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The Poetic Edda

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  3,751 ratings  ·  152 reviews
Compiled by an unknown author in Iceland around 1270, and based on sources dating back centuries earlier, the single main manuscript of The Elder Edda is one of the literary wonders of the medieval world and the greatest source of knowledge of Viking lore in existence. These mythological and heroic poems tell of gods and mortals from an ancient era: the giant-slaying Thor, ...more
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Wood Wroth
PLEASE NOTE: Due to poor organization of translations on this website, I must note that this is a review of Andy Orchard's translation of the "Poetic Edda", which he has titled "The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore".


Being familiar with Andy Orchard's handbook on Norse mythology ("Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend", 1997) and finding it to be a nice middle ground between Rudolf Simek's deeply flawed handbook and the limited scope of John Lindow's own, it was with high hopes that I waited for
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Briynne
It turns out that I have a real thing for Scandinavian literature. Reading this and the sagas has made me a little obsessed with the idea of visiting Iceland. It’s hard for me to separate my thoughts on the eddas from my thoughts on the sagas and the most recent Sigrid Undset novel I’m reading, but I’m going to try to keep everything to it’s proper review space.

Alright. The Elder Edda (or Poetic Edda) is the written version of the oral-tradition base material from which the later Younger/Prose
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Mike
May 26, 2009 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: native speakers of Anglo-Saxon, etins
The introduction states that the Edda is "a repository, in poetic form" of mythology and heroic lore "bodying forth both the ethical views and the cultural life of the North during the late heathen and early Christian times." It is also, for the most part, boring as fuck. It may be an interesting read if you are a fan of English before it got corrupted by all those French and Latin borrowings, or don't mind stopping several times a page to find out the meaning of an obscure or terribly archaic w ...more
John Snow
The Poetic Edda is not a book you read from beginning to end like a novel. The Poetic Edda contains 35 poems, some of which are very complicated. I usually read and study one or a few poems at a time, put the book aside, and then get back to it later. But the more times I read the poems, the more I appreciate their poetic qualities and the glimpses they give into the deep mysteries and wisdom of Norse mythology.

Together with The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, The Poetic Edda is the best medieva
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Mina Soare
The notes cover more of each page than the stanzas... and it's worth it.

I found out about this book by watching the Avengers, which led me to slash Avenger fanfiction, which mentioned the The Prose Edda and this... this splendid-story-great-poetry-albeit-translated-rich-vibrant-speech-not-to-mention-the-characters companion, as it were, the Poetic Edda. For the poem by poem (ye fifty of them) impressions, see the notes.

Considering the Thor, Odin and Loki of the movie had to have ingested enoug
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Chris
When you consider the fact that pre-Christian Scandinavian cultures, at least the ones responsible for the stories written down in the Edda, believed the world was created from the dismembered body of a giant, then you begin to realize that it's not going to be a trip to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

Even the gods are doomed, and when Odin, boss of the gods, is constantly trying to find secret wisdom to avert the prophesied battle that will kill the gods, you know you're screwed.

Not for the faint
...more
Stephen
If for no other reason, this translation is remarkable for its scrupulous adherence to English words of Germanic origin - I cannot recall a single instance of finding a Greek or Latin root. The language and meter are deliciously archaic, and give a feel for the grammatical richness which has now largely fallen away from our modern tongue.
Chad
(Hollander's Translation)

A difficult book to rate. I enjoyed the first third of the poems, having to do with the gods and giants, but I suspect this was only because I was already familiar with these myths and could follow along.
The last two-thirds of the poems have to do with the heroic legends that partly inspired Wagner's Ring Cycle. I wish I had read a prose version of this story first as the poetic version(s) was hard to follow. Especially since the story was chopped up among 20 different
...more
Kaila
The Voluspa is the first poem of the Edda. It tells of the birth of the world, the giants and the gods, a few things in their lives, and then Ragnarok. It is one of the most beautiful, poignant, and sad things I've ever read. The world is out to get you and everyone dies, that's what Norse mythology teaches us.

Note on the translation: I mostly read Carolyn Larrington's UNrevised translation. I had the great fortune of getting a copy of Ursula Dronke's Voluspa and it is superior in every way as f
...more
Paul Haspel
The poetry of the Poetic Edda probably reads best in the original Old Norse; but in case your Old Norse proficiency is not what it once was, this translation by Lee Hollander of the University of Texas is a good way to get to know these intriguing poems from the world of the Vikings. Hollander’s introduction is scholarly – quite scholarly – with extensive attention to the metric and potential musical values of Old Norse poetic syllabication; if all you wanted was to get to Thor swinging his hamm ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
This is a massive read. I expected it to be, however not only has it exceeded expectations it has totally scrambled them as well as my original goals in reading this book.

This collection is indeed a treasure trove of mythic Norse verse, it does indeed give a lot of insight into mythology lore and culture just as the cover claims it will.

The translator, Hollander also gives us a truly astounding amount of scholarly information, footnotes and explanations without with a large amount of this prose
...more
Cymru Roberts
The gods of antiquity are our super heroes of today. Marvel has transformed most of the Norse gods into comic book characters, for better or for worse I don't know. I am inspired by the tales of glorious gods and I was interested in any overlap that may occur between the Norse and Greek pantheons. This text met and exceeded my expectations, but contained many lays that would only appeal to a completist or college-level student of Norse mythology.

The lays are epic in scope, encompassing the begin
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Elizabeth
Contents

Introductory Material: iv-xliv (x)

Mythological Poems
Voluspa: 5-14 (x)
Havamal: 15-39 (x)
Vafthrudnusmal: 39-49 (x)
Grimnismal: 49-59 (x)
For Skirmis: 59-67
Harbardsljod: 67-76 (x)
Hymiskvuda: 77-82
Lokasenna: 82-96
Thrymskvida: 96-101
Volundarkvida: 101-108
Alvissmal: 108-113

Heroic Poems
Helgakvida Hundingsbana in fyrri: 117-125
Helgakvida Hjorvardssonar: 126-135
Helgakvida Hundingsbana onnur: 136-144
Fra dauda Sinfjotla: 145
Gripisspa: 146-153
Reginsmal: 154-159
Fafnismal: 160-168
Sigrdrifumal: 169-175
Br
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Eirene
Jan 21, 2011 Eirene rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love poetry of the kind like Beowulf
" So weave we weird sisters our war winning woof..." I did not start out to read Old Norse poetry. I was looking up something regarding the Valkyrie for a piece I was writing and I came across this one line. Needless to say, the spectacular alliteration got me. I picked up this book from the library and read through it. Found in these poems are the stories of the Valkyrie, Jörmunrekkr, king of the Goths, the Nibelung and, if I recall correctly, even references to Attila the Hun. The structure is ...more
Helen Francini
Anyone who likes Tolkien needs to read the Eddas. Also anyone who likes mythology, good stories, etc. If you think the Vikings were only into raiding England (and anywhere else they landed), battles, and mayhem in general, think again. These tales contain plenty of violence, but also far more beauty and imagination than most people realize the ancient Norse culture possessed. Greece may have given the world democracy and Rome the Pax Romana, but in all their myths and legends there is nothing li ...more
Richard Abbott
I decided to classify The Elder Edda, translated by Andy Orchard, as historical fiction, on the grounds that the tales within it probably served a similar function in Icelandic culture – and general Norse culture – as that genre serves in ours. Certainly the content moves progressively from more obviously mythical, where the main focus is on the doings of gods and supernatural beings, towards history, where specific leaders and their followers are vying for political and military supremacy in a ...more
Nikki
I totally didn't use my essay as an excuse to read this... This is a source for Snorri's Edda, so of course, it was appropriate reading. It's a bit harder to read than Snorri's Edda, I think, although that's partially the translation. The translator translated the names, which is a bit weird to read.

Fun seeing how much this mythology has influenced fantasy writing.
Eadweard
I liked how Hollander used mostly words of germanic origin, it fits well.

Very much liked all the lays and poems that dealt with the Volsungs, I think that that is probably the most interesting saga of them all.
John Snow
This is definitely one of the most important books in my life. I like the translation into Norwegian and I have read the poems over and over again. You never get to the bottom of Voluspá, Hávamál, Grimnesmál and the other poems about the Old Norse gods and world-view. The heroic poems are also an important source of Norse Mythology. I never stop admiring the anonymous makers of these poems. Being an author writing Viking stories (The Slayer Rune) I use themes and motifs from The Old Edda all the ...more
Kevin Mcniece
Love me some alliterative verse. These are some great stories which provide a great background for everything from Wagner to Marvel. The stories are great, and the verse is simple, direct, and powerful.

I read the Oxford World Classics edition that was recently published first. I've since found better translations of the verse itself, but the notes in the OWC edition really did a great job of filling in the background I was missing. These poems were written for people already familiar with Norse
...more
Hóvirág
Nagyon jó volt. A Mitologikus énekek úgy ahogy van szuper volt, a Hősi énekek egy része kissé zavaros és nem állt össze a kép, de itt is volt néhány, amit ki tudok emelni (Grípir jóslata, Szigurd-énekek). A Jegyzetek a végén hasznos, és segít valamit az értelmezésben, de nem elég mély ahhoz, hogy igazán hasznos magyarázat legyen, én legalábbis így érzékeltem. Viszont sok érdekesség meg plusz infó van benne.
Összességében azt mondom, ez csak a kezdet, mert jó lenne mélyebben is beleásni magam a té
...more
sologdin
famous for being one of the earliest plagiarisms of professor Tolkien's LotR.
Hengest
An excellent with copious useful footnotes.
Cormacjosh
It had been a long time since I read any kind of medieval poetry and this is a great lead in to get psyched up for my impending vacation to Pennsic xxxix. I was expecting Ragnarok at the end, admittedly… the book seems to end alluding to the Twilight of the Gods, but in the last poem does not mention it at all. That was unexpected. The formatting of the footnotes was annoying but other than that I really enjoyed this work and haven’t felt so accomplished upon finishing it since I read Melville’s ...more
Hannah
Jun 09, 2015 Hannah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I just received the latest Penguin edition of Orchard's ''Elder Edda'' and won't have time to read it just yet, but some things already irk me. It has already been said in another review that the use of the term ''viking lore'' is not really accurate, and I agree, it comes across as a marketing move to heighten the interest. Really, it doesn't need that.

I also noticed the blurb which says: ''Legends from the Ancient North'' and then lists Sir Gawain and the Green Knight too, which makes no sense
...more
Lance Schaubert
Where else can you find a joint source for half of Tolkien's names and a good chunk of Marvel comics?

The Poetic Edda is the crux of Norse mythology and I won't presume to aspire to heavy or valued literary criticism here. I appeal as a lay reader to lay readers –you need to work your way through this book as you would any classic piece. You need this book as source material for your own stories, as enjoyment for life, and as a platform upon which to build an understanding of modern stories.

As L
...more
F.T.
I read The Prose Edda some while back and was influenced heavily by it, so naturally I had to read The Poetic Edda. This is a different beastie. It's not what I would call light reading; it took me a long time to get through it. It's big, complex, loaded with footnotes (which I soon discovered were worth picking through if I wanted to follow what was going on) and dry, professorial commentaries on the origins, quality, verse patterns and completeness of each lay. The glossary in the back was han ...more
Basicallyrun
What's really cool here is looking at how Auden and Taylor's translations differ from Page's in Chronicles of the Vikings. Page claims to be sticking fairly rigidly to the original, whereas Auden and Taylor acknowledge that they've changed things a bit (in some cases, really quite a lot) to keep with what they see as the sense of the originals. Course, without being able to read the Edda in the original, I can't say how accurate they've been or how their 'sense' differs from mine, but the poems ...more
Hilary
I bought this book several years ago and by several I mean many but never got around to reading it in its entirely. I thought it was about time I did that, so.. well, I did. Although it took me ages to finish it, that is in no way a reflection on the quality of the book itself - more my ability to be distracted, etc. So, let's get on with the review.

As someone not terribly familiar with Norse myth, I came away from the book feeling that I understood the essence of it a bit better. Having recentl
...more
Bruce
I was fortunate to have recently read the D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths before I tackled this more challenging read, which the D'Aulaires had cited as their source. The University of Texas, where he was Professor of Germanic Languages, in 1962, published Professor Hollander’s revised translation. The Edda, literally grandmother in Old Norse, is a collection of poems by different poets arranged to tell the stories of the Norse gods and heroes. “Collected by an unidentified Icelander, probably d ...more
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What is "Heathenism?" 1 1 Jul 28, 2014 03:34PM  
Ancient World: Ancient Scandinavia 1 24 Dec 05, 2012 03:06AM  
  • The Prose Edda
  • Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
  • Seven Viking Romances
  • Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs
  • Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories
  • A Dictionary of Northern Mythology
  • The Norse Myths
  • The Vikings
  • Viking Age Iceland
  • Saxo Grammaticus: The History of the Danes, Books I-IX: I. English Text; II. Commentary
  • Early Irish Myths and Sagas
  • The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings
  • The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok
  • Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas
  • History and Lore (Our Troth, #1)
  • Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism
  • Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer
  • Futhark: Handbook of Rune Magic
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