Six months ago, when I began an intensive study of the Elder Futhark Runes, I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole would go. I found myself learning some Old Norse language and delighted in reading the myths and legends found in The Poetic Edda. Perhaps the most well-know portion of this collection of writings in the Hávamál which can be translated as “Words of the High One.” It’s narrated by Óðinn and is a treasure trove of sage advice, including Óðinn’s story of how he obtained the runes.
There are lots of antiquated translations of the Hávamál out there that are in the public domain (Olive Bray, Henry Adams Bellows). However, there are times when one wants to read a more modern take of these classic poetic stories.
Well, look no further than Jackson Crawford’s The Wanderer’s Hávamál. It is truly a labor of love and a thing of beauty. Crawford is a Norse scholar whose YouTube channel is a must see. His videos are what led me to discover that one cannot master the runes without a deep dive into Norse mythology and culture.
The Wanderer’s Hávamál began with Jackson going back to the Codex Regius, which is the original source for these poems, and preparing his own Old Norse text from it. This is an important step because there are lots of abbreviations in the Code Regius and very little punctuation. Then from his version of the Norse text, which is published in the book, he gives us a fresh translation in modern English. It really makes the Hávamál come alive, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The delightful bonus in this book is The Cowboy Hávamál where Crawford ‘s creativity shines brightly. It takes stanzas 1-81 of the Hávamál and gives it the voice of his grandfather June Crawford. It is not to be missed and as far as I know is only found in this book. Fans of the TV series Yellowstone will love it.
As if that’s not enough to convince you to purchase this book, Jackson Crawford’s extensive notes are a treasure trove of insight and information. If you’re a bookworm like me, you will find this section as refreshing as a horn of mead. What are you waiting for? This book is a definite must in your collection of Norse literature.
Copyright ©2023, by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com