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The Eddas, Old Story Measure or Fornyroislog

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

Nordic Poetry

Edda Measures

Old Story Measure or Fornyroislog of the 12th century Iceland Edda Measures “the old rules,” or “the manner of the old utterances.” is similar in form to the meter used in Beowulf.

Old Story Measure is:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
  2. accentual, written with 4 strong stresses per line. There are 2 or 3 unstressed syllables in each hemistich (half line) This is much like the 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.

    Woe the Time by Judi Van Gorder

    The reign of Odin's raven ceased
    on the Feast of Freya. He fled at night,
    his wings beat black beyond the moon,
    memory gone, mad from his loss.

    The hordes wailed, "Woe the time!"
    The scream of the raven, the siren of death,
    his wisdom wantonly wasted, replaced
    by a villainous vapor. Valhalla forfeit!


     Völuspá (First stanza)

      Hljóðs bið ek allar meiri ok minni
      helgar kinder mögu Heimdallar
      Vildu at ek Valföðr vel fyr telja
      forn spjöll fira þau fremst um man                                




translation by Henry Adam Bellows (First 2 stanzas)

Hearing I ask from the holy races,
From Heimdall's sons, both high and low;
Thou wilt, Valfather, that well I relate
Old tales I remember of men long ago.

I remember yet the giants of yore,
Who gave me bread in the days gone by;
Nine worlds I knew, the nine in the tree
With mighty roots beneath the mold.

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