The Poetic Edda * Maria Kvilhaug (2016)

I have known the name of the Norwegian Maria Kvilhaug (1975-) for some time, but never got to read anything of her. The apparently most interesting title The Seeds Of Yggdrasil (2012) is very expensive and then my eye fell on this very recent (November 2016) little book with “Six Cosmology Poems” that Kvilhaug had translated herself. What is more, she put the original text and her translations side-by-side and added notes to explain why she made the translations the way she did.

There is a need for these explanations, because Kvilhaug does not shy to come up with wholly different translations from what we are used to. The texts the author translated are the Voluspa, Vafthrudnismal, Grimnismal, Grottasongr, Allvismal and Hyndluliod.
These texts she says are from “creative poets who composed poetry of their own. The Edda poems contain a lot of ancient themes and profoundly Heathen material, but they have also been composed by poets who had an agenda: To convey wisdom through the art of metaphors.” (p. ii)
In the introduction Kvilhaug explains her position further.

The author also sees the symbolism of names and therefor decided to translate most names. The reason is that she thinks the names were not chosen at random, or because they sounded good. Leaving the names untranslated would bereave the reader with some of the depths of the poems. And so Heimdallr becomes “Great World”, Valfadr “Choice-father”, Verdandi “Is About To Happen” and Hoenir… “chicken”.
I will add some parts to the quotes section.

Kvilhaug also plunges into the deep explaning elements of the texts, such as the “I”, “me”, “her”, etc. in the Voluspa. This, with her reflections on the choice of translations, surely does shed a different light on the texts. I do not always find Kvilhaug’s reasoning sound, but often enough her interpretation forces me to think over a stanza again. This in itself, makes the little book (100 pages) a suggested reading.
Also, I had been looking for a while for a book with the original texts together with translations. The lay-out used for this is not the way I would have presented it, but at least I now have such a book. Hopefully Kvilhaug will continue with the remaining texts.

2016 CreateSpace, isbn 1507620926

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Last quotes

The Open Mouth

Gap Var Ginnungaga = “The Open Mouth of the Sacred Descendants was (existed)”. From gap = “open mouth” (indicating something ready to swallow something), var = “was”, “existed”, ginnr = “sacred” and unga = genitive plural of ungr = “descendant”, “child”, “lineage”.

Maria Kvilhaug in The Poetic Edda p. 6 (note 5)

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Great World

Heimdallr = “Great World” from ON heimr = “world” and dallr = “splendid”, “awsome”, “great”, “dazzling”. An Aesir/Vanir deity.

Maria Kvilhaug in The Poetic Edda p. 5 (note 3)

Chicken

The name “Chicken” (in plural) [Hoenir] is funny and mysterious on a character that actually bestows intelligence to human kind – perhaps the incessant clucking of chicken is a metaphor for how the thinking mind makes noise?

Maria Kvilhaug in The Poetic Edda p. 12 (note 21)

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Frithjof Schuon in Prayer Fashions Man

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