(1056 – 1133)
The Elder or Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems dating from the thirteenth century CE. Though no two translators or editors seem to agree on precisely which poems should be included in this collection, the Elder Edda is the most important source for Norse mythology and legends of northern European heroes. The later “Younger” or Prose Edda, gathered or transcribed by Snorri Sturluson in about 1220 CE, is the other such source, largely drawing on and even directly quoting from the poetic material of the Elder Edda. Even the uninitiated reader of the Eddas may find them familiar in sound, rhythm, and content because of their considerable influence on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and his Middle Earth fantasies. Though the Bray edition is entitled “The Elder or Poetic Edda, commonly known as Sæmund’s Edda,” even at the time of its 1908 publication no scholar still believed that the twelfth-century Icelandic scholar Sæmundur Sigfússon had anything to do with the Poetic Edda; whoever actually compiled and transcribed these old oral myths is unknown to modern scholarship.