I’m thrilled to announce that my MPhil thesis, “A Vision of the Skald: Seeking the Ideal in the Probable Works of Snorri Sturluson,” is now available on the University of Oslo’s public research archive. You can download and read it at: <https://www.duo.uio.no/handle/10852/52012>. It is the capstone of my recently-completed joint MA/MPhil degree in Viking & Medieval Norse Studies from the Universities of Iceland and Oslo.
The advanced Asatru alliterative poet should also have some knowledge of the older languages, as the best exemplars of the form are in the old languages. Most important are Old Norse and Old English, although some alliterative material also exists in a few other old dialects. Today’s post, however, focuses on Old Norse and Modern Icelandic. The two are so similar (at least in the way they are written) that knowledge of one is almost the same thing as knowledge of the other. The vocabulary of the modern language is, of course, larger. The differences are relatively minor, and in comparing texts of the two, my brain doesn’t even register them as separate languages.
To really ramp up my learning of Modern Icelandic, I’m taking a trip to Reykjavík, Iceland for a four-week summer course in Modern Icelandic at the Árni Magnússon Institute. <http://arnastofnun.is/page/althjodlegt_islenskunamskeid_en>. While I’m there, my internet access will be limited, and this blog will be taking a four-week hiatus — the next post will not occur until July 31. So those who post comments may have to wait a while before they are approved.
Here’s a list of helpful resources for the poet who wants to study Modern Icelandic and/or Old Norse.
In addition to writing poetry in modern versions of the traditional Old Norse and Old English meters, I also study those meters from a scholarly perspective. This week, I’m going to the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies, where I’ll be presenting a paper on the uses of the galdralag meter in the Old Norse poetic corpus. It is a condensed version of a longer paper that takes a broader look at historical galdralag. In the future, I may post the shorter paper here or on my academia.edu page, and I intended to seek publication for the longer, more comprehensive paper.
As a brief taste, here are the two introductory paragraphs of the shorter paper.
For a change of pace this time, I have a book list for you instead of a poem. These are some books that I would recommend to the modern would-be Asatru alliterative poet, with short commentary on each. Many have references to older languages such as Old Norse or Old English. This is generally unavoidable, as all the great exemplars of the form are in those languages.
1. Hollander, Lee M, trans. Old Norse Poems. London: Abela P, 2010.
2. —. The Poetic Edda. 2nd ed. Austin: U of Texas P, 1962.
Invaluable resources for the alliterative poet, as Hollander translates the old material into Modern English while retaining the original meters as he understood them. His language can be a bit archaic at times, and often sacrifices literal accuracy for the sake of the meter. But the latter is exactly why the alliterative poet should read them. He also includes a brief explanation of the meter in his Edda translation.
Last week, I posted the first drápa on this blog. Now seems as good a time as any for some commentary on the different sorts of poems I have been posting and will be posting on this blog. These can be distinguished by their type and purpose.
You may find it helpful to read my earlier post on the meters I use, either before or after reading this one.
First, the distinction of type, which is between drápa and flokkr.