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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Eddas Translated

The Poetic Edda - Six Old Norse Cosmology PoemsThe Poetic Edda - Six Old Norse Cosmology Poems by Maria Kvilhaug
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Poetic Eddas

Translating poems from the Viking or Norse times can prove to be a challenge. Certain Norse words can have multiple meanings in the given language being translated to, this of course could change the meaning of the entire poem. Then there is the issue of capturing the spirit of the poem. These two items can prove to be a challenge. Characters like Loki and others were mentioned rather extensively yet there is no record of them having a place to be worshipped. Others had several places to be worshipped yet are hardly mentioned in the Eddas at all. Moreover it is important to note that deities were not just characters but rather served or could serve as metaphors to move the story forward. The poems themselves were never meant to be taken literally but were rather vehicles to convey a hidden truth.

Maria Kvilhaug has done a fine job translating the poems and rendering to the reader what possible meaning they may have. Perhaps these poems might not be the most entertaining they are worthy of study and if one wants that deeper understanding then this is one book along with perhaps several others that should be read. Perhaps there is one issue I might have with this is that instead of using the Norse names she renders it in the exact translation. That makes it a bit confusing and hard to follow along with. It must be noted that several of the adventures are really symbolic initiations where in the initiate is symbolicly burned three times before they are initiated or given their powers. Freya the goddess of the Vanir is burned three times before she is given immortality.

In several of these poems there are verbal battles like when the all knowing dwarf wants to marry Thors daughter he answers a bunch of riddles to prove his worth. There is also another poem where in Odin is debating one being or another and a verbal question and answer period begins. The Norse were also big on lineages as in the first poem when the gods are at a feast they encounter the three fares and they inform them of the worlds history.

If you are interested in reading the Eddas I would advise reading Snirri Stulson or some other core translator and then read this book to get the deeper meaning.

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