Norse myths enjoy a resurgence of interest these days. Contemporary films featuring the legendary hero Thor are box office blockbusters. The world of Middle-Earth featured in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is heavily influenced by the stories found in The Edda and readers will discover many familiar names. Those eager to explore the origins of these stories will not be disappointed this new translation of The Poetic Edda by Canadian poet Jeramy Dodds.
The Edda is a jewel in the treasure chest of human culture. As a collection of Scandinavian mythology and folklore largely uninfluenced by Christianity, it offers a glimpse into the popular imagination of Northern Europe from a bygone era. However, like the “long-gone gods” themselves, the imagery of these tales still echoes in the soul and influences culture today. The imagery of runes, magical hammers, frost monsters, dwarves, and rainbow bridges to different realms of existence once again have currency among audiences of all ages.
Jeramy Dodds is an award-winning Canadian poet with an extensive background and education in Norse Mythology. His translation of The Edda begins with “The Volva’s Prophecy” and the very first stanza is guaranteed to hook you and keep you reading long into the dark hours of the night:
Shush now, you sacred ones,
all creeds of Heimdall’s sons.
Cadaver Father, I’ll try to retell tales
of the ancients and the long-gone gods.
In addition to the mythical stories, you will also find a collection of The High One’s Sayings which, like the words of Confucius from the Far East, have a decidedly practical feel to them. Included is this passage which I found particularly resonant:
Even if it’s tiny, one’s own home
is best. Everyone’s a hero in his
own home. One’s heart bloodies
if he has to beg to eat at each meal.
Looking for a collection of bedtime stories to read with a Thor fan at home? Take a trip to the Children’s Library and find D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. The D’Aulaire book contains over two dozen tales told in simple prose alongside dozens of youthful and highly traceable pencil drawings. It narrates a range of old Norse myths from the birth of the first gods and giants to Ragnarokk, the Norse Armageddon where the gods die and humans inherit the Earth. Although written with children in mind, this book is an excellent introduction to Norse Mythology for readers of any age.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking to explore the classic epics behind the comic book blockbusters, look no further than the GPL!