The Earliest English
Translations of Individual Poems
of the Poetic Edda
[Historic Translations of Individual Eddic Poems]

1676 Aylett Sammes
Britannia Antiqua Illustrata
Excerpts from Hávamál (pp. 441-443) 
Sammes provides an overview of the historical figure of Wodan, derived from a Latin translation of Snorri's Edda with quotations, before expositing the 'runick' letters with quotations from the Runatal section of Hávamál. Sammes' source appears to be Peder Resen's Latin translation of Snorri's Edda, alongwith Völuspá and Hávamál, published in 1665.  The spelling of the text has been retained. The modern numbering of the Hávamál verses have been added in Parentheses.

...The word Runa is derived by Wormius: from Ryn or Ren, both almost of the same signification; Ren is as much as a Cutt, or Channel of water, Ryn signifies a Furrow in the Earth, drawn by a Plough. Now as the Greeks called their …xxx xx xxxx xxxx… from their being drawn in Lines, and the Latins their Letters or liter as quasi lineaturas, so the Ancient Getes or Saxons: nam'd their Characters Runes from Ryn, a Furrow, because they were plowed-out, as it were, with the Pen, and drawn into long Lines, and the figure of the Character it self, besides the analogy of this derivation found in other Languages, highly favours this opinion, so that at first Rune among the Getes signified no more than a bare Letter or character.
Sir Henry Spelman, in his Epistle to Wormius concerning this matter, derives in from the Saxon ryne, which signifieth a Mystery or hidden thing, and of this opinion is Mr. Sheringham also, who endeavours with new Additions to strengthen it, to which end he cites Johannes Magnus, who, in speaking of FILEMAR, hath these words; Making inquiry, saith he, into the Customes of his Country, he found among his People a certain sort of cunning Women, called Adelruna, for in the Gothick Tongue Runa signifies an Art, sometime: particularly the Art Magick, from whence at this day there are many Stones in Gothland in Gothick Characters, called Runasten, hence we may see, saith Mr. Sheringham, that the Gothick Characters took name from the signification of the word, not the figure of the letter.
But, by the leave of so Worthy a Person, I cannot receed from the former derivation of Wormius, for Wornius was not ignorant of the word pyne, signifying a Mystery, and how the Saxons and Goths pretended to do miraculous things by the operation of their Characters; But I believe the word ryne, signifying a Mystery, is not the primitive, but derived from Ryn, a Furrow, by which words the Ancient Getes called their Letters, and because by the power of those Letters their Priests and Wizzards pretended to do miraculous things, therefore it came to pass that the Letters themselves, called Ryns, were used to signifie a Mystery, and Runa,  Art Magick, so that Adelruna is nothing properly, but a Learned or literate Woman, Runasten, a Learned piece of work, Runer, a Learned copy of Verses, all which words in succeeding time, from the deceit of such who imposed upon the People, were taken in an ill sence, so that Adelruna came to express a Witch, Runasten, a Charm or Talismanical figure, Runer, an lncantation.

Neither doth the Law, made by Woden, and cited by Mr. Sheringham, to confirm Sr. Henry Spelman's Opinion, in the least destroy Wormius: his derivation, it is this:
 Woden enacted a Law, that the Dead should he burnt with all their Moveables, especially their Mony, deeming that they would he more welcome to the Gods, with whose Corps: the fire consumed most Goods. As likewise he ordained, that over the Graves of Kings and Great Men, they should raise huge heaps of Earth for an everlasting remembrance, and over the Sepulchres of such who had performed great Achievements, they should erect high staves inscribed with Runick Characters.
This was the only primitive use of the Runick Writing, as well as all others, namely, to preserve the Memories of Great Persons, and so deliver their Deeds to Posterity. But when the People were once perswaded, that such Stones set up had power to keep off the Enemy, meerly by the virtue and force of the Characters engraven on them, as likewise the Songs composed in the Honour of their Ancestours, and the praise of their Vertues, had not only force to stir up Vertue in the Hearers, but by meerly wearing them in Battle, would render a Man fortunate in fight, and invulnerable. Then it was, the word Runa (signifying before nothing but  the Getick Character) came to imply Charm and Incantation, and the words Runasten and Adelrunæ,  to have evil significations.
This change of the use of the Characters, from plainly writing the sence of things to form mysterious Incantations, is, by some, attributed to WODEN, wherefore  they call him in this sence Runhofdi, that is, the lnventer of the Run; But the Runick character was long before his time, if we may believe the Edda, cited by Wormius, which attributes the invention of it to the Gods, the delivery to one  Fimbul, and the manner of Ingraving, that is, the use of it in Magick, to Woden.  The ancient Verses in the Edda run thus:
Thou knowest the Runs and loose Characters
The great Characters, the strong Characters
Which the Gods DIASTRI made,
Old FIMBUL Illustrated,
And WODEN Ingraved
Other places there are which attribute the first delivery of these Letters to FIMBIL; what he was is scarce guessed at, and is beyond my purpose to examine, it is sufficient to know that the word Runa in its proper sense, signifying Letter, is of great Antiquity and higher than Woden, and is derived in all probability from Ryn, a Furrow, but the abusive acceptation of  it for Magick, is more modern, begun in the time of Woden, or thereabouts, when the People were perswaded by their Priests and Imposters, that the Characters themselves had a secret power and operation in them to work Miracles.
Thus we read of the Ancient Danes, in Saxo Grammaticus, what strange belief they had in the power of their Runes. Whosoever (saith he) devoted himself to the ruine of his Enemy, or would preserve his Fortunes from Hostile force, made himself first a Pole or long spear of Hazle, or other kind of Wood, on the top of which he fixed the head of a Horse, which before, in solemn manner, he had sacrificed to the lnfernal Gods, placing it so upon the Spear, that with open Jaws, and grinning Visage, it might terrifie the Enemy; This done there were Runick Characters engraven upon it, and then it was set up, with many direful forms of Imprecation, in such place: where the approach of the Enemy was suspected.
These Runes our Ancestours set up against the Enemies, others they had otherwise prepared, which had vertue to stop the course of Rivers and Tides, to raise, and then allay Tempests, to give winds, to cause Rain, to cure Diseases, to charm Agues,  Head-ach and Tooth-ach, to force Love, and such like, the invention of all which Delusions (too frequently yet used) is attributed to WODEN, who is said, by these Arts, to have deprived one Rinda, a young Girl, of all her reason and senses.

But the chief virtues of the Runa, take, as they are mustered up together in the Edda, and there spoke in the person of one of Wodens Followers.
I know those verses which the Wife of Thiodan knows, and Manski her son.
The chief Help it is called, which will help thee in all cases of Griefs and Adversities.

That 2, I know, which the Sons of men want who would live Physitians.
That 3, I know, if I have need to quell my Enemies.
I dull the edges of my Adversaries, that neither their force or frand can hurt me.
That 4,  I know if men lay me in Chains.
I so sing that, I can walk, the Shackles fall from my feet, and Manacles from my hand.
That 5, I know if I perceive a Spear sent with Hostile force, flying in the Battle, I can provide it shall not go with greater force than I please.
That 6, I know if a man wound me with Incantations, or in anger Curse me, the evil shall fall on him not me.
That 7,  I know if I see a House all on fire, the flame shall diffuse no further than it is in my power to stop it, this Charm I know how to sing.
That 8, I know, which is necessary for all to learn, who are looked on ad odious in the eyes of men, them I can cure.
That 9, I know if I have occasion to save a Ship, I still the Winds on the water, and clam the Sea.
That 10, I know if I see Witches flying in the Air, I provide they shall miss their aim, and lose their designs.
That 11,  I know if I send my old Acquaintances to War, I enchant their Armour, they go safe to War, return safe, and go every where safe.
That 12,  I know if I see on the top of Wood a Ghost walking, so I cut it out and receive it in the Run, that, that Man shall come and speak with me.
That 13,  I know if I sprinkle a young Boy with water he shall not die in War, although he goes to Battle that man shall not fall by the Sword.
That 14,  I know if I am to tell the kinds of Families, I know all the distinctions of the Asi and Fani, few of the vulgar know so much.
That 15,  I know what Thiodreyer sung before the Doors of Delling he sung strength to the Asi, promotions to the Fani, and wisdom to Woden.
That 16,  I know if I would enjoy the love and society of a fair Virgin, I change the mind and alter the affection.
That 17,  I know (how he lives to dwell on his comfortable knowledge) that the Maid will not easily forsake me; These verses Loddfafnir are perhaps known to you much good may they do you, they are useful if you learn them and necessary if you get them.
That 18,  I know I shall teach no Virgin (still on the same key) or Women (every thing is best that but one knows, that is the close of the Verses) but she that holds me in her Arms, or at least she must be my Sister.
These Runes may be called the delight and pleasure of our Ancestours with which they were so much taken, that Wormius observes they gave themselves names from them; Hence comes Guthrun or Gothick Runn, Sigtrun, victorious Runn,  Runulpher, helping Runn, Rungeir, warlike Runn; So Womens names, Solruna, Sigruna, Ofruna, Auruna, Fredruna, and such like; of different signification according to the different opinions they had of the Runes.
WODEN, as I have intimated before, was the lnventer of Poetry, and the Father of the Scaldri or Scaldi, what they were and how esteemed you may read in Loccenius.
Although they (meaning the Northern Nations) were not so well polished as now adaies in humane literature, yet at their leisure, and oftentimes in the Camp it self, they spent no little time in writing the Actions of their Ancestours, and singing of them in Verse, by which they gained great reputation to their Mother Tongue. This was the business of the Scaldi, or as others call them Scaldri, as the Poets of that Age in Verses now sung about, are expressly called from the word Skal, as the Bards of the Gauls and Britains.