[Historic Translations of Individual Eddic Poems] [Völuspá: A Study Guide] [Germanic Mythology]


THE VOLUSPA

OR
SPEECH OF THE PROPHETESS;

EXTRACTED FROM THE REMAINS OF THE RUNIC MYTHOLOGY,
AS PRESERVED BY OLAUS WORMIUS, BARTHOLINUS, AND OTHERS.

BY THE REV.  JAMES  PROWETT
1816
 

This is NOT a translation of Völuspá, but an original poem loosely based on it.

From the caverns of the North,
I hear a voice of Fate send forth!
Hear, ye Nations, silence hold!
I the volume dark unfold
—I the dread decree reveal,
Which the steadfast globe shall feel:

 2

When the mouldering Earth decays;
Wben revolving nights and days,
Now their destin'd course have run;
Then the great, unwearied Sun,
From the mansions of the sky,

Shall the deeds of guilt descry,
Which pollute'th' affrighted earth;
Crimes of more than mortal birth:
Then the Son shall raise his knife
'Gainst the trembling Parent's life;
Vain the mournful suppliant's prayer;
Vain the sad imploring tear;
Faith no more shall mortals bind:
Lust and rapine unconfin'd
Shall the marriage-vow profane,
And the sacred vesture stain:
Till corruption, spreading wide 
Pours its unrestrained tide;
              3
And beneath th' o'erwhelming flood,
Sink the valiant, wise, and good.
Then the day by Heaven decreed,
Shall avenge each impious deed:
Lo! the glowing orb of light,
Sudden fades in thickest night:
Nor the mournful, cheerless gloom,
Twinkling stars and moon illume;
Lo! the aërial realms around,
Peals and dismal moans resound;
Fire and water, earth and wind,
Rush, in furious conflict join'd ;
Till the dread, devouring flame;
Victor ride o'er nature's frame;
And where once Creation mil'd,
Lies a pathless, cheerless wild.
O'er the vanish'd place of things,
Horror brood with raven wings.
         4
Then the work of fury done,
When his destin'd race is run,

And his thirst of vengeance o'er,

Lok* shall feel th' almighty power;
And in awful silence wait,

Till the hour which seals his fate.

He, with pangs, the end shall see,
Of his Monster-progeny;
Ϯ
Who shall rush with impious might,
'Gainst the warrior Gods±
 in fight.

     *Lok was the Evil Principle among the Scandinavians; like the Arimanes of the Persians, he was supposed to he in continual enmity with the Gods, or posterity of Odin.
    Ϯ These were the wolf Fenris; Hela, or the Goddess of Death; and the Great Serpent, who wound himself round the earth.
     ± Th
ese were the Deities who were supposed to govern the created system.
           5
Then with inward frenzy torn,
Al
l* the Giant brood shall mourn;
Who in headlong rout shall fly,
Thro' the Seas and flaming Sky;
Till in smoke and smouldering fire,
They, with horror struck, expire
.
OdinϮ too must yield to fate:
Death shall e'en the Brave await.

Then a voice
±
is heard afar,
Stilling all the rage of war;

   *Under this name are comprehended the Giants of the Frost and the Genii: the first were descended from the Giant Ymir, who was formed of congealed drops of'moistnre by the breath of the Almighty power; the Genii inhabited a globe of Fire.
    Ϯ
The supreme Deity of the Goths and Celts, the Hesus of Lucan; from him many of the Deities worshipped by the Scandinavians were descended.
     ±Yet from the Volnspa it should seem that the Scandinavians believed in a Being superior to Odin: who existed before the world, and after its destruction was to restore all things.
 

 

6

 

Bidding tumult, discord cease;

Dawn of everlasting peace.

Bound in adamantine chain,

Lok, the Eternal shall constrain,
To the silent shades to go ;

To the Realms* of grief and woe.

In the Dragon's scaly Pride;

He his hateful form shall hide;

There with pinions stretch'd abroad,
Hover o'er his dark abode;

While beneath his griesly wing,
Ghastly shrieks and groans shall ring;
Where
ill billows dark and deep,
Never lull'd by soothing sleep,

 


*Naastronde, the Hell of the Scandinavians 

 

 

7

 

 

Guilty captives mourn their doom,
Torn from out the sheltering tomb,
Plung'd amid th' infernal sea,
Through the vast Eternity.

On the never dying groan,

On the hopeless, hollow moan,
Lok with bitter joy shall feed;
Yet himself shall
inward breed,
Fiercer torments in his breast,
By corroding pang
s possest :

For the varied forms of ill,

Which the world's wide circuit fill,
To his bosom shall return;

There with ceaseless fury burn.
Then a n
ew-horn earth and skies,
From the dark profound shall rise;
N
ever more the foaming main
S
hall assert his stormy reign;

8

And the yawning gulphs disclose,
Where the warriors' bones repose;
Who in perils ever tost,
M
idst the shock of waves were lost.
Then nor evening's murky veil,
Shall the deeds of guilt conceal;
Nor o
'er Nature's works display'd
Ca
st an universal shade;
N
or within her ghostly hour,
Safe beneath ber sheltering power,
Demons hollow-ey'd appear
,
To the starting sons of Fear.
Bu
t a city, heavenly bright,
Seat of emp
yreal light;
Domes of crystal, towers of gold,
Shall the raptur'd eye behold;
Glittering streams of silver sheen,
Groves for ever vernal green;
 9
Many a meadow's flowery bed,
Many a mountain's cloud-topp'd head,
W
here the favor'd few remain,
Fr
ee from anguish, care, or pain;
Whom i
n peril's trying bour,
Af
ter death th' Eternal Power
Fr
om the scenes of suffering bore:
Land
ed on yon tranquil shore,
O'er the sorrows of the past,
Man
y a thought they back shall cast;
Blest with joy's unsullied beams:
W
hich in short-lived, fading gleams,
From the fount of rapture flow,
To the darken'd
world below.

[Historic Translations of Individual Eddic Poems]
[Völuspá: A Study Guide]

[Germanic Mythology]