Hrafnagaldr Odi - Odin Ravens Song (160.0 Kb)
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This very obscure poem has been regarded as a fragment only of a poem, of which the beginning and end are wanting. With regard to the beginning, the want may possibly be more apparent than real the strophes 2-5 being in fact a sort of introduction, although they do not at first strike us as such, in consequence of the obscurity of the 1st strophe, which seems very slightly connected with the following ones, in which the gods and dwarfs are described as incouncil, on account of certain warnings are forbodings of their app... More >>>
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This very obscure poem has been regarded as a fragment only of a poem, of which the beginning and end are wanting. With regard to the beginning, the want may possibly be more apparent than real the strophes 2-5 being in fact a sort of introduction, although they do not at first strike us as such, in consequence of the obscurity of the 1st strophe, which seems very slightly connected with the following ones, in which the gods and dwarfs are described as in
council, on account of certain warnings are forbodings of their approaching downfall, or Ragnarok. Another point of difficulty is its title, there being nothing in the whole poem to connect it with Odin's ravens, except the mention of Hugr (Hugin) in the 3rd strophe.
Erik Halson, a learned Icelander, after having spent or wasted ten years in an attempt to explain this poem, confessed that he understood little or nothing of it. In its mythology, too, we find parts assigned to some of the personages, of which no traces occur in either Semund or Snorri Edda thought we are hardly justified in pronouncing it, with more than one scholar of eminence, a fabrication of later times.
Hrafnagaldr Odins ("Odin's raven-galdr") or Forspjallsljod ("prelude poem") is an Icelandic poem in the style of the Poetic Edda. It is preserved only in late paper manuscripts. In his influential 1867 edition of the Poetic Edda, Sophus Bugge reasoned that the poem was a 17th-century work, composed as an introduction to Baldrs draumar. Since then it has not been included in editions of the Poetic Edda and not been extensively studied. But prior to Bugge's work the poem was considered a part of the Poetic Edda and included, for example, in the English translations of A. S. Cottle (1797) and Benjamin Thorpe (1866) as well as Karl Simrock's influential German translation (1851). In 1852, William and Mary Howitt characterized it as "amongst the most deeply poetical and singular hymns of the Edda".
Hrafnagaldur Odins is transmitted in a single version, with minimal discrepancies, contained in at least thirty-seven copies dating from the latter half of the 17th century to the 1870s, now housed in Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain, Germany and the United States. Annette Lassen used five manuscripts of critical value in her edition. All manuscripts that contain the poem include the subtitle Forspjallsljod.
Interest in the poem has been renewed after 1998, when Eysteinn Bjornsson and William P. Reaves posted an edition of the poem with English translation and commentary online. Although this edition was "for the most part removed again in 2002", leaving only the English translation of the poem in its place, "Eysteinn Bjornsson and Reaves' work on the poem led to the performance of the choral and orchestral work 'Hrafnagaldur odins with music by Sigur Ros, Hilmar orn Hilmarsson, and Steindor Andersen."
In support of this, their translation was printed in the program of the London performance of the work at the Barbican Centre in 2002. This popular interest in the poem was followed by an Icelandic edition, edited by Icelandic philologist Jonas Kristjansson, former head of the Arni Magnusson Institute, published in the Lesbok of the Icelandic newspaper Morgunbladid, 27/4 2002 in which he acknowledges the recent popular works.