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The Fornyrðislag is an Old Norse meter rhyming meter , which is particularly characteristic of the gods and heroic songs of the Edda song . It is therefore called an Eddic meter.

In addition to the Fornyrðislag there is another Eddic meter, the so-called Ljóðaháttr . Occasional evidence of Fornyrðislag can be found outside of Eddan, for example in the inscription on Rök's rune stone .


Fornyrðislag means literally translated something like "meter of old tale" or, according to Andreas Heusler, "Old Redeton / Altmärenton". The term consists of the old Icelandic words forn (old), yrði (speech, word) and lag (something lying down or a way). It was introduced by Snorri Sturluson , who used it to designate stanza 96 in the Háttatal of his Prose Edda .


A Fornyrðislag strophe consists of eight two-letter lines of verse with free choice of syllables. The Fornyrðislagzeile corresponds to the Germanic long line , or its half lines (on and off verse), and is also stabend.

Line 1 H ljóðs bið ek allar
Z. 2 h elgar kindir,
Z. 3 m eiri ok m inni
Z. 4 m ögu Heimdallar;
Z. 5 v iltu at ek, V alföðr,
Line 6 v el fyr telja
Z. 7 f orn spjöll f ira,
Line 8 þau er f remst of man.
Völuspá , 1
I ask you to listen
of all holy generations
higher and lower
Sons of Heimdall ;
you want me, whale father ,
well tell
oldest customer of the beings,
that I remember.
Translation ( Arnulf Krause )
I ask you to listen
holy clans,
higher and lower
Heimdall sons:
You want, whale father,
that I probably tell
what old tales
of people i know.
Translation ( Felix Genzmer )

The anverse usually has two sticks. The first stick usually falls on the first strong syllable of the anverse. The second rod can be placed more freely on. In the reverse, on the other hand, the first star syllable should always be. A second rod may not be placed. This results in exactly three ways of distributing the bars in a long line ( 1 2 || 3 4 , 1 2 || 3 4 and less often 1 2 || 3 4 ). In Fornyrðislag, there should be no unstressed syllables in front of the first bars of a line. Both Genzmer and Krause do not obey the metrical guidelines exactly, whereby Krause is closer to the original, and Genzmer allows himself greater poetic freedom.

The length of the verses is not fixed. In theory, any number of unstressed words can be inserted. However, the lines of the Fornyrðislag tend to be four-syllable. This tendency is interpreted either as an influence of the scald poetry, whose verses always had to have fixed numbers of syllables, or as a result of the typically Nordic reduction in the total number of syllables in words.

See also


  • Klaus von See : Germanic verse art . Metzler, Stuttgart 1967, ( Metzler Collection Department E: Poetics 67).
  • Edith Marold : Fornyrðislag . In: Johannes Hoops : Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde . Published by Heinrich Beck . Volume 9: Fidel - Peacelessness . 2nd completely revised and greatly expanded edition. de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1995, ISBN 3-11-014776-9 , pp. 340–343.
  • Seiichi Suzuki: The Meters of Old Norse Eddic Poetry. (= Supplementary volumes to the Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde , 86) de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2014, ISBN 978-3-11-033500-2 .