Voluspa

Voluspa - The Prophecy of the Seeress
Translation by Henry Adams Bellows

  1. Hearing I ask      from the holy races,
    From Heimdall's 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 Bur's sons lifted      the level land,
    Mithgarth the mighty      there they made;
    The sun from the south      warmed the stones of 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 heaven's 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 they 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,
    Huge 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 Brimir's 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,--      now have I told--
    Regin and Rathsvith--      the list aright.
  13. Fili, Kili,      Fundin, Nali,
    Heptifili,      Hannar, Sviur,
    Frar, Hornbori,      Fræg and Loni,
    Aurvang, Jari,      Eikinskjaldi.
  14. The race of the dwarfs      in Dvalin's throng
    Down to Lofar      the list must I tell;
    The rocks they left,      and through wet lands
    They sought a home      in the fields 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 Hönir,
    Heat gave Lothur      and goodly hue.
  19. An ash I know,      Yggdrasil its name,
    With water white      is the great tree wet;
    Thence come the dews      that fall in the dales,
    Green by Urth's 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. Then 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 Oth's 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 Valfather's pledge
    A mighty stream:      would you know yet more?
  28. Alone I sat      when the Old One sought me,
    The terror of 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 Othin's      eye is hidden,
    Deep in the wide-famed      well of Mimir;
    Mead from the pledge      of Othin each mom
    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 Herjan's maidens      the list have ye heard,
    Valkyries ready      to ride o'er 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 Othin's son.
  34. His hands he washed not,      his hair he combed not,
    Till he bore to the bale-blaze      Baldr's foe.
    But in Fensalir      did Frigg weep sore
    For Valhall's 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.
    . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . .
  37. Northward a hall      in Nithavellir
    Of gold there rose      for Sindri's 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 monster's 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 Othin's 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 is it 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 move the sons      of Mim, 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.
  48. 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?
  49. 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.
  50. From the east comes Hrym      with shield held high;
    In giant-wrath      does the serpent writhe;
    O'er the waves he twists,      and the tawny eagle
    Gnaws corpses screaming;      Naglfar is loose.
  51. O'er 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.
  52. 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.
  53. Now comes to Hlin      yet another hurt,
    When Othin fares      to fight with the wolf,
    And Beli's fair slayer      seeks out Surt,
    For there must fall      the joy of Frigg.
  54. Then comes Sigfather's      mighty son,
    Vithar, to fight      with the foaming wolf;
    In the giant's son      does he thrust his sword
    Full to the heart:      his father is avenged.
  55. Hither there comes      the son of Hlothyn,
    The bright snake gapes      to heaven above;
    . . . . . . . . . .
    Against the serpent      goes Othin's 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 the 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 the days of old,
    . . . . . . . . . .
  62. Then fields unsowed      bear ripened fruit,
    All ills grow better,      and Baldr comes back;
    Baldr and Hoth dwell      in Hropt's battle-hall,
    And the mighty gods:      would you know yet more?
  63. Then Hönir wins      the prophetic wand,
    . . . . . . . . . .
    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      rulers dwell,
    And happiness ever      there shall they have.
  65. There comes on high,      all power to hold,
    A mighty lord,      all lands he rules.
    . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . .
  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.