[Ansteorra] Book review -- Old Norse Women's Poetry: The Voices of Female Skalds

Darlene Burns annescvb at gmail.com
Fri Apr 15 17:42:53 PDT 2011

Sounds wonderful..I haven't clicked the link but I can see its where it can
be bought. Would it possibly be found in other places?

On Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 7:35 PM, Christie Ward <val_org at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Old Norse Women's Poetry: The Voices of Female Skalds
> by Sandra Ballif Straubhaar
> http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewitem.asp?idproduct=13697
> I have been waiting for this book FOREVER, and I was really excited to get
> a copy. Dr. Straubhaar presents a wonderful book, sharing the actual verses
> composed by women in Old Norse.
> There are several good books out on the sociology and material culture of
> women in the Viking Age, but "Old Norse Women's Poetry" gives us a rare
> chance to hear from those women, speaking in their own voices. Throughout
> the middle ages, women's poetry and writing is very limited. But the Viking
> Age women left us a surprising amount of poetry.
> The translation of poetry is a difficult task. The translator normally has
> to choose between a literal translation, or a translation that preserves the
> form and style of the original poem. "Old Norse Women's Poetry" gives us
> three delights: first the Old Norse verse is presented, allowing the reader
> to experience the actual poem as it was written; then we are given a poetic
> translation that comes as close as possible to preserving the original
> poetical form, rhymes, and techniques; and lastly, the reader is given a
> literal translation for each poem.
> I read through the whole book in a rush, then went back and have been
> reading the poetry aloud, both in Old Norse and in the poetic translation,
> allowing my ears to hear the cadences and sounds that make the poetry what
> it is. I would pay money to hear Dr. Straubhaar do a reading from this
> material.
> I admit a long-standing fondness for Herverar saga and the famous
> "Awakening of Angantýr", but one poem caught at my heart. The skald is
> Ketilríðr Hólmkelsdóttir from Víglundar saga, and her poem is a lament for
> Víglundr's exile:
> Skammt leidd ek skýran
> skrauta-Njôrð ór garði.
> Þó fylgdi hugr minn hánum
> hvers kyns konar lengra;
> ef land fyr lægi væri
> ok ægur marr yrði
> allr at grænum velli.
> I walked awhile with him,
> but I wanted to walk longer.
> My feet just passed the fence;
> My heart followed still farther.
> If waves had been wide lands,
> had seas been grassy pastures,
> there would have been no limit
> to the length of my walk with him.
> I followed the bright Njôrðr-of-ornaments for a short way out of the yard;
> still, my heart followed him farther, in every possible way. I would have
> walked even farther with him if there were land instead of ocean, and the
> terrible sea turned entirely into a green plain.
> The book is arranged in sections, starting from people we know to be
> historical and moving into those that are less so, and ending with the
> purely fictional:
> I. Real People, Real Poetry - presents 9 female skalds from the historical
> sagas of the Norwegian kings, the Icelandic family sagas, and the 13th c.
> Sturlunga Saga.
> II. Quasi-Historical People and Poetry - 11 lady poets. Textual
> anachronisms and details in the surrounding sagas cast some doubt whether
> these poems can confidently be attributed to historical people.
> III. Visionary Women: Women's Dream-Verse - 7 poets. Women play a special
> role in the sagas as a sort of prophetess, transmitting omens that have come
> to them as dreams, and usually in poetry. These are all from Sturlunga Saga.
> IV. Legendary Heroines - poems attributed to the valkyries Brynhildr and
> Signý, and the wonderful "Awakening of Angantýr" from the saga of Hervör.
> V. Magic-Workers, Prophetesses, and Alien Maidens - This section gives us
> 11 more voices, from valkyries, giant-maidens, prophetesses, and "simply
> out-of-town girls".
> VI. Troll Women - 7 poems attributed to troll-maidens.
> I do highly recommend the book.
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