What we can alone describe as a literature, first the early Eddic verse, next the habit of narrating sagas: these things the Norsemen learned probably from their Celtic subjects, partly in Ireland, partly in the western islands of Scotland; and they first developed the new literature on the soil of Iceland.
Nevertheless, some of the Eddic songs do seem to give the very form and pressure of the viking period.'
The byrnie or mail-shirt is often mentioned in Eddic songs: so are the axe, the spear, the javelin, the bow and arrows and the sword.
The misuse of the Eddic metaphors made the lyrical and epical poetry of the day hardly intelligible, and, to make matters worse, the language of the poets was mixed up with words of German and Danish origin.
His memory was remarkable, and if the whole of the Eddic poems had been lost, he could have written them down from memory.
In the introduction to the Corpus, he laid the foundations of a critical history of the Eddic poetry and Court poetry of the North in a series of brilliant, original and wellsupported theories that are gradually being accepted even by those who were at first inclined to reject them.