‘before the ruler’s men fell, they reddened their swords’ (so Skj B, marking off grams menn by commas so that it is subject to ruðu); but it is rare for a subordinate cl. beginning with áðr ‘before’ to precede its main cl. (c) Ólafur Halldórsson (1964, 149-50, followed by Finnbogi Guðmundsson, ÍF 34, 48) emended to ruðum ‘we reddened’, but this seems unnecessary, and there is no other mention of Arnórr’s presence at this battle.

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branda ‘swords’

brandr (noun m.; °-s, dat. -i; -ar): sword, prow; fire

notes

[8] ruðu branda ‘they reddened swords’: (a) This is taken as a cl. complete in itself (so also Kock, NN §829). The understood subject must be Þorfinnr and his men (the minna neyti ‘smaller company’ of l. 3). Another probable example of a pl. verb lacking an explicit subject is brenndu ‘burned’ in st. 11/1. (b) Ruðu has an explicit subject if áðr grams menn fellu ‘before the ruler’s men fell’ (l. 5) and ruðu branda ‘they reddened swords’ are read together as a single sentence, ‘before the ruler’s men fell, they reddened their swords’ (so Skj B, marking off grams menn by commas so that it is subject to ruðu); but it is rare for a subordinate cl. beginning with áðr ‘before’ to precede its main cl. (c) Ólafur Halldórsson (1964, 149-50, followed by Finnbogi Guðmundsson, ÍF 34, 48) emended to ruðum ‘we reddened’, but this seems unnecessary, and there is no other mention of Arnórr’s presence at this battle.

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

The men of Orkney overrun Karl’s flagship before it can be rowed free. Karl, with the few survivors on his ship, leaps onto another and flees, with Þorfinnr in pursuit.

[1-4]: The helmingr is difficult, as no interpretation adequately explains the contradiction between þrima vas þvígit skemmri ‘the battle was none the briefer for that’ (l. 1) and þat vas skjótt ‘it happened swiftly’ (l. 2). It is possible that því(git skemmri) originally referred to some action of Þorfinnr’s enemies which was described in a previous st., now lost.

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