Poetic Edda

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Poetic Edda


(also Saemund’s Edda, Elder Edda, or simply Edda), a collection of ancient Icelandic lays. The Poetic Edda survives in a 13th-century manuscript; its compiler is unknown. The lays long existed only in oral form, and the date of their composition remains in dispute. Several have been preserved in other ancient manuscripts.

Some of the lays are cast in the form of prophecies, apothegms, or theatrical presentations based on mythology; others are simple narratives. The mythological lays, of which Völuspa (The Seeress’ Prophecy) is the most important, are the only source of their kind on pagan mythology. Many of the heroic lays derive from south Germanic folk legends. Although the lays show the influence of different periods, their ideology and style indicate that the Poetic Edda antedates the ancient Germanic epics.


Edda, die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. Edited by G. Neckel. Fourth edition edited by H. Kuhn. Heidelberg, 1962.
Eddadigte ungivet af Jón Helgason, vols. 1–3. Copenhagen, 1952–64.
In Russian translation:
Starshaia Edda: Drevneislandskie pesni o bogakh i geroiakh. Afterword by M. I. Steblin-Kamenskii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963. (Contains bibliography.)


Khoisler, A. Germanskii geroicheskii epos i skazanie o Nibelungakh. Moscow, 1960.
Meletinskii, E. M. “Edda” i rannie formy eposa. Moscow, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
The long-awaited second volume of Ursula Dronke's edition of eddic poems has now appeared.
Interesting and wide-ranging as are the introductions and commentaries to these poems, I would still prefer students to read the eddic poems in Hans Kuhn's edition and to use the translation of his `Kurzes Worterbuch' (translated into English as Glossary to the Poetic Edda by Beatrice La Farge and John Tucker, 1992) for their interpretation.
Other chapters deal with the eddic poems concerning the education of Siguro and with Old English wisdom poetry, whilst an impressive cluster of chapters at the end of the book considers both Norse and English traditions together, and discusses the function of gnomic material in nature poetry, elegy and narrative verse.