Benjamin Thorpe
Edda Sæmundar Hinns Froða

The Edda Of Sæmund The Learned

From The Old Norse Or Icelandic With A Mythological Index


Trübner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row




Part I

The Mythological Poems


Introduction to the Voluspa

The Vala´s Prophecy

 The Lay of Vafthrúdnir

 The Lay of Grimnir

Hrafnagaldr Odins:
Odin’s Ravens’ Song

Vegtamskvida eða Baldrs Draumar
The Lay of Vegtam or Baldr's Dreams

The High One's Lay

Runatalsþáttr Oðins:
Odin's Rune Song

Hymiskviða: The Lay of Hymir

ThrymskviÞa eðr Hamarsheimt:
The Lay of Thrym or the Hammer recovered

 The Lay of the Dwarf Alvis

The Lay of Harbard

For Skirnis eðr Skirnismál:
The Journey or Lay of Skirnir

The Lay of Rig

Ægisdrekka, eða Lokasenna, eða Lokaglepsa
Ægir's Compotation or Loki's Altercation

The Lay of Fiölsvith

The Lay of Hyndla

The Incantation of Grôa

The Song of the Sun

A Mythological Index




The Song of the Sun.


This singular poem, the authorship of which is, in some manuscripts, assigned to Sæmund himself, may be termed a Voice from the Dead, given under the form of a dream, in which a deceased father is supposed to address his son from another world. The first 7 strophes seem hardly connected with the following ones, which, as far as the 32nd consist chiefly in aphorisms with examples, some closely resembling those in the Havamal. In the remaining portion is given the recital of the last illness of the supposed speaker, his death, and the scenes his soul passed through on the way to its final home. 

 The composition exhibits a strange mixture of Christianity and Heathenism, whence it would seem that the poet´s own religion was in a transition state. Of the allusions to Heathenism it is, however, to be observed that they are chiefly to persons and actions of which there is no trace in the Odinic mythology, as known to us, and are possibly the fruits of the poet´s own imagination. The title of the poem is no doubt derived from the allusion to the Sun at the beginning of the strophes 39-45.   

      For an elaborate and learned commentary, with an interlinear version of "the Song of the Sun", the reader may consult "Les Chants de Sol", by Professor Bergmann, Strassbourg & Paris, 1858.

1. Of life and property
a fierce freebooter
despoiled mankind;
over the ways
beset by him
might no one living pass.
2. Alone he ate
most frequently,
no one invited he to his repast;
until weary,
and with failing strength,
a wandering guest
came from the way.
3. In need of drink
that way-worn man,
and hungry feigned to be:
with trembling heart
he seemed to trust
him who had been so evil-minded.
4. Meat and drink
to the weary one he gave,
all with upright heart;
on God he thought,
the traveller's wants supplied;
for he felt he was an evil-doer.
5. Up stood the guest,
he evil meditated,
he had not been kindly treated;
his sin within him swelled,
he while sleeping murdered
his wary cautious host.
6. The God of heaven
he prayed for help,
when being struck he woke;
but he was doomed the sins of him
on himself to take,
whom sackless he had slain.
7. Holy angels came
from heaven above,
and took to them his soul:
in a life of purity
it shall ever live
with the almighty God.
8. Riches and health
no one may command,
though all go smoothly with him.
To many that befalls
which they least expect.
No one may command his tranquility.
9. Unnar and Sævaldi
never imagined
that happiness would fall on them,
yet naked they became,
and of all bereft,
and, like wolves, ran to the forest.
10. The force of pleasure
has many a one bewailed.
Cares are often caused by women;
pernicious they become,
although the mighty God
them pure created.
11. United were
Svafud and Skarthedin,
neither might without the other be,
until to frenzy they were driven
for a woman;
she was destined for their perdition.
12. On account of that fair maid,
neither of them cared
for games or joyous days;
no other thing
could they in memory bear
then that bright form.
13. Sad to them were
the gloomy nights,
no sweet sleep might they enjoy:
but from that anguish
rose hate intense
between the faithful friends.
14. Hostile deeds
are in most places
fiercely avenged.
To the holm they went,[1]
for that fair woman,
and each one found his death.
15. Arrogance should no one entertain:
I indeed have seen
that those who follow her,
for the most part,
turn from God.
16. Rich were both,
Radey and Vebogi,
and thought only of their well-being;
now they sit
and turn their sores
to various hearths.
17. They in themselves confided,
and though themselves alone to be
above all people;
but their lot
Almighty God was pleased
otherwise to appoint.
18. A life of luxury they led,
in may ways,
and had gold for sport.
Now they are requited,
so that they must walk
between frost and fire.
19. To thy enemies
trust thou never,
although they speak thee fair:
promise them good:
'tis good to have another's injury
as a warning.
20. So it befell
Sörli the upright,
when he placed himself in Vigolf's power;
he confidently trusted him,
his brother's murderer,
but he proved false.
21. Peace to them he granted,
with heart sincere;
they in return promised him gold,
feigned themselves friends.,
while they together drank;
but then came forth their guile.
22. Then afterwards,
on the second day,
when they in Rýgiardal rode,
they with swords wounded him
who sackless was,
and let his life go forth.
23. His corpse they dragged
(on a lonely way,
and cut up piecemeal) into a well,
and would it hide;
but the holy Lord
beheld from heaven.
24. His soul summoned home
the true God
into his joy to come;
but the evil doers
will, I ween, late
be from torments called.
25. Do thou pray the Disir
of the Lord's words
to be kind to thee in spirit:
for a week after,
all shall then go happily,
according to thy will.
26. For a deed of ire
that thou has perpetrated,
never atone with evil:
the weeping thou shalt
sooth with benefits:
that is salutary to the soul.
27. On God a man
shall for good things call,
on him who has mankind created.
Greatly sinful is
every man
who late finds the Father.
28. To be solicited, we opine,
is with all earnestness
for that which is lacking:
of all things may be destitute
he who for nothing asks:
few heed the wants of the silent.
29. Late I came,
though called betimes,
to the supreme Judge's door;
thitherward I yearn;
for it was promised me,
he who craves it shall of the feast partake.
30. Sins are the cause
that sorrowing we depart
from this world:
no one stands in dread,
if he does no evil:
good it is to be blameless.
31. Like unto wolves
all those seem
who have a faithless mind:
so he will prove
who has to go
through ways strewed with gleeds.
32. Friendly counsels,
and wisely composed, seven
I have imparted to thee:
consider thou them well,
and forget them never:
they are all useful to learn.
33. Of that I will speak,
how happy I was
in the world,
and secondly,
how the sons of men
reluctantly become corpses.
34. Pleasure and pride
deceive the sons of men
who after money crave;
shining riches
at last become a sorrow:
many have riches driven to madness.
35. Steeped in joys
I seemed to men;
for little did I see before me:
our worldly sojourn
has the Lord created
in delights abounding.
36. Bowed down I sat,
long I tottered,
of life was most desirous;
but He prevailed
who was all-powerful:
onward are the ways of the doomed.
37. The cords of Hel
were tightly
bound round my sides;
I would rend them,
but they were strong.
"Tis easy free to go.
38. I alone knew,
how on all sides
my pains increased.
The maids of Hel each eve
with horror bade me
to their home.
39. The sun I saw,
true star of day,
sink in its roaring home;
but Hel's grated doors
on the other side I heard
heavily creaking.
40. The sun I saw
with blood-red beams beset:
(fast was I then from this world declining)
mightier she appeared,
in many ways
than she was before.
41. The sun I saw,
and it seemed to me
as if I saw a glorious god:
I bowed before her,
for the last time,
in the world of men.
42. The sun I saw:
she beamed forth so
that I seemed nothing to know;
but Giöll's streams
roared from the other side
mingled much with blood.
43. The sun I saw,
with quivering eyes,
appalled and shrinking;
for my heart
in great measure was
dissolved in languor.
44. The sun I saw
seldom sadder;
I had then almost from the world declined:
my tongue was
as wood become,
and all was cold without me.
45. The sun I saw
never after,
since that gloomy day;
for the mountain-waters
closed over me,
and I went called from torments.
46. The star of hope,
when I was born,
fled from my breast away;
high it flew,
settled nowhere,
so that it might find rest.
47. Longer than all
was that one night,
when stiff on my straw I lay;
then becomes manifest
the divine word:
"Man is the same as earth."
48. The Creator God can
it estimate and know,
(He who made heaven and earth)
how forsaken
many go hence,
although from kindred parted.
49. Of his works
each has the reward:
happy is he who does good.
Of my wealth bereft,
to me was destined
a bed strewed with sand.
50. Bodily desires
men oftentimes seduce,
of them has many a one too much:
water of baths
was of all things to me
most loathsome.
51. In the Norns' seat
nine days I sat,
thence I was mounted on a horse:
there the giantess's sun
shone grimly
through the dripping clouds of heaven.
52. Without and within,
I seemed to traverse all
the seven nether worlds:
up and down,
I sought an easier way,
where I might have the readiest paths.
53. Of that is to be told,
which I first saw,
when I to the worlds of torment came:-
scorched birds,
which were souls,
flew numerous as flies.
54. From the west I saw
Von's dragons fly,
and Glæval's paths obscure:
their wings they shook;
wide around me seemed
the earth and heaven to burst.
55. The sun's hart I saw
from the south coming,
he was by two together led:
his feet stood on the earth,
but his horns
reached up to heaven.
56. From the north riding I saw
the sons of Nidi,
they were seven in all:
from full horns,
the pure mead they drank
from the heaven-god's well.
57. The wind was silent,
the waters stopped their course;
then I heard a doleful sound:
for their husbands
false-faced women
ground earth for food.
58. Gory stones
those dark women
turned sorrowfully;
bleeding hearts hung
out of their breasts,
faint with much affliction.
59. Many a man I saw
wounded go
on those gleed-strewed paths;
their faces seemed
to me all reddened
with reeking blood.
60. Many men I saw
to earth gone down,
who holy service might not have;
heathen stars
stood above their heads,
painted with deadly characters.
61. I saw those men
who much envy harbour
at another's fortune;
bloody runes
were on their breasts
graved painfully.
62. I there saw men
many not joyful;
they were all wandering wild:
this he earns,
who by this world's vices
is infatuated.
63. I saw those men
who had in various ways
acquired other's property:
in shoals they went
to Castle-covetous,
and burthens bore of lead.
64. I saw those men
who many had
of life and property bereft:
through the breasts
of those men passed
strong venomous serpents.
65. I saw those men
who the holy days
would not observe:
their hands were
on hot stones
firmly nailed.
66. I saw those men
who from pride
valued themselves too highly;
their garments
ludicrously were
in fire enveloped.
67. I saw those men
who had many
false words of others uttered:
Hel's ravens
from their heads
their eyes miserably tore.
68. All the horrors
thou wilt not get to know
which Hel's inmates suffer.
Pleasant sins
end in painful penalties:
pains ever follow pleasure.
69. I saw those men
who had much given
for God's laws;
pure lights were
above their heads
brightly burning.
70. I saw those men
who from exalted mind
helped the poor to aid:
angels read
holy books
above their heads.
71. I saw those men
who with much fasting had
their bodies wasted:
God's angels
bowed before them:
that is the highest joy.
72. I saw those men
who had put food
into their mothers' mouth:
their couches were
on the rays of heaven
pleasantly placed.
73. Holy virgins
had cleanly washed
the souls from sin
of those men,
who for a long time had
themselves tormented.
74. Lofty cars I saw
towards heaven going;
they were on the way to God:
men guided them
who had been murdered
wholly without crime.
75. Almighty Father!
greatest Son!
holy Spirit of heaven!
Thee I pray,
who hast us all created;
free us all from miseries.
76. Biugvör and Listvör
sit at Herðir´s doors,
on resounding seat;
iron gore
falls from their nostrils,
which kindles hate among men.
77. Odin's wife
rows in earth's ship,
eager after pleasures;
her sails are
reefed late,
which on the ropes of desire are hung.
78. Son! I thy father
and Solkatla's sons
have alone obtained for thee
that horn of hart,
which from the grave-mound bore
the wise Vigdvalin.
79. Here are runes
which have engraven
Niörd´s daughters nine,
Radvör the eldest,
and the youngest Kreppvör,
and their seven sisters.
80. How much violence
have they perpetrated
Svaf and Svaflogi!
bloodshed they have excited,
and wounds have sucked,
after an evil custom.
81. This lay,
which I have taught thee,
thou shalt before the living sing,
the Sun-Song,
which will appear
in many parts no fiction.
82. Here we part,
but again shall meet
on the day of men's rejoicing.
Oh Lord!
unto the dead grant peace,
and to the living comfort.
83. Wondrous lore
has in dream to thee been sung,
but thou hast seen the truth:
no man has been
so wise created
that has before heard the Sun-Song.

[1] That is, they engaged in single combat; the spot for such encounters being called a holm, consisting of a circular space marked out by stones.



[Back]   Index  |  Next ]