Stev is one of the poetic forms that can be found in lyric poetry from Scandinavia. The English version of the word is stave, meaning the stressed syllable in a metric verse.


Among the various forms of stev:

  • gamlestev (old stave) is the oldest type. It is likely that gamlestev were originally danced.[1] Stanzas in gamlestev meter,were already established around the end of the 13th century.[2]

Of the gamlestev that have been preserved, most of them are from Setesdal and øvre Telemark . This poetic form is equivalent to the metre of the medieval ballad, and is used over most of Northern Europe:

Oh who will shoe my bonny foot
and who will glove my hand
and who will lace my middle waist
with a long, long linen band.

The metre in most old staves is loose, and the rhyming is always on the second and fourth line.

Some gamlestev might be remnants of folk songs that have been split up, and thereby losing completeness.

  • nystev (new stave) have probably been around since about year 1700.[2]

In Telemark , nystev have been replaced by rural folksongs , to a great extent. By contrast, nystev in Setesdal have held much of their ground. Many folksongs are based on the form, which rhymes in pairs:

Den dag kjem aldri at eg deg gløymer
for når eg søver, eg om deg drøymer.
og natt og dag er du like nær,
men best eg ser deg når myrkt det er.
  • slåttestev (tune-staves) are instrumental dancetune songs. This is dancetunes with a short text. Sometimes the staves grows to longer songs. In Ireland, an equivalent would be The Rocky Road to Dublin, a tune which is both a dance-tune and a song.
  • hermestev (imitating staves) are often referred to as parody-quote stev. These contain Wellerisms.

The people who can perform stevEdit

A person who can perform a stev, is known as a kveder (or "kvedar"), in Norwegian (a folk-singer).

A kveder from Setesdal, when performing stev, generally sings more slowly, than a kveder from Telemark.[3] One reason for this, may be that Setesdal stev are often more meditative ( or elegiac ), in regard to the stev text.[3]

The Meters of StevEdit

Stev consists of quatrains - stanzas that have four lines.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. Dagne Groven Myhren ,Stev S.V.,Cappelens Musikkleksikon 1981, Cappelen, 1981, Column no.3(paragraph no.4)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dagne Groven Myhren, Stev S.V.,Cappelens Musikkleksikon 1981, Cappelen, 1981, Column no.5

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