Bouman, Ari C. Egill Skallagrímsson‘s Poem Sonatorrek

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  • Author: Bouman, Ari. C.
  • Title: Egill Skallagrímsson‘s Poem Sonatorrek
  • Published in: Patterns in Old English and Old Icelandic literature
  • Place, Publisher: Leiden: Universitaire Pers Leiden
  • Year: 1962
  • Pages: 17-40
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Bouman, Ari. C. "Egill Skallagrímsson‘s Poem Sonatorrek." Patterns in Old English and Old Icelandic literature, pp. 17-40. Leiden: Universitaire Pers Leiden, 1962.

  • Key words: poetry, literary elements, textual relations (kveðskapur, bókmenntaleg einkenni, rittengsl)



Analysis of Sonatorrek as a literary work and its personal relevance to Egil, with textual criticism of its third stanza. Bouman argues that during Egil’s time in England at King Athelstan’s court the skald may have become acquainted with the Old English elegy form and suggests a specific link with Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiæ.


Um er að ræða greiningu á bókmenntalegum einkennum Sonatorreks og tengslum þess við persónulega reynslu Egils; þriðja vísa kvæðisins er greind sérstaklega. Bouman heldur því fram að á meðan Egill dvaldi við hirð Aðalsteins konungs á Englandi hafi hann hugsanlega komist í kynni við form forn-enska harmljóðsins. Jafnframt sér hann tengsl milli Sonatorreks og De Consolatione Philosophiæ eftir Boethius.

See also


Chapter 55: gullhring á hvora hönd: „I think it is underestimating some of the deeper roots of his character, as a man and as a poet, to ascribe to him a meanness such as evoked by the word avarice. The conflict in his mind – if there ever was one – did not arise out of material, but of spiritual interests. Is it in keeping with this supposed vice, when Egill puts a gold ring on both Þórólf’s arms before burying him?“ (p. 23).

Chapter 80: upphaf kvæðis: “While reading Egill’s poem on the loss of his sons, we are filled with admiration and wonder. Its light shines like the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis. It springs from a hidden source, its deep-glowing colours fanning out over the expanse of heaven, but displaying the grandeur of its radiance only in the twilight of the day” (p. 40).


  • Written by: Katelin Parsons
  • Icelandic translation: Jón Karl Helgason
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