According to A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics by Margaret Clunies Ross, The Hrynhent (‘flowing-rhymed) is widely attributed to Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, but the claim that he invented or at the very least was the first to use the form is up for debate. However, most agree that his Hrynhenda, written c. 1045, is the first significant use of this form. However, there is growing debate that it’s first use was actually attributed to a Hebridean monk around c.985 in the so-called Hafgerðingadrápa of which four lines survive.


  • A variant of the Dróttkvætt meter, the main measure of the skalds. Aside from being 8 syllables instead of 6, it is governed by the same rules in terms of rhyme and alliteration.
  • 8 syllable lines per stanza (if we want to get strict about the vocabulary, they’re “half lines” as they are traditionally German long lines that are split into two, but for our purposes, and for clarity, we’ll call them lines)
  • four stresses per line
  • meterwise, technically it’s not strict, and you just have to make sure your last two syllables of each line follow a “stressed-unstressed” pattern and the rest of the line can have any meter you want. That said, traditionally, commonly, it’s done in trochaic hexameter (“stressed-unstressed” pattern / u).
  • uses internal rhyme; the first half of the rhyme can be anywhere in the line, but the second half of the rhyme has to be the 7th syllable. Yes, not the last syllable, the one before it. For odd lines use half rhymes (where the consonant sound is the same but the vowel sound is different), for even lines use full rhymes.
  • Alliteration. Ok,  in each couplet, or pair of lines, you must use the same sound three times: 1) the first or third syllable of the first line 2) the fifth syllable of the first line 3) the first syllable of the second line.


The Nordic Languages, Volume 1 edited by Oscar Bandle, Kurt Braunmüller, Ernst Hakon Jahr, Allan Karker, Hans-Peter Naumann, Ulf Telemann, Lennart Elmevik, Gun Widmark

A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics By Margaret Clunies Ross


Related Posts