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By Margaret Clunies Ros

This can be the 1st booklet in English to accommodate the dual matters of previous Norse poetry and a number of the vernacular treatises on local poetry that have been a conspicuous function of medieval highbrow existence in Iceland and the Orkneys from the mid-twelfth to the fourteenth centuries.

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Quite often, though, a half- stanza or helmingr is the cited unit, and sometimes only a couplet, or fjórñungr; as dróttkvætt helmingar were usually syntactically and conceptually independent, they could easily stand alone in a prose context. Mostly it is easy to distinguish between lausavísur and extended poems in the medieval and later manuscripts in which Old Norse poetry has come down to us, but this is not always the case. The main reason for uncertainty is that authors of the prose texts in which the poetry is often cited do not always quote the whole of a work at the same time, and in some cases we find different numbers and sequences of stanzas said to belong to the same poem in different manuscript traditions.

Verses that utilised this feature could be termed stæltr or ‘inlaid [with hammered steel]’, according to Háttatal (Faulkes 1999: 10) and the Third and Fourth Grammatical Treatises (Björn M. Ólsen 1884: 70, 113, 136–7). 17 assumed to be a pars pro toto usage. There has been some debate on what the brandar of a ship were (see Jesch 2001: 147–8), but they are here assumed to have been a pair of often ornamented carved strips of wood along the sides of a ship’s prow, and so here meaning the prow as a whole.

1335; Seim 1986) offers a verse fragment that echoes one of the so-called Gamansvísur (‘Fun Verses’) attributed to King Haraldr harñráñi in the compilations Morkinskinna (‘Rotten Parchment’) and Hrokinskinna (‘Wrinkled Parchment’) (Skj AI: 358 (stanza 7), BI: 329; Andersson and Gade 2000: 149, nos. 62 and 473). The third runic quotation from a poem known in manuscript is a single line on the Bergen rune stave 21 Knirk (1994) provides a definitive interpretation of the Trondheim helmingr and discusses its possible relationship to the half-stanza in Egils saga.

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