Stephens, John. The Mead of Poetry: Myth and Metaphor

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Latest revision as of 14:31, 17 May 2016

  • Author: Stephens, John
  • Title: The Mead of Poetry: Myth and Metaphor
  • Published in: Neophilologus 56/3
  • Year: 1972
  • Pages: 259-68
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Stephens, John. "The Mead of Poetry: Myth and Metaphor." Neophilologus 56/3 (1972): 259–68.

  • Key words: poetry, mythology (kveðskapur, goðsagnir)


Contents

Annotation

Stephens discusses the origins of poetry according to the mythological accounts in Hávamál and the Prose Edda. The mead, he points out, is associated not only with poetry, but with wisdom and virtue. He suggests three different developments of myth: the first being an attempt to express abstract concepts in a concrete manner; the second, when images for poetry are regarded as myth, and the third when myth is turned into metaphor. Accordingly, he takes a passage from Egil's Saga which allude to the myth of the mead of poetry, but assume a new meaning within their context in Egil's life. The spewing poet, the loss of an eye and the knowledge of runes are present within a short span of Egil's Saga and the mythic significance inherent in these three points are used to highlight Egil's character. Stephens goes on to analyse Egil's Sonatorrek, in which we see the poet allude to the poetry myth. Stephens concludes that Egil's grief and struggle to compose the poem is mirrored in the difficulty of obtaining the mead in the myth.

Lýsing

Stephens ræðir um hvernig uppruna kveðskaparlistarinnar er lýst í Hávamálum og Snorra Eddu. Hann bendir á að skáldamjöðurinn er ekki aðeins tengdur skáldskap heldur einnig við þekkingu og dyggðir. Hann telur að goðsögnin hafi þróast í þremur skrefum: á fyrsta stiginu sé reynt að lýsa óhlutbundnum hugtökum með áþreifanlegu dæmi; á öðru stigi sé hægt að líta á ímynd kveðskaparins sem goðsögn og á þriðja stiginu sé goðsögninni breytt í myndhvörf. Máli sínu til stuðnings tekur hann dæmi af kafla úr Egils sögu þar sem vísað er í goðsögnina um skáldamjöðinn en hún öðlast nýja merkingu í ljósi ævi Egils. Skáldið kastar upp, krækir auga úr gestgjafa sínum og sýnir þekkingu á rúnagaldri á örfáum síðum innan sögunnar en goðsöguleg skírskotun þessara þriggja atriða hefur það hlutverk að varpa ljósi á persónuleika Egils. Stephens greinir þessu næst Sonatorrek Egils, þar sem skáldið vísar í goðsöguna um skáldamjöðinn. Niðurstaða Stephens er sú að sorg Egils og erfiðleikar við að yrkja kvæðið endurspegli hve erfitt sé að komast yfir skáldamjöðinn.


See also

References

Chapter 74: krækti hann fingrinum í augað: "The mead myth as related by Snorri has terminated at stage two. The evolutionary process can be dramatically demonstrated for this myth by citing the occurrence of a complex of related motifs which no longer function in their original meaning but have been used for a new purpose. Their relevance to the new context can be easily defended” (p. ??).

Chapter 80: hugar fylgsni: "Thus there is made an analogy between drawing the "theft of Óðinn" from the breast and the mythic stealing of the mead. The use of fylgsni "hiding place" as the source of "Viðurs þýfi" suggests the myth in itself, but because fylgsni belongs to a larger unit "hugar fylgsni" this remains a subordinate, though intensifying, association" (p. ??)

Links

  • Written by: Cecilia Emily Clare White
  • Icelandic translation: Jón Karl Helgason
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