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General Bardic Studies 1, Requirement 3

Forms/styles: Describe four forms or styles of bardic arts in either ancient or modern times or a combination of each. Include examples of each form. At least one such description should be for a poetic form; the remainder can be for any bardic form or style. (100 words each [examples not to be included in word count])

Eddic Poetry:
Silent and thoughtful | a king's son should be
  and bold in battle;
merry and glad | every man should be
  until the day he dies.
(Terry, Havamal, 15)

Eddic poetry is known more properly as fornyrdislag, but is generally just called "Eddic Poetry" because it is the kind of poetry found in the Elder Edda. Generally inconsistent, it visually looks like six lines rather than four, but the first and third line is actually a set of half-lines. Stresses and accents are primarily internally consistent, rather than globally consistent. There may be two or three unstressed syllables per half-line, with alliteration ringing throughout that is contrasted with non-alliterative stresses and sounds. (Terry, xxiiv-xxiv) This poetry was meant to be memorized by the poet and recited, and wasn't written down for years. Snorri's Prose Edda includes an entire book detailing different kinds of Eddic Poetry and how to compose and use it.

Runic Poetry:

fe veldr fraenda rogi; foedisk ulfr i skogi.
ur es af illu jarni; opt hleypr hreinn a hjarni.
thurs veldr kvenna kvillu; katr verdr far af illu.
oss es flestra ferda for, en skalpr er sverda.
(Gordon, Rune Song)

Runic poetry is particularly interesting because it gives us insight into the meanings of the runes, insights we would not have any other way. Mostly, this poetry takes the rune, using it as the word that it represents, and tells a small story about it. Above, the first line tells us that wealth gives birth to contention, and warns of a wolf growing in the forest. Very much, these poems show us a lot about where the author was coming from. Stylistically, to be considered a "rune poem", the poem need only contain runes and an explanation of them. There are a number in existence (the above is from Gordon, 158).

Prose History:

The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed its speech. This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic, which separated from the main body, and at first was scanty in numbers and of little power; but it gradually spread and increased to a multitude of nations, chiefly by the voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous tribes of barbarians. The Pelasgi, on the other hand, were, as I think, a barbarian race which never greatly multiplied. (Heroditus, Histories, book I)

Most common in Greece and Rome, we find huge books full of various histories from writers such as Heroditus and Tacitus. History, itself, is considered to have been "born" with Herodotus, whose Histories are an incredibly valuable text. Historical prose can be distinguished from other sorts of "historical" prose by its reliance primarily on actual events, or on describing people and places, rather than describing the actions of deities or non-human forces (this helps us distinguish "myth" from "history," though some modern historians debate whether that division is as useful as we like to think it is). They are often far less interested in providing a study of "why" and more of a study of "what", though "why" certainly does enter the picture.


Without food quick on the platter
Without fresh milk for a calf to grow on
Without lodging for a man when night prevails
Without sweetness for men of art-such is (the like) of Bress.
No longer does Bress have prosperity.

The satire seems to be a primarily Celtic phenomenon, and comes out of the power of the bard to re-order the universe. The satire could be used on anything, whether human or not, and was seen to have an actual physical force behind it. The satire on Bress raised welts and boils on his skin, and the bards were well known to have two primary functions: to praise and to blame. The satire is the quintessential form of blame.

The satire can take the form of a poem, a nickname, a litany of insults, or merely a good joke at the expense of the person in question. All of these are the function of the bard.


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