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a Norwegian or Icelandic poet of the ninth through 13th centuries. The poetry of the skalds has survived as fragments in the 13th-century Icelandic literary classics the Prose Edda and the sagas. Before being written down, Skaldic poetry existed in oral tradition. The poetry of about 250 skalds is known. The earliest skalds were Norwegians. The most famous skald was the Icelander Egill Skallagrímsson (tenth century).
The skalds composed eulogistic, derogatory, and occasional verse. Their poetry generally set down contemporary facts and hence is regarded as a reliable historical source. For mannered intricacy of form, skaldic poetry is without parallel in world literature. The meter is strict and complex and the language abounds in complicated periphrases (kennings) and poetic synonyms (heitis); phrases are intertwined with one another. Skaldic poetry is difficult to interpret.
WORKSDen norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning, 1A-2A (manuscript text); 1B-2B (corrected text with Danish translation). Edited by F. Jónsson. Copenhagen, 1908-15.
REFERENCESSteblin-Kamenskii, M. I. “Proiskhozhdenie poezii skal’dov.” In Skandinavskii sbornik, fasc. 3. Tallinn, 1958.
De Vries, J. Altnordische Literaturgeschichte, 2nd ed., vols. 1-2. Berlin, 1964-67.
M. I. STEBLIN-KAMENSKII [23–1462–]