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The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  9,496 ratings  ·  556 reviews
The Poetic Edda comprises a treasure trove of mythic and spiritual verse holding an important place in Nordic culture, literature, and heritage. Its tales of strife and death form a repository, in poetic form, of Norse mythology and heroic lore, embodying both the ethical views and the cultural life of the North during the late heathen and early Christian times.

Collected b
Paperback, Second Edition, Revised, 343 pages
Published 1990 by University of Texas Press (first published 1270)
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Hailey The poems Norse mythology is based upon. One of the two surviving texts from that time period we have to go off of. The other is the Prose Edda.
Trevor These are poems about the Norse gods. It includes prophecies and sayings by the Norse gods as well as stories about them. It also includes some poems …moreThese are poems about the Norse gods. It includes prophecies and sayings by the Norse gods as well as stories about them. It also includes some poems about Norse heroes and their adventures.

It's probably not the best choice if you're looking to learn about vikings but is fantastic if you're interested in Norse mythology.(less)

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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
famous for being one of the earliest plagiarisms of professor Tolkien's LotR. ...more

Over the last two and a half years, it has been my great pleasure to help my talented Icelandic colleagues use the LARA platform to put together a multimedia edition of the Poetic Edda. Three poems - Völuspá , Hávamál and Lokasenna - have already been posted separately, and some people will remember the Goodreads reading groups we had for them.

As of today, the project has passed another milestone, and we have just posted a combined edition which contains ten poems (Völuspá, Hávamál, V
I have been helping my Icelandic colleagues put together LARA versions of Old Norse poems from the Edda, which gave me the opportunity to appreciate a few of them in the original; Völuspá and Hávamál were indeed quite magnificent. When I remembered we had this book lying on the shelf, I thought I should read it. I'm fluent in Swedish, it's a direct descendant of Old Norse, translation between closely related languages often works, and Collinder came across as very serious about the project.

"Wits are needful for someone who travels widely,
anything will do at home;
he becomes a laughing-stock, the man who knows nothing
and sits among the wise."

- Hávamál

Arguably the greatest mythological masterpiece human civilisation has achieved, in my mind. But I'm biased for a variety of reasons; from being from the north, from researching its history and culture every day as a profession and from this being the main inspiration for my favourite literary author J. R. R. Tolkien.

I'll do a more prope
John Snow
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on my limited knowledge, Dr Crawford seems to have done an excellent job with the material. An important read for anyone interested in primary sources on Norse mythology. The stories themselves are long on plot, short on character development.
My personal favourite translation of the Poetic Edda is Lee M. Hollander's translation, which came recommended to me by a friend who specialises in the field of Scandinavian mythological studies with a focus on Old Norse literature, and it remains—despite its flaws—the best translation of the Edda I've readda. (Sorry, I had to.) I had my trepidations going into this particular translation, Andy Orchard's "Elder Edda," beginning with the truly awful title. The "Elder Edda"? Really? The Codex Regi ...more
Roman Clodia
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Then Brynhild laughed - all the hall resounded - / just one time with all her heart: / 'Well may you enjoy the lands and followers / now you've brought the brave prince to his death'

Collected in the 13th century in the Codex Regius, the body of poetry here straddles Old Norse myth and heroic poetry from probably around the 10th century, a time when the pagan North was becoming Christianised. The heroic verse is primarily from the complicated tales of Helgi, Sigurd, Gunnar and the valkyrie Sigrd
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jackson Crawford's translation reads like Lattimore's translation of Homer; both of them sound overly literal at times, but in each case the original shines through. The poems here often read like fragments -- sometimes they are exactly that, fragments -- which again enhances the feeling that you're reading something closer to the original than the many reconstituted versions of the stories. I came to the Poetic Edda via Neil Gaiman's very entertaining Norse Mythology, and I came to that via Wag ...more
Toria (Please call me Leo)
I've always been fascinated with the Nordic mythology and the gods and what not. We're shockingly easy to read, must be because of the (I'm guessing, great) translation. Very interesting read ...more
May 26, 2009 rated it liked it
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
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Reading this Edda is interesting because it's a retrofitting of Norse mythology that, to what would be the delight of the original authors I'm sure, somehow became the accepted source on actual Norse mythology. It's fascinating from a historiographic perspective as well that of an historian.

The translation by Lee Hollander is the best English-language translation available. One thing I found particularly entertaining but certainly impressive about Hollander's translation in particular was the la
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bradley McCann
The Norse world is GRIM.

The original grimdark! George R R Martin and Joe Abercrombie eat your heart out!
Lancelot Schaubert
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.

Kate Elliott
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Translations like this are what saves ancient literature otherwise doomed to death by obscurity. Dr. Crawford brings the Poetic Edda to life in a clever way that is easily accessible to all readers, without dumbing it down. Translations of the Edda have a high barrier to entry--they have to presuppose knowledge that casual readers generally neither have nor want, and the language tends to be difficult. This translation beautifully strikes that knife's edge balance between modernization and remai ...more
Less coherent than Greek mythology (probably, as a result of a lack of centralized sources and an inferior body of literature).

Rather than Thor, Loki seems like the real main character of the myths. Technically Odin is of more importance and appears more, but Loki's fall from grace is crucial for Ragnarok. At least, that's the perspective that I found the most captivating.

The poems were surprisingly accessible to modern readers. I've avoided the heroic lays for the moment, but I greatly enjoyed
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
A great read containing Norse mythology prose and poetry. Jackson Crawford did a wonderful job with the translation, while still maintaining the Old Norse feel to the poetry meter and stories. His introduction is very helpful to any readers that may want a refresher on the common Gods and heroes discussed in these writings. Very enjoyable!
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audies
I wish I hadn’t read all the gory details!
Cymru Roberts
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-ancients
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
So... yeah. I'm not sure why I had to be a fully-grown adult before it ever occurred to me that I could read this, but I probably would have gotten a bit bored at a younger age.

1. Tolkein was a huge Norse Fanboy. I mean, so was C. S. Lewis to an extent (I'm looking at you, Fenris Ulf, captain of the White Queen's guard), but a full third of Tolkein's named characters are named in the very first poetic Edda. This cracks me up.
2. All the great stories borrow from other great stories in t
Jason Donoghue
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been so long since I read this book, I need to reread it to give it another review. ...more
Daniel Morgen
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a trippy adventure, and there's a lot I want to say about it, but I'll start by saying that it was an incredible read for those with the patience to read ancient literature. And believe me, it takes a lot of patience; it is poetry from a dead language which often doesn't translate in a stirring way. However, after reading the Poetic Edda itself (not really the four additional poems they tack on to the end of this book), you walk away with a feeling about the inescapability of fate. Many ...more
Biblio Curious
The first few poems were absolutely amazing & packed with allusions to mythological stories or lines of wisdom. The rest of the poems are mostly unrelated to each other & perhaps are best read separately at your own leisure.

This Oxford Edition is rather clumsy because the poems themselves require so many notes to understand what they are referring to. I would have preferred footnotes instead because of how important these notes are for making these poems readable. About halfway through, I stopp
Edoardo Albert
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The metres used by the skalds, the court poets of the Norse chieftains, were among the most complex and difficult metres ever used regularly by poets. As such, the success of a translation of the Elder Edda should maybe be best judged by how well it conveys the complexity of the original. Andy Orchard's version is vigorous and contemporary, doing a good job of conveying the meaning of the original verse without attempting much in the way of replicating their structure. This may be an inevitable ...more
Jan 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book makes the Poetic Edda modern, accessible, and highly enjoyable while maintaining the tone and atmosphere you would expect from such an old book.
Anyone who translates literature should strive to meet the standard Crawford has set. It’s one of the very best translated works I have ever read, I highly recommend this.

Apr 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
This was compelling and engaging in a way I didn't know old poetry and mythology could be. I found myself making up things to do around the house so I could keep listening to the audio.

Each piece is preceded by a summary and notes on context. While the translations are clear enough that I think I would have followed fine without the summaries, they were helpful in establishing names and relationships up front (always a challenge for me with mythology) so that it was easier to focus on the actual
Dec 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics, fantasy
A series of ancient poems in the heroic tradition, this time in Old Norse.

Ancient Scandinavia, a cold, stark and grim place populated by cold, stark, and grim men (and women). They were under no illusions. They were all going to die. They had every intention of leaving a mark first. They would have been right at home at the walls of Troy, on either side.

Fascinating stuff.
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
Buried beneath the earth / are horrible sorrows, / the desperate things / that make the elves weep. / Early in the morning, / everything that has caused / someone unhappiness / will be remembered anew." (Hamthismal, Stanza 1)

Jackson Crawford translates and edits the The Poetic Edda, a Norse collection of mythical and heroic poems dating back to before the 14th century AD. I found a beautiful challenge in these stories; not only in the poetry itself but in the context of an early morality system
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