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A voice that carries the ancient Norse poem

Norse poem
The image shows the so-called Uppsala Edda, which is considered to be the oldest manuscript of Snorre's Edda. Today it is on display at the Carolina Rediviva University Library in Uppsala.

Musicians Thomas von Wachenfeldt The Saga Podcast, a fantastic cultural achievement that Allmogens written about before, is making an increasing amount of our Old Norse poetry available to curious ears.

Ancient Norse poetry is a magnificent part of the Nordic cultural heritage. The most famous are the poetic Edda, which contains a collection of quatrains with mythological motifs, and Snorri's Edda, which is a manual of shell art and mythology. Through these we know that poetry was of great importance in the religious world of the Viking Age. They are also invaluable sources of knowledge about the culture, society and beliefs of our ancestors.

From the beginning, mythology has been part of an oral tradition, passed down through generations by repetition. We can imagine that children and adults alike gathered to listen again and again to the speaker's accounts of the adventures of gods and heroes. With the help of alliteration and the rhythm of specific verbs, the content was preserved. It was not until the 13th century that the tales were written down.

Embracing Eddal literature can be a fascinating, yet challenging experience. Often little prior knowledge of the context is needed and only with repeated reading do new roots emerge. I was therefore delighted to find the Saga podcast, a podcast dedicated to the Norse storytelling tradition, while wandering the web.

The initiator of the Saga podcast is musician Thomas von Wachenfeldt. He doesn't give much information about why he decided to start the project, but we can assume that he wanted to make the world of Nordic mythology accessible in a new way. Wachenfeldt's voice is well suited to the task and the subtle background music adds to the immersive atmosphere. Here is an alternative route for those who wish to discover Old Norse poetry and prefer to hear rather than read. The fact that the message is conveyed by a voice also brings the texts a little closer to their origins.

So far, the podcast has published audio files of Völuspa, The Song of Vaftrudne and Völundskvädet, among others. There is also an atmospheric reading of Peter August Gödecke's translation of Havamal, which I would encourage everyone to listen to. Sit down in your comfiest armchair, close your eyes and let yourself disappear from reality for a while. The weight of the language, the rhythm and the salty grains of wisdom convey a special feeling. I have read Havamal in several different interpretations, but found that through the aural experience I found new perspectives.

You can easily find the saga podcast through search engines or via the poddtop:

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