Drottkvaett

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The Drottkvaett Stanza is a poetic form that consists of eight lines of six syllables each. Three syllables of each line are stressed, though the only rule governing the order of these is that the last two syllables must form a trochee (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable).

Alliteration ties lines into groups of two. The first line of each group of two should have an alliteration in it and the following line should begin with a word to match the alliteration.

There must also be one case of assonance in each line. Odd numbered lines should contain a weak assonance between two of its syllables and even numbered lines should contain a strong assonance.

Drottkvaett usually employ a Viking poetical device known as a kenning.

Example

Guided gifts of Odin
Given in a living
Web of worldly knowledge
Warm our eyes, informing.
Built in bits and bettered
By parts from its starting.
Rovers on the rune paths
Receive leaves of wisdom.

This poem contains a number of kennings. The first is "Gifts of Odin", which refers to runes in an allusion Odin's time on the great tree. The second kenning is "Rovers on the rune paths". Rune paths seems an appropriate Viking equivalent to "information super highway". The rovers are obviously those who surf the web.

In plain English this poem would read "Guided letters given on a dynamic web page illuminate our eyes from the VDU and inform us. It is built in bits (ooh, a pun) and has been improved since its inception. People browsing the web are able to obtain useful information." This is obviously a poem about the wiki.

Of the three technical aspects (syllable count, assonance and alliteration) only the assonance really needs explanation, except to note that the extra alliteration in line five occasionally occured in period Drottkvaett.

Weak assonance occurs in the odd numbered lines. "Guided" and "Odin", "worldly" and "knowledge", "bits" and "bettered" and "on" and "rune" are the words in which this occurs. Note that in this case the assonance occurs in the first syllable of the word each time. Strong assonance in the even lines is more obvious, but is left as an exercise for the reader.

From this example it can be seen that the Drottkvaett stanza is not well suited to the modern Anglo-Saxon ear. Alliteration has gone out of fashion in all forms of written expression except newspaper headlines. The ear does not immediately catch the strong assonances and the weak assonances may as well not be there. What's more, the structure is so stifling that meaning and understandability are sacrificed to a huge extent. Write a few if you want to show off by all means, but if you speak English you may as well stick with the sonnet form.