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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

text and translation

Þrima vas þvígit skemmri;
þat vas skjótt, at spjótum
mætr við minna neyti
minn dróttinn rak flótta.
Gall, áðr grams menn fellu,
gunnmôr of her sôrum;
hann vá sigr fyr sunnan
Sandvík; ruðu branda.

Þrima vas þvígit skemmri; þat vas skjótt, at mætr dróttinn minn rak flótta spjótum við minna neyti. {Gunnmôr} gall of sôrum her, áðr menn grams fellu; hann vá sigr fyr sunnan Sandvík; ruðu branda.
‘The battle was none the briefer for that; it happened swiftly that my precious lord put them to flight with spears [and] with a smaller company. The battle-gull [RAVEN/EAGLE] screamed above the wounded host, before the ruler’s men fell; he won victory south of Sandwick (Sandvík); they reddened swords.

notes and context

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.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, 5. Þórfinnsdrápa 8: AI, 345, BI, 317, Skald I, 161, NN §§828, 829; Flat 1860-8, II, 406, Orkn 1913-16, 48, ÍF 34, 48 (ch. 20); Whaley 1998, 234-6.


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