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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning, 1A-2A (manuscript text); 1B-2B (corrected text with Danish translation). Edited by F. Jónsson. Copenhagen, 1908-15.


Steblin-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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
in the same light that the skalds used in depicting it"; a humble country stream recalls two poets who had already traversed the same ground as a younger traveler-poet, Guobergur Bergsson.
Hollander (1968:4-6) notes that the Skaldic form originated in Norway and was developed chiefly by Icelandic poets (Skalds) from the ninth to the tenth centuries.
The Skalds: A selection of their poems, with introduction and notes.
It is a textbook on poetics intended to instruct young poets in the difficult meters of the early Icelandic skalds (court poets) and to provide for a Christian age an understanding of the mythological subjects treated or alluded to in early poetry.
They are usually dramatic dialogues in a terse, simple, archaic style that is in decided contrast to the artful poetry of the skalds.
So, too, does the Anglo-Saxon riddle with its predilection for rephrasing works of human artifice or natural creation as the objects of corporeal, if not sexual, human function.(22) The Old Norse skalds traditionally placed the body at the center of poetic imagination, as much of their metaphorics hearkened back to stories of the death of Kvasir and the genesis of poetry out of the liquid distilled from his broken form.
Lupton wrote on London and the Countrey (not Long and Country, 137), Guazzo (not Guaazo, 201) was translated in 1581, Pereda wrote Sotileza (not Sotilega, 610), Ottarsson and Askald (882) were two different skalds and not one with four names, Camus wrote The Myth of Sisyphus (not Sisphus, 968), Chatterton was dead seven years before c.1777 (690) and--a howler--did not 'produce' .
Volume 2 of Guobergur Bergsson's "poetic sagas," Eins og steinn sem hafio fagar (Like Stones Polished by the Sea), is a vast collection of memoirs, portraits, nature descriptions, and personal recollections from one of Iceland's modern-day skalds. Bergsson's descriptions of a small village (porkotlustao), his childhood filled with memorable books, wondrous natural settings, traditional sagas and stories, strange and unforgettable characters, remarkable events, and wonderful parents and family make the work an exceptional one.
The title of this book might be translated rather literally as 'Attitudes of the Vikings to the military and society, illuminated through the poems of the skalds in honour of princes'.
The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive.
skaldic poetry or scaldic poetryOral court poetry originating in Norway but developed chiefly by Icelandic poets (skalds) from the 9th to the 13th century.