I’m pleased to share with readers that Hackett Publishing Company, publisher of the best available translation of Beowulf, has proposed a contract to publish my translation of the Poetic Edda. Update 08/12/2014: My translation, The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes, will be available for sale in March 2015.
The Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems, mostly narratives that relate myths of the Norse gods (Odin, Thor, Loki, etc.) and legendary heroes (Helgi, Sigurd, Hogni, etc.).
There are many translations of the Poetic Edda into English, but none has yet been done in a truly readable, contemporary style. While there are people who enjoy reading and writing the kind of old-fashioned English where somebody “rides a charger” (or even “rideth a charger”), I find it much less distracting to read about somebody who “rides a horse” and this is how I have written my translations as well. I follow the motto that “It’s not really a translation if you need a dictionary to read it.”
As far as style, my translations are written in unrhyming but rhythmic English verse that I think falls naturally on the ear. I have tried to follow the example of my own favorite poets, writers like Robinson Jeffers, David Mason, and Olav H. Hauge.
I should note that my translation of the Poetic Edda is not done in the style of the Cowboy Hávamál, which is a stand-alone translation of (part of) one of the poems of the Poetic Edda (Update 08/12/2014: Although the Cowboy Havamal will be included as an appendix). That is to say, I have written in standard English rather than in dialect, but the spirit of the Cowboy Hávamál is still there, guiding me toward clear storytelling at the expense of the type of elaborate writing style that has so far obscured what these poems say for the English-reading public.
What else can I read on this blog?
Star Wars, reimagined as an Icelandic Saga. You can read the whole saga in English here, and the introduction here. It was also posted as a .pdf with both the English and Old Norse text here. List of principal characters (and their equivalents in the Star Wars franchise) here.
The Cowboy Havamal, part of a wisdom poem from the Poetic Edda translated into dialect.
I wrote a little about the runes and Old Norse that I wrote for Disney’s Frozen here.