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The wisdom of Odin, in the voice of the Old West. The Cowboy Hávamál is included in Dr. Jackson Crawford's new Modern English translation of the Poetic Edda.
This is the first part of series of readings from the ''Poetic Edda - Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes'', which i plan to continue later on. Here i read from the latest translation by Dr. Jackson Crawford. It is wirtten in a way that is very easy for the reader to digest and understand. The Poetic Edda and his translation is an invaluable treasure and it should be on everyone's shelf, interested in Norse Mythology, practical advices for living and heroic poems.
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Dr. Jackson Crawford is a historical linguist and an experienced teacher of both Old Norse and Modern Icelandic. He currently teaches in the Department of Scandinavian at the University of California, Berkeley (formerly at UCLA).
All credit goes to Jackson Crawford and his exceptional translation of the Poetic Edda.
From Crawford's website:
“The Cowboy Havamal,” from The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes, translated by Jackson Crawford, Copyright © 2015, Hackett Publishing Co. Reproduced exclusively on www.JacksonWCrawford.com by permission of Hackett Publishing Co. Reproduction in any other way or on any other site is prohibited.
The text called Hávamál (literally “Words of the High One,” or perhaps “Words of the One-Eyed,” either way a reference to Odin) might be considered a Norse equivalent of the Book of Proverbs, containing as it does a series of disconnected stanzas encouraging wisdom and moderation in living one’s life.
“The Cowboy Hávamál” is a condensation of the wisdom of the first, most down-to-earth part of Hávamál (often called the Gestatháttr, it includes stanzas 1-79, give or take a few) into mostly five-line stanzas of a Western American English dialect. I have not endeavored to render this dialect phonetically in a thoroughly consistent way, but only to present an “eye dialect” of sorts, to suggest the dry tones of the accent behind the words.
While my other translation of Hávamál (in my translation of the Poetic Edda) is more complete, the tone of this one seems more authentic to me. The voice is that of my grandfather, sad with wisdom and cynical with experience, which I have always heard when reading this poem in the original.
“The Cowboy Hávamál” was translated from the Old Norse in one night, on January 11, 2012. Nothing I have done before or since has matched the strange and moving experience of channeling my grandfather’s voice in that way.
For more about Hávamál, check out my general intro. to the poem here, to the god Óðinn (Odin) here, and get an analysis of what every stanza means in Old Norse starting with this video.
THE ORDER OF THE APOCALYPSE
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