Full Text

15. Metre and Metric

Russell Poole

Subject Literature » Medieval Literature

Place Northern Europe » Scandinavia

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631235026.2004.00018.x


Just as Old Icelandic literature is copious in its genres, its settings, its prosopography, and the historical eras it relates to, so too is it rich and various in its metres and stanza forms. To a far greater degree than in West Germanic poetry, metre and stanza form go together to create highly distinctive units of expression, in a tradition noted for its cultivation of the finely crafted single stanza. I shall start with the smallest stanza units and build towards the largest, with a warning in advance that the survey is not exhaustive and that many forms will go unmentioned. Also, I shall first offer a strictly synchronic and taxonomic consideration of the material and proceed to a diachronic analysis, before closing with a brief discussion of medieval poetology and the light it may shed upon metrical practice. This discussion will be conducted using a mixture of the native Icelandic terminology and terms from modern prosody. For a fuller sense of the linguistic foundation for metrics, for instance the weighing of syllables, I refer the reader to the references and further reading list appended to this chapter.   To begin, then, with a stanza form called fornyrðislag (‘old story metre’): much of the verse in the so-called Poetic Edda is in this format, and so too verses spoken by personages in the fornaldarsögur (see chapter 25 ). Perhaps with some such legendary associations ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top