Poems from the Codex Regius of the Poetic Edda (Gammel kongelig Samling 2365 4to)

Vǫluspá (Codex Regius)

Vǫluspá (Vsp.) ‘The Prophecy of the Seeress’ survives in two substantially different versions in R (fol. 1r–3r) and H (fol. 20r–21r), which are therefore presented separately in this edition. Additionally, many stanzas, apparently from a third version, are quoted in SnEGylf, a work for which the poem is a major source. The relationships between these versions are complex and hard to define, but probably involve both oral and scribal transmission and their associated types of textual variation.

The poem, composed in fornyrðislag, is spoken by a seeress in the first and third persons, an enigmatic alternation perhaps suggestive of a trance-like state. She possibly speaks following payment by the god Óðinn, who, along with humankind (and maybe other sentient beings), forms her audience. Her speech, which, in the opinion of some scholars shows the influence of the pseudo-sibylline oracles of early medieval Christian tradition, is ambitious in scope: it spans the formation, corruption and destruction of the universe and its inhabitants (gods, giants, humans, dwarves and heavenly bodies), followed by its rebirth in purity—a sequence paralleled in the mythologies of other cultures. Her speech is also rich in imagery, densely allusive and temporally complex. Together, these attributes make Vsp. a challenging but highly rewarding poem to interpret, one that has stimulated a wealth of (sometimes conflicting) scholarly commentary. Interpretation of Vsp. requires considerable knowledge of Old Norse mythology, for which we are largely dependent on Snorri’s interpretation of the poem in SnEGylf, which, however, should not be assumed to be wholly correct, complete or unbiased. It also demands appreciation of the distinct possibility that aspects of the poem have been influenced by Christian apocalyptic traditions.

Where, when and by whom Vsp. was composed is uncertain, as is the case for all the poems in this book. However, Iceland in the years leading up to or following its conversion to Christianity in 999/1000 has often been favoured. This is partly due to numerous passages suggestive of the influence of the new religion, such as the punishment of oath-breakers, murderers and adulterers in Vsp. 37–38, reminiscent of the fate of sinners in Revelation 21:8, the darkening of the sun and moon and the disappearance of the stars in Vsp. 54–55, similar to Mark 13:24–25; and the penultimate stanza of H’s version (absent from R’s), which may allude to the coming of the Christian God on Doomsday, as in Mark 13:26. An Icelandic origin might be indicated by the reddening of the gods’ dwellings and the darkening of the sun during the summers preceding Ragnarok (Vsp. 40), which could refer to the visible effects of ash clouds over Iceland, an actively volcanic country. If the opening words of Vsp. 55 (Sól tér sortna, sígr fold í mar ‘Sun turns black, earth sinks into sea’) echo in the opening of st. 24 of Þorfinnsdrápa ‘Þorfinnr’s Poem’ (Bjǫrt verðr sól at svartri, søkkr fold í mar døkkvan ‘The bright sun will turn to black, earth sink into the dark sea’), composed by the Christian Icelander Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld, perhaps in c. 1065, we may have a rough terminus ante quem for Vsp.1

The poem’s most compelling, and rather early, parallel comes not from Iceland, however, but from a northern English churchyard in what was once an Anglo-Norse context. In the grounds of the parish church of St. Mary’s, Gosforth, Cumbria, stands a stone cross dating from the first half of the tenth century. In addition to a Crucifixion scene, its sides are carved with scenes highly suggestive of Ragnarok, including likely depictions of Heimdallr with his horn (cf. Vsp. 45); Loki’s captivity and attendance by Sigyn (34); the wolf’s escape from its bonds (43); and a version of Víðarr’s killing of the wolf which devoured Óðinn (53). It seems very likely that poetry such as Vsp. inspired much of the carving on this unique monument.


A seeress requests an audience and announces that the god Óðinn wants her to recount her earliest memories (1). She tells of giants who fostered her, nine worlds, a glorious tree (the world-tree, Yggdrasill) beneath the ground (2), and Ymir, a giant who lived when there was otherwise only a void (3). She recalls how the sons of Burr (Óðinn, Vili and Vé) raised up earth (4), and mentions the young sun, stars and moon, before they had established their places (5).

The gods, she says, then named night and day (6). They built a temple and an altar, and made treasures and tools (7). They happily played board games and knew no want of gold, until three giantesses arrived (8). Then the gods assembled to decide about the creation of a dwarf-lord (9). There follow lists of dwarf-names, headed by Mótsognir and Durinn (at least some of this material is probably interpolated) (10–16).

The seeress then recalls the discovery on a shore of the inanimate forms of Askr and Embla, the first man and woman (17), which three gods, Óðinn, Hœnir and Lóðurr, animated (18). Her memories then return to Yggdrasill, now standing tall above a spring (19), from which came three maidens (the Nornir, effectively the Northern Fates) who inscribed the destinies of humans on wood (20).

Next the seeress, who apparently refers to herself in the third person, recalls the world’s first war. It may have been caused when an itinerant sorceress called Gullveig (possibly also known as Heiðr), who was possibly associated with the divine tribe called the Vanir, was suspended on spearpoints and burnt three times in the hall of Hárr (Óðinn), in an unsuccessful attempt to kill her (21–22). Having deliberated on their best course of action (23), the Æsir (the tribe of gods led by Óðinn) fought the Vanir, with Óðinn casting the first shot, but the Vanir broke into the Æsir’s stronghold (24).

The war apparently having ended with the two sides reconciled and combined, the new collective of deities asked who had given the goddess Freyja to the giants (25). In response, the god Þórr broke oaths, probably by killing a giant builder to whom the gods had promised Freyja as payment for his work (26).

The seeress’s thoughts turn to the god Heimdallr, whose hearing is hidden beneath Yggdrasill, and to Óðinn’s sacrifice of an eye in return for wisdom (27). She relates how she once sat alone outside and was visited by Óðinn, who gazed into her eyes. She asks why he questions her (or, less likely, he asks why she questions him), and then declares that she knows everything, including how he hid his eye in the spring of Mímir (a figure of wisdom), from which Mímir drinks mead each morning (28). Óðinn, we learn, then gave her treasures (probably as payment for the recitation of this poem), and she continues her vision (29).

Valkyries are her next topic (30). Following a list of their names and references to their riding there come, at the centre of the poem, four stanzas describing the death of Baldr, son of Óðinn and his wife, Frigg. This came about by a spear of mistletoe cast by the god Hǫðr, a deed for which the trickster-god Loki was deemed responsible and taken captive (31–34).

After referring to a river filled with swords and knives (35), a hall of the dwarves, and the hall of a giant (36), the seeress describes an ominous hall of snakes, where perjurers and adulterers suffered, where the dragon Niðhǫggr sucked corpses and a wolf tore men’s flesh (37–38). The seeress stays on the topic of wolves in describing their birth to ‘the old one’ in the forest of Járnviðr and prophesying that one of them, in troll-form, will (arguably) assault the sun on behalf of the moon (39), perhaps as a result of which subsequent summers will be dark and all weather treacherous (40). These signs herald Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse, other indications of which the seeress describes in following stanzas.

She describes the giant Eggþér playing his harp, cockerels crowing and the waking of Óðinn’s chosen warriors (41–42), before prophesying that the howling wolf (Garmr/Fenrir) will break free of its bonds (43). Kinsmen, she predicts, will kill each other before the world ends (44). She goes on to say that giants play, the god Heimdallr blows his horn, and Óðinn consults the head of Mímr (Mímir) in search of knowledge (45). Yggdrasill groans and shakes, and the giant (Garmr/Fenrir or Loki) breaks loose (46). Garmr/Fenrir howls and will break free (47). The giant Hrymr journeys from the east, the snake of Miðgarðr writhes, an eagle shrieks, and Naglfar (a ship?) breaks loose (48). A ship (Naglfar?) journeys from the east, bearing the giants, Loki and the wolf (49). The gods take council, the land of giants roars and dwarves groan (50). The fire-demon Surtr arrives, probably with a radiant, fiery sword, cliffs collapse, witches wander, humans travel to Hel, the underworld of the dead, and the sky splits (51). Óðinn dies fighting the wolf, and Freyr dies fighting Surtr (52). Víðarr, Óðinn’s son, avenges his father (53). Þórr (mortally wounded?) steps away from the snake of Miðgarðr (54). The sun turns black, the earth sinks into the sea, the stars disappear, and flame rages against the sky (55). The seeress’s vision of Ragnarok concludes with a further reference to the wolf breaking free (56).

Next the seeress sees the green earth rising from the sea again (57). The surviving gods talk about the world-serpent and Óðinn’s runes (58). They will recover their lost gaming pieces (59), fields will grow green without being sown, all evil will be remedied, and Hǫðr and Baldr will return from the dead to inhabit Óðinn’s halls (60). Hœnir draws lots, and the sons of two brothers (Baldr and Hǫðr?) inhabit the world (61). She also sees a gleaming hall, located on Gimlé, where honourable people shall live happily forever (62). Her final image is of a flying Niðhǫggr carrying corpses to Gimlé, after which she says she will sink (63).

Further Reading

Abram, C., Evergreen Ash: Ecology and Catastrophe in Old Norse Myth and Literature (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2019), https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvbcd06q

Bailey, R. N., and R. Cramp, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, Volume II: Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North-of-the-Sands (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988) [includes the Gosforth Cross].

Bek-Pedersen, K., The Norns in Old Norse Mythology (Edinburgh: Dunedin, 2011).

Bugge, S., The Home of the Eddic Poems with Especial Reference to the Helgi-Lays, rev. edn (London: D. Nutt, 1899).

Dronke, U., ‘Völuspá and Satiric Tradition’, Annali dell’ Universitario Orientale, Napoli, Sezione Germanica 22 (1979), 57–86.

Dronke, U., ‘The War of the Æsir and Vanir in Vǫluspá’, in G. W. Weber, ed., Idee, Gestalt, Geschichte. Festschrift Klaus von See. Studien zur europäischen Kulturtradition. Studies in European Cultural Tradition (Odense: Odense University Press, 1988), pp. 223–38.

Dronke, U., ‘Völuspá and Sibylline Traditions’, in R. North and T. Hofstra, ed., Latin Culture and Medieval Germanic Europe (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1992), pp. 3–23.

Dronke, U., ed., The Poetic Edda: Volume II. Mythological Poems (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997).

Eiríkur Jónsson and Finnur Jónsson, ed., Hauksbók udgiven efter de Arnamagnæanske håndskrifter no. 371, 544 og 675, 4o samt forskellige papirshåndskrifter af Det kongelige nordiske Oldskriftselskab, 3 vols. (Copenhagen: Thieles, 1892–96), I, 188–92.

Ellis, H. R., The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1943).

Elmevik, L., ‘Yggdrasill: en etymologisk studie’, Scripta Islandica 58 (2007), 75–84 [with English summary].

Gardela, L., S. Bønding and P. Pentz, ed., The Norse Seeress: Mind and Materiality in the Viking World (Oxford: Oxbow Books [forthcoming in 2023]).

Gunnell, T., and A. Lassen, ed., The Nordic Apocalypse: Approaches to Vǫluspá and Nordic Days of Judgement (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013).

Haukur Þorgeirsson, ‘In Defence of Emendation. The Editing of Vǫluspá’, Saga-Book 44 (2020), 31–56.

Hermann Pálsson, ed., Vǫluspá: The Sybil’s Prophecy (Edinburgh: Lockharton Press, 1996).

Holmberg, P., B. Gräslund, O. Sundqvist and H. Williams, ‘The Rök Runestone and the End of the World’, Futhark: International Journal of Runic Studies 9–10 (2018–19), 7–38, https://doi.org/10.33063/diva-401040

Holmberg, P., ‘Rök Runestone Riddles Revisited’, Maal og Minne 112 (2020), 37–55.

Hultgård, A., ‘The Askr and Embla Myth in a Comparative Perspective’, in A. Andrén, K. Jennbert and C. Raudvere, ed., Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes, and Interactions: An International Conference in Lund, Sweden, June 3–7, 2004 (Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2006), pp. 58–62.

Hultgård, A., The End of the World in Scandinavian Mythology: A Comparative Perspective on Ragnarök (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022).

Jochens, J., Old Norse Images of Women (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996).

Jón Helgason, ed., Eddadigte, 3 vols. (Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard, 1951–52), I.

Jón Helgason, Hauksbók: The Arna-Magnæan Manuscripts 371, 4to, 544, 4to, and 675, 4to (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1960).

Horst, S., Merlin und die ‘völva’: Weissagungen im Altnordischen (Munich: Herbert Utz Verlag, 2010).

Kaplan, M., ‘Vaxinn vǫllum hæri: Making Sense of mistilteinn in Vǫluspá 31–32’, in A. M. V. Nordvig and L. H. Torfing, ed., The 15th International Saga Conference: Sagas and the Use of the Past 5th–11th August 2012, Aarhus University: Preprint of Abstracts (Aarhus: Aarhus University, 2012), p. 175.

Kuusela, T., ‘Halls, Gods, and Giants: The Enigma of Gullveig in Óðinn’s Hall’, in K. Wikström af Edholm, P. Jackson Rova, A. Nordberg, O. Sundqvist and T. Zachrisson, ed., Myth, Materiality, and Lived Religion in Merovingian and Viking Scandinavia (Stockholm: Stockholm University Press, 2019), pp. 25–53 (with response by E. Heide on pp. 54–57), https://doi.org/10.16993/bay.c

Lassen, A., Odin’s Ways: A Guide to the Pagan God in Medieval Literature (New York: Routledge, 2022).

Lisboa, M. M., The End of the World: Apocalypse and its Aftermath in Western Culture (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2011), https://doi.org/10.11647/obp.0015

Løkka, N., ‘Þing goða—the Mythological Assembly Site’, Journal of the North Atlantic sp5 (2013), 18–27, https://doi.org/10.3721/037.002.sp508

Lönnroth, L., ‘Iǫrð fannz æva né uphiminn. A Formula Analysis’, in U. Dronke, Guðrún P. Helgadóttir, G. W. Weber and H. Bekker-Nielsen, ed., Speculum Norrœnum: Norse Studies in Memory of Gabriel Turville-Petre (Odense: Odense University Press, 1981), pp. 310–27.

Lönnroth, L., ‘The Founding of Miðgarðr (Vǫluspá 1-8)’, in P. Acker and C. Larrington, ed., The Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Mythology (New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 1–25.

Maček, D., ‘Some Notes on Snorri’s Interpretation of the Vǫluspá’, in Ásdís Egilsdóttur and R. Simek, ed., Sagnaheimur: Studies in Honour of Hermann Pálsson on his 80th Birthday, 26th May 2001 (Vienna: Fassbaender, 2001), pp. 149–57.

Martin, J. S., Ragnarok: An Investigation into Old Norse Concepts of the Fate of the Gods (Assen: Van Gorcum and Co., 1972).

Martin, J. S., ‘Ár vas alda. Ancient Scandinavian Creation Myths Reconsidered’, in U. Dronke, Guðrún P. Helgadóttir, G. W. Weber and H. Bekker-Nielsen, ed., Speculum Norrœnum: Norse Studies in Memory of Gabriel Turville-Petre (Odense: Odense University Press, 1981), pp. 357–69.

McGinn, B., Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).

McKinnell, J., ‘Eddic Poetry in Anglo-Scandinavian Northern England’, in J. Graham-Campbell., R. Hall, J. Jesch and D. N. Parsons, ed., Vikings and the Danelaw: Select Papers from the Proceedings of the Thirteenth Viking Congress, Nottingham and York, 21–30 August 1997 (Oxford: Oxbow, 2001), pp. 327–44.

McKinnell, J., ‘On Heiðr’, Saga-Book 25 (2001), 394–417; also revised as ‘On Heiðr and Gullveig’, in his Essays on Eddic Poetry, ed. D. Kick and J. D. Shafer (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2014), pp. 34–58, https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442669260-004

McKinnell, J., ‘Vǫluspá and the Feast of Easter’, alvíssmál 13 (2008), 3–28; also in his Essays on Eddic Poetry, ed. D. Kick and J. D. Shafer (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2014), pp. 3–33, https://doi.org/10.3138/9781442669260-003

Mundal, E., ‘Austr sat in aldna... Giantesses and Female Powers in Vǫluspá’, in R. Simek and W. Heizmann, ed., Mythological Women: Studies in Memory of Lotte Motz (1922–1997) (Vienna: Fassbaender, 2002), pp. 185–95.

Mundal, E., ‘Oral or Scribal Variation in Vǫluspá: A Case Study in Old Norse Poetry’, in E. Mundal and J. Wellendorf, ed., Oral Art Forms and their Passage into Writing (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum, 2008), pp. 209–27.

Oosten, J. G., The War of the Gods: The Social Code in Indo-European Mythology (London: Routledge, 1985).

Pettit, E., The Waning Sword: Conversion Imagery and Celestial Myth in ‘Beowulf’ (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2020), https://doi.org/10.11647/obp.0190

Price, N., The Viking Way: Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia (Oxford: Oxbow, 2019), https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvhhhgz3.16  

Quinn, J. E., ‘Vǫluspá in Twentieth-Century Scholarship in English’, in G. Barnes, M. Clunies Ross and J. Quinn, ed., Old Norse Studies in the New World (Sydney: University of Sydney, 1994), pp. 120–37.

Quinn, J. E., ‘Editing the Edda — the Case of Völuspá’, Scripta Islandica 51 (2001), 69–92.

Quinn, J. [E.], ‘Dialogue with a vǫlva: Vǫluspá, Baldrs draumar and Hyndluljóð’, in P. Acker and C. Larrington, ed., The Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Mythology (New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 245–74.

Samplonius, K., ‘Imago Dei in Vǫluspá?’, ANF 118 (2003), 77–87.

Schach, P., ‘Some Thoughts on Völuspá’, in R. J. Glendinning and Haraldur Bessason, ed., Edda: A Collection of Essays (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1983), pp. 86–116.

Sigurður Nordal, ‘Three Essays on Völuspá’, Saga-Book 18 (1970–73), 79–135.

Sigurður Nordal, ed., Vǫluspá (Durham: University of Durham, 1978; corr. rpt. 1982).

Sigurður Nordal, ‘The Author of Völuspá’, Saga-Book 20 (1978–81), 114–30.

Steinsland, G., ‘The Fantastic Future and the Norse Sibyl of Vǫluspá’, in J. McKinnell; D. Ashurst and D. Kick, ed., The Fantastic in Old Norse/Icelandic Literature: Sagas and the British Isles: Preprint Papers of the Thirteenth International Saga Conference, Durham and York, 6th–12th August, 2006 (Durham: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006), pp. 918–25.

Terry, M. S., trans., The Sybilline Oracles (New York: Hunt and Eaton, 1890).

Von See, K., B. La Farge and K. Schulz, Kommentar zu den Liedern der Edda, Bd. 1: Götterlieder, I–II (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2019).

Winterbourne, A., When the Norns Have Spoken: Time and Fate in Germanic Paganism (Madison, WI: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004).

Würth, S., ‘The Role of Vǫluspá in the Perception of Ragnarǫk in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature’, in M. Clunies Ross, ed., Old Norse Myths, Literature and Society ([Odense]: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2003), pp. 217–33.


1. ‘Hljóðs bið ek   allar kindir,

meiri ok minni,   mǫgu Heimdallar!

Vildu at ek, Valfǫðr,   vel fyrtelja

forn spjǫll fira,   þau er fremst um man.

2. ‘Ek man jǫtna,   ár um borna,

þá er forðum mik   fœdda hǫfðu;

níu man ek heima,   níu íviðjur,

mjǫtvið mæran,   fyr mold neðan.

3. ‘Ár var alda,   þar er Ymir bygði;

vara sandr né sær   né svalar unnir;

jǫrð fannsk æva   né upphiminn,

gap var ginnunga,   en gras hvergi.

4. ‘Áðr Burs synir   bjǫðum um ypðu,

þeir er Miðgarð   mæran skópu;

Sól skein sunnan   á salar steina,

þá var grund gróin   grœnum lauki.

5. ‘Sól varp sunnan,   sinni Mána,

hendi inni hœgri   um himinjódýr;

Sól þat né vissi   hvar hon sali átti,

stjǫrnur þat né vissu   hvar þær staði áttu,

Máni þat né vissi   hvat hann megins átti.

6. ‘Þá gengu regin ǫll   á rǫkstóla,

ginnheilǫg goð,   ok um þat gættusk:

nótt ok niðjum   nǫfn um gáfu,

morgin hétu   ok miðjan dag,

undorn ok aptan,   árum at telja.

7. ‘Hittusk Æsir   á Iðavelli,

þeir er hǫrg ok hof   hátimbruðu;

afla lǫgðu,   auð smíðuðu,

tangir skópu   ok tól gørðu.

8. ‘Teflðu í túni,   teitir váru,

var þeim vættergis   vant ór gulli,

unz þrjár kvómu   þursa meyjar,

ámátkar mjǫk,   ór Jǫtunheimum.

9. ‘Þá gengu regin ǫll   á rǫkstóla,

ginnheilǫg goð,   ok um þat gættusk,

hverr skyldi dverga   dróttin skepja

ór Brimis blóði   ok ór blám leggjum.

10. ‘Þar var Mótsognir   mæztr um orðinn

dverga allra,   en Durinn annarr;

þeir manlíkun   mǫrg um gørðu,

dvergar, ór jǫrðu,   sem Durinn sagði.

11. ‘Nýi ok Niði,   Norðri ok Suðri,

Austri ok Vestri,   Alþjófr, Dvalinn,

Bívǫrr, Bávǫrr,   Bǫmburr, Nóri,

Án ok Ánarr,   Ái, Mjǫðvitnir,

12. ‘Veigr ok Gandálfr,   Vindálfr, Þráinn,

Þekkr ok Þorinn,   Þrór, Vitr ok Litr,

Nár ok Nýráðr   — nú hefi ek dverga —

Reginn ok Ráðsviðr —   rétt um talða.

13. ‘Fíli, Kíli,   Fundinn, Náli,

Hepti, Víli,   Hánarr, Svíurr,

Frár, Hornbori,   Frægr ok Lóni,

Aurvangr, Jari,   Eikinskjaldi.

14. ‘Mál er dverga   í Dvalins liði

ljóna kindum   til Lofars telja:

þeir er sóttu   frá Salarsteini

Aurvanga sjǫt   til Jǫruvalla.

15. ‘Þar var Draupnir   ok Dólgþrasir,

Hár, Haugspori,   Hlévangr, Glói,

Skirvir, Virvir,   Skáfiðr, Ái,

16. ‘Álfr ok Yngvi,   Eikinskjaldi,

Fjalarr ok Frosti,   Finnr ok Ginnarr;

þat mun uppi,   meðan ǫld lifir,

langniðja tal   Lofars hafat.

17. ‘Unz þrír kvómu   ór því liði,

ǫflgir ok ástgir,   Æsir, at húsi;

fundu á landi,   lítt megandi,

Ask ok Emblu,   ørlǫglausa.

18. ‘Ǫnd þau né áttu,   óð þau né hǫfðu,

né læti   né litu góða;

ǫnd gaf Óðinn,   óð gaf Hœnir,

lá gaf Lóðurr   ok litu góða.

19. ‘Ask veit ek standa,   heitir Yggdrasill,

hár baðmr ausinn   hvíta auri;

þaðan koma dǫggvar,   þærs í dala falla,

stendr æ yfir grœnn   Urðar brunni.

20. ‘Þaðan koma meyjar,   margs vitandi,

þrjár, ór þeim sæ   er und þolli stendr;

Urð hétu eina,   aðra Verðandi —

skáru á skíði —   Skuld ina þriðju;

þær lǫg lǫgðu,   þær líf kuru

alda bǫrnum,   ørlǫg seggja.

21. ‘Þat man hon fólkvíg   fyrst í heimi,

er Gullveigu   geirum studdu,

ok í hǫll Hárs   hana brendu;

þrysvar brendu   þrysvar borna,

opt, ósjaldan,   þó hon enn lifir.

22. ‘Heiði hana hétu,   hvars til húsa kom,

vǫlu velspá,   vitti hon ganda;

seið hon kunni,   seið hon leikin,

æ var hon angan   illrar brúðar.

23. ‘Þá gengu regin ǫll   á rǫkstóla,

ginnheilǫg goð,   ok um þat gættusk,

hvárt skyldu Æsir   afráð gjalda

eða skyldu goðin ǫll   gildi eiga.

24. ‘Fleygði Óðinn   ok í fólk um skaut —

þat var enn fólkvíg   fyrst í heimi;

brotinn var borðvegr   borgar Ása,

knáttu Vanir vígspá   vǫllu sporna.

25. ‘Þá gengu regin ǫll   á rǫkstóla,

ginnheilǫg goð,   ok um þat gættusk:

hverr hefði lopt allt   lævi blandit

eða ætt jǫtuns   Óðs mey gefna.

26. ‘Þórr einn þar var,   þrunginn móði,

hann sjaldan sitr   er hann slíkt um fregn;

á gengusk eiðar,   orð ok sœri,

mál ǫll meginlig   er á meðal fóru.

27. ‘Veit hon Heimdallar   hljóð um fólgit

undir heiðvǫnum   helgum baðmi;

á sér hon ausask   aurgum forsi

af veði Valfǫðrs.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

28. ‘Ein sat hon úti,   þá er inn aldni kom,

Yggjungr Ása,   ok í augu leit:

“Hvers fregnið mik?   Hví freistið mín?

Allt veit ek, Óðinn,   hvar þú auga falt,

í inum mæra   Mímis brunni;

drekkr mjǫð Mímir   morgin hverjan

af veði Valfǫðrs!”   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

29. ‘Valði henni Herfǫðr   hringa ok men,

fé, spjǫll spaklig   ok spáganda;

sá hon vítt ok um vítt   of verǫld hverja.

30. ‘Sá hon valkyrjur,   vítt um komnar,

gǫrvar at ríða   til goðþjóðar;

Skuld helt skildi,   en Skǫgul ǫnnur,

Gunnr, Hildr, Gǫndul   ok Geirskǫgul;

nú eru talðar   nǫnnur Herjans,

gǫrvar at ríða   grund, valkyrjur.

31. ‘Ek sá Baldri,   blóðgum tívur,

Óðins barni,   ørlǫg fólgin;

stóð um vaxinn,   vǫllum hæri,

mjór ok mjǫk fagr,   mistilteinn.

32. ‘Varð af þeim meiði,   er mær sýndisk,

harmflaug hættlig;   Hǫðr nam skjóta;

Baldrs bróðir var   of borinn snemma,

sá nam Óðins sonr   einnættr vega.

33. ‘Þó hann æva hendr   né hǫfuð kembði,

áðr á bál um bar   Baldrs andskota;

en Frigg um grét   í Fensǫlum

vá Valhallar.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

34. ‘Hapt sá hon liggja   undir Hveralundi,

lægjarns líki   Loka áþekkjan;

þar sitr Sigyn,   þeygi um sínum

ver velglýjuð.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

35. ‘Á fellr austan   um eitrdala,

sǫxum ok sverðum,   Slíðr heitir sú.

36. ‘Stóð fyr norðan   á Niðavǫllum

salr ór gulli   Sindra ættar;

en annarr stóð   á Ókólni,

bjórsalr jǫtuns,   en sá Brimir heitir.

37. ‘Sal sá hon standa   sólu fjarri,

Nástrǫndu á,   norðr horfa dyrr;

fellu eitrdropar   inn um ljóra,

sá er undinn salr   orma hryggjum.

38. ‘Sá hon þar vaða   þunga strauma

menn meinsvara   ok morðvarga,

ok þanns annars glepr   eyrarúnu;

þar saug Niðhǫggr   nái framgengna,

sleit vargr vera.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

39. ‘Austr sat in aldna   í Járnviði

ok fœddi þar   Fenris kindir;

verðr af þeim ǫllum   einna nǫkkurr

tungls tjúgari   í trolls hami.

40. ‘Fyllisk fjǫrvi   feigra manna,

rýðr ragna sjǫt   rauðum dreyra;

svǫrt var ða sólskin   of sumur eptir,

veðr ǫll válynd.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

41. ‘Sat þar á haugi   ok sló hǫrpu

gýgjar hirðir,   glaðr Eggþér;

gól um honum   í gaglviði

fagrrauðr hani,   sá er Fjalarr heitir.

42. ‘Gól um Ásum   Gullinkambi,

sá vekr hǫlða   at Herjafǫðrs;

en annarr gelr   fyr jǫrð neðan,

sótrauðr hani,   at sǫlum Heljar.

43. ‘Geyr Garmr mjǫk   fyr Gnipahelli,

festr mun slitna   en freki renna;

fjǫlð veit hon frœða,   fram sé ek lengra,

um ragna rǫk   rǫmm, sigtíva.

44. ‘Brœðr munu berjask   ok at bǫnum verða,

munu systrungar   sifjum spilla;

hart er í heimi,   hórdómr mikill;

skeggǫld, skálmǫld   — skildir ru klofnir —

vindǫld, vargǫld,   áðr verǫld steypisk;

mun engi maðr   ǫðrum þyrma.

45. ‘Leika Míms synir,   en mjǫtuðr kyndisk

at inu galla   Gjallarhorni;

hátt blæss Heimdallr   — horn er á lopti —

mælir Óðinn   við Míms hǫfuð.

46. ‘Ymr it aldna tré,   en jǫtunn losnar;

skelfr Yggdrasils   askr standandi.

47. ‘Geyr nú Garmr mjǫk   fyr Gnipahelli,

festr mun slitna   en freki renna;

fjǫlð veit hon frœða,   fram sé ek lengra,

um ragna rǫk   rǫmm, sigtíva.

48. ‘Hrymr ekr austan,   hefisk lind fyrir,

snýsk Jǫrmungandr   í jǫtunmóði,

ormr knýr unnir,   en ari hlakkar,

slítr nái neffǫlr,   Naglfar losnar.

49. ‘Kjóll ferr austan,   koma munu Muspells

um lǫg lýðir,   en Loki stýrir;

fara fífls megir   með freka allir,

þeim er bróðir   Býleipts í fǫr.

50. ‘Hvat er með Ásum?   Hvat er með álfum?

Gnýr allr Jǫtunheimr,   Æsir ru á þingi;

stynja dvergar   fyr steindurum,

veggbergs vísir.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

51. ‘Surtr ferr sunnan   með sviga lævi,

skínn af sverði   sól valtíva;

grjótbjǫrg gnata   en gífr rata,

troða halir Helveg,   en himinn klofnar.

52. ‘Þá kømr Hlínar   harmr annarr fram,

er Óðinn ferr   við úlf vega,

en bani Belja   bjartr at Surti;

þá mun Friggjar   falla Angantýr.

53. ‘Þá kømr inn mikli   mǫgr Sigfǫður,

Víðarr, vega   at valdýri;

lætr hann megi Hveðrungs   mund um standa

hjǫr til hjarta;   þá er hefnt fǫður.

54. ‘Þá kømr inn mæri   mǫgr Hlóðynjar,

gengr Óðins sonr   við úlf vega;

drepr hann af móði   Miðgarðs véur;

munu halir allir   heimstǫð ryðja;

gengr fet níu   Fjǫrgynjar burr,

neppr, frá naðri   niðs ókvíðnum.

55. ‘Sól tér sortna,   sígr fold í mar,

hverfa af himni   heiðar stjǫrnur;

geisar eimi   við aldnara,

leikr hár hiti   við himin sjálfan.

56. ‘Geyr nú Garmr mjǫk   fyr Gnipahelli,

festr mun slitna   en freki renna;

fjǫlð veit hon frœða,   fram sé ek lengra,

um ragna rǫk   rǫmm, sigtíva.

57. ‘Sér hon upp koma   ǫðru sinni

jǫrð ór ægi,   iðjagrœna;

falla forsar,   flýgr ǫrn yfir,

sá er á fjalli   fiska veiðir.

58. ‘Finnask Æsir   á Iðavelli

ok um moldþinur   mátkan dœma,

ok á Fimbultýs   fornar rúnar.

59. ‘Þar munu eptir   undrsamligar

gullnar tǫflur   í grasi finnask,

þærs í árdaga   áttar hǫfðu.

60. ‘Munu ósánir   akrar vaxa,

bǫls mun alls batna;   Baldr mun koma;

búa þeir Hǫðr ok Baldr   Hropts sigtóptir,

vel, valtívar.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

61. ‘Þá kná Hœnir   hlautvið kjósa,

ok burir byggja   brœðra tveggja

vindheim víðan.   Vituð ér enn, eða hvat?

62. ‘Sal sér hon standa,   sólu fegra,

gulli þakðan,   á Gimlé;

þar skulu dyggvar   dróttir byggja

ok um aldrdaga   ynðis njóta.

63. ‘Þar kømr inn dimmi   dreki fljúgandi,

naðr fránn, neðan   frá Niðafjǫllum;

berr sér í fjǫðrum   — flýgr vǫll yfir —

Niðhǫggr, nái.   Nú mun hon søkkvask.’

The Prophecy of the Seeress

1. ‘A hearing I ask from all kindreds,2

greater and lesser, the sons of Heimdallr!3

You wish,4 Valfǫðr,5 that I well recount

ancient tales of the living, those which I recall from longest ago.6

2. ‘I recall giants, born of old,

those who formerly had fostered me;7

nine worlds I recall, nine wood-dwelling women(?),8

the glorious measure-tree,9 beneath the ground.10

3. ‘It was early in ages11 when Ymir lived;12

there was neither sand13 nor sea nor cool waves;

no earth existed at all, nor sky above,14

a gap of gaping abysses(?),15 and grass nowhere.

4. ‘Before16 the sons of Burr lifted up lands,17

they who gave shape to glorious Miðgarðr;18

the sun shone from the south on the hall’s stones,19

then the ground was overgrown with green leek.20

5. ‘Sól, companion of Máni,21 cast from the south

her right hand22 over the sky-horse-deer(?);23

Sól did not know where she had halls,

stars did not know where they had stations,

Máni did not know what might he had.24

6. ‘Then all the great powers, the most holy gods,

went to their doom-seats,25 and deliberated about it:

they gave names to night and its kindred,

called them morning and midday,

afternoon and evening, to count the years.26

7.27 ‘The Æsir met on Iðavǫllr,28

they who erected an altar and a temple high;29

they set up forges, fashioned treasure,

shaped tongs and made tools.

8. ‘They played at tables30 in the meadow,31 were merry,

there was for them no whit of a want of gold;

until three maidens of giants came,32

immensely mighty, from Jǫtunheimar.33

9. ‘Then all the great powers, the most holy gods,

went to their doom-seats and deliberated about it:

who34 should devise35 the lord of dwarves36

from Brimir’s blood and from blue limbs.37

10. ‘There Mótsognir38 was made39 greatest

of all dwarves, and Durinn40 second;

they made many man-shapes,41

[these] dwarves, from earth,42 as Durinn said.43

11. ‘Nýi and Niði,44 Norðri and Suðri,45

Austri and Vestri,46 Alþjófr,47 Dvalinn,48

Bívǫrr,49 Bávǫrr, Bǫmburr,50 Nóri,51

Án52 and Ánarr,53 Ái,54 Mjǫðvitnir,55

12. ‘Veigr56 and Gandálfr,57 Vindálfr,58 Þráinn,59

Þekkr60 and Þorinn,61 Þrór,62 Vitr63 and Litr,64

Nár65 and Nýráðr66 — now I have enumerated —

Reginn67 and Ráðsviðr68 — the dwarves rightly.

13. ‘Fíli,69 Kíli,70 Fundinn,71 Náli,72

Hepti,73 Víli,74 Hánarr,75 Svíurr,76

Frár,77 Hornbori,78 Frægr79 and Lóni,80

Aurvangr,81 Jari,82 Eikinskjaldi.83

14. ‘It’s time to count the dwarves in Dvalinn’s company84

for the descendants of men85 — down to Lofarr:86

they who set out from Salarsteinn87

for the dwellings of Aurvangar at Jǫruvellir.88

15. ‘There was Draupnir89 and Dólgþrasir,90

Hár,91 Haugspori,92 Hlévangr,93 Glói,94

Skirvir,95 Virvir,96 Skáfiðr,97 Ái,98

16. ‘Álfr99 and Yngvi,100 Eikinskjaldi,101

Fjalarr102 and Frosti,103 Finnr104 and Ginnarr;105

that will be remembered as long as the world lasts,106

the long list of Lofarr’s forefathers.

17. ‘Until three came from that company,107

strong and kind, Æsir, to a house;108

they found on the shore,109 with little strength,

Askr and Embla, lacking fate.110

18. ‘They111 possessed no breath, they had no inspiration,112

no locks113 or voice114 or good colours;115

Óðinn gave breath,116 Hœnir gave inspiration,117

Lóðurr118 gave locks and good colours.119

19.120 ‘I know a standing ash, it’s called Yggdrasill,121

a tall tree doused with white mud;122

from there come dews, those that fall in dales;123

it always stands, green, above Urðr’s spring. 124

20. ‘From there come maidens, knowing many things,

three [maidens], from the sea which stands under the tree;125

one was called126 Urðr, the second Verðandi,

— they inscribed on a stick127 — the third Skuld;128

they laid down laws, they chose lives

for the sons of men, the fates of men.

21. ‘She recalls it,129 the first tribe-war in the world,

when they stuck Gullveig up on spears,130

and in Hárr’s hall burned her;131

thrice they burned the thrice-born,132

often, not seldom, yet she still lives.

22. ‘Heiðr they called her,133 wherever she came to houses,134

a seeress of good prophecies,135 she drummed up spirits(?);136

she knew sorcery, she practised sorcery while possessed,137

she was ever the delight of an evil bride.

23. ‘Then all the great powers, the most holy gods,

went to their doom-seats and deliberated about it:

whether the Æsir must pay a great penalty,

or all the gods must have offerings.138

24. ‘Óðinn let fly and shot into the army139

that was still the first tribe-war in the world;

broken was the board-way of the Æsir’s stronghold,140

the Vanir bestrode141 the plains with a battle-spell.142

25.143 ‘Then all the great powers, the most holy gods,144

went to their doom-seats and deliberated about it:

who145 had mingled all the air with mischief,146

and given Óðr’s wife147 to the giant’s family.148

26. ‘Þórr alone was there,149 swollen with anger,

he seldom sits when he hears of such;

oaths were stamped on, words and sworn declarations,

all the binding speeches which had passed between them.

27. ‘She knows of Heimdallr’s hearing,150

hidden under the light-accustomed holy tree;151

she sees a river splashing in a muddy fall152

from Valfǫðr’s pledge.153 Would you know still [more], or what?154

28. ‘Alone she sat outside when the old one came,155

Yggjungr156 of the Æsir, and looked into her eyes:157

“What do you ask me? Why do you test me?158

I know it all, Óðinn, where you hid your eye,

in the famous spring of Mímir;159

Mímir drinks mead every morning

from Valfǫðr’s pledge!”160 Would you know still [more], or what?

29. ‘Herfǫðr selected for her rings and torcs,161

treasure,162 wise words and prophecy-staffs;

she saw far and wide over every world.

30. ‘She saw valkyries,163 come from far and wide,

ready to ride to the god-realm.164

Skuld held a shield,165 and Skǫgul166 next,

Gunnr,167 Hildr,168 Gǫndul169 and Geirskǫgul;170

now Herjann’s women are enumerated,171

ready to ride the earth — valkyries.

31. ‘I saw for Baldr,172 for the bloody sacrifice,173

for Óðinn’s child, fates concealed;174

[full-]grown there stood, higher than the fields,175

slender and most fair, the mistletoe.176

32. ‘From that tree,177 which seemed slender,178

came a dangerous harm-shaft; Hǫðr shot.179

Baldr’s brother was soon born;180

that son of Óðinn struck when one night old.181

33. ‘He never washed his hands or combed his head,182

before he carried Baldr’s opponent to the pyre;183

but Frigg184 wept in Fensalir185

for the woe of Valhǫll.186 Would you know still [more], or what?

34. ‘A captive she saw lying under Hveralundr,187

like188 to malevolent Loki in form;189

there sits Sigyn, though not at all

well-pleased about190 her man.191 Would you know still [more], or what?

35. ‘A river falls from the east through venom-dales,

with knives and swords. It’s named Slíðr.192

36. ‘There stood to the north on Niðavellir193

a hall of gold of Sindri’s kindred;194

and another stood at Ókólnir,195

the beer-hall of a giant, and he’s called Brimir.196

37.197 ‘She saw a hall standing far from the sun,198

on Nástrǫnd,199 the doors face north;200

venom-drops fell in through the roof-vent;

that hall is wound with the spines of snakes.

38. ‘There she saw wading swift currents201

perjured people and murder-wolves,202

and the one who seduces another’s wife;203

there Niðhǫggr sucked the corpses of the deceased,204

the wolf205 tore men. Would you know still [more], or what?

39.206 ‘East in Járnviðr sat the old one207

and there gave birth to208 Fenrir’s brood;209

from among all those a certain one becomes210

the moon’s211 pitchforker(?)212 in troll’s form.213

40. ‘He fills himself214 with the flesh of the doomed,215

reddens gods’ dwellings216 with red blood;

dark was the sunshine then217 in following summers,218

all weather treacherous.219 Would you know still [more], or what?

41. ‘A giantess’s220 herdsman, happy Eggþér,221

sat there on a grave-mound and struck a harp;

above him, in the gosling-tree,222 crowed

a fair-red cockerel — he’s called Fjalarr.223

42. ‘Gullinkambi224 crowed above the Æsir,

he wakens heroes in Herjafǫðr’s hall;225

but another crows beneath the earth,

a sooty-red cockerel, in the halls of Hel.226

43. ‘Garmr howls loudly before Gnipahellir,227

the fetter will break and the ravener run free;228

she knows much lore, I see further ahead,

about the great doom of the powers, of the victory-gods.229

44.230 ‘Brothers will battle and slay each other,

cousins will break the bonds of kin;

it’s harsh in the world, great whoredom,

axe-age, sword-age — shields are cloven —

wind-age, wolf-age,231 before the world collapses;

no one will show mercy to another.

45. ‘Mímr’s sons play,232 and destiny is kindled

at [the sound of?] the resonant Gjallarhorn;233

Heimdallr blows loud — the horn’s aloft234

Óðinn speaks to Mímr’s head.235

46. ‘The ancient tree groans, and the giant breaks loose;236

the ash of Yggdrasill shakes as it stands.237

47. ‘Now Garmr howls loudly before Gnipahellir,

the fetter will break and the ravener run free;

she knows much lore, I see further ahead,

about the great doom of the powers, of the victory-gods.

48.238 ‘Hrymr drives from the east,239 heaves his shield before him,

Jǫrmungandr writhes in giant-rage;240

the snake lashes waves, and the eagle shrieks,

the fallow-nosed one tears corpses,241 Naglfar breaks loose.242

49.243 ‘A244 ship fares from the east,245 Muspell’s forces246

will come over the sea, and Loki steers;

all the giant’s247 kindred travel with the ravener,248

Býleiptr’s brother is with them on the voyage.249

50.250 ‘How is it with the Æsir? How is it with the elves? 251

All Jǫtunheimr roars, the Æsir are in council;

dwarves groan before stone-doors,

wise ones of the wall-rock.252 Would you know still [more], or what?

51.253 ‘Surtr travels from the south with the destruction of twigs,254

the sun shines from the sword of the gods of the slain;255

rocky cliffs collapse and witches wander,256

men tread the Hel-way,257 and the heavens are cloven.

52.258 ‘Then Hlín’s second sorrow comes to pass,259

when Óðinn goes to fight against the wolf,

and the bright slayer of Beli against Surtr;260

then Frigg’s Angantýr will fall.261

53. ‘Then comes the mighty son of Sigfaðir,262

Víðarr,263 to fight against the slaughter-beast;264

with his hand265 he lets a sword stand at the heart

of Hveðrungr’s son;266 then is his father avenged.

54. ‘Then comes the glorious child of Hlóðyn,267

Óðinn’s son268 goes to fight against the wolf(?);269

he strikes270 Miðgarðr’s guardian in anger;271

all men will abandon the homestead;272

Fjǫrgyn’s son273 goes nine steps,

expiring(?), from the snake unapprehensive of the dark moon(?).274

55. ‘The sun turns black, earth sinks into the sea,275

bright stars vanish from the sky;

ember-smoke rages against the life-nourisher,276

high heat277 sports against the sky itself.

56. ‘Now Garmr howls loudly before Gnipahellir,

the fetter will break and the ravener run free;

she knows much lore, I see further ahead,

about the great doom of the powers, of the victory-gods.

57. ‘She sees coming up for a second time

earth, green again, from the sea;

waterfalls tumble, an eagle flies above,

the one who hunts fish on the fell.278

58. ‘The Æsir find each other on Iðavǫllr

and talk about the mighty earth-rope,279

and Fimbultýr’s ancient runes.280

59. ‘There in the grass will be found again

wonderful golden gaming-pieces,

those they had owned in early days.281

60. ‘Unsown acres will sprout,

all evil will be corrected; Baldr will come;

Hǫðr and Baldr will inhabit Hroptr’s victory-halls282

well, [as] gods of the slain.283 Would you know still [more], or what?

61. ‘Then Hœnir can select the [sacrificial] lot-twig,284

and the sons of two brothers285 inhabit

the wide wind-home.286 Would you know still [more], or what?

62.287 ‘She sees a hall standing, fairer than the sun,

thatched with gold, on Gimlé;288

there shall honourable hosts289 settle

and enjoy delight during their life-days.

63. ‘There the dim290 dragon comes flying,

the glistening snake, from beneath, from Niðafjǫll;291

Niðhǫggr carries in his wings292 — he flies over the field —

corpses.293 Now she will sink.’294

Textual Apparatus to Vǫluspá (Codex Regius)

Vǫluspá] Absent from R, but the title Vǫluspá appears repeatedly in SnEGylf

Hljóðs 1/1] The first letter is large, inset and greenish in R

1/4 Heimdallar] R heimdalar

2/3 þá] R corrected from þau (cf. 1/8 þau)

2/6] íviðjur] R -ur abbreviation erased by a later hand, but apparently discernible under ultraviolet light

3/7 ginnunga] R corrected from griNvnga

4/6 á] R corrected from af

4/6 steina] R corrected from steini

5/4 himinjódýr] R himin iodyr

6/1 gengu] R gen | gengo

8/5 þrjár] R III

9/1–4 gengu ... gættusk] R abbreviated g. r. a. ar.

9/6 dróttin] R drótin

10/1 var] R absent; supplied from H

12/1 ok] R corrected from oc | oc

12/4 Litr] R followed by oc vitr, with vitr deleted by underdotting

14/6 frá Salarsteini] R corrected from Aurvanga siǫt til

16/3 Frosti] R frostri

17/1 þrír] R þríar (cf. 8/5)

17/6 megandi] R megan- illegible, so supplied from H

18/2 né hǫfðu] R né hǫf- illegible, so supplied from H

18/3 né læti] R illegible, so supplied from H

18/6 gaf Hœnir] R gaf Hœn- illegible

21/3 Gullveigu] R last letter erased by a later hand

22/6 leikin] R leikiN

22/8 brúðar] R corrected from þióðar ‘of a people’

23/1–4 gengu ... gættusk] R abbreviated g. r. a. a.

25/1–4 gengu ... gættusk] R abbreviated g. r. a.

25/5 hverr] R hverir (pl.); emended from H

27/1] Heimdallar] R heimdalar

28/9 í] R þitt, with -i- and -t- deleted by underdotting

28/13–14 Valfǫðrs ... hvat] R abbreviated v. v. e. e. h.

31/4 fólgin] R folgiN

31/6 vǫllum] R vollo

32/2 mær] R abbreviated m with superscript bar

33/7 ] R corrected from vorðr ‘guardian’

33/8] R abbreviated v. e. e. e. h.

34/3] R lægjarn

34/8] R abbreviated V. þ. e. h.

36/2 -vǫllum] R corrected from fiollom (cf. 64/4)

38/3–4 meinsvara ok morðvarga] R word order corrected from morð vargar meins vara oc

38/5 þanns] R þaNz with -z erased, but still discernible

38/7 saug] R súg; I emend from H

38/10] R abbreviated v. e e. e. h.

40/8] R abbreviated v. e. h.

42/4 at Herjafǫðrs] R preceded by at hiarar (probably a scribal error, though the sense ‘at/to the sword (of Herjafǫðr)’ has been suggested)

43/8 rǫmm] R rǫm

45/1 Leika] The first letter is three lines deep in the inner margin of R

45/3 inu] R en; emended from H

46/1–2] R preceded by an erasure of the same words

47/1–8 Garmr... sigtíva] R abbreviated g.

49/8 Býleipts] R byleipz

50/8] R abbreviated v. e. e. h.

56/1–8] R abbreviated Geyr. n.

60/4 Baldr mun] R possibly marks these words for transposition (i.e., to mun Baldr)

60/8] R abbreviated v. e e. h.

61/3 burir] R byrir, altered from burir

61/6] R abbreviated v. e. e. h.

64/3] R followed by an erasure, perhaps of nepp

64/4 frá] R faint

1 SPSMA II, 258–59.

2 The speaker of Vsp. is a vǫlva, a staff (vǫlr)-bearing seeress capable of mediumship and sorcery. She sometimes refers to herself (or another seeress) in the third person, in which case she perhaps channels the voice of a prior or future incarnation of herself; cf. the thrice-born nature of Gullveig in Vsp. 21 and the comments on rebirth in the prose following HHv. 43 and HH. II 4, 51. Vsp. H 1 has allar helgar kindir ‘all holy kindreds’, which is usually thought the metrically better reading.

3 The extent and nature of the seeress’s audience is uncertain. It could be all sentient beings, including the gods, but the ‘sons of Heimdallr’ are probably men; cf. Rþ. and Hdl. 43. The name Heimdallr is interpretable as ‘(Burgeoning) Home/World Tree’ or perhaps ‘Home/World Light’, and its divine bearer is probably identifiable on some level with the world-tree. Humans, it appears, are scions or ‘chips off the old block’; cf. Vsp. 17.

4 The form vildu appears equivalent to villtu in Vsp. H 1, which is an unambiguously second-person form. An alternative translation of vildu, as ‘they wished’, seems less likely in context, assuming the seeress’s recitation follows on from the events of Vsp. 28–29.

5 ‘Slaughtered-Corpse Father’, an alias of the god Óðinn. This word is partly illegible in the facsimile; this reading is taken from earlier editions.

6 If Vsp. 28–29 are interpreted correctly below, the following ‘prophecy’ (which includes recollection of past events) was possibly paid for earlier by Óðinn, after the seeress had ‘sat outside’ to communicate with the divine. Some scholars argue, by comparison with BDr. 4, that Óðinn has awakened her from the dead.

7 Or ‘had given birth to me in former days’.

8 The nine worlds are obscure, but Vm. 43 refers to ‘nine worlds beneath Niflhel’; alternatively, they might include those of gods (Æsir and Vanir), humans, giants, dwarves, elves and the dead. Also obscure are the nine women, but íviðjur is probably the pl. of a term for a troll-woman or giantess who, originally at least, perhaps lived ‘in (í) a tree/wood (viðr)’; the sg. íviðja bears this general sense in a list of names in SPSMA III, 727-28 and probably in Hdl. 48. Note, in Hdl. 35, 37, the nine giantess-mothers of Heimdallr. Other possibilities are that íviðjur refers to withies/branches or withy-like roots of the world-tree (cf. viðja ‘withy’, pl. viðjur, though the initial i- would be obscure), or relates to OE inwid/inwit ‘fraud, evil’.

9 Yggdrasill, the tree which, by defining the world, ‘measures’ its limits. Alternatively, ‘well-proportioned tree’ or ‘tree that metes out fate’; cf. Fj. 19–22.

10 Presumably as either a seed or a fully grown (inverted?) subterranean world-tree.

11 Or perhaps ‘It was the beginning of ages’. The same phrase appears in HH. I 1.

12 Ymir ‘Twin’ is a primordial giant; his name might denote a hermaphrodite, one of ‘twin kind’ (cf. Vm. 30, 33) or reflect an ancient Indo-European creation myth in which ‘Man’ sacrificed his ‘Twin’. Cf. SnEGylf (6–8, pp. 11–12), Vm. 21 and Grm. 40; also SnEGylf (4, p. 9), which quotes a version of this stanza that has, in addition to minor variations, ekki var ‘nothing was’ instead of Ymir bygði ‘Ymir lived’.

13 I.e., sandy shore.

14 Literally, ‘up-sky’. The alliterative pairing jǫrð … upphiminn ‘earth … sky above’, also seen in Vm. 20, Þrk. 2, Od. 17 and paralleled in Old English, Old Saxon and Old High German poetry, probably stems from ancient Germanic oral tradition.

15 The meaning of ginnunga is uncertain. The void is now better known, from SnEGylf (e.g., 5, p. 10), as Ginnungagap.

16 I.e., ‘Before, that was, …’

17 SnEGylf (6–8, pp. 11–12) says that Burr (otherwise Borr, as in H) was the son of Búri, the man formed when Auðhumla, the first cow, licked salty stones. Burr married the giantess Bestla (cf. Háv. 140) and they had three sons—Óðinn, Vili and Vé—who killed Ymir and used parts of his corpse to make the world; cf. Vm. 21 and Grm. 40–41. Judging from Vsp. 57, Borr’s sons raised lands from the sea, which, according to Vm. 21 and Grm. 40, was made from Ymir’s blood.

18 ‘Middle Enclosure’, the world of humans or the enclosure surrounding it. SnEGylf (8, p. 12) says that Burr’s sons made it from the eyelashes (or eyelids) of Ymir; cf. Grm. 41.

19 Probably a kenning for the as-yet-unvegetated earth as a home to living things; alternatively, a mythical place-name, Salarsteinar ‘Hall’s Stones’.

20 A plant with magical connotations in early runic inscriptions, possibly in connection with fertility.

21 The sun and moon are here personified as Sól and Máni, respectively. Cf. Vm. 23, where the sun and moon are personified as sister and brother.

22 Literally, ‘the right hand’. That the personified sun has hands is implicit in Vm. 23, where the sun and moon operate the handle which turns the sky each day.

23 Or sg. ‘sky-horse-deer/beast(?)’, a doubtful reading but just possibly a description of the horse(s) that pulled the chariot of the sun, or of the world-tree. If the former, an equivalent solar ‘horse’ that is also a ‘deer’ might feature in the Old English metrical charm Wið dweorh ‘Against a Dwarf’. But for more accessible sense, emend to um himinjódýr to um himinjǫður ‘over the sky-rim/horizon’. H has the metrically deficient of jǫður, emended in this edition to of himinjǫður ‘over the sky-rim’.

24 The last three lines of this stanza might not be original to the poem, but they are also attributed to it, albeit in variant form, in SnEGylf (8, p. 12).

25 Rǫkstólar, in which rǫk indicates ‘judgement’ but also foreshadows the ‘doom’ of the gods at ragna rǫk (Ragnarok), the heathen Norse apocalypse.

26 Cf. Vm. 24–5.

27 Much of Vsp. 7–16 is adapted, with verse quotations, in SnEGylf (14, pp. 15–17).

28 Here Æsir denotes the clan of gods to which Óðinn and Þórr belong, as distinct from the Vanir. The meaning of Iðavǫllr is uncertain: possibilities include ‘Activity Plain’, ‘Eternal Plain’, ‘Eddy Plain [i.e., the sea]’ and, perhaps most attractively, ‘Renewal Plain’; SnEGylf (14, p. 15) places it at the centre of Ásgarðr, the divine city.

29 Or ‘temples high’. The distinction between hǫrgr and hof, here translated ‘altar’ and ‘temple’, is unclear. H has a different line.

30 I.e., they played board-games, such as hnefatafl. If they did so not just for simple entertainment, their play might have enacted the struggle between gods and giants (cf. Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks chapter 9, st. 55) and been a means of controlling the world’s destiny.

31 In medieval Iceland, tún denoted a cultivated meadow near a farmhouse; in Norway, it meant the ‘yard’, the space between farm buildings.

32 SnEGylf (14, p. 15) remarks that the world’s golden age was destroyed by the arrival of women from Jǫtunheimar. Their names are unknown, as are their purpose and actions, though it has been suggested that they stole the gods’ gold, or that they introduced avarice to the world, so that the gods craved more than they already had.

33 ‘Giant Homes/Worlds’, the realm of giants, the gods’ enemies. It is often located in the east, but sometimes (later) in the north.

34 Masc./fem. sg.

35 I.e., create.

36 Or ‘which one of the dwarves should create a lord’; H’s text means ‘which dwarves should create companies’, while some manuscripts of SnEGylf may be translated ‘who (masc./fem. sg.) should create a company of dwarves’ or ‘that a company of dwarves should be created’. Emendation to hvárt skyldi dverga dróttir skepja would produce ‘whether they should create companies of dwarfs’. Dwarves were skilled miners and smiths, so perhaps the gods created them to satisfy a new-found need or craving for gold.

37 Brimir is probably here a giant-name (an alias of Ymir?) and suggestive of the sea (brim ‘surf’), his blood then being its waters; where R has ‘from Brimir’s blood’, H and most manuscripts of SnEGylf have ‘from bloody surf (brim)’. ‘Blue limbs’ or ‘blue legs’ is a kenning for ‘rocks’, but the colour might also suggest necrosis; H instead has ‘Bláinn’s limbs’, another kenning for ‘rocks’, Bláinn ‘Dark-Blue One’ being attested as a dwarf-name, but here perhaps serving as an alias of Ymir.

38 Perhaps ‘Listless/Apathetic One’ or ‘Furious Sucker’. H has Móðsognir.

39 Literally, ‘was become’.

40 Perhaps ‘Sleepy One’ or ‘Door-Keeper’.

41 It is unclear whether the ‘many man-shapes’ are other dwarves—as the subsequent, probably interpolated, lists of names presumably assume—or inert human beings, two of which are discovered and quickened by the gods in Vsp. 17 and 18. Another possibility is ‘those man-shapes, [those] dwarves, made many things, from the earth, as Durinn said’; their creations might then be neither other dwarves nor humans, but items of metalwork. H makes ‘dwarves’ the object (acc. dverga) of creation, and so lacks this uncertainty, but introduces a new doubt about whom þeir ‘they’ refers to, as it could be the gods of the previous stanza, rather than Mótsognir and Durinn. SnEGylf (14, p. 16) has another variant reading: þar mannlíkun mǫrg of gerðusk, / dvergar í jǫrðu ‘there many man-shapes were created, dwarves in the earth’.

42 According to H and several manuscripts of SnEGylf, they were made in (rather than from) the earth, which is where dwarves were thought to live.

43 SnEGylf (14, p. 15) says that dwarves took shape as maggots in Ymir’s flesh and were given intelligence by the gods. The following lists of dwarf-names are sometimes known collectively as Dvergatal ‘The Tally of Dwarves’. The meanings of many of the names are disputed, so those presented below are often tentative. There are many differences between R and H in these lists, some of which are noted below. The names were a prime source for J. R. R. Tolkien’s dwarves in The Hobbit.

44 ‘Full Moon’ and ‘Dark Moon’.

45 ‘North and South’.

46 ‘East and West’.

47 ‘All-Thief’.

48 Most immediately ‘Delayed One’, though an original sense ‘Inflicter of Madness’ has also been proposed.

49 Perhaps ‘Beaver’.

50 ‘Tubby’.

51 ‘Titch’.

52 ‘Noble Friend’.

53 Probably ‘Other/Second’.

54 ‘Great-Grandfather’.

55 ‘Mead-Wolf’.

56 ‘Intoxicating Drink’. H has Veggr ‘Wall’.

57 ‘Staff/Spirit-Elf’, whence J. R. R. Tolkien’s wizard Gandalf.

58 ‘Wind-Elf’.

59 ‘Stubborn’ or ‘Yearner’.

60 ‘Agreeable’.

61 ‘Darer’.

62 ‘Thriver’.

63 ‘Wise’.

64 ‘Colour’. The second half of this line is metrically irregular.

65 ‘Corpse’.

66 ‘New Counsel’.

67 Powerful One’, ‘Ruler’. For apparently the same character, see Rm. and Fm.

68 ‘Counsel-Swift/Wise’.

69 Probably ‘File’.

70 ‘Wedge’.

71 ‘Finder’ or ‘Found One’.

72 Perhaps ‘Needle’.

73 ‘Haft’.

74 These two names are combined as Heptifíli in SnEGylf (14, p. 16). H has Hefti, Fíli.

75 ‘Skilful One’.

76 H has Sviðr ‘Swift’ or ‘Wise’.

77 ‘Swift’. H has Frór.

78 ‘Horn-Bearer/Borer’. H has Fornbogi ‘Ancient Bow’.

79 ‘Famous’.

80 ‘Lazy’.

81 ‘Mud-Plain’.

82 ‘Warrior’ or ‘Muddy’.

83 ‘Oaken-Shield’. This stanza appears to constitute a formerly distinct list.

84 This is evidently the start of a third list of dwarf-names.

85 Or ‘the offspring/kindred/families of peoples’.

86 ‘Praiser’.

87 ‘Hall’s Stone’. Cf. ‘hall’s stones’ in Vsp. 4; also chapter 12 of Ynglinga saga, which tells of a dwarf, a salvǫrðuðr ‘hall guardian’, who went into a huge stone at a farm called Steinn ‘Stone’ in Sweden.

88 Aurvangar ‘Mud Plains’. The meaning of Jǫruvellir—compare Järavall, a Swedish place-name—is uncertain, but ‘Mud Fields’ and ‘Battlefields’ are possibilities. The dwarves’ journey is otherwise unknown, though SnEGylf (14, p. 16) says that the dwarves who lived in stone went from Svarinshaugr ‘Svarinn’s Grave-Mound’ to Aurvangar at Jǫruvellir.

89 ‘Dripper’.

90 ‘Enmity Keen’ or ‘Enemy Eager’.

91 ‘High One’.

93 ‘Lee/Shelter Plain’. H has Hlévargr ‘Lee Wolf/Outlaw’.

94 ‘Glowing One’.

95 ‘Joiner’.

96 ‘Dyer’.

97 Perhaps ‘Crooked Finn/Sámi’.

98 The repetition of Ái (Vsp. 11) points to interpolation.

99 ‘Elf’.

100 Elsewhere a name of the god Freyr and of kings associated with him.

101 Eikinskjaldi has already been named in Vsp. 13. This is another indication that this part of Vsp. comprises originally separate lists.

102 Possibly ‘Hider’.

103 ‘Frosty’.

104 ‘Finn’, ‘Sámi’.

105 ‘Deceiver’.

106 Or ‘as long as beings continue to live’, or ‘as long as the age lasts’.

107 There is a hiatus between this line and the preceding list of dwarf-names. Textual corruption is also indicated by the qualification of masc. Æsir by fem. þríar ‘three’ in R (hence the emendation to þrír in the edited text), and suggested by the suspect alliteration which places unexpected emphasis on því ‘that’ in a rather short half-line; cf. Vsp. H 17’s variant reading for the second half-line: þussa brœðr(?) ‘brothers of giants’. That the first line of st. 17 presents difficulties in both R and H may well suggest an underlying textual problem.

108 Perhaps a metaphor for the inhabited earth; cf. Vsp. 4. Alternatively, emend at húsi ‘to a house’ to at húmi ‘to the sea’.

109 Judging from SnEGylf (9, p. 13), á landi, literally ‘on land’, here means ‘on the shore’; cf. the prose before Rþ. 1. Askr ‘Ash’ and Embla ‘Little Elm’, the first man and woman, were apparently washed up as driftwood.

110 It is unclear whether the masc., rather than the expected neut., gender of the adjective ǫrluglausa ‘lacking fate’ is significant. It might indicate that the pair were genderless when discovered, but there are other instances of Old Norse masc. plurals denoting both sexes. Askr’s name implicitly associates him with the world-ash (askr) mentioned in Vsp. 19. The link with trees is explicit in the variant account of SnEGylf (9, p. 13), where the ‘sons of Borr’ created Askr and Embla from two logs (tré) which they picked up while walking along the seashore. Cf. Rþ., in which, after walking along a seashore, the god Heimdallr ‘(Burgeoning) Home/World-Tree’ comes to a house where he starts to father the estates of men.

111 Askr and Embla.

112 Óðr ‘mind’, ‘spirit’, ‘voice’ has connotations of mental acuity, ecstasy, emotional force and poetic inspiration.

113 I.e., ‘locks of hair’, but the meaning of is disputed here. Other suggestions are ‘face’, ‘blood’, ‘vital warmth’ and ‘skin’.

114 Læti can also denote a person’s manner or bearing; the sense ‘movement’ has also been proposed. Another possibility, given the word’s omission from the catalogue in the second half of this stanza, is that it is a synonym for ‘locks (of hair)’.

115 The good colours or complexions (of the living) were possibly distinguished from the bad colours (grey and black) of the dead, but it has also been suggested that the original sense was ‘genitalia’. Additionally, a pun on litu goða ‘looks of the gods’ is conceivable.

116 The prehistoric Germanic *Wōðanaz (whence ON Óðinn) was arguably ‘Lord of the Wōðu’, the wōðu being a frenzied airborne procession of the dead. Here Óðinn’s role is as the literal inspirer of dead wood.

117 Hœnir is an obscure god who returns to choose lots in the post-Ragnarok age in Vsp. 61. His name perhaps links him with a cockerel (hani).

118 Lóðurr is an obscure figure. His name is possibly an alias of Loki, who is elsewhere called Lodr. Otherwise, Lóðurr might be an obscure fertility god or, if loð- is related to loðinn ‘woolly, hairy’, perhaps Heimdallr, who fathers the estates of men in Rþ. (cf. Vsp. 1) and is associated with sheep. According to Hál. 8, Óðinn is a friend of Lóðurr. Óðinn, Hœnir and Loki also appear together in Haust.

119 For a variant list of gifts conferred by Borr’s sons, see SnEGylf (9, p. 13).

120 A variant version of this stanza, which identifies the tree as heilagr ‘holy’, appears in SnEGylf (16, p. 19).

121 A name for the world-tree (cf. Vsp. 2), the original sense of which is uncertain. It may originally have meant ‘Terrible Colossus’, but subsequently been interpreted as ‘Yggr Steed’—referring either to Óðinn (Yggr ‘Terrible One’) as a horse or to the gallows (metaphorically the steed) on which Óðinn was hanged (‘rode’). The tree is also called askr Yggdrasils ‘Yggr-steed’s ash tree’ (e.g., Vsp. 46, Grm. 29), which perhaps imagines it as the post to which Óðinn’s steed was tethered.

122 SnEGylf (16, p. 19) says that the Nornir take water and mud each day from Urðr’s spring and pour it over the ash-tree, so that its branches do not dry up or rot. It adds that the water is so holy that everything which enters the spring becomes as white as the membrane inside an eggshell. Alternatively, perhaps Vsp.’s ‘white/bright mud’ is fertilizing guano or the ‘milk’ of the Milky Way. Cf. Ls. 48.

123 Honeydew, according to SnEGylf (16, p. 19). Ash trees were traditionally associated with honey, a key ingredient of mead, and it has been suggested that the Indo-European world-tree was originally a mead-tree (cf. note to Vsp. 2); cf. Vm. 14.

124 Ordinary ashes are deciduous; it is debatable whether this mythological instance is evergreen. Urðr is one of the three Nornir, supernatural women who govern fate; cf. Háv. 111, Gðr. II 21.

125 The sær ‘sea’ is alternatively a pool or lake, perhaps identifiable with Urðr’s spring. H and SnEGylf (15, p. 18) have sal ‘hall’ instead. ON þollr originally meant ‘fir’, but came to be used as a synecdoche for ‘tree’, the assumed meaning here.

126 Literally, ‘they called one’.

127 A close relationship seems likely between the inscribed stick which determines each person’s fate, the concept of humans as scions of Heimdallr, the world-tree (Vsp. 1), and the plant-names of the first man and woman (Vsp. 17); in addition, men are often described figuratively as trees elsewhere in Old Norse poetry.

128 The Nornir (perhaps ‘Twiners’ or ‘Secret Communicators’), northern Fates whose names are interpretable as ‘That Which Has Happened’ or ‘Fate’ (cf. ON urðr, OE wyrd, ‘fate’), ‘That Which Is Happening’ and ‘That Which Shall Happen.’ They are comparable to the Roman Parcae and the Greek Moirai. Cf. HH. I 2–4.

129 Here the seeress probably refers to herself in the third person.

130 Gullveig is an obscure female, perhaps identifiable with the seeress Heiðr of the next stanza, or with the speaker of the poem, or with both. Gull means ‘gold’, veig ‘intoxicating drink’ or ‘strength’, so many scholars take Gullveig to mean ‘Gold Power’, ‘Power of Gold’ or ‘Gold Intoxication’; cf. Heiðrún in Grm. 25. Who stuck Gullveig on spears is uncertain, but the location probably implicates Óðinn and his associates; H has studdi ‘he/she/one stuck’.

132 Gullveig. Cf., in Greek myth, Pallas Athena’s epithet Tritogeneia ‘Thrice-Born(?)’ and Dimetor ‘Twice-Born’ Dionysus. Alternatively, translate ‘thrice they burned her, thrice [she was] born’. For reincarnation in Eddic poems, see the concluding prose to HH. II 51 and Sg. 45.

133 Heiðr frequently appears in Old Norse prose works as a common noun for a type of sorceress, but here it is often taken to be a proper noun (as in Hdl. 32 and several prose texts). Possible meanings include ‘Bright One’ (cf. heiðr ‘bright’ and the burning of Gullveig) and ‘Honoured One’ (cf. heið ‘honour’ or ‘fee’); heiðr ‘heath’ and heiðinn ‘heathen’ may be relevant, too. It is unclear whether Heiðr should be identified with Gullveig, with the speaker of Vsp., or with both. Altogether, this stanza raises a bewildering number of questions, to which there are few undisputed answers. Presumably ‘they’ refers to the people whose houses Heiðr visited.

134 In Old Norse texts seeresses called Heiðr are typically peripatetic and asked to prophesy at feasts.

135 The meaning of velspá is disputed: either ‘accurate in prophecy’ or ‘of favourable prophecies’. Another possibility is vélspá ‘of deceitful prophecies’.

136 The precise sense of vitti hon ganda is unclear, but the phrase might refer to the beating, or other use, of a vitt/vítt ‘drum(?)’ or ‘magical charm(?)’ in order to communicate with gandir ‘spirits’ who could reveal hidden information; cf. Ls. 24. Alternatively, gandir might denote wolves or broomsticks, which Heiðr ‘gave power to’ (vitti), and which witches flew upon in a gandreiðgand-ride’.

137 Another problematic passage. This edition takes the manuscript reading leikiN to represent leikin, a fem. nom. sg. form; cf. the compound hugleikin of Vsp. H 27.

138 The interpretation of the second half of this stanza is uncertain. But however we interpret it, the next stanza makes it clear that Óðinn, leader of the Æsir, goes on the attack.

139 The type of projectile Óðinn let fly is not stated, but his typical weapon is the spear. The army is that of the Æsir’s divine opponents, the Vanir.

140 Borðvegr ‘board-way’ may be a scribal error for borðveggr ‘board-wall’, ‘wall made of wooden boards’, the reading of H.

141 Or ‘could bestride’.

142 Vsp. 21–4 appear to describe a war between the Æsir and Vanir. Possibly the Vanir’s vígspá ‘battle-spell’ (or ‘holy spell’) had the power to resurrect the dead, which would explain why they were not defeated; ON spá may also suggest ‘prophecy’, intimating that these events were fated to occur.

143 Variants of Vsp. 25 and 26 appear in SnEGylf (42, pp. 35–6).

144 From now on in Vsp., ‘gods’ presumably refers to the Æsir-Vanir collective which, to judge from other sources, was formed to resolve their conflict. In the last line of this stanza the concern about the goddess Freyja (‘Óðr’s wife’), one of the Vanir, indicates that the tribal war is over.

145 Pl. H has sg. hverr.

146 Perhaps just a poetic way of saying ‘there’s treachery in the air’, but more likely an ominous allusion to a contract, described in SnEGylf (42, p. 34), which stipulated that the gods were to give Freyja, the sun and the moon to a giant as payment for his construction work. The use of ‘guile, treachery, mischief, harm’ might suggest that, as in SnEGylf, Loki (alias Loptr ‘Airy (One)’) is implicated; cf. Vsp. 34 and Hym. 37.

147 Or ‘Óðr’s girl’. Either way, the woman is Freyja. Little is known of her husband, the god Óðr ‘Inspired Mental Activity’, though his name suggests that he might once have been a double, or an aspect, of Óðinn. SnEUpp (26, p. 62) has óskmey ‘beloved maiden’ instead.

148 I.e., perhaps, to the giants in general. SnEGylf (42, pp. 34–36) quotes versions of this stanza and the next, and tells a story to illuminate them. It records how, in violation of oaths, Þórr slew a giant whom the gods had hired to build them a fortification. In Vsp., it might be that the giant was hired to repair the wall which the Vanir had broken during their war with the Æsir.

149 H’s reading appears better: Þórr einn þar vá ‘Þórr alone struck there’. The name Þórr identifies this strong and violent god as originally a personification of thunder, though this aspect of his nature faded in the literature of Iceland, a country where thunder is uncommon.

150 Possibly hljóð ‘hearing’ actually describes Heimdallr’s ear; if he sacrificed this, his action would parallel Óðinn’s surrender of an eye. But the word can also mean ‘sound’, so another possibility is a reference to Heimdallr’s resounding horn.

151 Yggdrasill. The element heið in heiðvanr—an adjective probably meaning ‘used to light/brightness’, rather than ‘lacking light’—is richly polysemous; it suggests at once the bright sky above the tree, the shining mead below it, the honour conferred upon it, and perhaps the payment of sacrificial offerings. Cf. the name Heiðr.

152 Cf. the mud sprinkled on the world-tree in Vsp. 19. Alternatively, instead of aurgum ‘muddy’, possibly ǫrðgum ‘flowing’ was intended.

153 ‘Valfǫðr’s pledge’ must originally have described Óðinn’s eye, which he placed in Mímir’s spring (see the next stanza), but here it apparently describes the spring in which the eye was placed.

154 ‘You’ is pl. The question may also be translated ‘Do you know [enough] yet, or what?’ or ‘Would you know still more, and [if so] what [would you seek to know]?’ Cf. the giantess Hyndla’s questions to Freyja in Hdl.

155 The seeress seems again to refer to herself in the third person, and to describe an encounter with Óðinn (‘the old one’) that arguably lies behind the recitation of this poem. In Old Norse texts, seeresses are said to ‘sit outside’ at night by crossroads, or in caves or mounds, to gain information from supernatural beings, a practice forbidden in medieval Norwegian law. Here the seeress’s ritual sitting brought forth Óðinn himself.

156 An Óðinn-alias related to Yggr ‘Terrible One’.

157 Or ‘and she looked into his eyes’, though Óðinn has only one left. Cf. Hym. 2.

159 Or ‘well of Mímir’. Mímir (cf. Latin memor ‘mindful’) is a puzzling figure whose decapitation is described in chapters 4 and 7 of Ynglinga saga. It is unclear whether he is one of the giants, as in SnESkáld (I, 75, p. 110), or one of the Æsir, as Ynglinga saga might suggest. SnEGylf (15, p. 17), which quotes a version of this stanza, says that Mímir’s spring contains wisdom and intelligence and that it lies beneath one of Yggdrasill’s roots, the one which extends toward the frost-giants; it goes on to say that Mímir is very wise because he drinks from the spring using the Gjallarhorn, and that Óðinn left one of his eyes in the well as payment for a drink from it. Mímir’s relationship to Mímr (‘Mímr’s head’ in Vsp. 45 and Sd. 14) is also unclear; judging from their names, they may once have been separate figures, but they seem to have been conflated by the time the myths were written down. Cf. the world-tree Mímameiðr in Fj. 20.

160 Perhaps this revelation proved the profundity of the seeress’s knowledge, after which she received payment from Óðinn for a fuller demonstration.

161 Herfǫðr ‘Army Father’ is an Óðinn-alias.

162 Many editors emend ‘treasure’ to fekk ‘he/she got’.

163 Valkyries (valkyrjur, literally ‘choosers of the slain’), as imagined in various Eddic poems, are female riders in the service of Óðinn. Their main duties are to enact Óðinn’s will in deciding the course of battles between noblemen and to bring those chosen from among the fallen to Óðinn’s hall. There the newcomers join the einherjar, the ‘unique/only champions’ who will fight beside the gods at Ragnarok.

164 Or til Goðþjóðar ‘to the God Realm’. However, some editors emend goðþjóðar to Gotþjóðar ‘Gothic people/nation’, which they consider representative of humankind in general.

165 Skuld is also the name of one of the Nornir in Vsp. 20. SnEGylf (36, p. 30) appears to identify them as one and the same.

166 Perhaps ‘Outstanding One’. She is named earlier, beside Gǫndul, in Hák. 1.

167 ‘Battle’.

168 ‘Battle’.

169 Possibly ‘Staff-Wielder’.

170 Possibly ‘Outstanding One with a Spear’ or ‘One with Spear Raised High’. This word also appears in Hák. 12, but as an honorific for Skǫgul, not as a name for a separate valkyrie.

171 Herjann ‘Army Leader’ is an Óðinn-alias. Norse texts record widely differing numbers of valkyries. Many scholars doubt that the last two lines of this stanza are original to the poem.

172 Probably ‘Shining One’; a god, son of Óðinn and Frigg. SnEGylf (49, pp. 45–6) calls him Baldr inn góða ‘Baldr the good’ and tells how Loki instigated his death. Loki learnt that the mistletoe was the only thing in the world that Frigg had exempted from swearing not to harm Baldr. One day, Loki noticed that the blind god Hǫðr ‘Warrior’, Baldr’s brother, was not participating in the gods’ sport of throwing things at the seemingly invulnerable god. He gave Hǫðr some mistletoe and guided his aim. As Hǫðr shot, the harmless sprig turned into a deadly spear, which killed Baldr instantly; see also BDr. Book 3 of GD tells a different version of Baldr’s death.

173 ON tívurr, a word found only here, probably means ‘sacrifice’, ‘offering’ (cf. OE tíber; Gothic *tibr); cf. ON tafn ‘holy offering’, a term apparently describing either Baldr’s corpse or an aspect of his funeral in Húsdr. 10. Another, perhaps less likely, possibility is ‘god’ (cf. ON tívar ‘gods’, usual sg. týr).

174 The hidden fates of Baldr—that is, fates hidden from those other than the seeress—may be both his shocking death and his marvellous resurrection in the post-Ragnarok age.

175 SnEGylf (49, p. 45) places the mistletoe fyrir vestan Valhǫll ‘west of Valhǫll’.

176 Much superstition surrounds the mistletoe in European culture, but many scholars have struggled to reconcile the image of the slender meiðr ‘tree/branch’ with the bushy parasite that now bears this name (Viscum album). An attractive possibility is that the poet here refers to the plant as it was imagined before a curse, imposed because of the slaying of Baldr, transformed it into a meagre parasite, one condemned to re-enact its crime by piercing upstanding host-plants. Or maybe the poet refers to the mistletoe and the tree on which it lives as a single entity, just as people still talk of ‘mistletoe-trees’. Then again, the poet, or his or her source, may have misdescribed an unfamiliar plant or substituted mistelteinn for another plant-name altogether. ON mistilteinn ‘mistletoe’ may well be a calque of OE misteltan.

177 Or ‘branch’, ‘outgrowth’.

178 ON mær is probably a variant of mjór ‘slender’, a word used in the previous stanza.

179 More literally, ‘Hǫðr began to shoot’.

180 This brother is unnamed in Vsp., but probably called Váli ‘Little Warrior’ or ‘Little Van (i.e., one of the Vanir)’ elsewhere.

181 More literally, ‘began to strike’. As Hǫðr killed his brother Baldr, so it appears Váli kills his brother Hǫðr; cf. Hdl. 29. The boy avenger’s birth is also mentioned in BDr. 11, but the only full version of the story to survive appears in the third book of GD.

182 Perhaps just an indication of extreme youth and single-mindedness, but this behaviour may also reflect an ancient Germanic tribal custom whereby a man who had yet to kill in battle went about unkempt.

183 Baldr’s funeral is described in SnEGylf (49, pp. 46–7).

184 Frigg ‘Beloved One’ is Óðinn’s wife and Baldr’s mother.

185 ‘Fen Halls’, presumably Frigg’s abode.

186 ‘Hall of the Slain (valr)’, more familiar now as ‘Valhalla’. This is Óðinn’s hall, to which are brought the slaughtered warriors whom he chooses to fight beside him at Ragnarok. See earlier Eirm. 1 and Hák. 1, 9. Here in Vsp. the ‘woe of Valhǫll’ is presumably Baldr’s death and its ramifications.

187 ‘Grove of Kettle-Like Hollows’ or ‘Grove of Hot Springs’; this is not necessarily a proper name.

188 Áþekkjan ‘like’, ‘similar to’ may pun on Þǫkk ‘Thanks’, the ironic name of a giantess who, alone of all created things, refused to weep for the dead Baldr and thereby condemned him to remain in Hel; SnEGylf (49, p. 48) says she was thought to be Loki in disguise. The word may also play ironically on þekkr ‘agreeable, liked, tractable, obedient’.

189 The captive is, in fact, Loki himself (whose name, which probably means essentially ‘Blamer’, ‘Mocker’ or ‘Resolver’, is pronounced ‘locky’, not ‘low-key’). The expression ‘like to ... in form’ perhaps indicates that punishment has disfigured him. He is also associated with ‘craft, guile, treachery, harm’ in other texts; cf. Vsp. 25 too.

190 Or ‘there sits Sigyn, above her man, though not at all well-pleased’.

191 Or ‘husband’. Sigyn ‘Victory Friend’ is the wife of Loki. His punishment for thwarting Baldr’s resurrection is severe. According to SnEGylf (50, p. 49), the gods bind him across three stones and the giantess Skaði suspends a snake above him. Sigyn stands by with a basin to catch the venom dripping from the snake’s fangs, but when she goes to empty the basin, the venom falls on Loki’s face. He then writhes in agony, causing earthquakes. This scene is depicted on the west face of the tenth-century Gosforth Cross from Anglo-Norse Cumbria, but with Sigyn kneeling. It is probably also illustrated on the eighth-century Ardre VIII stone from Gotland.

192 ‘Dire’ or ‘Scabbard’; cf. Slíð in Grm. 28 and Geirvimul in Grm. 27; additionally, GD (1.8.14) mentions a river swirling with weapons. If this stanza once had a second half, it is now lost.

193 Probably ‘Dark Moons’ Plains’ or ‘Niði’s Plain’s’, Niði being a dwarf in Vsp. 11; another possibility is ‘Kinsmen’s Plains’. Cf. Niðafjǫll in Vsp. 63.

194 Sindri ‘Cindery’ is probably a dwarf, in which case his kindred are dwarves. In SnEGylf (52, p. 53), however, Sindri is a hall for virtuous folk.

195 Ostensibly ‘Uncold One’, but an original *Ofkolnir ‘Exceedingly Cold One’ might be entertained.

196 Or ‘and it’s called Brimir’. SnEGylf (52, p. 53) ascribes the name Brimir to a heavenly hall for virtuous people at Gimlé. Cf. Vsp. 9 and 62.

197 Variant versions of Vsp. 37–38 appear in SnEGylf (52, p. 53).

198 The seeress again speaks of herself in the third person, or refers to a spirit she mediates.

199 ‘Corpse Shore’. In Vsp. H 34 the noun is pl.

200 Or translate as sg.: ‘the door faces’.

201 Literally ‘heavy currents’. Cf. Grm. 21, Rm. 3–4.

202 I.e., murderous criminals, murderers, who are likened to wolves. Cf. the wolf (vargr) which preys on them later in this stanza; cannibalism is not uncommon among wolves.

203 Cf. Háv. 115. All those suffering in this stanza are probably dead.

204 A dragon who reappears in Vsp. 63. Niðhǫggr probably means ‘Waning/Dark-Moon Striker’, appropriately as the hall in which it sucks the dead is ‘far from the sun’; alternatively, Níðhǫggr ‘Malicious Striker’—there may be deliberate ambiguity. SnEGylf (52, p. 53) says that this monster torments the bodies of the dead in the spring called Hvergelmir. According to Grm. 32 and 35, the creature lies beneath the world-tree and gnaws its roots. Cf. the niðdraca ‘waning/dark-moon(?) dragon’ of the Old English poem Beowulf.

205 Alternatively, ‘a wolf’ or ‘a/the thief/criminal’. Whether this vargr is distinct from the dragon Niðhǫggr is uncertain; the Gosforth Cross shows a wolf-headed snake.

206 Variant versions of Vsp. 39 and 40 appear in SnEGylf (12, pp. 14–15).

207 Járnviðr ‘Iron Wood’, which SnEGylf (12, p. 14) places east of Miðgarðr. It may be a wooded Dano-German bog, from which bog-ore and iron-hardened bog-wood were extracted. The ‘old one’ is female; SnEGylf (12, p. 14) calls her a gýgr ‘giantess’ dwelling east of Miðgarðr in the forest called Járnviðr where troll-women called Járnviðjur live; SnEGylf (34, p. 27) perhaps identifies her as the giantess Angrboða ‘Grief-Announcer’.

208 Or ‘fed’, ‘reared’.

209 The reference is to wolves, Fenrir being the most famous wolf of Norse myth; see Vsp. 43 and earlier Hák. 20 and Eirm. 7.

210 Or ‘will become’. SnEUpp (12, p. 22) has verðr af þeim ǫllum / íma nǫkkur ‘from them all comes a certain she-wolf’.

211 Or, less likely, another heavenly body.

212 A literal translation of tjúgari, a user of a tjúga ‘pitchfork’. In chapter 10 of The Waning Sword: Conversion Imagery and Celestial Myth in ‘Beowulf’ (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2020), pp. 235–86, https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0190.10, I suggest that the trollish wielder might be allied to the moon, for which it uses a long fork to take ‘beams’ of light from the sun. Etymologically, though, a tjúgari is a ‘drawer’, so here one might alternatively translate ‘drawer (to destruction)’. SnEUpp (12, p. 22) has a different word: tregari ‘causer of grief’.

213 Trolls/giants and wolves are closely associated in Norse myth and folklore. SnEGylf (12, p. 14) calls this particular monster Mánagarmr ‘Moon’s Dog’, and says this mightiest of creatures will swallow tungl (i.e., one or more heavenly bodies) and bespatter the sky with blood; it adds that þaðan týnir sól skíni sínu ‘as a result the sun will lose its shine’. In Vsp. it might be that this creature attacks the sun on behalf of the moon (cf. the lupine attacks on the sun in Vm. 46–47 and Grm. 39). But the possibility that it is rather the moon that is attacked, and forked from the sky, cannot be discounted; as often in Vsp., there may be deliberate ambiguity. In chapter 10 of The Waning Sword, I argue that this stanza’s lupine troll and aged mother might be analogous to Grendel and his mother in Beowulf.

214 Alternatively, ‘she fills [or ‘will fill’] herself’ or ‘it fills [or ‘will fill’] itself’.

215 Probably humans.

216 At least some of these may be in the sky.

217 H’s verða gives slightly different sense from R’s var ða: ‘sunshine (literally, pl.) becomes dark’.

218 This detail may reflect the sight of volcanic ash falling from a clear Icelandic sky. Alternatively (or additionally), the reference may be to solar eclipses or simply to the vanishing of the sun.

219 According to SnEGylf (51, p. 49), Ragnarok is preceded by a mighty winter (fimbulvetr); see also Vm. 44.

220 Identity uncertain, but perhaps ‘the old one’ of Vsp. 39, in which case translate ‘The giantess’s’.

221 Eggþér (a giant?) is obscure. His name, which means ‘Edge Servant’, corresponds to OE Ecgþeow, the name of the father of the hero of Beowulf.

222 Or ‘gosling-wood’ (perhaps a proper noun). Possibly gagl- ‘gosling’ denotes no more than ‘bird’ here. Other possibilities are that gagl is here a plant-name (‘gale’) or a word meaning ‘towering’, and that gaglviði is a scribal error for gálgviði ‘gallows tree/wood’, the reading of Vsp. H 32. This last possibility is attractive as a reference to the world-tree as Óðinn’s gallows or to a sacrificial grove.

223 Perhaps ‘Hider’. The name is otherwise that of a giant and, earlier in Vsp., a dwarf.

224 ‘Golden Comb’, a cockerel. Cf. HH. II 49.

225 The hall of the ‘Father of Armies’, i.e., of Óðinn. His hall is Valhǫll.

226 Hel ‘Hidden Place’ is here either the goddess of the subterranean land of the dead or that land itself.

227 Garmr, ostensibly ‘Tatter/Rag’ but probably really ‘Howler’, is a mighty dog (Grm. 44) or perhaps an alias of the wolf Fenrir; the common noun garmr is translatable as ‘dog’ or ‘damager’, ‘enemy’ in a skaldic verse in SnESkáld (I, 60, p. 91). SnEGylf (51, p. 50) says that Garmr breaks loose at Ragnarok and dies killing the god Týr. Cf. Mánagarmr in SnEGylf (12, p. 14). Gnipahellir (and its variant Gnúpahellir in H) means ‘Cave with Overhangings’, a name unrecorded elsewhere.

228 The ‘ravener’ is Fenrir or Garmr (if different). The gods bound Fenrir with a magical fetter, from which he will escape at Ragnarok; see the prologue to Ls. and SnEGylf (34, pp. 27–29; 51, p. 50).

229 Or ‘of the battle-gods’.

230 A variant of this stanza appears in SnEGylf (51, p. 49); it lacks the final line and has með hǫlðum ‘among men’, rather than í heimi ‘in the world’.

231 Or ‘outlaw-age’.

232 Mímr is possibly identical to Mímir (see Vsp. 28). The identity of his sons is also uncertain (perhaps giants or men).

233 ‘Horn of (the river) Gjǫll’. Instead of galla ‘resonant’, H calls the horn gamla ‘ancient’.

234 Heimdallr, the gods’ sentinel, watches and listens for the advance of the giants at Ragnarok, when he blows his horn.

235 The last two lines of this stanza and the first two lines of the next find parallel in a single stanza in a quotation from a version of Vsp. in SnEGylf (51, p. 51). Chapter 4 of Ynglinga saga records that the very wise Mímir was sent, along with Hœnir, by the Æsir to the Vanir as a hostage at the end of their war. Dissatisfied with Hœnir, the Vanir decapitated Mímir and returned his head to the Æsir, whereupon Óðinn embalmed it and recited spells so that it would tell him secret knowledge; cf. Sd. 14.

236 The ‘giant’ is probably Loki, whom the gods bound after his instigation of the killing of Baldr (SnEGylf 50, p. 49; cf. Vsp. R 34, Vsp. H 30); otherwise, perhaps Hrymr, Surtr, Fenrir, Garmr or Miðgarðsormr.

237 These lines might belong to the preceding stanza, but in H, where they appear in reverse order, they are followed by two lines absent from R to form a separate stanza of standard length.

238 A variant of this stanza appears in SnEGylf (51, p. 51).

239 Hrymr, who is probably driving a chariot, is a giant; his name might mean ‘Feeble (from Age)’. SnEGylf (51, p. 50) says he steers the ship Naglfar at Ragnarok, whereas it may be Loki who does that in Vsp. 49.

240 Jǫrmungandr ‘Mighty Monstrous-Spirit’ or ‘Enormous Magic-Staff’ is an alias of the Miðgarðsormr, the ‘Snake of Miðgarðr’, the world-serpent which, like the wolf Fenrir and the goddess Hel, was the offspring of Loki and the giantess Angrboða. For another jǫtunn ‘(devouring) giant’-snake, see Fm. 29.

241 ‘Fallow/pale-nosed’ (H has a different reading) might allude to the eagle, as some eagles’ beaks are lighter than their plumage. Cf. Hræsvelgr ‘Corpse Swallower’, the eagle-shaped giant whose wings create the winds in Vm. 36-7.

242 SnEGylf (51, pp. 50-1) identifies Naglfar (also Naglfal) as a ship. It also identifies Naglfari as the biggest ship and says it belongs to Muspell (43, p. 36). Naglfar(i) ostensibly means ‘Nail(ed) Farer’, though the first element was perhaps originally nár ‘corpse’. The possibility that the referent is rather a person, not a ship, is raised by a reference to a character called Naglfari, husband of Nótt ‘Night’, in SnEGylf (10, p. 13).

243 A variant of this stanza appears in SnEGylf (51, p. 51).

244 Or ‘The’.

245 Possibly Naglfar(i).

246 Giants or other evil beings; cf. Ls. 42. The name Muspell (or Múspell) is perhaps that of a fire-giant. Other forms of the word, which scholars have interpreted as meaning roughly ‘end of the world’, occur in Christian apocalyptic contexts in Old High German and Old Saxon texts.

247 The ostensible literal sense is ‘the fool’s’, but fífl might here rather denote the name of, or a term for, a sea-monster.

248 Fenrir or Garmr.

249 Býleiptr’s brother is Loki. Býleiptr, possibly ‘Farmstead Lightning’, might well be an alias of Óðinn, Loki’s blood-brother; Vsp. H 43 has Býleists; cf. Hdl. 40.

250 A variant of this stanza appears in SnEGylf (51, p. 51).

251 Cf. Þrk. 7. The alliterative pairing ‘Æsir and elves’ is common in Eddic verse, and finds parallel in an Old English metrical charm, but ‘elves’ play no obvious part in any other Eddic poem except Vkv., in which the smith Vǫlundr is a ‘prince of elves’. Possibly álfar ‘elves’ describes, or once described, the Vanir.

252 Alternatively, ‘wise ones of the way-rock’, as Vsp. H 40 has it, rock being the dwarves’ highway. R’s veggberg ‘wall-rock’ may be a poetic term for ‘cliffs’, which collapse in the next stanza.

253 SnEGylf (4, p. 9) quotes this stanza, as does SnEGylf (51, p. 51).

254 Surtr ‘Black One’ is a fire-giant; cf. Vm. 50–51. ‘Destruction of twigs’ is a kenning for ‘fire’, here perhaps stemming from a fiery sword.

255 Or ‘the sun of the gods of the slain shines from (his) sword’. The identity of this sword is uncertain, but its implicitly fiery (because solar) nature suggests that it might be wielded by the fire-bearing Surtr. Potentially relevant mythical swords include Lævateinn ‘Twig of Treacheries’ (cf. sviga lævi in the preceding line), this being a probably radiant weapon plucked from the branches of the world-tree by Loki, who took it to the Underworld, where it was guarded by a giantess, Sinmara, closely related to Surtr (see Fj.); the lost sword of the sun-controlling Freyr; and the fiery sword of God on Doomsday in early medieval Christian tradition.

256 Or ‘and troll-women stumble’; the translation ‘witches’ for gífr, literally ‘greedy ones’, is approximate. These are perhaps allies of Surtr. Alternatively, they might be land-spirits made homeless by the turmoil. SnEUpp (7, p. 14) has a different reading: en guðar hrata ‘and gods tumble’.

257 The road to Hel, land of the dead. See also Hlr.

258 Variants of Vsp. 52–55 appear in SnEGylf (51, p. 52).

259 Hlín ‘Defending/Protecting One’ is perhaps an alias of Óðinn’s wife, Frigg, whose first sorrow would have been Baldr’s death. But SnEGylf (35, p. 30) identifies Hlín as a goddess who guards people whom Frigg wants to protect from danger. The name often appears in skaldic kennings for ‘woman’.

260 Beli was a giant whose name probably means ‘Bellower’. Freyr, who was without his sword, slew him with a stag’s antler, according to SnEGylf (37, p. 31). Earlier, Freyr is similarly ‘Beli’s enemy’ in Hál. 3. For Freyr’s death against Surtr at Ragnarok, see SnEGylf (51, p. 50).

261 Here Angantýr ‘Fragrant God’, elsewhere a hero-name (cf. Hdl. 9), might be an alias of Óðinn, who is devoured by the wolf at Ragnarok; see SnEGylf (51, p. 50) and Vm. 53. Another possibility is Freyr. H has simply angan ‘fragrant one’.

262 Sigfaðir ‘Victory Father’ is an alias of Óðinn.

263 Possibly ‘Spear Lord’ or ‘Wide Ruler’.

264 The wolf.

265 Or mundum ‘with his hands’.

266 Hveðrungr, perhaps ‘Descendant of Hveðra [a giantess]’ or ‘Roarer’, is a name of Loki; his son is the wolf Fenrir.

267 Hlóðyn, a word of uncertain etymology (it perhaps corresponds to Hludana, an ancient Germanic goddess of the Rhineland), is a name of Þórr’s mother. She is called Fjǫrgyn ‘Earth’ later in this stanza.

268 Þórr.

269 Here úlf ‘wolf’ could well be a mistake for orm ‘snake’, the scribe having repeated við úlf vega ‘to fight against the wolf’ from two stanzas earlier. But it is not certainly an error (or at least not definitely a purely mechanical one), as the tenth-century depiction of Ragnarok on the Gosforth Cross includes a wolf-headed snake.

270 Or ‘slays’.

271 This line is ambiguous. It could mean either ‘he [Þórr] strikes Miðgarðr’s guardian [or ‘encircler’; i.e., the world-serpent] in anger’ or ‘he/it [the wolf or world-serpent] strikes Miðgarðr’s guardian [i.e., Þórr] in anger’; the latter sense is perhaps more immediate, as Þórr is called Véurr in Hym. Some editors emend acc. sg. véur to nom. sg. véurr (found in SnEGylf), in which case the sense is ‘Miðgarðr’s guardian strikes him/it in rage’.

272 The ‘homestead’ is presumably the world.

273 Þórr. His mother’s name, Fjǫrgyn, means ‘Earth’ or ‘Mountain’.

274 The meaning of this line is disputed, but a dark (i.e., new) moon might be eclipsing the sun, which turns black in the next stanza. Alternatively, the snake might be ‘unapprehensive of hostility (níðs)’; deliberate ambiguity is possible.

275 This line might be echoed at the start of st. 24 of Þorfinnsdrápa ‘Þorfinnr’s Poem’ by the Icelander Arnórr Þórðarson jarlaskáld (b. after 1012, d. after 1073); SPSMA II, 258–59.

276 ‘Life-nourisher’ (aldrnari) is attested elsewhere as a poetic term for ‘fire’. Alternatively, here it might describe the life-sustaining world-tree, which is engulfed in smoke and flame. Again, more than one meaning might be intended.

277 Presumably from flames.

278 ‘Fell’ in the old sense of ‘mountain’, here presumably one with stretches of water on its lower slopes.

279 Possibly a kenning for the earth-encircling Miðgarðsormr; it might be a proper noun. Vsp. H 52 follows this line with one that, probably due to textual corruption, is missing from R: ok minnask þar á megindóma ‘and there remember great dooms’.

280 Or ‘ancient secrets’. Fimbultýr ‘Mighty God’ is probably an alias of Óðinn; cf. Fimbulþulr in Háv. 80, 142.

281 Cf. Vsp. 8.

282 Hroptr is an Óðinn-alias of uncertain meaning, perhaps ‘Cryptic/Hidden One’ or ‘Invoker’.

283 The text makes sense as it stands, but some editors emend vel valtívar ‘well, (as) gods of the slain’ to vé valtíva ‘sanctuaries of the gods of the slain’; other possible emendations are vés valtívar ‘gods of the sanctuary’ and vel veltívar ‘well, (as) benign gods’; cf. Vsp. H 54.

284 Or ‘sacrificial blood twig’; hlaut- (hlut- in Vsp. H 55) denotes primarily a lot used in augury, secondarily the sacrificial blood used. Either way, Hœnir divines the future. Cf. Hym. 1.

285 The identity of the two brothers (or ‘the brothers of Tveggi [=Óðinn]’?) is unclear, but they could well be Hǫðr and Baldr. Their sons (a new generation of gods or men?) are also obscure.

286 Presumably a description of the expansive new world.

287 A variant of this stanza appears in SnEGylf (17, p. 20); it describes the hall as gulli betra ‘better than gold’, rather than gulli þakðan ‘thatched with gold’.

288 SnEGylf (52, p. 53) says that, after Ragnarok, Gimlé ‘Fire/Gem Lee’ will be the best place in heaven, where there will be fine drink for those in the hall called Brimir. Righteous people will dwell in it and in a hall called Sindri; cf. Vsp. 36.

289 I.e., groups of people.

290 I.e., dimly shining.

291 ‘Waning/Dark Moons’ Mountains’ or ‘Niði’s Mountains’, Niði being a dwarf in Vsp. 11, or ‘Kinsmen’s Mountains’. More than one sense might apply. Cf. Niðavellir in Vsp. 36.

292 Or ‘in his feathers’.

293 If, at the start of this stanza, þar ‘there’ (absent from Vsp. H 58) refers to Gimlé, it is uncertain why the dragon should carry corpses, presumably from Nástrǫnd (Vsp. 37–38), to this happy hall; but perhaps, following their torture, implicitly in the depths, the dead are now deemed fit for resurrection and to join the virtuous in a new life of bliss.

294 Norse seeresses reportedly sat on high-seats or platforms while performing, but this one’s sinking at the end of her recitation might also (or alternatively) indicate a mental collapse as she withdraws from a trance-like state. Another possibility, entertained by scholars who believe that Óðinn had wakened the seeress from the dead, is that she sinks back into her grave. Cf. Vsp. 2, Ls. 24, Grp. 22.

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