Þórsdrápa - Metrical Analysis

This page, and the attendant pages, represent an attempt to metrically classify all lines in Þórsdrápa. I've included the Skáldskaparmál half-stanzas #44 and #53 (see commentaries), apart from leaving out lines 44:3-4, since they are metrically identical with 10:7-8. The complete number of lines classified is thus 158.

My classification is obviously open to criticism, and I must state that I am extremely critical of it myself. There is no agreement among academics as to the interpretation of the metrical patterns. My classification is based on Sievers, but modified by Gade's theories. I am not postulating anything, only hoping that my classification may be of interest to readers, who are curious about the metrical structures of dróttkvætt.

The 158 lines may be classified as follows:

TYPE A 46 lines 29% COMPLETE ANALYSIS
TYPE A2k 24 lines 15% COMPLETE ANALYSIS
TYPE B 1 line <1% See below
TYPE C 20 lines 13% COMPLETE ANALYSIS
TYPE D 39 lines 25% COMPLETE ANALYSIS
TYPE E 28 lines 18% COMPLETE ANALYSIS

Below, a general discussion of the six basic types will be found. A more detailed analysis can be accessed by clicking the "COMPLETE ANALYSIS" links, above or below.

1. TYPE A (including TYPE An2) = 46 lines (29%).

TYPE A: COMPLETE ANALYSIS

TYPE A
TYPE An2 (Neutralization in the second foot)

There are 46 A-TYPE lines in the poem (29%), approximately a third of the 158 lines. They are far more common in ODD lines [37 - 80%] than in EVEN ones [9 - 20%]. The An2 TYPE is rare (4 lines), and 3 of these may be spurious (see Complete Analysis).

2. TYPE A2k (including TYPE A2ke) = 24 lines (15%).

TYPE A2k: COMPLETE ANALYSIS

TYPE A2k
TYPE A2ke (Elision in the second foot)

There are 24 A2k-TYPE lines in the poem (15%). They only occur in EVEN lines. There is only one example of the TYPE A2ke.

3. TYPE B = 1 line.

TYPE B 06:7 en fellihryn fjalla

The B-TYPE of line is extremely rare in dróttkvætt, and seems to have been avoided. Gade quotes only 13 lines from the complete poetic corpus, and they all form the same pattern, with both alliteration and in-rhyme falling in positions 2 and 5. This type of line can only occur in ODD lines, since in EVEN lines the alliteration must be placed in position 1. The syllable in position 4 could be either long or short.

4. TYPE C (including TYPE Cn1) = 20 lines (13%).

TYPE C: COMPLETE ANALYSIS

TYPE C
TYPE Cn1 (Neutralization in the first foot)

There are 20 C-TYPE lines in the poem (13%), all ODD, for obvious reasons (see TYPE B, above). According to Gade, the first in-rhyme may be found in either position 2 or position 3, but the alliteration strictly in positions 2 and 5. One line in Þórsdrápa (07:3) is thus unique, having the first alliteration in position 3. 8 out of the 20 C-lines have neutralization in the first foot (Cn1). 6 of these may be spurious (see Complete Analysis).

5. TYPE D = 39 lines (25%), but see below.

TYPE D: COMPLETE ANALYSIS

TYPE D1
TYPE D2

There are 39 D-TYPE lines in the poem (25%), a fourth of the 158 lines. They are far more common in EVEN lines [29 - 74%] than in ODD ones [10 - 26%]. The structure of the D-TYPE is complex and debated. I have chosen to simplify matters by dividing this type of line into two sub-divisions: D1 and D2, ignoring the long/short syllable variants in the second foot (shown above), since they all occupy positions of secondary stress (see Árnason and Gade - short syllables were quite capable of carrying stress).

Resolution and neutralization are rare in D-lines, occurring in two lines only (06:1, 07:4), both of which may be dubious (see Complete Analysis). In the 10 ODD lines the first alliteration occurs in the first foot in 9 cases. The exception (06:1) may be dubious (see Complete Analysis). The first in-rhyme can occur either in the first foot (31 lines), or the first syllable of the second foot (8 lines). The one exception (07:4), where it seemingly occurs in the third syllable of the second foot, is oviously dubious (see Complete Analysis).

6. TYPE E = 28 lines (18%).

TYPE E: COMPLETE ANALYSIS

TYPE E

The E-TYPE is fairly common (28 - 18%). It is more common in EVEN lines (64%) than ODD ones (36%). The length of the second foot syllable seems irrelevant - as a matter of fact, in Þórsdrápa, the short version is more common than the long one (61% - 39%). In the ODD lines, the first alliteration is placed in the first syllable of the first foot in all but two lines, where it is placed in the second foot. The first in-rhyme can occur in either the first, or the second, syllable of the first foot.