‘AT the birth of Time, nothing existed.
There was neither sea, nor sand, nor wind. Earth and sky
were not apparent, nor did the least vegetation clothe the
‘The sun appeared in the south, and the
moon for the first time opened the Gates of Night; but the
sun knew not his route, nor the moon her true position, nor
had the stars a place assigned them.
‘Then the gods ascended their high
thrones, and met in council. They gave a name to night and
twilight; they regulated the morning hours and mid-day, and
parcelled out the years.
‘And the prophetess knows where stands
the tree Ygdrasil, that mighty ash, whose white roots
embrace the world. From it falls dew, covering the earth,
and its leaves are clothed in perpetual verdure.
‘From the bosom of the waters come the
three daughters of Wisdom, and advance beneath this tree.
And the name of the first is URD, of the second, VERDANDI,
of the third, SKULD. These are those who regulate man’s
‘She knows too where the trumpet of
HEIMDAL is concealed amid the branches of the celestial
tree, and she beholds the foaming waters of the River of
Wisdom rolling swiftly on beneath the glance of ALLFADER.
‘One day she was seated at the entrance
of her abode, and behold approach the mightiest of the gods,
who gazed fixedly upon her. She exclaimed: ‘What do you
demand from me? I know that thou art ODIN, he whose eye is
daily plunged in the Well of Mimer, fed by the Stream of
‘And the sovereign of the gods gave her
mystic rings and Runic staves, with the farther gift of
prophecy. Her sight was purified, and embraced the world.
‘She saw the cruel fate reserved for
BALDER, the son of ODIN. The branch of the tree increased,
and though small, was beautiful. It became a murderous
sword, and was borne by HANDER.
‘Soon arose the son of ODIN, destined to
avenge his brother, BALDER. In one night be attained to
manhood, nor washed he his face or painted his hair until he
reaped full vengeance on the murderer.
‘ And the voice
cried: ‘ See you aught else? and the prophetess
‘The wolves howl
in the caves of Gnipa. Their chains are broken, and the
wolves are free. The prophetess has seen from afar the
decline of the Empire of Heaven, and the fall of all the
‘Brothers combat with each other,
parents forget the bonds which bind them to their children,
and the marriage-tie is rent asunder. The bucklers of the
warriors are broken. The war-time has come; the season of
wolves and tempests!
‘Again the wolves
howl in the caves of Gnipa. Their chains are broken, and the
wolves are free. On one side advances Hrnm. The sea is
agitated, and the serpent: swell with wrath. The eagle
screams with joy over the dead bodies it tears in pieces,
and the ship Nagelfar* floats out upon the waters.
*This ship was constructed from the
nails of dead men. Its completion heralded the destruction
of the world. — TR.
‘It approaches from the south. The sons
of MUSPEL are upon it, and LOKI at the helm. The race of
monsters have associated with the wolves, and LOKI is their
‘Alas I what fate
is reserved for the race of the Asers! What will be the
destiny of the Elves!
The world of the giants is filled with
tumult. The Asers assemble, and the dwarfs of the mountain
groan at the entrance of their caverns.
‘SURTUR comes from the south, and brings
Conflagration with him. His burning sword flashes in the
air, and the rocks are rent asunder. The TROLLS wander about
anxiously, and men hasten along the path of death.
‘Tribulation seizes the heart of
HYLNA when ODIN advances to meet the mighty wolf. The
conqueror of BELI combats with SURTUR. But the husband of
FRIGGA is vanquished in the battle.
‘Then advances the son of the God of
Victory, the powerful VIDAR, to struggle with the wolf. With
one hand he holds him fast, while the other plunges a sword
into his heart.
‘THOR, too, approaches, the son of
ODIN. He attacks the serpent Midgard, and destroys him; but
falling back nine paces, dies himself by the venom of the
'The sun is clothed in darkness, and the
reeling earth sinks beneath the waters. The stars shoot from
the firmament, and the flames mount even to the skies.
prophetess beholds a new earth, beautiful and pleasant,
rising from the bosom of the waters. The waves retire within
their boundaries, and the eagle that has taken fish from the
meadows flies away forever.
‘The Asers reassemble in the vales of
Ida, and talk concerning the destruction of the world. They
recall the heroic deeds of the past, and the lessons of the
‘They find also
upon the green shores of the new world the wonderful tablets
of gold which the first of the gods and the race of FJOLNER
possessed before the birth of time.
‘The fields are covered with fruits,
which spring up spontaneously. Disease is banished from the
earth; and BALDER. returning, dwells with his brother HANDER
in the palaces of ODIN.
prophetess beholds the halls of Gimla, covered with gold,
and more brilliant than the stars. The just and good live
there, and their happiness extends forever.
‘From the lowest
abyss of darkness rises the dragon NIDHUG, bearing with him
the bodies of the dead. He holds his course across the
vallies, falls, and disappears.’