Showered with Praise: Weatherscapes in Late Tenth-century Skaldic Verse

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This article examines the use of weather imagery in skaldic poetry from the second half of the tenth century, especially in the sizeable circle of poets connected to the Norwegian ruler Hákon jarl Sigurðarson.1 Although vocabulary relating to the semantic sphere of weather forms part of conventional poetic diction throughout the skaldic corpus (ca. 900 – ca. 1400), poets in the later tenth century made particular use of the aesthetic effects offered by this poetic language. After exploring some of the artistic effects achieved by the use of weather imagery, I argue that one poet in particular, Einarr skálaglamm Helgason, pushed this aspect of skaldic diction to its fullest rhetorical effect, elevating his patron Hákon to godlike status as one who controls the weather. Although weather is introduced to the poetry examined here via its figurative function, I will demonstrate that the poets do so in a way that shows observation and engagement with real weather conditions. Skaldic poetry may not in general place much emphasis on describing the literal environmental conditions in which the events it describes are set,2 but it is capable of depicting realistic ones. The poets discussed here paint vivid scenes in which credible, recognizable weather conditions – or weatherscapes – are put before the mind’s eye.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalMedieval Ecocriticisms
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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