Translated with a brief Introduction
by Sharon Turner
in his
History of the Anglo-Saxons

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

This Poem is frequently quoted in the Edda of Snorre, as a competent authority, and is therefore much more ancient. It is thought to have been compiled from preceding traditions by Sæmund, who lived about a hundred years before Snorre. As it has never appeared in English before, and is very little known in
Europe, and is the most ancient record of the traditions of the Northmen which has yet to be found, a translation of it will be added here. I have made the version as literally as possible, and as well as I can understand it, but in some parts all the interpretations of it differ. Bartholin has sometimes rather paraphrased than translated his extracts.

Its best commentary is Snorre’s Edda. The name VOLUSPA implies the oracle of prophecy of Vola. This sibyl of the North expresses in it, though with rapid conciseness, the great outlines of the ancient Northern Mythology. The Voluspa and the Edda are two great repositories of the oldest and most venerated traditions of Pagan Scandinavia. The Voluspa opens abruptly, and most probably represents many of the ancient Saxon traditions or imaginations.
Be silent, I pray, all holy creatures!
Greater or small! sons of Heimdallar!
I will tell of the devices of Valfodur;
The ancient discourses of men; the earliest I know.
I know the giants; the early born;
They who formerly instructed me.
I know there are nine world, nine supports.
And the great centre under the earth.
In the era of the ages when Ymir was dwelling,
There was no sand nor sea,
Nor winds on a vast ocean.
Earth yet was not; nor the heaven above.
Only the abyss of chaos;  and no grass.
Before Bur had raised up the meadows,
And had enlarged Midgard,
The sun shone round the south,
And the ground produced its green fruits.
The sun from his noon, threw out the moon
With his right hand, over the steeds of heaven.
The sun knew not where should be his palaces;
The moon knew not where would be her home.
The stars knew not where would be their station.
Then all the Deities moved to their royal stools;
The stupendously-holy Gods considered these things:
They gave names to the night and to the twilight,
They called the morning and mid-day so;
And bade the rise and course of the year to begin.
The Asæ met on the fields of Ida,
And framed their images and temples.
They placed the furnaces. They created money.
They made tongs and iron tools.
They played at dice. They were merry.
No vicious desire of gold arose among them,
Till three of the Thursa Virgins come,
Two very powerful from Jotun-heim.
The Gods then went to their divine stools,
Inquiring of the Holy Deities, this,—
Who ought to be the Lord of the Duerga, (the dwarfs,)
Or to create them
From Bruner’s blood and the legs of Blavis.
There Motsogner obtained the pre-eminence
Of all the Duerga. Durin the next.
They made many images of men,
Dwarfs on the earth, as Durin said.
Nor and Nidi; the northern; the southern;
The east; the west; the hidden Althiofi,
Bivor and Bavor ; Bumbur ; Nori, An, and Anar; Ac; the mead of knowledge.
Veigur and Gandalfur; Vindalfur; Thrainn;
Theckur; Thorinn; Thror; Lítur and Vitur;
Nar and Nyradur. Now I have the dwarfs,
The violent and the placid, rightly enumerated.
Fili; Kili, Fundinn; Nali;
Heiti; Vili; Hanar; Svior;
Frar; Hornbore; Flogur; Lone;
Aurvangur and Eikinskialdi.
It is time that the dwarfs
From the family of Dualin
Should be reckoned by the kindreds of people,
For an auspicious year;
They go out form the rocks, above ground,
To the seats of the husbandmen.
The sea of the ploughs.
There was Draupner and Dolgkrasir;
Har: Haugspore; Hlevangur; Gloe;
Skyver; Vivrir; Safdidur; Ai;
Alfur; Ingve of Eikinskialdr;
Falur; Frosti; Fidur; Sinnar;
Dore; Ore; Dufar; Andvere;
Heph; Fili; Haar; Sviar;
This will be manifest while people live;
The number of their descendants will value it.
Until three came from this troop,
The powerful and rich Asæ, to their home,
They found in the land weak and unwarlike one.
Ask and Embla, without a destiny.
These had then no soul, they had then no reason;
No blood; no senses, no good colour;
Odin gave them a soul. Hænir gave them reason;
Lodur gave them blood and a good complexion.
I know that an ash existed called Ygdrasil;
Its lofty size covered with white clay.
Then comes the rain that falls in the valleys;
It stands always green over Ordar-brunne [1].
[1] These words mean— “The Fountain of Necessity.”
Then came the much-knowing virgins;
Three, from that sea
Which extends over the oak:
One is called Urd (necessity );
Another Verdande (the possible);
The third Skuld [2]
They engrave on the shield;
They appoint laws, they chose laws
For the sons of the ages;
The fates of mankind.
[2] The Edda calls these “the Past, the Present, and the Future.”
This one knew the first slaughter
Of the people in the world;
When they supported Gullveig with weapons;
And burnt her in the hall of Har.
Three times they burnt her;
Three times re-born;
Often—again—yet she lived.
They called her Heid,
Whatever house they came to.
Vola of good omen
Dishonored the divine mysteries,
She knew magic arts.
She could use enchantments,
Always troubling like an evil woman.
Then the Deities went each to their judicial stools.
Considering whether mischiefs from bad counsel
Would occur from the Asae;
 Or whether all the Gods
Should reserve their banquets to themselves.
Odin hastened
And send his darts into the crowd.
This was the first slaughter of men in the world.
The wall of the city of Asæ was broken.
Vaner made the fields to be trampled by war.
Then all the Gods went to their judicial stools:
The Holy Deities: to consider
Who would mingle the aither and the sea;
Or give the Virgin Odi
To the race of the Jotna (the giants).
Thor-was one there; turgid with bile
He rarely sat,
When he perceived such things
Oath and compacts were cut thro',
And all the controversies which intervened.
She knew;
Heimdallur had the secret song;
Under the same sacred zone
She beheld the river
Flowing with its dark torrent.
From the compact of Valfodur.
Know you more? It is this.
She sat alone in the air,
When the old man came,
Yggiongur of the Asæ
And looked her in the face.
What do you seek from me?"
"Why do you tempt me?
"I know all. Odin!
Where have you hidden the eye?
In the greater fountain of Mimur.
Mimur every morning drinks mead
From the pledge of Valfodur,
Know you more? What is it?
Herfodur delivered to him
The rings and the bracelets.
The spell of riches; wisdom;
And the staffs of prophecy.
He saw these well and widely
Over all the earth.
Know you more? What is it?
He saw the Valkyriar
Immediately coming.
Adorned on steeds; they went to Gothiod.
Skuld held the shield;
Scogul wasthe other,
Ginnur; Helldur;
Gondull and Geirskiald.
Now the maidens of Odin are told:
The Valkyrear: instructed to ride over the ground.
I saw
The secret destinies of Balder.
The bleeding warrior, the son of Odin.
The slender and polished weapon
That killed him
Stood in the field growing upwards.
It was made from that tree
Which appeared to me
A mournful calamity
When Hodur darted it
The killer of Baldur, born before day.
Before one night the new born
Struck the son of Odin.
Then he would not raise his hands
Nor comb his head
Before he should carry
The foe of Balder to the pile.
Frigga grieved in her Fensola,
The keeper of Valhalla.
Know you more? What is it?
She saw the bound one
Lying under the grove of the Huns
The perfidious funeral.
One like Lok.
There sat as Sigynia
Never dear to her husband.
Know you more? What is it?
A river flows from the east
Over poisoned vales,
Carrying mud and turf
It is called Slidur.
There stands towards the north,
In Nidafiollum,
A golden palace named Sindra;
But another exists in Okolni.
The ale cellars of the Jotun
Which is called Brimir.
She saw a palace stand far from the sun
In Nastrondum.
It looks at the doors to the north.
The building is twisted from the spines of serpents:
Poisoned torrents .
Flow thro' its windows
There she saw amid the dreadful stream!
The perjured and the murderers:
And those who pull the cars
Of another's wife
Their Nidhoggur
Tore the flesh from their corpses,
The fierce Wolf devoured the men.
Know you more? It is this.
There sat an old man
Towards the east in a wood of iron.
Where he nourished the sons of Fenris.
Everyone of these grew up prodigous;
A giant form;
The persecutor of the moon.
He was saturated
With the lives of dying men.
He sprinkled the host of the Deities with blood.
He darken'd the light of the sun in the summer.
All the winds were malignant.
Know you more ? It is this.
He sat on a mound and struck the harp.
Gygas the herdsman.
The glad Egder (the eagle)
Sand before him on the boughs of the tree,
The purple cock named Fialer.
The golden-haired bird
Sang with the Asæ.
He roused the heroes with Herfadur.
But another crowed below the earth,
The yellow cock in the palace of Hela
Garmur barked horribly
Before the cave of Gnipa.
The chains will be broken:
Freco will rush out,
Wise, she knows many things.
But I see beyond,
From the twilight of the Deities,
The fierce Sigtíva.
Brethren will fight and slay each other;
Kindred will spurn their consanguinity:
Hard will be the world:
Many the adulteries;
A bearded age: an age of swords:
Shields will be cloven.
An age of winds; an age of wolves.
Till the world shall perish
There will not be one that will spare another.
The sons of Mimur will sport;
But the bosom of the earth will burn.
Hear the sound of the Mystic horn,
Heimdallar will blow on high
The elevated horn,
Odin will speak by the head of Mimer.
The ancient tree will sound ominously.
The Jotuns will be dissolved.
The ash Ygdrasil erected
Will become terrible.
Garmur will bark
Before Gnipur’s cave.
The chains will be shattered:
And Freco will run forth.
Hrymer will drive from the east
Jormungandus will revolve round
With the rage of the Jotun(giants),
The serpent will move the seas;
But the eagle flies
Through the seas of people:
And Lok will hold his club.
All the sons of Fiflolead Freco.
The brother of Bilvils accompanies them.
What is there among the Asæ?
What among the Alfi?
All the house of the Jotun trembles;
The Dvergi (the dwarfs) groan
Before the doors of the rocks :
Their stony asylum.
Know you more? What is it?
Surtur comes from the south
With Swiga—lesi
The sword of the Valtivi radiates like the sun;
The stony rocks glide away:
The Deities are enraged;
Men tread the way of Hela:
But the heaven is cleft in twain.
Then Hlinar, the other grief goes forth.
When Odin goes to battle with the Wolf,
The striker of Beli shining
Opposes Surtur.
Then the husband of Frigga falls.
Then will come Sigfodr
The greater son of Odin:
Vidar, to fight the fatal animal.
Who with her broad hand,
In the middle of her jaws,
Pierces his heart with a sword.
Thus avenging the death of her father
Then comes
The beautiful son Hlodynia.
The son of Odin combated the Wolf.
He slew in wrath the serpent Midgard.
Men state the prop of the world.
The offspring of Fiogunar
Stepped nine steps.
Weakened by the black and hungry snake,
The sun darkens;
The earth is immerged in the sea;
The serene stars are withdrawn from heaven;
Fire rages in the ancient world;
The lofty color reaches to heaven itself.
Garmur barks before the cave of Gnipa;
The chains are broken;
Freco rushes out.
She sees at last emerge from the ocean,
An earth in every part flourishing.
The cataracts flow down:
The eagle flies aloft;
And hunt the fishes in the mountains.
The Asæ met in Ida Valle,
And talked of the world’s great calamities;
And of the ancient runæ of Fimbultyr.
These things done, the wonderful dice
Are found gilt in the grass,
Which those of the former days possessed.
There were fields without sowing;
All adverse things became prosperous.
Baldur will come again.
Haudur and Baldur;
Hroptr and Sigroptr;
The Asæ will dwell without evils.
Do you yet understand?
Then Heinar shares the power of chosing Vidar
And the sons of the two brothers
Inhabit the vast mansion of the winds.
Do you know more?
A hall stands brighter than the sun;
Covered with gold in Gimle.
There virtuous people will dwell;
And for the ages will enjoy every good.
Then will come the obscene dragon flying,
The serpent from Nidar-fiolli.
He carries the corpses in his wings;
He flies over the ground;
The infernal serpent, Nidhoggur;
Now the earth gapes for him.
[Historic Translations of Individual Eddic Poems] [Völuspá: A Study Guide] [Germanic Mythology]