The Völva's Prophecy
A Study Guide
English Translations:Völuspá is conspicuously absent from the first English-language collection of Eddaic poems: Amos Simon Cottle's, Icelandic Poetry or The Edda of Saemund (1797). This is because his is a translation of Edda Saemundar hinns Fróda: Edda rhythmica seu antiquior (1787), which did not include the poem. Völuspá and Hávamál had been previously published in 1665 by Peder Hansen Resen in Edda Islandorum. In his preface (p. xxix), Cottle indicates that he "has omitted one ode in this series, on account of its containing nothing of the Northern mythology. It is filled with little else but the absurd superstitions of the Church of Rome." By this he means Sólarljóð.
Ironically, Völuspá was among the first Eddaic poems to be published and one of the last to be translated into English. It was first published in 1665, followed by several mid- to late-18th century translations into Swedish, French, and German before being accurately translated into English for the first time in 1819. For a more detailed context of this poem's publication history, see:
Chronological Order of the Earliest English Translations of the Eddaic Poems
Historic Editions and Translations of the Poetic Edda in Languages Other Than English
Although sometimes identified as the first English translations of Völuspá, the following two are original works only loosely based on the poem:
Actual Translations of
Völuspá into English in chronological
order of publication are:
Actual Translations of Völuspá into English in chronological order of publication are:
1819 Ebenezer Henderson The Voluspa or the Oracle of the Prophetess Vola
1842 William Herbert Works Vol. I: Horæ Scandicæ or Works Relating to Old Scandinavian Literature
1847 from the French of Marmier, "Northern Literature: The Eddas", The Knickerbocker no. 30, "Voluspa"
1862 Andrew James Symington Pen and Pencil Sketches of Faröe and Iceland (excerpts from Völuspá)
1865 Benjamin Thorpe in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða as “The Vala´s Prophecy”
1870s William Morris in William Morris, Artist, Writer, Socialist (1938) as "The Prophecy of the Vala" (unrevised)
1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson in Corpus Poeticum Boreale as “The Sibyl’s Prophecy”
1905 Ananda K. Coomaraswarmy as "Völuspa"
1908 Olive Bray in Edda Saemundar as “Völuspá: The Soothsaying of the Vala”
1923 Henry Adams Bellows in
The Poetic Edda as
The Wise-Woman's Prophecy”
1920s and 30s J.R.R. Tolkien, a partial translation in The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun (2009) as "The Prophecy of the Sibyl"
1930 Watson Kirkconnell in The North American Book of Icelandic Verse as "The Norse Apocalyse (circa 950 A.D.)"
1962 Lee M. Hollander in
The Poetic Edda as
Prophecy of the Seeress: Völuspá”
1965 Jacqueline Simpson as "The
Prophecy of the Wise-Woman" in The Northmen Talk
1965 Jacqueline Simpson as "The Prophecy of the Wise-Woman" in The Northmen Talk
1967 W. H. Auden & P. B Taylor The Elder Edda as “The Song of the Sybil”
2001 Bernard Scudder as "The Prophecy"
2001 Bernard Scudder as "The Prophecy"
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Danish Translations:1821 Finnur Magnússon as "Valas Spaadom eller Spaaqvindens Sang"
1860 En Lægmand as "Valas Sandsagn"
1876 Frederick Hammerich as Vølvespå: Nordens ældste digt
1763 Louis-Félix Guynement de Keralio as Vaulospa: Ou L'Oracle de la Sybille
1838 Frederic G. Bergmann as "Visions de Vala"
1839 Édélestand Du Méril as "Le Chant de la Sibylle"
1842 Xavier Marmier in Chants populaires du Nord as La Voluspa
1844 Rosalie du Puget as "Prediction de Wola-la-Savante"
1779 Johannes G. von Herder as "Das Grab der Prophetin"
1829 Gustav T. Legis as "Der Völa heiliga Weihsagung und Lehre"
1829 Jakob L. Studbach as "Das Wolagesicht"
1830 Ludwig Ettmuller as "Der Wala Weissagung"
1874 Karl Simrock as "Völuspá: Die Seherin Ausspruch"
1877 Bodo Wenzel as "Der Ausspruch der Vala"
1889 Wilhelm Jordan as "Die Wala Weissagung"
1903 Friedrich Fischbach as "Wala Offenbarung" (p. 1)
1904 Hugo Gehring as "Der Seherin Weissagung"
1922 Rudolf John Gorsleben as "Seherin Gesicht"
Italian Translations:1908 T. Cannizarro as "La Vision della Profetessa"
2005 Dario Giansanti and Oliviero Canetti as "Profezia della Veggente"
1856 D.A. de los Rios as "Prediccion de la sabia Wola" (Wolu-spa)
Translated into Spanish from the French of du Puget (1843)
Swedish Translations:1750 Johan Göransson as Voulo-spa
1818 Arvid August Afzelius as "Valas Visdom"
1824 In Iduna, Vol. 3 as "Wala's Wisdom" with facing Old Norse Text
1877 Peter August Gödecke as "Valans Visdom"
1880s Viktor Rydberg as Valans Sång (A 'restored' version of the poem)
1906 Karl Ljungestedt as "Valans Spådom"
Under Construction last updated July
Under Construction last updated July 2013
1903 F. Detter and R. Heinzel, Notes to Völuspá
1997 Ursula Dronke, Völuspá in The Poetic Edda, Vol. II.
The Theory of a Christian Origin
Bang, Bugge and Rydberg: Völuspá and the Sibylline Prophecies
1879 Anton Christian Bang, Vøluspaa og de Sibyllinske Orakler
1880 J.M. Hart, "Keltic and Germanic" in American Journal of Philology, Volume 1
1881 Viktor Rydberg Sibyllinerna och Völuspa in Nordisk Tidskrift
1881 Sophus Bugge, Nogle Bemærkninger om Sibyllinerne og Voluspa in Nordisk Tidskrift IV 8. 163—172.
1881 Viktor Rydberg Astrologien och Merlin in Nordisk Tidskrift
1897 James Wilkerson, The Book of Edda called Völuspá
1899 Sophus Bugge, The Home of the Eddic poems: with especial reference to the Helgi-lays
Gro Steinsland, Völuspá: – a Source to Norse Pagan Mythology or a Christian Revelation in Disguise of a Classical Sibylline Oracle?
1889 Hugo Elard Meyer, Völuspá: Eine Undersuchung
1899 Ferdinand Detter, Völuspá
1923 Sigurd Nordal, editor. Völuspá. Translated by B.S. Benedikz and John McKinnell (1978)
1988 Paul Schach "Some Thoughts on Völuspá"
1997 Ursula Dronke, The Poetic Edda, Volume 2, The Mythological Poems: "Völuspá" pp. 7-153.
2004 Joseph Harris, "Myth and Literary History: Two Germanic Examples" in Oral Tradition, 19/1 pp. 3-19
2005 Völuspá bibliography in Carol J. Clover, John Lindow, eds. Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: a Critical Guide
2007 Daisy L. Neijmann. A History of Icelandic Literature
2013 Gunnell, Terry and Annette Lassen, eds., The Nordic Apocalypse: Approaches to Völuspá and Nordic Days of Judgement