Ragnarsdrápa

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One of the decorations on Ragnarr's shield probably showed Thor's fishing trip. This illustration of the scene is from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript.

Ragnarsdrápa is a skaldic poem said to have been composed in honour of the Scandinavian hero, Ragnar Lodbrok, but likely actually addressed to some later Ragnar.[1] It is attributed to the oldest known skald, Bragi Boddason, who lived in the 9th century, and was composed for the Swedish king Björn at Haugi.[2] Bragi describes the images on a decorated shield which Ragnar had given to him. The images included:

The extant fragments of Ragnarsdrápa are preserved in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.[3] The episodes of Hamdir and Sorli and Heðinn and Hǫgni are explicitly ascribed to Ragnarsdrápa while the other parts are inferred by scholars to belong to the same poem, describing the images on the four quarters of the shield, in four stanzas each with, presumably, a lost refrain.[3]

The poem is often compared with Húsdrápa and Haustlöng, which also describe artworks depicting mythological scenes. Like Haustlöng, it uses archaic and complex kennings in a manner which strains the syntax.[4] Although the dróttkvætt metre violates some of the rules developed later, it is well executed; this and the complexity of language demonstrate that there had already been considerable development of skaldic verse.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vésteinn Ólason, "Old Icelandic Poetry", in A History of Icelandic Literature, ed. Daisy Neijmann, Histories of Scandinavian Literature 5, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska, 2006, ISBN 9780803233461, pp. 1–63, p. 28.
  2. ^ "Sweden", Encyclopædia Britannica 1911 ed.
  3. ^ a b Lee M. Hollander, The Skalds: A Selection of Their Poems, With Introduction and Notes, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1945, repr. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University, 1947, OCLC 66725164, pp. 25–26.
  4. ^ Vésteinn, p. 32.
  5. ^ Hollander, p. 26.

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