Harold the Dauntless

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Harold the Dauntless is a rhymed, romantic, narrative-poem by Sir Walter Scott.[1] The last of his long verse narratives, written in 1817, it weaves together elements of popular English legends and folklore using dramatic themes.[citation needed]

The poem recounts the exploits and the personal spiritual journey of a doubtful knight errant - Harold the son of Danish Count Witikind: who seeks to recover his lands and wed a suitable spouse. Scott described it as "a strange, rude story". It was largely inspired by the Old Norse sagas, with which his library was well stocked.[2]

Cleverly integrated into the plot is the story of how Harold gradually converts from the Norse religion of his ancestors to Christianity. The tale of Harold's conversion alludes to the progressive Christianization of England: especially during Anglo-Saxon times and up to and including the Middle Ages.[citation needed]

Scott published the poem anonymously, in an effort to determine whether criticism of his work was based on its content or on his critics' personal opinions of him.[3] This caused some confusion; some critics recognised his style but considered Harold the Dauntless to be an inferior imitation.[4][5]


  1. ^ Scott, Sir Walter. Scott's Poetical Works. London: Oxford University Press, 1917. pp. 517-552.
  2. ^ Edinburgh University Library Walter Scott archive
  3. ^ English Poetry 1579-1830, Virginia Tech database
  4. ^ Critical Review, April 1817
  5. ^ Blackwood's Magazine, April 1817

External links

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