Poetic Edda/Völuspá

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Poetic Edda
Völuspá - The Wise-Woman's Prophecy

Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress) is the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda. It tells the story of the creation of the world and its coming end related by a völva or seeress addressing Odin. It is one of the most important primary sources for the study of Norse mythology.

The prophecy commences with an address to Odin. The seeress then starts relating the story of the creation of the world in an abridged form. She explains how she came by her knowledge and that she understands the source of Odin's omniscience, and other secrets of the gods of Asgard. She deals with present and future happenings, touching on many of the Norse myths, such as the death of Baldr and the binding of Loki. Ultimately the seeress tells of the end of the world, Ragnarök, and its second coming.

Excerpted from Völuspá on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The völva from Völuspá, an illustration from Fredrik Sander's 1893 Swedish edition of the Poetic Edda.

1. «For silence I ask
all children,[1]
great and small,
sons of Heimdallar;
wilt thou, that I, Valfather!
Well recount
ancient history of men,
the first I remember?

2. I remember Jotnar
early born,
those who in old
foster me have;
nine homes I remember,
nine wooded rooms,
wise tree bright
before ground below.

3. In times of old
then Ymir build,
was no sand or sea,
nor gelid waves,
earth existed not,
nor upper heaven,
gap was yawning,
but grass nowhere.

4. Ere Bur's sons
the burden lifted,
they who Midgard
mighty created;
sun shone from the south
on the temple rocks,
the ground grows
with green onions.

5. Sun warped south,
moons companion,
the right hand
around the heavens rim;
sun knew not
what temples she had,
moon knew not
what power he possessed,
stars knew not
what places they had.

6. Then went reigns all
to their ruling seats,
the high-holy gods
held council;
night and descendant
they gave names,
morning they named,
and midday,
afternoon and eve;
years to count.

7. Are Aesir to be found
on Idavelli;
there they Horg and Hof
timbered high,
craftsmen created,
and blacksmiths,
tongs they fashion
and tools made.

8. With games in the yard
joyous they were,
to them was naught
the lack of gold;
then three there came,
Thuss maidens,
from Jotunhome.

9. Then went reigns all
to their ruling seats,
the high-holy gods
held council:
whom should the Dwarfs,
the kings' men, create,
from oceans blood
and the blue calves.

10. There was Modsognir,
greatest of creations,
greatest of Dwarfs,
but Durinn second;
Manlike creations
many they did,
Dwarfs from earth,
as Durinn said.

11. Nýi, Nidi,
Nordri, Sudri,
Austri, Vestri,
Althjófr, Dvalinn,
Nár and Náinn,
Nípingr, Dáinn,
Bifurr, Bafurr,
Bomburr, Nori,
Ánn and Ánarr,
Óinn, Mjodvitnir.

12. Veggr and Gandálfr,
Vindálfr, Thorinn,
Thrár and Thráinn,
Thekkr, Litr ok Vitr,
Nýr and Nýrádr,
now have I Dwarfs,
Reginn and Radsvidr,
rightly mention.

13. Fili, Kili,
Fundinn, Nali,
Hepti, Vili,
Hanarr, Svíurr,
Billingr, Brúni,
Bildr and Buri,
Frár, Hornbori,
Fregr and Lóni,
Aurvangr, Jari,

14. Measure is the Dwarfs
in Dvalin's flock
the men of lions
and census Lofars;
there they went
from temples rocks,
to Aurvanga shoot,
and Joruvalla.

15. There were Draupnir,
and Dólgthrasir,
Hár, Haugspori,
Hlévangr, Glóinn,
Dori, Ori,
Dúfr, Andvari,
Skirfir, Virfir,
Skafidr, Ai.

16. Álfr and Yngvi,
Fjalarr and Frosti,
Finnr and Ginnarr;
known shall be
while people lives,
long-fathers reckoning,
the Lofars had.

17. To three there came
from the land
this high and mighty
Aesir to the house,
found they on land,
less mighty,
Ask and Emblu
void of destiny.

18. Mind they not own,
reflection they had not,
no vision nor cover
or colour fine;
mind gave Odinn,
reflection gave Hænir,
vision gave Lódurr
and colour fine.

19. Ash I know standing,
named Yggdrasill,
a lofty tree, laved
with limpid water:
thence comes dew
that in dales fell;
stands always over
the green Urd’s well.

20. Thence comes maidens,
much knowing,
three, from the hall
under tree stands;
Urd hight the first,
the second Verdandi,
they ash-tablets graved,
Skuld hight the third;
they laws made,
they life selected;
all the children
they destiny say.

21. She dispute remember,
the first in the home,
when Gullveig
Geirum supported,
and in Hárs hall
they burn her;
three times burned
the three times born,
often, not seldom,
yet still she lives.

22. Heidi she hight,
to the house came
the wise volva,
woken she neighbours,
magic she knew,
magic she joyfully,
friendly always
for angry maidens.

23. Then went reigns all
to their ruling seats,
the high-holy gods
held council:
whether Aesir should
sacrifice offer,
or should gods all
the guilds own.

24. Spear throws Odinn
and shoots in the flock,
then there was conflict,
the first in the home;
broken was board-wall
in Aesir-fortress,
war proclaims Vanir,
on plains running.

25. Then went reigns all
to their ruling seats,
the high-holy gods
held council:
who had ear all
with evil mixed,
or the Jotun's
Od's made given?

26. Thorr only rise,
in stifling mode,
seldom he sits
when hearing like this;
broken was oaths,
words, and promise,
the mighty pledges
between them made.

27. Knows she Heimdall's
sound is hidden
under bright twig
of holy tree;
stream see she wiggle
to muddy falls
from Valfathers pawn.
Understand ye yet, or what?

28. Alone she sat outside,
when in old there came
Yggjungr, Aesir,
and in her eye gazed:
«What wouldst thou ask me?
Why temptest thou me?
I know all, Ódinn!
Where your eye fell:
in the mighty
well of Mími»
Mead drinks Mímir
every morning
from Valfathers pawn.
Understand ye yet, or what?

29. Selected her Herfather
rings and gold,
riches wisely,
that she wisdom tell.
Saw she far and wide
in homes all.

30. See she Valkyries
far was coming,
ready to ride
to Godtjodar:
Skuld hold shield,
but Skogul another,
Gunnr, Hildr, Gondul,
and Geirskogul;
now is counted
the nun's of Herjan,
Valkyries ready
to ride the land.

31. I saw for Baldri,
the blood of Tívur,
Ódin's child
destiny follow:
Stood he grown up,
high over field,
lean and soft,
the bright mistletoe.

32. Was of the injury,
that hit him mildly,
harm-flying badly;
Hodr was shooting.
Baldrs brother
was born ere long,
and one night old
fought Odin's son.

33. Wash he never hands,
nor head combed,
till to fire he bore
Baldrs cause of death.
But Frigg she cried
in Fensalom
over the act in Valhallar.
Understand ye yet, or what?

34 . . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
Then may Vala
the tie of misery turn,
better-done hard
and tide with guts.

35. In chain saw she lying
under spring grove,
the guileful-like
Loka to perceive;
sits there Sigyn,
but much happiness
she don’t have.
Understand ye yet, or what?

36. River falls east
through venom dales
with scissors and sword;
Slídr is its name.

37. Stood before the north,
on Nidavollum
a hall made of gold
for Sindr's kin;
another stood
in Ókólni,
Jotun's bjór-hall,
which Brímir hight.

38. Hall she sees standing
far from the sun
at Nástrondu,
north turns the door;
falls venom-drops
in from the roof,
and it's under the hall
entwined with serpents.

39. She there saw wading
the sluggish streams
bloodthirsty men
and murderous wolfs
and those who confuse
the ears of a female friend;
there suck Nidhoggr
corpses, forward going,
the wolf tears beings.
Understand ye yet, or what?

40. In the east sat the old
in Ironwood
and there gave birth
to Fenris children;
Just one of these
of all of them
becomes the moon-thief
in troll's guise.

41. Fills the foreshore
with dead men,
reddens reigns abode
with red gore;
black was sunshine
the summer after,
the weather unsafe.
Understand ye yet, or what?

42. Sat there on a pile
and played his harp
the maidens' warder
joyfully Egdir;
resound around him
in gosling forest
bright red rooster
that Fjalarr is named.

43. Resound around Aesir
and wakes yeoman's
hinge at Herjafather;
another yell
before earth below
soot-red rooster
in the halls of Heljar.

44. Barks Garmr load
before Gnípahelli;
the leash may break,
and Freki then runs.
Much she knows,
forth I see longer,
about Ragnarok
the mighty Sigtíva.

45. Brothers may fight
and fell each other,
may sisters' sons
kinship stain;
hard is in the home,
whoredom severe;
axe-age, sword-age,
shields cloven,
wind-age, wolf-age,
ere the world falls;
no men will
each other spare.

46. Plays Mims sons,
but fate awakes
from the aged
load blows Heimdallr,
the horn is raised;
grind then Ódinn
with Míms head.

"Völuspá - Intro to Ragnarok", Graph on a Stamp of the Postverk Føroya from 2003 by Anker Eli Petersen.

47. Trembles Yggdrasil's
ash yet standing,
a feeble sound of aged tree,
the Jotunn is loos;
hasty they all went
on the road to Hel,
before still Surt's
friend it swallow.

48. What's with the Aesir?
What's with the Elf’s?
Resound all Jotun-homes;
Aesir are at the council,
stand the Dwarfs
before the stony door,
rock-wall wise.
Understand ye yet, or what?

49. Barks now Garmr load
before Gnípahelli,
the leash may break,
and Freki then runs.

50. Hrymr slide to the east,
have linden in front.
Turns Jormungandr
in Jotun mode:
worm bundle waves
and eagle screams,
beak tear foul corpse.
Naglfar is loosened.

51. Keel's journey eastward,
comes may Muspells
of lawful lands,
but Loki steer's;
goes unlawful men
with Freka all,
they with brother
of Byleist went.

52. Surtr journey south,
with burning evil,
shines from swords
the sun on Valtiva.
Stone castle clashes,
still werewolf journey,
throng tails on Hell-road,
then heaven cloven.

53. Then comes Hlínars
other grief forth,
when Ódinn goes
with wolf fighting,
and bright Belia
slays Surti;
there may Friggjar
fall out of joy.

54. Barks now Garmr load
before Gnípahelli;
the leash may break,
and Freki then runs.

55. Then comes the high
Sigfathers son
Vidarr to slay
the Val-beast;
In Hvedrungs son
his sword pierced
to the heart;
avenged was his father.

56. Then comes the bright
son of Hlódynjar,
goes Odin’s son
to fight the snake;
slay he the mighty
Midgard’s guardian;
may werewolf's all
homesteads clear;
walks steps nine
Fjorgynjar's son
faintly from the serpent;
contumely female beast.

57. The sun darkens,
earth in ocean sinks,
from heaven trembles
bright stars.
The raging reek
with age to linger
plays load heat
with heaven itself.

58. Barks now Garmr load
before Gnipahelli,
the leash may break,
and Freki then runs.

59. She sees arise
a second time
earth from ocean,
beauteously green;
waterfalls descending,
eagle flying over,
she from mountains
captures fish.

60. Are Aesir to be found
on Idavelli,
of moulded pinewood
long they speak,
and recollect there
the mighty concil,
and of Fimbultys
ancient runes.

61. Then may again
golden tablets
in the grass be found,
which in days of old
they had possessed.

62. Unsown then
the fields will grow,
evil be amended;
Baldr is coming.
Hodr and Baldr dwell
in Hropts victory-hall,
well with Valtivar.
Understand ye yet, or what?

63. Then may Hænir
by lot wood choose,
and farmsteads build,
brothers both
in wind home wide.
Understand ye yet, or what?

64. She a hall see standing
brighter than sun,
with gold bedecked,
in Gimlé;
there shall good people
household build,
and in long time
happiness enjoy.

65. Then comes a kingdom
to the ruling-seat,
the high from above,
who rules o'er all.

66. Then comes the gloomy
dragon flying,
serpent from below,
from Nidafjollum;.
bears in feather corpse
- flying over plain -
Nidhoggr now pale.
Now may she sink..»


The text starts with the word Hljóðs, and no title is given in the source. The name Völuspá 'Vala's Prophecy' is taken from Prose Edda, and used as reference by Snorri Sturluson in Gylfaginning.

  1. ^ allar kindir 'all children' in R, helgar kindir 'holy children' in B and H.