The Wanderer’s Hávamál

Hávamál, ‘Words of the High One’—purportedly delivering the wisdom of Odin in his own voice—is one of the most important mythological poems of the Poetic Edda and simply the most important witness to early Norse cultural ethics. Jackson Crawford has now given us a clean text and a new facing-page translation in contemporary idiom. A highly trained linguist, Crawford has already published with Hackett a complete translation of the whole of the famous ancient anthology, the Poetic Edda, and acquired many fans for his YouTube videos teaching Old Norse. Crawford is a poet in his own right with a recognizably Western voice. A scholarly commentary on the whole poem is an accomplishment made palatable for the general reader by Crawford’s informal style. All in all, a fresh start on the mysteries of this classic.”
—Joseph Harris, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature and Professor of Folklore, Emeritus, Harvard University

“Jackson Crawford offers his readers an excellent entry into the world of Hávamál, where the high-god Óðinn from the Old Norse Pantheon mediates some age-old wisdom to his audience. Crawford provides a clear translation that points directly into the original text itself, while his extensive commentary emphasizes its nuances and ambiguity, strips away popular notions of paganism, and draws attention instead to the poem’s universal down-to-earth attitude. The humorous and entertaining cowboy-version that Crawford offers at the end serves as a tribute to the wisdom of his own grandfather, a fitting epilogue that updates this ancient poem which the Christian people of Iceland assembled from oral tradition into a book in the thirteenth century.”
—Gísli Sigurðsson, Research Professor and Head of the Folklore Department, Árni Magnússon Institute, University of Iceland

“Jackson Crawford’s new translation of Hávamál is a valuable addition to the rich textual history of this poem. Infused not only by his learning and understanding of the medieval language and culture but also by his own poetic creativity, this is a translation that is likely to bring Hávamál to a new audience. Of no less value is his more freely translated Cowboy Hávamál, which, even more than most translations, brings the vitality and poetic strength of this text to the fore.”
—Ármann Jakobsson, Professor of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Iceland