Frank, Roberta. Old Norse Court Poetry

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  • Author: Frank, Roberta
  • Title: Old Norse Court Poetry. The Dróttkvætt Stanza
  • Published in: Islandica 42
  • Place, Publisher: Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press
  • Year: 1978
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Frank, Roberta. Old Norse Court Poetry. The Dróttkvætt Stanza. Islandica 42. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1978.

  • Key words: poetry (kveðskapur)



An examination of dróttkvætt. Fifty stanzas are analysed in depth, four of which are taken from Egils saga: the first stanza of Arinbjarnarkvæði (pp. 76-78), the verse composed on Þórólfr’s death (pp. 78-80), the first of two verses cursing Eiríkr and Gunnhildr (pp. 136-38) and Egill’s call to his men to attack Lund (pp. 147-49).


Rannsókn á dróttkvæðum hætti. Fimmtíu vísur eru greindar nákvæmlega, þar af fjórar úr Eglu; fyrsta vísa Arinbjarnarkviðu (s. 76-78), vísa sem Egill yrkir eftir dauða Þórólfs (s. 78-80), hin fyrri af tveimur níðvísum um Eirík og Gunnhildi (s. 136-38) og loks herhvöt Egils þegar hann og menn hans ráðast á Lund (s. 147-49).

See also


Chapter 47: í dalmiskunn fiska: "Snorri cites the first half-stanza as an example of how Egill paraphrased summer. If the authenticity of this quatrain is ever convincingly challenged, it would mean that Snorri either was deliberately misleading his readers (confusing the speaker of the stanza with its author) or that he himself could not always distinguish between tenth- and twelth- century verses. The corresponding or parallel structure of the two half-stanzas is unusual and is not to be found in any other verse attributed to Egill." (p. 148).

Chapter 55: Vínu nær: "Vína is the ON form of the Russian river name Dvina and was used in poetry of any river or liquid (st. 7/3). No English river in the supposed area of Vínheiðr is known to have borne this name. Egils saga, chap. 37, relates that Þórólfr accompanied Eiríkr blóðøx to Russia, where they fought a battle by the Dvina. The saga author, faced with a second tradition that had Þórólfr killed at Brunanburh, may have renamed the latter battlefield (called Wen-Dune in Simeon of Durham) Vín-heiðr, interpreting the first element as an English river name." (p. 80).

Chapter 81: manna mildra: "The poet, like Deor in the Anglo-Saxon poem of that name, mourns his loss of income. The lavish rewarding of poets by their patrons was not a peculiarly "barbarian" institution. Roman poets of the fifth century - such luminaries as Claudian, Merobaudes, and Sidonius - could expect bronze likenesses of themselves to be erected in the Forum in gratitude for their eulogies; in fourth-century Constantinople, the panegyrist Themistius was honored with two such statues. Arinbjǫrn, the great-grandson of Bragi, the first skald (see stanza 17), would have had a hereditary interest in promoting the fortunes of dróttkvætt." (p. 77).


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