The Northern Way


The Song of the Sun.

Page 1

This singular poem, the authorship of which is, in some manuscripts, assigned to Sæmund himself, may be termed a Voice from the Dead, given under teh form of a dream, in which a deceased father is supposed to address his son from another world. The first 7 strophes seem hardly connected with the following ones, which, as far as the 32nd consist cheifly in aphorisms with examples, some closely resembling those in the Havamal. In the remaining portion is given the recital of the last illness of teh supposed speaker, his death, and the scenes his soul passed through on the way to its final home.

        The composition exhibits a strange mixture of Christianity and Heathenism, whence it would seem that the poet´s own religion was in a transition state. Of the allusions to Heathenism it is, however, to be observed that they are cheifly to persons and actions of which ther eis no trace in the Odinic mythology, as known to us, and are possibly the fruits of the poet´s own imagination. The title of the poem is no doubt derived from the allusion to the Sun at the beginning of the strophes 39_45.

        For an elaborate and learned commentary, with an interlinear version of "the Song of the Sun", the reader may consult "Les Chants de Sol", by Professor Bergmann, Strassbourg & Paris, 1858.

1. Of life and property
a fierce freebooter
despoiled mankind;
over the ways
beset by him
might no one living pass.

2. Alone he ate
most frequently,
no one invited he to his repast;
until weary,
and with failing strength,
a wandering guest
came from the way.

3. In need of drink
that way_worn man,
and hungry feigned to be:
with trembling heart
he seemed to trust
him who had been so evil_minded.
4. Meat and drink
to the weary one he gave,
all with upright heart;
on God he thought,
the traveller's wants supplied;
for he felt he was an evil_doer.

5. Up stood the guest,
he evil meditated,
he had not been kindly treated;
his sin within him swelled,
he while sleeping murdered
his wary cautious host.

6. The God of heaven
he prayed for help,
when being struck he woke;
but he was doomed the sins of him
on himself to take,
whom sackless he had slain.

7. Holy angels came
from heaven above,
and took to them his soul:
in a life of purity
it shall ever live
with the almighty God.


8. Riches and health
no one may command,
though all go smoothly with him.
To many that befalls
which they least expect.
No one may command his tranquility.

9. Unnar and Sævaldi
never imagined
that happiness would fall on them,
yet naked they became,
and of all bereft,
and, like wolves, ran to the forest.


10. The force of pleasure
has many a one bewailed.
Cares are often caused by women;
pernicious they become,
although the mighty God
them pure created.

11. United were
Svafud and Skarthedin,
neither might without the other be,
until to frenzy they were driven
for a woman;
she was destined for their perdition.

12. On account of that fair maid,
neither of them cared
for games or joyous days;
no other thing
could they in memory bear
then that bright form.

13. Sad to them were
the gloomy nights,
no sweet sleep might they enjoy:
but from that anguish
rose hate intense
between the faithful friends.

14. Hostile deeds
are in most places
fiercely avenged.
To the holm they went,
for that fair woman,
and each one found his death.


15. Arrogance should no one entertain:
I indeed have seen
that those who follow her,
for the most part,
turn from God.

16. Rich were both,
Radey and Vebogi,
and thought only of their well_being;
now they sit
and turn their sores
to various hearths.

17. They in themselves confided,
and though themselves alone to be
above all people;
but their lot
Almighty God was pleased
otherwise to appoint.

18. A life of luxury they led,
in may ways,
and had gold for sport.
Now they are requited,
so that they must walk
between frost and fire.


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