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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Arn Frag 1III

Diana Whaley (ed.) 2017, ‘Arnórr jarlaskáld Þórðarson, Fragments 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 3.

Arnórr jarlaskáld ÞórðarsonFragments

text and translation

Míkáll vegr, þats misgǫrt þykkir,
mannvitsfróðr, ok allt it góða;
tyggi skiptir síðan seggjum
sólar hjalms á dœmistóli.

Mannvitsfróðr Míkáll vegr, þats þykkir misgǫrt ok allt it góða; {tyggi {hjalms sólar}} skiptir síðan seggjum á dœmistóli.
‘Michael, wise with discernment, weighs what seems wrongly done, and all that is good; the sovereign of the helmet of the sun [SKY/HEAVEN > = God] then separates out men at his judgement-seat.

notes and context

The helmingr is, like Arn Herm, one of five fragments by Arnórr cited in Skm to illustrate kennings for ‘sky/heaven’, here hjalmr sólar ‘helmet of the sun’.

On the Christian content of this striking helmingr, see Edwards (1982-3, 40-1). The helmingr is in hrynhent metre but so unlike Arnórr’s HrynII for Magnús góði ‘the Good’ that it seems improbable that it belongs there (so also Fidjestøl 1982, 128; SnE 1998, I, 181 allows for the possibility). It could instead come from an erfidrápa ‘memorial drápa’ which according to Laxdœla saga (ÍF 5, 229) Arnórr composed for the chieftain Gellir Þorkelsson, telling of his building of a church at Helgafell. Guðbrandur Vigfússon (CPB II, 184) suggested that Arnórr’s hrynhent fragment depicted ‘a painting or hangings on which the Last Judgement is figured’, and if so the poem may have belonged to the ekphrasis or picture-describing genre, just as Úlfr Uggason’s Húsdrápa (ÚlfrU Húsdr, c. 985) describes scenes on the walls of the grand new homestead built by Óláfr pái ‘Peacock’ at Hjarðarholt. On the source poem in the context of skaldic ekphrasis, see Clunies Ross (2006b, 235), and on the significance of the reference to it in Laxdœla saga, see Guðrún Nordal (2001, 131).



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, 7. Vers af ubestemmelige digte, samt én lausavísa 1: AI, 353, BI, 326, Skald I, 165; SnE 1848-87, I, 320-1, II, 314, 527, III, 50, SnE 1931, 115, SnE 1998, I, 35, 181; Whaley 1998, 312.


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