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The Eddas, Speech Measure or Malahattr

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
Nordic Poetry
Edda Measures

Speech Measure or Malahattr of the 12th century, Icelandic, The Edda Measures is:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
  2. accentual, written with 4 strong stresses per line. There are 3 or 4 unstressed syllables in each hemistich (half line) This is much like Anglo Saxon Verse.
  3. composed with the 3rd stressed syllable of each line alliterating with either or both of the 1st and 2nd stressed syllable, but the 4th stress rarely alliterates within the line. Instead the 4th stressed syllable of the line can cross alliterate with the following line.

    The Longest Night by Judi Van Gorder

    Balder of the light, beloved of the gods
    and men, was charmed and could come to no harm
    but for a plant, a parasite with petite white berries
    growing far in the forest, fabled for a kiss.

    Thinking him invincible, the gods would practice
    by throwing their spears at same, a game.
    His brother who lived in darkness, became a pawn
    of Loki the trickster, talented and jealous.

    This deceiver designed a dart of mistletoe
    and guided the blind man's aim toward the target.
    The unwitting Hod, murdered his brother
    and the light went out in the land of the Norse.

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