The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

Scandinavian Literature

Page 2

Until there came

Out of the ranks,

Powerful and fair,

Three Asas home,

And found on shore,

In helpless plight,

Aks and Embla (6)

Without their fate.

They had not yet

Spirit or mind,

Blood, or beauty,

Or lovely hue.

Odin gave spirit,

Heinir gave mind,

Lothur gave blood

And lovely hue.

------Tr. by Henderson.

The second passage gives an account of the universal dissolution---called Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods.

Loud barks Garm (7)

At Gnipa-cave;

The fetters are severed,

The wolf is set free,---

Vala (8) knows the future.

More does she see

Of the victorious gods'

Terrible fall.

From the east drives Hrym, (9)

Bears his child before him;

Jormungander welters

In giant fierceness;

The waves thunder;

The eagle screams,

Rends the corpses with pale beak,

And Naglfar (10) is launched.

A ship from the east nears,

The hosts of Muspel

Come o'er the main,

But Loke is pilot.

All grim and gaunt monsters

Conjoin with the wolf,

And before them all goes

The brother of Byleist. (11)

From the south wends Surt (12)

With seething fire;

The sun of the war-god

Shines in his sword;

Mountains together dash,

And frighten the giant-maids;

Heroes tread the paths to Hel,

And heaven in twain is rent.

Over Hlin (13) then shall come

Another woe,

When Odin goes forth

The wolf to combat.


All men

Abandon the earth.

The sun darkens,

The earth sinks into the ocean;

The lucid stars

From heaven vanish;

Fire and vapor

Rage toward heaven;

High flames

Involve the skies.

Loud barks Garm

At Gnipa-cave:

The fetters are severed,

The wolf is set free,----

Vala knows the future.

More does she see

Of the victorious gods'

Terrible fall.

------Tr. by Thorpe.

The conclusion of the "Voluspa" is the following picture of the regenerated earth.

She sees arise,

The second time,

From th' sea, the earth

Completely green:

Cascades do fall;

The eagle soars,

That on the hills

Pursues his prey.

The gods convene

On Ida's plains,

And talk of man,


6. The first man and first woman made out of pine trees by the three gods Odin, Heinir, and Lothur.  (back)

7. Hel's dog.  (back)

8. Vala, the prophetess.  (back)

9. The winter.  (back)

10. Naglfar, a ship of the gods.  (back)

11. The brother of Byleist, Loke.  (back)

12. Surt, a fire-giant.  (back)

13. Hlin, a name sometimes used for the goddess, Frigg.  (back)

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