Full text: Iceland 1930

“Héttatal* (Tale of Metres, Melre-List) on king Hikon Hakonarson 
and earl Skili BarBarson. This is a poem consisting of 102 stanzas 
each of which is different in metre or style from all the others. Again 
in the fifteenth century Loptur Guttormsson (d. 1432), one of the 
greatest chiefs of that century as well as the greatest poet of his 
time, made his “Hirtalykill“ (Key to Metres) on his lady-love; it is 
a love poem of 90 verses in as many different metres. Since then so 
many keys to metres (Haittalyklar) have been composed at different 
periods, that they number several scores. This shows among other 
things that the interest in the variations of metre has at all times been 
very keen in Iceland. 
When the court poetry comes to an end at the close of the thir- 
leenth century, the poets apply themselves with so much the greater 
energy to composing drapas (encomia) on the heavenly court: The 
Virgin Mary, the Apostles, and other holy men. A great number of 
Saints’ lays was composed down to the Reformation (1550), and even 
later, similar in metre and diction to the court poetry of old. The 
most famous of these lays is the poem “Lilja“ (The Lily) by the 
greatest poet of the fourteenth century, Brother Epsteinn Asgrimsson, 
some time officialis at Helgafell (d. 1361). It is a perfectly finished 
poem of one hundred stanzas in an elaborate metre, and so full of 
beauty and poetic inspiration that, “all bards would fain have sung 
the Lily“. The themes of the poem are in brief as follows: The cre- 
ation of the world and of man; the fall of man; the birth of Christ; 
his teachings and miracles; his death on the cross; his resurrection 
and ascension; and the last judgment; but at the same time the poem is 
a song of praise to the Holy Virgin. The second best poet in this field, 
and equally famous for his secular poetry, was Jon Arason, the last 
catholic bishop in Iceland, a national hero and the greatest man of 
his age. He was put to death in 1550. 
In the latter part of the fourteenth century there arises a new 
school of poetry, the so-called rimur, of which there is a continual 
succession down to our own days. They are epic narrative poems and 
have at first probably been sung and danced to as the dance-songs 
(a kind of ballads) which are mentioned in the Sagas before the days 
of the rimur and of which there are now extant but the merest frag- 
ments. The rimur of which several hundred cycles have been com- 
posed, are based on mythical or heroic tales, the Icelandic Sagas, or 
most frequently, on translations or imitations of chivalric romances 
and stories of adventure. As a general rule the rimur follow the tale

Note to user

Dear user,

In response to current developments in the web technology used by the Goobi viewer, the software no longer supports your browser.

Please use one of the following browsers to display this page correctly.

Thank you.