The Northern Way

The Poetic Edda (Bellows (1923)


Transcribers note: Any text on the line after the word lacuna is an emedation by the editor. Click on the (*) to view the note for that particular verse.

1. Hearing I ask                        from the holy races,
From Heimdalls sons,        both high and low;
Thou wilt, Valfather,                 that well I relate
Old tales I remember                of men long ago. (*)

2. I remember yet                the giants of yore,
Who gave me bread                in the days gone by;
Nine worlds I knew,                 the nine in the Tree
With mighty roots                 beneath the mold. (*)

3. Of old was the age                when Ymir lived;
Sea nor cool waves                nor sand there were;
Earth had not been,                 nor heaven above,
But a yawning gap,                 and grass nowhere (*)

4. Then Burs sons lifted        the level land;
Mithgarth the mighty                there they made;
The sun from the south        warmed the stones of the earth,
And green was the ground        with growing leeks. (*)

5.The sun, the sister                 of the moon, from the south
Her right hand cast                over heavens rim;
No knowledge she had        where her home should be,
The moon knew not                what might was his,
The stars knew not                where their stations were.

6.Then sought the gods                their assembly-seats,
The holy ones,                 and council held;
Names then gave they                to noon and twilight,
Morning they named,         and the waning moon,
Night and evening,                 the years to number. (*)

7.At Ithavoll met                the mighty gods,
Shrines and temples                they timbered high;
Forges they set,                 and they smithied ore,         
Tongs were wrought,         and tools they fashioned. (*)

8.In their dwellings at peace        they played at tables,
Of gold no lack                 did the gods then know, -
Till thither came up                giant-maids three,
Hugh of might,                 out of Jotunheim. (*)

9.Then sought the gods                their assembly-seats,
The holy ones,                 and council held,
To find who should raise        the race of dwarfs
Out of Brimirs blood                and the legs of Blain. (*)

10.There was Motsognir                the mightiest made
Of all the dwarfs,                 and Durin next;
Many a likeness                of men they made,
The dwarfs in the earth,         as Durin said. (*)

11.Nyi and Nithi,                 Northri and Suthri,
Austri and Vestri,                 Althjof, Dvalin,
Nar and Nain,                        Niping, Dain,
Bifur, Bofur,                         Bombur, Nori,
An and Onar,                         Ai, Mjothvitnir,

12.Vigg and Gandalf,                 Vindalf, Thrain,
Thekk and Thorin,                 Thror, Vit and Lit,
Nyr and Nyrath, -         
Regin and Rathvith-                 now have I told the list aright.

13.Fili, Kili,                         Fundin, Nali,
Heptifili,                         Hannar, Sviur,
Frar, Hornbori,                 Frg and Loni,
Aurvang, Jari,                 Eikinskjaldi.

14.The race of the dwarfs        in Dvalins throng
Down to Lofar                the list must I tell;
The rocks they left,                 and through the wet lands
They sought a home                in the feilds of sand.

15.There were Draupnir                and Dolgthrasir,
Hor, Haugspori,                 Hlevang, Gloin,
Dori, Ori,                         Duf, Andvari,
Skirfir, Virfir,                         Skafith, Ai. (*)

16.Alf and Yngvi,                Eikinskjaldi;
Fjalar and Frosti,                Fith and Ginnar;
So for all time                        shall the tale be known,
The list of all                         the forbears of Lofar.

17.Then from the throng                did three come forth,
From the home of the gods,        the mighty and gracious;
Two without fate                on the land they found,
Ask and Embla,                 empty of might.

18.Soul they had not,                 sense they had not,
Heat nor motion,                nor goodly hue;
Soul gave Othin,                sense gave Hnir,
Heat gave Lothur                and goodly hue.

19.An ask I know,                 Yggdrasil its name,
With water white                is the great tree wet;
Thence come the dews        that fall in the dales,
Green by Urths well                does it ever grow.

20.Thence come the maidens        mighty in wisdom,
Three from the dwelling        down neath the tree;
Urth is one named,                Verthandi the next, -
On the wood they scored,-         and Skuld the third.
Laws they made there,         and life allotted
To the sons of men                and set their fates. (*)

21.The war I remember,                 the first in the world,
When the gods with spears        had smitten Gollveig,
And in the hall                of Hor had burned her,-
Three times burned,                 and three times born,
Oft and again,                        yet ever she lives. (*)

22.Heith they named her                who sought their home,
The wide-seeing witch,        in magic wise;
Minds she bewitched                that were moved by her magic,
To evil women                a joy she was. (*)

23.On the host his spear                did Othin hurl,
Then in the world                did war first come;
The wall that girdled                the gods was broken,
And the field by the warlike        Wanes was trodden.

24.The sought the gods                their assembly-seats,
The holy ones,                and council held,
Whether the gods                should tribute give,
Or to all alike                        should worship belong.

25.Then sought the gods                their assembly-seats,
The holy ones,                and council held,
To find who with venom        the air had filled,
Or had given Oths bride         to the giants brood.

26.In swelling rage                then rose up Thor,-
Seldom he sits                        when he such things hears,-
And the oaths were broken,        the words and bonds,
The mighty pledges                between them made.

27.I know of the horn                of Heimdall, hidden
Under the high-reaching        holy tree;
On it there pours                from Valfathers pledge
A mighty stream;                 would you know yet more? (*)

28.Alone I sat                        when the Old One sought me,
The terror of the gods,        and gazed in mine eyes:
What hast thou to ask?        why comest thou hither?
Othin, I know                        where thine eye is hidden. (*)

29.I know where Othins                eye is hidden,
Deep in the wide-famed        well of Mimir;
Mead from the pledge        of Othin each morn
Does Mimir drink:                would you know yet more? (*)

30.Necklaces had I                and rings from Heerfather,
Wise was my speech                and my magic wisdom;
Widely I saw                        over all the worlds. (*)

31.On all sides saw I                Valkyries assemble,
Ready to ride                        to the ranks of the gods;
Skuld bore the shield,                and Skogul rode next,
Guth, Hild, Gondul,                and Geirskogul.
Of Herjans maidens                the list have ye heard,
Valkyries ready                to ride oer the earth. (*)

32.I saw for Baldr,                the bleeding god,
The son of Othin,                his destiny set:
Famous and fair                in the lofty fields,
Full grown in strength        the mistletoe stood.

33.From the branch which seemed so slender and fair
Came a harmful shaft                that Hoth should hurl;
But the brother of Baldr        was born ere long,
And one night old                 fought Othins son. (*)

34.His hands he washed not,        his hair he combed not,
Till he bore to the bale-blaze        Baldrs foe.
But in Fensalir                did Frigg weep sore
For Valhalls need:                 would you know yet more? (*)

35.One did I see                        in the wet woods bound,
A lover of ill,                         and to Loki like;
By his side does Sigyn        sit, nor is glad
To see her mate:                 would you know yet more? (*)

36.From the east there pours        through poisoned vales
With swords and daggers        the river Slith>
-lacuna- frozen feilds         do run its course
-lacuna and never may man by oath it take (*)

37.Northward a hall                in Nithavellir
Of gold there rose                for Sindris race;
And in Okolnir                another stood,
Where the giant Brimir        his beer-hall had. (*)

38.A hall I saw,                         far from the sun,
On Nastrond it stands,        and the doors face north;
Venom drops                        through the smoke-vent down,
For around the walls                do serpents wind. (*)

39.I saw there wading                through rivers wild
Treacherous men                and murderers too,
And workers of ill                with the wives of men;
There Nithhogg sucked        the blood of the slain,
And the wolf tore men;         would you know yet more? (*)

40.The giantess old                 in Ironwood sat,
In the east, and bore                the brood of Fenrir;
Among these one                in monsters guise
Was soon to steal                the sun from the sky. (*)

41.There feeds he full                on the flesh of the dead,
And the home of the gods        he reddens with gore;
Dark grows the sun,                and in summer soon
Come mighty storms:                would you know yet more? (*)

42.On a hill there sat,                 and smote on his harp,
Eggther the joyous,                the giants warder;
Above him the cock                in the bird-wood crowed,
Fair and red                        did Fjalar stand.

43.Then to the gods                crowed Gollinkambi,
He wakes the heroes                in Othins hall;
And beneath the earth                does another crow,
The rust-red bird                at the bars of Hel. (*)

44.Now Garm howls loud         before Gnipahellir,
The fetters will burst,                and the wolf run free;
Much do I know,                and more can see
Of the fate of the gods,        the mighty in fight. (*)

45.Brothers shall fight                and fell each other,
And sisters sons                shall kinship stain;
Hard it is on earth,                with mighty whoredom;
Axe-time, sword-time,        shields are sundered,
Wind-time, wolf-time,        ere the world falls;
Nor ever shall men                each other spare. (*)

46.Fast moves the sons                of Min, and fate
Is heard in the note                of the Gjallarhorn;
Loud blows Heimdall,        the horn is aloft,
In fear quake all                who on Hel-roads are. (*)

47.Yggdrasil shakes,                and shiver on high
The ancient limbs,                and the giant is loose;
To the head of Mim                does Othin give heed,
But the kinsman of Surt        shall slay him soon.
How fare the gods?                how fare the elves?
All Jotunheim groans,                the gods are at council;
Loud roar the dwarfs                by the doors of stone,
The masters of the rocks;        would you know yet more? (*)

48.Now Garm howls loud        before Gnipahellir,
The fetters will burst,                and the wolf run free;
Much do I know,                and more can see
Of the fate of the gods,        the mighty in fight.

49.From the east comes Hrym        with sheild held high;
In giant-wrath                        does the serpent writhe;
Oer the waves he twists,        and the tawny eagle
Gnaws corpses screaming;        Naglfar is loose. (*)

50.Oer the sea from the north        there sails a ship
With the people of Hel,        at the helm stands Loki;
After the wolf                        do wild men follow,
And with them the brother         of Byleist goes. (*)

51.Surt fares from the south        with the scourge of branches,
The sun of the battle-gods        shone from his sword;
The crags are sundered,        the giant-women sink,
The dead throng Hel-way,        and heaven is cloven. (*)

52.Now comes Hlin                yet another hurt,
When Othin fares                to fight with the wolf,
And Belis slayer                seeks out Surt,
For there must fall                 the joy of Frigg. (*)

53.Then comes Sigfathers        mighty son,
Vithar, to fight                with the foaming wolf;
In the giants son                does he thrust his sword
Full to the heart:                his father is avenged. (*)

54.Hither there comes                the son of Hlothyn,
The bright snake gapes        to heaven above;
-lacuna- vith venom he fills both sea and air (*)

55.Against the serpent                goes Othins son. (*)

56.In anger smites                the warder of earth,-
Forth from their homes        must all men flee,-
Nine paces fares                the son of Fjorgyn,
And, slain by the serpent,        fearless he sinks. (*)

57.The sun turns black,                earth sinks in the sea,
The hot stars down                from heaven are whirled;
Fierce grows the steam        and the life-feeding flame,
Till fire leaps high                about heaven itself.

58.Now Garm howls loud        before Gnipahellir,
The fetters will burst,                and the wolf run free;
Much do I know,                and more can see
Of the fate of gods,                the mighty in fight. (*)

59.Now do I see                        the earth anew
Rise all green                        from the waves again;
The cataracts fall,                and the eagle flies,
And fish he catches                beneath the cliffs.

60.The gods in Ithavoll                meet together,
Of the terrible girdler                of earth they talk,
And the mighty past                they call to mind,
And the ancient runes                of the Ruler of Gods.

61.In wondrous beauty                once again
Shall the golden tables        stand mid the grass,
Which the gods had owned,        in days of old,
-lacuna- And played at tafle,         would ye know yet more? (*)

62.Then the feilds unsowed        bear ripened fruit,
All ills grow better,                and Baldr comes back;
Baldr and Hoth dwell                in Hropts battle-hall,
And the mighty gods:                would you know yet more?

63.Then Hnir wins                the prophetic wand,
-lacuna- and Baldr the word of his father said
And the sons of the brothers        of Tveggi abide
In Vindheim now:                would you know yet more? (*)

64.More fair than the sun,        a hall I see,
Roofed with gold,                on Gimle it stands;
There shall the righteous        rules dwell,
And happiness ever                there shall they have. (*)

65.There comes on high,                all power to hold,
A mighty lord,                all lands he rules.
-lacuna- rule he orders         an rights he fixes
-lacuna- laws he ordains         that ever shalt live (*)

66.From below the dragon        dark comes forth,
Nithhogg flying                from Nithafjoll;
The bodies of men                on his wings he bears,
The serpent bright:                 but now must I sink. (*)

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