Guðrún Nordal: Inside and Out: The Architectural Frame of Old Norse Poetry

Presented by the Department of Scandinavian.

Skaldic verse is perhaps the most architectural medieval genre in the literary corpus of the medieval north. Each stanza is a highly sophisticated structure in itself, where each word is nailed into the metrical timber in a precise manner, and where imagery is often constructed by juxtaposing the known or habitable against wild nature, animals, birds and natural phenomena, and where comparisons to the act of building or constructing are commonplace.

In this paper I will first look at metaphorical allusions pertaining to the composition of skaldic verse, then consider the architectural framework in which verses are transmitted, and finally look closely at some examples of architectural allusions in the poetic imagery.

Guðrún Nordal is Director of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and Professor of Icelandic Literature.

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