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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
The text is the Skaldic poem known as the Hakonarmal by Eyvindr Skaldaspillir, probably a tenth-century poem preserved in Snorri Sturluson's early thirteenth-century Hakoner Saga Goda from his Heimskringla.
'The pagan skaldic poets' view of society' (1999), her examination of fifteen skaldic poems, leads her to reject suggestions that Scandinavia in the late pagan period was in any Lockean 'state of nature'.
These include the Five Pieces of Runic Poetry published in 1763 and Percy's previously unpublished draft translations of certain fragments of skaldic verse, including verses from Vellekla, one of the most difficult of all skaldic poems, and his version of parts of the Battle of Brunanburh.