Nattramn (Night Raven) entrances listeners with medieval instrumentation and galdaric chants based on elder futhark runes. Hauntingly hypnotic original melodies evoke primal emotions, as steady rhythms of big drums uplift an array of surreal voices, ranging from the soothing to the animalistic, holding listeners in a trance that transcends time, summoning the spirit of the ancient past.
Yet, there is another reason to celebrate this remarkable art. Nattramn's discography serves as an aid for learning about the runes. Chants engender familiarity with elder futhark characters, as well as ancient rune poems, and connects runic characters to powerful emotional experiences. The unique artistic expression brings the runes to life in a way rarely demonstrated in modern arts.
Brainchild of Nattramn, Andreas Axelson, explains: "My work with the runes, "has been extremely insightful. Not just by setting them to music, but by how central they are in daily life once you unveil them to yourself in a graspable way. I wanted to convert and enhance that feeling through soundscapes, poems and emotions."
Undoubtedly, Axelson achieved this with his discography: his poetic music "unveils the runes" for listeners.
Nattramn's discography is available now, along with other albums and tracks. Listen and download at https://nattramnsvitjod.bandcamp.com.
When researcher and artist, John Newton, began translating the Havamal from old norse to english in early 2021, he did so with the deliberate intention of translating the text as directly as possible. Reviews affirm: the resulting translation uniquely retains psycholinguistic, cultural and metaphorical nuances.
Though not yet published, Newton’s translation is already being applied in an experimental research program, wherein numerous participants compare and contrast an array of credible translations of Havamal stanzas, and also discuss various interpretations that can be derived from each. Participants agree, Newton’s translations often retain phrases and complex metaphors significant to ancient Norse culture, which are not detectable in other translations.
Participant, Andżelika Brocka, a native Polish speaker who also speaks English, Russian and Ukrainian attests, “Of the translations we have available, after our Havamal study sessions, it seems to me that other translators interpret the meaning of the text, not how the text was written down. There is no suggestion in [Newton's] translation.”
There are many widely accepted translations of the Havamal. Among the latest of these is Crawford’s recently famous translation, published in 2015. Whereas, Crawford’s expressed intention was to translate the text into modern vernacular, Newton’s intention was effectively exactly the opposite. Crawford’s use of familiar phrasing occasionally disambiguates interpretations of the text. Newton’s translations, however, regularly include enigmatic and mystifying passages that offer unique psycholinguistic insights into Norse culture and worldview.
A clear example of this is apparent in Newton’s translation of stanza 8, which uniquely references, “a staff carved with healing runes.” To compare:
This one is happy
Praise and a staff carved with healing runes;
It is non-forbearing what
A person will own
Inside the breasts of another one.
(Trans. Newton, 2022).
He is happy,
who for himself obtains
fame and kind words:
less sure is that
which a man must have
in another’s breast.
(Trans. Thorpe, 1866) .
Happy the one | who wins for himself
Favor and praises fair;
Less safe by far | is the wisdom found
That is hid in another's heart.
(Trans. Bellows , 1936).
Happy is he
who hath won him
the love and liking of all;
for hard it is one's help to seek
from the mind of another man.
(Trans. Hollander, 1986).
Happy is he who gets praise
and knows liking staves.
He has it hard,
who must get these things
by the help of another.
(Trans. Chrisholm, 2005).
A man is happy
if he finds praise and friendship
You can never be sure
of where you stand
in someone else’s heart.
(Trans. Crawford, 2015).
Among these and other translations, namely Bray (1929), Auden & Taylor (1967), and Terry (1969 [revised, 1989]), only Newton’s and Chisholm’s translations preserve the nuance of the stave, and only Newton’s denotes runes. Newton’s translation seems to preserve language that hints at psycholinguistic insights that can not otherwise be detected in other translations. To some degree, Newton’s translations of stanzas are commonly consistent with other translations, however, they are also frequently uniquely informative.
Presently, Newton is continuing to develop the new translation and anticipates its release in late 2022. Based on early reviews, the volume shows considerable promise as an educational aid for advancing knowledge and understanding of the Havamal and Norse culture, particularly for english speakers. Serious students of ancient Norse literature and culture will undoubtedly gain insights from a comparative reading.
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