The Eddas

What more would ye know?

— The Seeress in the Voluspá

Did I mention Bragi below? Yes, I did. And perhaps that is why when choosing whether to read Snorri’s Prose Edda or the Poetic Edda, I chose the poetic. I scoured Amazon reviews before settling on Lee M. Hollander’s sometimes difficult translation, which is difficult because he attempts to recreate the style of the originals, because he chooses to use archaic terms out of English-language balladry to lend a voice of antiquity to it. I devoured his introduction, and must go back and study it, to learn the difference between the gnomic and the magic stanzas. There is much to learn, much more than I expect the prose Eddas would present. Still, besides my primers (Lafayllve and Paxton), I have Myths and Gods of Ancient Europe under my belt, so it is not as if I am wandering blindly into a maze of alien names and concepts. Hollands’ footnotes appear comprehensive, at least as far as I have gotten. His introduction was clear  and scholarly, if a bit fond of the double negative and other scholastic nonsense that would not pass in a modern classroom.

Which to read first is ultimately a personal decision, and obviously if I felt I had enough prose discussion under my belt, I would go for poetry. When my distant friend asked a prominent pagan friend of hers if she would take me under her wing and help guide me toward good kindred, she mentioned I was a poet. Her prominent friend said, she reported to me, ‘good. We need more of those.’ And so the poetic Eddas. When I tire of the Eddas themselves, I will study Holland’s introduction further, to learn the terms and forms of the various Eddiac and skaldic styles. It is simply a matter of following my nature, as is my attraction to the religion of my ancient Germanic ancestors.

Hear thou, Loddfáfnir,            and heed it well,
            learn it, ’twill lend the strength,
            follow it, ’twill further thee.
— The Sayings of Har

As go the runes in the “Sayings,” so for me goes poetry.


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