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Skaldic verse is characterised by complex metrical rules applied within a small poetic space: any changes to the text may violate one or another of these metrical rules. e. compared to other evidence, both oral and prose], as long as they are correctly composed and carefully interpreted’ (Hkr I, 7). While this is not a cast-iron guarantee, it does mean that our best chance of reconstructing Viking Age verse lies with skaldic verse rather than, for instance, Eddic verse with its looser structures.
Oddly, though, this has rarely meant a close comparison with the full range of the exactly contemporary skaldic corpus, which is why I have written this book. I also believe it is possible to make much more of the limited contexts in the inscriptions themselves. Thus the runic vocabulary also needs to be recontextualised, as I have suggested above for skaldic vocabulary. For instance, in chapter 6 I try at length to demonstrate how such a recontextualisation can suggest the various shades of meaning which the word drengr could have, in both the runic and the skaldic corpus.
In Hkr, for instance, Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson generally keeps the readings of Kringla and its copies whenever they make sense, but occasionally departs from these even when others have thought it possible to construe them (for some examples, see Jesch 1994–7, 3–5). One of the few theoretical statements on the editing of skaldic texts is Poole’s study of Egill II. While less concerned with the poem performed by Egill himself in York in the tenth century than, for instance, Hines (1994–7), Poole nevertheless outlines an editorial method that would be a good basis for editing skaldic texts for those with a historical interest (even though he sees the role of the ‘theorist of textual criticism’ primarily as aiding the ‘literary interpretation of a text’).
British Warships & Auxiliaries by Critchley