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The Ljóðaháttr is an Old Norse meter , which is mainly used in the sayings and memorabilia of the Lieder Edda . A Ljóðaháttr strophe is characterized by the combination of long and full lines.


Ljóð means stanza / song and háttr is a way of translating as “meter” in the case of poetry. This results in two possible translations of the name, "verse measure" (after See ) and "Ton der Zauberlieder" (after Heusler ). In general, however, it is assumed that the Ljóðaháttrstrophen were not sung, but spoken. The name of the meter goes back to Snorri .


When Ljóðaháttr always a long line changes with a full line (a caesura-less line the stabt in itself) from.

Á r skal Risa,
sá he a nnars vill
f é eða f jör hafa;
sjaldan l iggjandi ulfr
l ær of separated
s ofandi maðr s igr.
Hávamál , 58
Anvers, Langzeile 1
Full line 1
Anvers, Langzeile 2
Full line 2
Get up early
who the other
Good or want to have life
seldom wins a lying one
Wolf the ham
and a sleeping man victory
Translation (Arnulf Krause)

The staffing rules do not differ from those of a Germanic long line or Fornyrðislagstrophe. Four elevations are accommodated in each long line, two to three of which must be in letters. The full rows are not interrupted by a caesura and carry two lifts and two bars.

The Ljóðaháttr, however, is a meter with frequent exceptions. These are explained by the influence of older proverbs and memorial poems, which later could not be fully transferred into the rather strict verse form. Such a proverb is also incorporated into the Old High German Hildebrandslied and it is probably no coincidence that it looks like a Ljóðaháttr half-strophe.

with g eru scal man || g eba infahan
o rt is o rte
With the spear one should || receive a gift
Tip against tip

In a Ljóðaháttrstrophe it can happen that an incorporated proverb or a memorandum confuses the structure of the verse completely. Then, for example, additional bars can be found in abverses or full lines or nouns (which require a bar) are placed in front of a weaker clause without actually typing.


The Ljóðaháttr is particularly characteristic of parts of the Song Edda . There it is mainly used in songs in which knowledge is to be conveyed in a memorable way. The Hávamál collection of sayings is almost entirely in the Ljóðaháttr. It is also used in the songs of the gods Grímnismál , Vafþrúðnismál , Skírnismál , Hárbarðslióð , Alvíssmál and in the heroic songs Reginsmál , Fáfnismál and Sigrdrífumál . You can always find him where characters talk to each other. Fornyrðislag is used for stories .

The Ljóðaháttr rarely appears in Skaldic poetry. We find it, for example, in some stanzas of the Eiríksmál and Hákonarmál, both works of manageable length.

Some runic inscriptions have also been found in the Ljóðaháttr. It can be recognized in rudiments in very early inscriptions ( stone from Tune , bracteate from Tjurkö). It is attested in several inscriptions for the Viking Age and even around 1250 there is still a small love verse on one of the wooden sticks from Bergen (Bryggen, B 265):

S æll ek þá þóttumk || er vit s áttumk í hjá
ok komat okkar m aðr á m eðal
I seemed happy there, || when we both sat together
and no one came between us

See also


  • Andreas Heusler: The Old Germanic Poetry , Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1957, p. 34
  • Klaus von See: Germanische Verskunst , Metzler, Stuttgart, 1967, p. 52 ff.
  • Edith Marold : Ljóðháttr . In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde Vol. 18. (2nd edition) Berlin, New York 2001.
  • 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 .