Benjamin Thorpe

Edda Sæmundar Hinns Froða

The Edda of Sæmund The Learned

From The Old Norse or Icelandic With

An Index of Persons and Places.

Part II.


Trübner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row


Unlike previous web editions, the author's original notes have been restored to the text.




The Lay of Völund.


 There was a king in Sweden named Nidud: he had two sons and a daughter, whose name was Bödvild. There were three brothers, sons of a king of the Finns, one was called Slagfid, the second Egil, the third Völund. They went on snow-shoes and hunted wild-beasts. They came to Ulfdal, and there made themselves a house, where there is a water called Ulfsíar. Early one morning they found on the border of the lake three females sitting and spinning flax. Near them lay their swan-plumages: they were Valkyriur. Two of them, Hladgud-Svanhvit and Hervör-Alvit, were daughters of King Hlödver; the third was Ölrún, a daughter of Kiár of Valland. They took them home with them to their dwelling. Egil had Ölrún, Slagfid Svanhvít, and Völund Alvit. They lived there seven years, when they few away seeking conflicts, and did not return. Egil then went on snow-shoes in search of Ölrún, and Slagfid in search of Svanhvit, but Völund remained in Ulfdal. He was a most skilful man, as we learn from old traditions. King Nidud ordered him to be seized, so as it is here related.


1. Maids flew from the south,
through the murky wood,
Alvit the young,[1]
fate to fulfil.
2. One of them,
of maidens fairest,
to his comely breast
Egil clasped.
Svanhvit was the second,
she a swan´s plumage bore;
but the third,
their sister,
the white neck clasped
of Völund.
3. There they stayed
seven winters through;
but all the eighth
were with longing seized;
and in the ninth
fate parted them.
The maidens yearned
for the murky wood,
the young Alvit,
fate to fulfil.
4. From the chase came
the ardent hunters,
Slagfid and Egil,
found their house deserted,
went out and in,
and looked around.
Egil went east
after Ölrún,
and Slagfid west
after Svanhvit;
5. But Völund alone
remained in Ulfdal.
He the red gold set
with the hard gem,
well fastened all the rings
on linden bast,
and so awaited
his bright consort,
if to him
she would return.
6. It was told to Nidud,
the Niarars´ lord,
that Völund alone
remained in Ulfdal.
In the night went men,
in studded corslets,
their shields glistened
in the waning moon.
7. From their saddles they alighted
at the house´s gable,
thence went in
through the house.
On the bast they saw
the rings all drawn,
seven hundred,
which the warrior owned.
8. And they took them off,
and they put them on,
all save one,
which they bore away.
Came then from the chase
the ardent hunter,
Völund, gliding[2]
on the long way.
9. To the fire he went,
bear´s flesh to roast.
Soon blazed the brushwood,
and the arid fir,
the wind-dried wood,
before Völund.
10. On the bearskin sat,
his rings counted,
the Alfar´s companion:
one was missing.
He thought that Hlödver´s
daughter had it,
the young Alvit,
and that she was returned.
11. So long he sat
until he slept;
and he awoke
of joy bereft:
on his hands he felt
heavy constraints,
and round his feet
fetters clasped.
12. “Who are the men
that on the rings’ possessor
have laid bonds?
and me have bound?”
13. Then cried Nidud,
the Niarars’ lord:
“Whence gottest thou, Völund!
our gold,
in Ulfdal?”
14. “No gold was here
in Grani’s path,[4]
far I thought our land
from the hills of Rhine.
I mind me that we more
treasures possessed,
when, a whole family,
we were at home.
15. Hladgud and Hervör
were of Hlödver born;
know was Ölrún,
Kiar´s daughter,
she entered
into the house,
stood on the floor,
her voice moderated:
“Now is he[5] not mirthful,
who from the forest comes.”
        King Nidud gave to his daughter Bödvild the ring which had been taken from the bast in Völund´s house; but he himself bore the sword that had belonged to Völund. The queen said:
16. His teeth he shows,
when the sword he sees,
and Bödvild´s ring
he recognizes:
threatening are his eyes
as a glistening serpent’s:
let be severed
his sinews’ strength;
and set him then
in Sævarstad.


        This was done; he was hamstrung and then set on a certain small island near the shore, called Sævarstad. He there forged for the king all kinds of jewellery work. No one was allowed to go to him, except the king. Völund said:

17. “The sword shines
in Nidud’s belt,
which I whetted
as I could most skilfully,
and tempered,
as seemed to me most cunningly.
That bright blade for ever is
taken from me:
never shall I see it
borne into Völund’s smithy.
18. Now Bödvild wears
my consort´s
red-gold rings:[6]
for this I have no indemnity.”
He sat and never slept,
and his hammer plied;
but much more speedy vengeance
devised on Nidud.
19. The two young sons
of Nidud ran
in at the door to look,
in Sævarstad.
To the chest they came,
for the keys asked;
manifest was their grudge,
when therein they looked.
20. Many necklaces were there,
which to those youths appeared
of the red gold to be,
and treasures.
“Come ye two alone,
to-morrow come;
that gold shall
be given to you.
21. Tell it not to the maidens,
nor to the household folk,
nor to any one,
that ye have been with me.”
Early called
one the other,
brother, brother:
“Let us go see the rings.”
22. To the chest they came,
for the keys asked;
manifest was their grudge,
when therein they looked.
Of those children[7] he
the heads cut off,
and under the prison’s mixen
laid their bodies.[8]
23. But their skulls
beneath the hair
he in silver set,
and to Nidud gave;
and of their eyes
precious stones he formed,
which to Nidud’s
wily wife he sent.
24. But of the teeth
of the two
breast-ornaments he made,
and to Bödvild sent.
Then did Bödvild
praise the ring:
to Völund brought it,
when she had broken it:
“I dare to no one tell it,
save alone to thee.”
25. “I will so repair
the fractured gold,
that to thy father
it shall fairer seem,
and to thy mother
much more beautiful,
and to thyself,
in the same degree.”
26. He then brought her beer,
that he might succeed the better,
as on her seat
she fell asleep.
“Now have I
my wrongs avenged,
all save one
in the wood perpetrated.”[9]
27. “I wish,” said Völund,
“that on my feet I were,
of the use of which
Nidud’s men have deprived me.”
Laughing Völund
rose in the air:
Bödvild weeping
from the isle departed.
She mourned her lover’s absence,
and for her father’s wrath.
28. Stood without
Nidud’s wily wife;
then she went in
through the hall;
but he on the enclosure
sat down to rest.
“Art thou awake
Niarars’ lord!”
29. “Ever am I awake,
joyless I lie to rest,
when I call to mind
my children’s death:
my head is chilled,
cold are to me thy counsels.
Now with Völund
I desire to speak.”
30. “Tell me, Völund,
Alfars’ chief!
of my brave boys
what is become?”
31. “Oaths shalt thou
first to me swear,
by board of ship,
by rim of shield,
by shoulder of steed,
by edge of sword,
that thou wilt not slay
the wife of Völund,
nor of my bride
cause the death;
although a wife I have
whom ye know,
or offspring
within thy court.
32. To the smithy go,
which thou has made,
there wilt thou the bellows find
with blood besprinkled.
The heads I severed
of thy boys,
and under the prison’s mixen
laid their bodies.
33. But their skulls
beneath the hair
I in silver set,
and to Nidud gave;
and of their eyes
precious stones I formed,
which to Nidud’s
wily wife I sent.
34. Of the teeth
of the two,
breast-ornaments I made,
and to Bödvild sent.
Now Bödvild goes
big with child,
the only daughter
of you both.”
35. “Word didst thou never speak
that more afflicted me,
or for which I would
more severely punish thee.
There is no man so tall
that he from thy horse can take thee,
or so skilful
that he can shoot thee down,
thence where thou floatest
up in the sky.”
36. Laughing Völund
rose in air,
but Nidud sad
remained sitting.
37. “Rise up Thakrád,
my best of thralls!
bid Bödvild,
my fair-browed daughter,
in bright attire come,
with her sire to speak.
38. Is it, Bödvild! true
what has been told to me,
that thou and Völund
in the isle together sat?”
39. “True it is, Nidud!
what has been told to thee,
that Völund and I
in the isle together sat,
in an unlucky hour:
would it had never been!
I could not
against him strive,
I might not
against him prevail.”

[1] Here two lines, mentioning Svanhvit and Ölrun, appear to me to be lost. But see Str. 3 l. 9.

[2] On snow-shoes.

[3] The designation of Alfars’ chief, or prince, applied to Völund, who, as we learn from the prose introduction, was a son of a king of the Finns, may perhaps be accounted for by the circumstance that the poem itself hardly belongs to the Odinic Mythology, and was probably composed when the system was in its decline and giving place to the heroic or romantic. Bp. Müller (Sagabibl. II, p. 158) would derive Völund from Alfheim, an ancient name of a district in Norway bordering on Sweden.

[4] Sigurd’s horse: See Sig. II. Intro.

[5] The he refers to Völund, who speaks of himself in the 3d person. This 15th strophe is to all appearance an interpolation.

[6] We had previously (Str. 8, 10) been informed that one ring only had been taken.

[7] Lit. cubs.

[8] Lit. feet.

[9] The translation of this line is founded solely on a conjectural emendation of the text. The wrong alluded to may be hamstringing.



Part II


Völundarkviða: The Lay of Völund


 HelgakviÞa Hiörvarðs Sonar:
The Lay of Helgi Hiörvard's son

 Helgakviða Hundingsbana Fyrri:
The First Lay of Helgi Hundingcide

 Helgakviða Hundingsbana Önnur:
The Second Lay of Helgi Hundingcide

 Sinfiötalok: Sinfiöti's end

SigurÞarkviða Fafnisbana Fyrsta eða Gripisspa:
The First Lay of Sigurd Fafnicide or Gripir's Prophecy

SigurÞarkviða Fafnisbana Önnur:
The Second Lay of Sigurd Fafnicide

Fafnismal: The Lay of Fafnir

Sigrdrîfumâl: The Lay of Sigrdrifa

Fragments of the Lays of Sigurd and Brynhild

SigurÞarkviða Fafnisbana Þriðja:
The Third Lay of Sigurd Fafnicide

Brot af Brynhildarkviða:
Fragments of the Lay of Brynhild
Guðrunarkviða Fyrsta: The First Lay of Gudrûn

Helreið Brynhildar; Byrnhild's Hel-ride

Drap Niflunga: The Slaughter of the Niflungs

Guðrunarkviða Önnur: The Second Lay of Gudrûn

GuÞrunarkviða Þriðja: The Third Lay of Gudrûn

Oddrunargratr: Oddrûn's Lament

Atlakviða: The Lay of Atli

Atlamal in Groenlenzku: The Grœnland Lay of Atli

Guðrunarhvöt: Gudrûn's Incitement

Hamðismal: The Lay of Hamdir

Gunnars Slagr: Gunnar's Melody

Grottasöngr: The Lay of Grôtti or the Mill-Song
Index of Persons and Places


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