The Earliest English
Translations of Individual Poems
of the Poetic Edda
[Historic Translations of Individual Eddic Poems]
1840 William Herbert
from WORKS of the Hon. and Very Reverend
William Herbert, Dean of Manchester, etc
excepting those on botany and natural history
with additions and corrections by the author, Vol. I
1842: "Horæ Scandicæ or Works Relating to Old Scandinavian Literature."
* The plumage and wings of swans which they wore when they wished to fly. Women, who mixed in warfare and were supposed to hare the power of flying through the air, were called Valkyries, though not actually the Valkyries of Odin.
HIaudve is unquestionably the same name
as Clodio or Blodio, Clilodovicus or Lodovicus,
The Black forest or woody tract of
§ At dreya, to dree or drey, old English for to endure.
†The lake side.
One took Eg
Bright-bosom'd maiden with fair face;
Swanvhita was another's name,
Who array'd in swan-plumes came;
The third was fain her arms to throw
Round Volunder's neck of snow. 10
After that seven years they sat,
The eighth they grew uneasy-hearted;
Each on the ninth from her lord departed.
Thro' the wide dark wood they wish'd to flee
(Young Alvitur was one) their fates to dree. 15
Mirthsome shooters of the game
Turning homeward from the chase
They found their hall an empty space.
To seek the lost Aubruna then 20
Skating eastward Eg
On the search for Swanvhite fair
His steps Slagfider southward bent.
5. Alone in Wolfdale sat Volunder;
Gems he chased in gold set under, 25
And together bound
* Made of the bark of the lime tree.
How alone Volunder sat;
forth fared his men by night;
Many a nail bedeck'd their mail,
And their shields shone bright
To the gleam of the horned moon. 35
8. They took them off,
and they put them on, 40
But one they
9. Straight he came to the blazing flame,
To broil the steak of a bear; 45
The blowing wind had dried the rind
Of the logs Volunder bare.
He sat on a bear-skin, and counted each ring;
One was miss'd by Alfheim's prince.
He thought that Clodio's child Alvitur 50
Return'd had made his treasure lighter.
He sat there t
But waking he had cause to weep;
Shackles on his hands he found,
And his feet with fetters bound. 55
"Who are the gallants, that have laid
"Chains on the bearer of gold, and bound me?"
Niduder king of Niari said,
" Where gat'st thou, prince of Alfs, Volunder,
"Gold in Wolfsdale which is mine? 60
"This never in Grana's* path did shine;
"I thought my lands far from the Rhenish fell;
"I had more gold, I remember well,
"When we were hale friends at home."
* The horse of Sigurd (Att
14. ( Volunder speaks.)
"Hladguder and Hervor were Clodion's bairns, 65
"Aubruna was daughter of Kiar,
"Alvitur* stept the length of the hall,
"Mild of speech on the floor she stood.
''If dragg'd from the blithe green-wood.'' 70
*She in the original but it refers to Hervor Alvitur and not to Aubruna.
King Niduder gave the golden ring which he had taken from the string of Volunder to his daughter Baudvilder,* but he himself bore the sword which Volunder had. But the queen sang :
"He shew'd his teeth, as he spied the sword,
"And the ring of Baudvilda knew;
"The eyes are keen of that serpent sheen!
"Cut the strength of his sinews thro',
"And after place him in Sævarstaud." 75
So it was done, that the sinews were cut in his hams, and he was placed in the island which was opposite the coast and called Sævarstaud. There he forged the king all sorts of jewelry. No man dared go near him, but the king.
16. (Volunder sang.)
"The sword shines bright in Niduder's belt,
"Which I sharpen'd with mickle sk
"And gave it temper rare;
"That sword from me for aye is ta'en,
"It comes not to my forge again. 80
"I see Baudvilda my bride's ring wear,
"That loss I never shall repair."
He sat there ever, and slumber'd never,
But with his hammer smote;
Yet liefer and briefer he 85
Wrought guile to Niari's king.
Two youths drew nigh to Volunder's door,
Sons of Niduder, in Sævarstaud.
They came to the chest, and craved the key,
But evil, as they look in, thought he. 90
Rich things were there and precious to wear,
Which seem'd to the youths all ruddy with gold.
"Come two alone! come another day,
"To share that golden gear ;
"But say not ye to man or *may, 95
"Ye found Volunder here !"
Quickly one address'd the other,
Brother thus bespoke his brother,
"Let us look at the forger's rings."
They came to the chest, and craved the key, 100
But evil, as they look'd in, thought he.
Off their* heads were lopt by Volunder,
He laid their feet the damp floor under;
He stripp'd the scalp from each hairy head.
And to Niduder sent the sculls 105
With silver plate o'erlaid.
*Huns, translated by the editors “of the youths”, but otherwise Huns. The word certainly means Huns. The other sense is questionable.
Bright gems he fashion'd from their eyes,
And gave them to the cunning queen;
And of their teeth made broaches sheen
To deck Baudvilda's breast. 110
Baudvilda prized the ring, and wore it.
Broken to Volunder bore it.
"I do not dare this ring to bear
"To any wight save thee."
25. (Volundr sang.)
"Thy sire shall reckon
thee more fair,
He brought the damsel beer.
For deeper thoughts had he; 120
She sank upon the seat.
"Now is ample vengeance done
"For all my grievous wrongs, save one.
"Would I could stand on my feet," he cried, 125
"Which the thralls of
29. (The queen says)
"Wakest thou, Niari's king ? 135
"Watchful I and joyless lie,
"While I think of my slaughter'd bairns."
30. (The king says)
"Cold is my brow, and cold
"Thine evil counsel seems!
"To parley now, unless hopes fail, 140
"Prince of the Alfs, Volunder, say,
"What hast thou done with my gallant boys
"Yestreen so fresh and hale?”
31. (Volunder says)
"Swear thou first by every pledge, 145
"By thy buckler bright and round,
"Thy ship's timber stout and sound,
"Horse's withers, and sword's edge,
"Not to slay Volunder's bride,
"Nor to harm her, tho' she bide 150
In thy hall well-known,
“Their cor(p)ses under the fenny floor.
35. (Niduder says)
"Feller word! thou couldst not speak ! 165
Fain would I that evil wreak !
But who, his courser tall bestriding,
Can seize thee, thus in mid-air riding?
Who can smite thee from beneath,
While wafted to the clouds?" 170
Volunder smiling soar'd on high,
Niduder sat down with a sigh.
"Arise, Thakrader, my trusty thrall,
Fair-faced Baudvilda call!
"Bid the damsel of raiment rare 175
“To her father's hall repair."
"Tell me, Baudvilda, is that sooth,
"Which evil tongues declare ;
"Didst thou with Volunder sit
"Lonely in the forger's lair?" 180
"True it is, as they declare ;
"Lonely I sat in the forger's lair,
"One dreadful hour, but one alone;
"Would, that hour I ne'er had known!
"Might I had not to prevail; 185
"Nothing could my strength avail."
This ode is
improperly placed first in the volume of the Tragic Edda, for it
refers (st. 13.) to the capture of the gold of Fafner on Gnita
heath (see Gripis-spa, st. II.) near the Rhine by Attila, (under
the mystic name Sigurd) on his horse Grana, which is the subject
of Fafnismal. Herein is a blending of some of the fundamental
features of the Attilane legend with other circumstances, and a
transfer of the scene of action to
There is not a
particle in the whole volume of the tragic part of the Edda of
genuine Scandinavian story, but the whole is more or less
intimately connected with Attila. The three next odes tell of
the mighty Helgé and his Valkyrie bride, Svava or Sigruna, or
Kara, for they both, she and Helgé, are three times revived or
born again (epterborin) and she has a different name and
parentage each time. In his last incarnation Helgé is the son of
Sigmund, son of Volsunger, and therefore brother of Sigurd who
has been shewn (Attila, p. 522.) to be Attila. But Helgé
himself is said to be superior to all warriors
2. 36.), and in his second incarnation he is, like
In Sigurdar quida,
1, 15, it is said that Brynhilda slept in the mountain in
Hlyndale, (where Sigurd first visited her) after the death of
Helgé, on which the editor observes, Helgé must have been some
unknown warrior k