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Old Norse Women's Poetry


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The rich and compelling corpus of Old Norse poetry is one of the most important and influential areas of medieval European literature. What is less well known, however, is the quantity of the material which can be attributed to women skalds. This book, intended for a broad audience, presents a bilingual edition (Old Norse and English) of this material, from the ninth to the thirteenth century and beyond, with commentary and notes. The poems here reflect the dramatic and often violent nature of the sagas: their subject matter features Viking Age shipboard adventures and shipwrecks; prophecies; curses; declarations of love and of revenge; duels, feuds and battles; encounters with ghosts; marital and family discord; and religious insults, among many other topics. Their authors fall into four main categories: pre-Christian Norwegian and Icelandic skáldkonur of the Viking Age; Icelandic skáldkonur of the Sturlung Age (thirteenth century); additional early skáldkonur from the Islendingasömaterial, not as historically verifiable as the first group; and mythical figures cited as reciting verse in the legendary sagas (fornaldarsögur).

Sandra Ballif Straubhaar is Senior Lecturer in Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at tin.


[O]ffers a lively and accessible introduction to the work of female poets in medieval Scandinavian texts. [...] seeks to give voice to the impressive range of women's poetry found within the corpus of Old Norse-Icelandic literature [...] the volume is admirable in its focus on female poets who have traditionally claimed less scholarly attention than their male counterparts. SAGA-BOOK

Drawing on the most up-to-date Norse texts available [...] Straubhaar's collection will be useful for Norse scholars thinking about poetic aspects of gender, literary scholars of European literature interested in gender conceptualisations, and should even appeal to the casual reader. MEDIUM AEVUM


First Published: 21 Apr 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843842712
Pages: 158
Size: 21.6 x 13.8
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Part 1: Verse Translations and Commentary
  • 3  Real People, Real Poetry
  • 4  Quasi-Historical People and Poetry
  • 5  Visionary Women: Women's Dream-Verse
  • 6  Legendary Heroines
  • 7  Magic-Workers, Prophetesses and Alien Maidens
  • 8  Trollwomen
  • 9  Part 2: Prose Translations
  • 10  Glossary of Names: Persons and Weapons
  • 11  Time Line
  • 12  Bibliography

A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics

A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics