Guðrún Nordal, Director of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and professor at the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies
Jór renn aftanskæru
allsvangr götur langar.
Völl kná hófr til hallar,
höfum lítinn dag, slíta.
This was composed by the skald Sighvatur Þórðarson in the court metre and tells of an evening ride home to the palace in the eleventh century, the horse getting hungry for his hay in the gathering dusk.
The court metre is an Old Norse form of skaldic poetry generally attributed to named skalds such as Sighvatur, one of the most significant forms of Old Norse poetry along with the eddaic verses. Guðrún Nordal, professor of Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland, is a long-standing member of an international research team that has been working on a new international publication of verses in the court metre. Guðrún is now tackling a new project with the same team, analysing court poetry from medieval Icelandic sagas. The project is based on the extensive digital database created during the international publication project. The database contains close analyses of imagery, language and prosody, providing a potential foundation for all kinds of research into this ancient cultural legacy of all Nordic nations.
"The court metre is an Old Norse form of skaldic poetry generally attributed to named skalds such as Sighvatur, one of the most significant forms of Old Norse poetry along with the eddaic verses."
"We will use digital humanities methodology in this project, which marks a brand new approach in court poetry research," says Guðrún. "The research has two primary aims. Firstly, to compile a digital and searchable database of poetry from the Icelandic sagas and other contemporary texts. Then to use this digital data to research the poetic language in these sagas, prosody and lexicology – and compare it with the poetic language in other types of saga, such as the kings' sagas," says Guðrún.
This means that the offerings of Egill Skallagrímsson and Sighvatur Þórðarson to Óðinn, the god of poetry, have all been digitised and are available online.
Guðrún says that this is the first project in which this new database is used to examine grammatical features, prosody and imagery. "The research is therefore very interesting from a methodological perspective. We are building on the expert knowledge behind the court poetry publication, with a view to the future since the current corpus will be expanded. Particular emphasis will be placed on training the next generation of scholars." The project was awarded a grant from the Research Fund of the Icelandic Centre for Research (Rannís).