Tuesday, August 5, 2008

2 Stanzas of Havamol

The Poetic Eddas were committed to paper in the 13th century. Their date of original composition is unknown but represents oral tradition predating the Christian conversion of the Norsemen around 1000 A.D. The Eddas provide a glimpse into the culture of these fascinating people, who both influenced and were influenced by the Celts, whom they frequently contacted among the "Western Islands." One of these poems, Havamol, is somewhat of a jumble. The portion I've chosen to copy below is from the first section, constituting the largest part. I chose to share these two stanzas because of their relationship to my post, Honor and Courage, but there is much more to be learned from a full reading. This translation (1936) is by Henry Adams Bellows from the Old Norse.

Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
But a noble name will never die,
If good renown one gets.

Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
One thing now that never dies,
The fame of a dead man's deeds.


Chet Gresham said...

Didn't Mr. Tolkien glean a lot from the Eddas?

Morning Angel said...

Mr. JRRT did, indeed, and more from Beowulf. The giving of rings is an essential element of bonding a thane to his king. Many of Mr. T's names came from the Eddas, too, or were inspired from them. I just ordered both of what are considered the two best translations, so I don't have to read them from the computer screen anymore. I will watch for specifics as I go. If you haven't read Beowulf yet, check it out. The stolen cup, the companions waiting behind while the king goes forward to face the dragon, many, many details are echoed in Bilbo's meeting with the dragon and subsequent events. <--Short answer made long. Short answer is "yes."