THE HELGI-LAYS IN THEIR RELATION TO LATER OLD NORSE SKALDIC POEMS.
An examination of certain later Old Norse poems of the Middle Ages, which betray the influence of the Helgi-lays in style and in the use of particular expressions, helps us to determine the history of these lays. I need not cumber the text here with all the details of the minute investigation necessary to show the extent of this influence. In Appendix I. will be found a full statement of the arguments on which I base the following conclusions:---
The Helgi-lays (particularly the First Lay of Helgi Hundingsbani) were known in Iceland as early as the forties in the eleventh century, and from that time on. Various combinations of words and 'kennings' in the poems called drápur and flokkar, composed in dróttkvætt, the usual metre of the court-skalds, by Thjóthólf Arnórsson, Bölverk Arnórsson, Arnór Jarlaskáld, and several other skalds of about the same period, are imitations of expressions in the First Helgi-lay.
In the first half of the twelfth century the Helgi-poems were evidently still more admired and enjoyed, for their metrical form and mode of expression were taken as models in the poems written in honour of certain princes by Gísli Illugason and Ívar Ingimundarson.
The Háttalykill (Key to Versification) composed in the Orkneys about 1145 by Earl Rögnvald, in connection with the Icelander Hall Thórarinsson, gives evidence that in those islands at that time the First Helgi-lay was one of the best-known poems dealing with the heroes of early saga.