Völuspá - The prediction of the prophetess

Old Norse and English versions with commentary

It is also supplemented, after the poem, by historical indications on Verden massacre, by citations of Gautrek’s saga and finally by a touristic post scriptummore interesting than expected

This translation is not yet completed. If you are interested in the meaning of örlög, go to

"On Örlög". If you are interested in the ‘world’ after Ragnarök go to "Gimlé"

 (version en français)

Here is an nth translation of the Edda poem Völuspá. It is different from the other translations by two aspects.

1. I provide a litteral translation that reveals my grammatical and vocbulary choices. It may look somewhat obscure but it is followed by a translation in a less acrobatic English that should clarify the intended meaning. From time to time two irreducible versions are possible and I will give them.

2. These various possible versions are nevertheless presented from a Heathen-centric (I invented this word) point of view, i.e. the point of view of a committed Heathen. This vocabulary is inspired by English-speaking scholars who start now speaking of a Christo-centric vision to point at a pseudo atheist or objective attitude that in depth relies on concepts firmly defined within the framework of Christendom. The most famous Christo-centric scholar was Ursula Dronke († 2012) who has been able to hold this position merged into a phenomenal knowledge of the Old Norse language. Her translation of Völuspá (1997), so much it abounds in scholarship, has been near me during the present transaltion in spite of its christocentricity. By the way,she has just provided me the occasion of a voluntary christocentrism: the date of her death is indicated by († 2012). This supposes that she obviously is buried as a good Christian woman - what is true in her case, but this small sign of cross can be also used for any atheist.

My presentation of Hávamál  http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/IntroNewHavamalEng.htm is in done a similar spirit,but in a less argumentative way since all the attempts to spot Christian influences in Hávamál have been ridiculed by the scholars (see the 2nd interlude associated to s. 21 http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/NewHavamalEng15-35.htm . On the contrary, and relatively recently, Völuspá became for most people a very Christianed piece of lore, yet another incredible miracle.


In what follows, no Scandinavian name or concept will appear without explanation. Once explained, I will use some of these names as if they were well-known.


When dealing with Eddic poems, one must remember that they are known by a remarkably small number of manuscripts which however present different versions. I will use here as reference Codex Regius, in the version published by Hans Kuhn, Carl Winter, Heidelberg 1962. Kuhn presents a great number of variations which are in the various manuscripts, but I will not give these details. For reasons of the convenience, I will keep the letter ö, used to represent an ‘o tailed’ in Kuhn’s edition.

Once that a manuscript is chosen, the Old Norse language of poetry is hard to understand. For my translation, I used De Vries’ etymological dictionary (noted ‘Devries’), Cleasby-Vigfusson’s  Icelandic-English dictionary (noted C.-V.) and very often also, Sveinbjön Egilsson’s Lexicon poëticum antiquć linguć septentrionalis (noted as LexPoet). This last provides the meaning of a greater number of words than C.-V., associated a variety of quotations illustrating the use of the words, mainly in poetry. I also built a reliable, readable and cherchable list of irregular verbs I made available at IRREGULAR VERBS .


Some useful preliminary explanations


A prophetess was called a völva that gives völu in the singular genitive: this is the “völuin völuspá. She practised a kind of shamanism which resembles much that of North American Indians, which became so popular since a few years. This kind of Scandinavian shamanism is called seiđr or seiđ – often spelled ‘seidr’. In spite of the scarcity of available testimony, we know that a völva practised seiđ outside, on a kind of wooden platform, surrounded by all her helpers and customers, and she required someone singing a special song. There is also a solitary form of practice, called “útiseta(outside sitted) to which Völuspa seems to refer

It seems that seidr was practised primarily by women since it is known that the practice of the seidr ‘to perfection’ makes the men impotent where this word can also be understood as ‘homosexual’.

Thus, what had been in the past a highly respected ability, since it was reserved to women or to effeminate men (or, according to my personal interpretation: reserved to the female side of men - and women!), became gradually scorned, and is often used as an insult in texts and runic inscriptions

Note that we will always speak of the mythic Giants and Dwarves in order to single them out of the tall or short individuals. Likewise our gods will never carry a capital letter in order to differentiate them from God.

Óđinn (often written: Odin, or Odhin, or Odhinn) is the main of the Scandinavian gods, the Ćsir. There was also another kind of gods, the Vanir who might have been more ancient, but they will be reconcile with the Ćsir, after a war evoked below in stanzas 21-26. Lastly, the Giants are also supra human beings who seem to be irreducible enemies to the Ćsir. They will cause Ragnarök as described in stanzas 44 to 58

Old Norse civilization was equipped with a spirituality associated to an ancestors’ worship, to which the poems and sagas refer. This worship is also firmly proven by the multitude of offerings found in the howes of the powerful ones and close to the tombs of humble ones, and by the meetings held around these sites during hundreds of years.



Old Norse (ON) from the Codex Regius

Litteral meaning followed by an English translation


Stanza 1

Old Norse




1. Hlióđs biđ ec

allar kindir  

meiri oc minni,

mögo Heimdalar;


vildo at ec, Valföđr,

vel fyrtelia

forn spiöll fira,

ţau er fremst um man.

Literal Translation orđ eptir orđ (word for word)

followed  by an English one


(Your) listening beg I

from all the family

high ones and low ones,

children of Heimdalr;


you want that I, Killed-ones’ Father,

well  to tell

old knowledge of the people,  

those the ‘most forward’ (that) I remember


Explanations and comments



The first line is a ritual formula used to ask silence at the beginning of the Icelandic general meeting, or before declaming poetry.




Valföđr  = Killed-ones’ Father = Óđinn




the ‘most forward’ = the oldest.


English Translation


I beg you to  listen ,

you all of the family,

higher and lower ones,

children of Heimdalr;


You want, Valföđr, that

I properly tell

ancient knowledge

remotest that I remember.





Another Eddic poem, Rigsţula, also tells us that all kinds of human ones are  Heimdall’s sons.


Stanza 2

Old Norse


2. Ec man iötna

ár um borna,

ţá er forđom mic

fśdda höfđo;


nío man ec heima,

nío íviđi,

miötviđ mśran

fyr mold neđan.

orđ eptir orđ  


I remember the giants 

in old times born, 

those who in the past me

nourished to someone adult;


nine remember I countries,

nine Giantesses (or ogresses)

the measure-master famous

toward the ground under.

Explanations and comments







The two words ‘giantessand ‘ogress’ are more or less equivalent in the Norse langage.

Here, the master of measurement can only be Yggdrasill, which is still growing under the ground.



I remember the giants 

in old times born, 

those who in the past

nourished me to become an adult;


I remember nine countries,

nine Giantesses

and the famous measure-master 

still under the ground.



This title has been used in Old English to point at God. Yggdrasill is certainly no proper ‘god’ though this way of speech  attributes to it a primary role in Norse mythology.



Stanza 3

Old Norse


3.Ár var alda,

ţar er Ymir bygđi,

vara sandr né sćr

né svalar unnir,


iörđ fannz ćva

né upphiminn,

gap var ginnunga

enn gras hvergi.


orđ eptir orđ  


The year was old,

there Ymir had settled,

there were sand nor sea

nor fresh waves,


ground was never 

nor sky above,

abyss was gigantic

and grass none.


Explanations and comments


This is a way to say “in olden days.”


Ymir is the name of the primary Giant who has been the first living being in the universe, (and thus before the gods).

“the ground could not be found


“ nothing existed but a huge pit






In these old times

when Ymir had settled there

there were neither sand nor sea

nor chilly waves;


Ground did not exist

nor sky above,

only one immense pit

and no grass at all.



Stanza 4

Old Norse


4. Áđr Burs synir

biöđum um ypţo,

ţeir er miđgarđ

mśran scópo;


sól scein sunnan

á salar steina,

ţá var grund gróin

grśnom lauki.


orđ eptir orđ  


At first son of Burr

grounds over up-lifted/exalted,

there is miđgarđr,

magnificently shaped by magic means;


sun shone from the South 

on a hall of stone,

then were ground grown

greens leeks.


Explanations and comments


ypţo = yppđu is the preterit plural of verb yppa, to raise, exalt.

Burr is Óđinn’s father. Snorra Edda reports that Auđumla, the primitive cow, after having licked the ice surrounding Giant Ymir, licked also Burr out of the ice, the first man (or god).


Miđgarđr is the residence of human beings, our world.





At first Burr’s sons ,

raised and exalted the grounds, 

where Miđgarđr stands,

magnificently magic-shaped;


The sun was shining from the South 

on a hall of stone,

then were growing on the ground

green leeks.




Verb skapa does skópu in the preterit plural (spelled scópo here). It can simply mean ‘to make’ but its proper meaning is ‘to shape’, and it can also mean ‘to use magic for shaping’ which suits well the present context.


The "greens leeks" of the text point at  the very first grass.

Thus,  in Scandinavian mythology, the leek carries a mystical importance that is difficult to render within the modern world.



About Ursula Dronke’s ‘christocentricity’


Because being incredibly knowledgeable, and the associated respect, this scholar had a large influence within the academic community of the specialists  in old Scandinavian culture. This enabled her to push forward a Christian understanding of the Old Norse texts. The first two lines above: Burr’s sons raised the grounds” (she does not translate ‘exalted’) obviously evoke a planet Earth coming out of waters. We know that many primitive myths, all over the world, evoke such an Anadyomene Earth. She pretends being unaware of it and modestly confesses that she knows one only allusion to such a phenomenon, and it lies in Genesis 1 - 9! She finally concludes, p. 116:I do not suggest that he (the poet) copied Genesis, only that the resemblance illuminates the Norse text.”

Thus Genesis illuminates Völuspá? Why not the reverse since this illumination is disconnected from temporal dependence - without accounting for the other myths of an Earth raising from the waters?

This is only one particularly skillful example of her, but she peppers her comments with remarks on possible bonds between Völuspá and Christian beliefs. This influenced the erudite community which, in turn influenced the people who changed it into assertions such as:  Völuspá is Christianity riddenwhich is absurd for anyone who reads it without prejudices. It could be said that it is heathenism riddenand we will indeed find that some of its topics are shared with those of Christendom., a point on which everyone agrees.

Stanza 5


Old Norse


5. Sól varp sunnan

sinni mána

hendi inni hśgri

um himiniöđur;


sól ţat né vissi

hvar hón sali átti,

stiörnor ţat ne visso

hvar ţćr stađi átto,

máni ţat né vissi

hvat hann megins átti.

orđ eptir orđ  


(she) Sun threw from the South

(to) her moon

a hand (for) a comfortable home

around the edge of the sky;


sun did not know

which her residence had,

the stars did not know

which housing they had,

(he)  moon did not know

which he power had.

Explanations and comments


Sun is a feminine word in Old Norse and shethrows’ her hand to sinni (dative feminine) her  moon

She obviously acts to help moon so that one can understand that sun ‘gave moon a hand’.

Eddic poetry does not hesitate to play with the word ordering in order to comply to poetic composition rules,  such as Snorri granted them to us. Here, we could translate  sinni mána  by  “her  moon which would not have much meaning, this is why we  associate  sinni with “hendi in next line which gives  “her hand.”




The sun, from the South,

stretched her hand

to the moon (to get) a comfortable home

all around the sky;


sun did not know

which residence she had,

the stars did not know

which housing they had,

moon did not know

which power he had.




I preserved the sequence of  átti, átto and of  ţat born vissi, ţat born visso of the original though it may  can appear a little heavy for us.  The reason for that is there exists a style of scaldic poetry dedicated to magic verses, and this style is called Galdralag, “poetic incantation.” It relies on words repetition, as  here.



Stanza 6


Old Norse


6. Ţá gengo regin öll

á röcstóla,

ginnheilög gođ,

oc um ţat gćttuz:


nótt oc niđium

nöfn um gáfo,

morgin héto

oc miđian dag,

undorn og aptan,

árom at telia.

orđ eptir orđ


Then went powers all

on judgement  seats

supreme divinities gods,

and from that obtained:


to night and her offspring  

names allotted,

the morning named

and the median (of) day

hours of the day and the evening

with the years to be counted.

Explanations and comments


The word ‘rökwill be met again in stanzas 9, 23 and 25, always with the significance of a place where a wise decision is done.

regin is a plural word meaning “the powers,” with the original meaning of “the advisers.”


The feminine word nótt does also nótt in the dative singular. It is thus ‘to the nightthat the gods gave her name. We have no clear information relative to Night’s offspring. It might be a poetical way of speech to evoke all the ‘nightly beings’.




Then all the powers went

sitting on their judgement  seats

supreme divinities gods,

and from that they obtained:


to night and her offspring  

they allotted their names,

named the morning

and the median of the day

the hours of the day and the evening

and how to count the years.


The redundancy of the vocabulary designating the primitive gods and their sacred feature shows well that the poet who wrote Völuspá made a point of stressing  the gods’ importance at the beginning times. The end poem the tell their ending times, with no hint that they might  have demeaned themselves.




Stanza 7

Old Norse




7. Hittuz ćsir

á Iđavelli,

ţeir er hörg oc


há timbrođo;



afla lögđo,

auđ smíđođo,

tangir scópo,

oc tól gorđo.

literal translation  AND English


Met the Ćsir

on Iđavöllr, ‘Fulfillments Plain’,

there are their sanctuary and homes

high ‘timbered’ ones;


forging hearths laid,

richness forged 

blacksmith clenches shaped,

and tools made.


Explanations and comments

The word ‘indicates a work, an achievement. It does its plural genitive in ‘a’: iđa. This describes gods’ housing as a place where they perform serious work.

Dronke did another choice by reading iđa-völlr, iđa = eddy. In this case, eddy has to be understood as a modifier of völlr, she accordingly translates by “eddying plain.” This describes god’s housing as a moving unsafe place.


"hörg oc hof is better /understood by considering archaeological discoveries. It was noted that certain particularly majestic buildings (hof) were also places of worship (hörgr), either inside them, or in the near vicinity.


Stanza 8


Old Norse


8. Teflđo í túni,

teitir vóro,

var ţeim vćttergis

vant ór gulli,


unz ţriár qvómo

ţursa meyiar

ámátcar miöc

ór iötunheimom.

literal translation  


Plaid tafl in the hedged meadow,

merry they were,

were they  nothing

in want from gold.


until three came ,

of giants’ maidens,

detestable and over poweful much beaucoup,

from  giant-homes.

Comments and explanations


Tafl is a game similar to checkers. To learn the rules of this game, consult

http://www.irminsul.org/arc/002sg.html or

http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/games.shtml .


It is usually understood that these three giant girls,  ţursa meyiar ”, coming from giants’ country, “iötunheimr, ” are the three Norns.

The end of the stanza seems to say that the Gods




They plaid tafl in the hedged meadow,

merry they were,

in noway they were

in want from gold.


until three came,

from  giant-dwellings.

giant born maidens,

quite detestable and over powerful ones.

were merry until (!) Norns arrival.






A short vocabulary note about  ámátcar (hateful and over powerful)


It is necessary to go to go through LexPoet in order to understand the kind of play word associated to ámátcar. This dictionary presents two similar words, amátligr (= monstrous, hateful) and ámáttigr (= over powerful – á’ - can be an intensifier). You see that átcar lacks the ‘a’ beginning amátligr and ‘tt’ in ámáttigr. The translators often select ‘over powerful’ but the context of merry …until casts a negative aspect onto these three women, hence my translation.


Stanza 9

Old Norse


9. Ţá gengo regin öll

á röcstóla,

ginnheilog gođ,

oc um ţat gćttuz,


hverr scyldi dverga

dróttin scepia

ór Brimis blóđi

oc ór Bláins leggiom.

literal translation


Then went divinities all 

on judgement-stools,

sacred saint gods,

and from this got,


that shall dwarves

a (noble) household to (magically) shape 

from Brimir blood 

and from Bláinn legs

Comments and explanations


In  “ginnheilog what exactly ‘ginn’  means  is in fact unknown. This word applies only to the Gods



Brimir and Bláinn are two other names given to the primitive Giant, Ymir, which was killed by the “sons of Burr (thus, in particular by Óđinn), and whose body was used to create the world.




Then all divinities went

on their judgement-stools,

sacred saint gods,

and from this they got



that shall a (noble) household

of dwarves (magically) shape…


that they shall (magically) shape

the (noble) household of Dwarves)

from Brimir blood

and from Bláinn legs.




The Dwarves are thus created with elements that come from Ymir’s body. Ymir is called Brimir (brim = surf, sea) when his body created the seas. We expect that his legs are used to create the earth but name Bláinn is ambiguous. The radical ‘‘blá’ may mean ’blue’ and it again evokes a marine element. It is also often used to mean ‘dark blue, black’ which evokes a terrestrial element.



Comment: A serious vocabulary problem of and a secondary grammar problem


Vocabulary problem


The verb skepja (written scepia above) is an old form of the verb skapa which means: to work, make, form, assign a destiny, to fix. When a meaning as to makeis not utterly  ridiculous, the translators objectively use it since it is the most neutral meaning. In the context of the creation of a newrace of living beings, we cannot not honestly avoid evoking magic. That the Gods created Dwarves by using their magic is exactly what scepia indicates.


Grammar problem


I also want to clarify an interesting grammatical ambiguity that changes this stanza comprehension.  

The word for a noble household’, dróttin, is obviously feminine nominative, subject of skepja, it is thus a noble household’ (here the Gods) that will skepja.

The word for Dwarfis a masculine, dvergr, and it does dverga in the plural genitive and accusative. Similarly, the singular and plural preterit subjunctive of skulu are identical. If dverga is a plural accusative, thenthe noble household created the Dwarves.” If it is a plural genitive, we can then read that ‘they’ (the Gods) createda household of Dwarves.”

Both say the same significant thing, namely that the Dwarves were created by the Gods.




Follow the famous and ‘boring’ lists of Dwarves names. Experts have been looking for their meaning by using the Norse words they evoke, and their etymology. I believe firmly that these lists were intended to help memorizing this large number of names, by the music of their words and the measure of poetry. This is why, when I have been able to, I give a name that is phonetically obvious by association to a familiar word even if etymology suggests something else.


Stanza 10

Old Norse


10. Ţar Mótsognir

mćztr um orđinn

dverga allra

en Durinn annarr;


ţeir manlícon

mörg um gorđo,

dvergar, ór iörđo,

sem Durinn sagđi.

literal translation


There Mótsognir 

most famous ‘spoken of’

Dwarves all

and Durinn the other one;


they human-shapes

many made,

Dwarves, out of ground,

as Durinn had said..

Comments and explanations


Mótsognir, or Móđsognir = Meeting Sucker (‘sucker’ in the way an ebbing tide ‘suckssand)

Durinn = Drowsing


The context leads us to believe that these shapes will be used to create the Dwarves since  the lists that follows in s. 11-13 provides lists of the Dwarves. Inversely, the way of speech “human-shapes” suggests that these shapes might have been also used for creating the first two  human ones.



There Mótsognir 

most famous mentioned

of all Dwarves 

and Durinn after him;


Dwarves made many

human shapes, 

out of ground,

as Durinn had said.



That Ask and Embla are shaped from pieces of wood is suggested by other texts, not by Völuspá.


It is also quite possible that Völuspá simply stresses the similarity between the Dwarves and mankind.



Stanza 11


Old Norse


11. Nýi oc Niđi,

Norđri oc Suđri,

Austri oc Vestri,

Alţiófr, Dvalinn,

Bívorr, Bávorr,

Bömburr, Nóri,

Án oc Ánarr,

Ái, Miöđvitnir.



Nýi and Niđi,

Norđri and Suđri,

Austr and Vestri,

Alţiófr, Dvalinn,

Bívörr, Bávörr,

Bömburr, Nóri,

Án and Ánarr,

Ái, Miöđvitnir.

Meaning of names


Nýi = New Moon, Niđi = No Moon, 

Nordri = Northern, Sudri = Southern, 

Austri = Western, Vestri = Eastern, 

Alţiófr = Allthief, Dvalinn = Plodder, 

Bívörr = Shiverly, Bávörr = Tumbler

Bömburr = Druming or Noisy, Nóri = Tiny, 

Án = ‘without= Lacking , Ánarr - Lack-producer ',

Ái = Ancestor, Miöđvitnir = Mead-bewitched-wolf




Stanza 12



Old Norse


12. Veigr oc Gandálfr,


Vindálfr, Ţráinn,


Ţeccr oc Ţorinn,




Ţrór, Vitr oc Litr,

Nár oc Nýráđr -

nú hefi ec dverga


- Reginn oc Ráđsviđr -

rétt um talđa.



12. Veigr and Gandálfr,


Vindálfr, Ţráinn,


Ţekkr and Ţorinn (or Ţroinn),



Ţrór, Vitr and Litr,

Nár and Nýráđr -

Here are the Dwarves


- Reginn et Ráđsviđr -

properly reckoned.

Meaning of names


Veigr : IF Veggr = Wall, IF veig = Strpng drink or ‘Magic Potion’, Gandálfr = Magic-stick Elve,

Vindálfr = Wind Elve, Ţráinn = Stubborn or Needy

Ţekkr = Pleasing, Ţorinn = He-dares,

Ţrór =Tough, Healthy , Vitr = Wise, Litr = Hued,

Nár = Corpse, Nýráđr = New adviser,


Obviously, Reginn is here a name  meaning ‘the gods’ as word regin. It carries also the meaning of being powerful.

Reginn = Gods or Powers, Ráđsviđr = Advice-Wise .



Stanza 13


Old Norse


13. Fíli, Kíli,

Fundinn, Náli,


Hepti, Víli,

Hanarr, Svíurr,

Frár, Hornbori,


Frćgr oc Lóni,

Aurvangr, Iari,


Meaning of names


Fíli = Fat Flesh, Kíli = Inlet, Canal,

Fundinn = Found, Náli = Needle

Hepti =Hefti = Chained, Víli = Miserable,

Hanarr = Skilful, Svíurr = Pain Releaser

Frár = Fast, Hornbori  = Pierced Horn,

Frćgr = Famous, Lóni = Islet,

Aurvangr = Pebbly Wetland or Wetground Meadow, Iari = Fighter

Eikinskjaldi = Oakenshield.



Stanza 14


Old Norse


14. Mál er dverga

í Dvalins liđi

lióna kindom

til Lofars telia,


ţeir er sótto

frá salar steini

Aurvanga siöt

til Iörovalla.

litteral translation


Time (or measure) of Dwarves

in Dvalinn’s  ‘joint’ (kindred)

of mankind’s (for the) kin

until Lofarr enumerate,


they who looked for

from the hall in stone

of Aurvangar the dwelling

until Iörovellir.

Meaning of names


Dvalinn = Plodder (s. 11)

Les ‘descendants des arbitres’

liónar = arbiters or simply people (de Vries).


Aurvangr = Pebbly Wetlands or

Wetground Meadow (s. 13)

Iörovalla = Fightvalley (cf. Iari, s. 13)



It is time that Dwarves,

Dvalinn’s kindred,

be listed until Lofarr

for mankind’s kin,


they who moved (looked for’)

from the dwellings

of Aurvangar’s

stone hall

until Jörovellir.

Comments and explanations


This stanza tells us that all Dwarves’ kindred goes up to Lofarr and that it has to be taught to mankind, and s. 16 will confirm it. The need for mankind’s survival to receive this kind of inheritance, hence to memorize  this list of Dwarves, is hinted at in this stanza. S. 16 will explicitly state that mankind’s survival depends on performing this work of memory.


That must thus be very significant in the old Scandinavian tradition, but we lost why this is so important for us.




Note on the Dwarves’ move


The choice of names Aurvangar and Jörovellir can help us guessing why they moved. Aurvangar has two possible meanings: Pebbly Wetlands or Wetground Meadow and, for Jörovellir I only proposed Fightvalley. The text describes Aurvangar as “the residences of the stony rooms”  i.e. a rock environment which suits well ‘Pebbly Wetlands’. The Dwarves leave this place to join Fightvalley. In the context of a near Ragnarök, this point at them as fighter joining combat, certainly on the Gods’ side, as the myth of their creation suggests it.

Dronke gives two different names and an almost opposite conclusion to ours “.… the dwarf material preserved in Völuspá are allusions to…  their migration from rocky regions to fertile plains, so it would seem; 14)” p. 122. She translate Aurvangr “Loam Lee” and reads Jörovellir as Jörđvellir ‘Earth Plains’ since Jörđ means Earth. This explains her conclusion. Gaining better ground is certainly a good motive for people moves but I find it somewhat trifling in the context of Völuspá.



Stanza 15


Old Norse


15. Ţar var Draupnir

oc Dólgţrasir,

Hár, Haugspori,



Hlévangr, Glói,


Scirvir, Virvir,



Scáfiđr, Ái,



There were Draupnir

and Dólgţrasir,

Hár, Haugspori,



Hlévangr, Glói,


Skirvir, Virvir,



Skáfiđr, Ái,

Meaning of names


Draupnir = Dripping (from drjúpa, pret. draup)

Dólgţrasir = Monster Fighter,

Hár = High, Haugspori : If : Haug-spori = Burial-mound-spur mais si : Haugs-por(r)i = Burial-mound-one-eyed-person

Hlévangr = Garden Shelter, Glói = Shiny

Skirvir = Skirpir = from skyrpa, Spitting ?  Virvir,Virfir, Virfill  = Penis ?[Dronke gives ‘Groiner’… a modest way of saying penis.]

Skáfiđr = Skáviđr = Twisted-tree, Ái = Ancestor (as in s. 11)



Stanza 16


Old Norse


16. Álfr oc Yngvi


Fialarr oc Frosti,

Finnr oc Ginnarr;


ţat mun uppi,

međan öld lifir,

langniđia tal

Lofars hafat.

litteral translation


Álfr and Yngvi


Fialarr and Frosti,

Finnr andGinnarr;


this remembered up,

as long as humankind lives

of offsprings list descendants  

of Lofarr had.


Meaning of names


Álfr = Elve, Yngvi = King, Eikinskjaldi = Oak-shield,

Fialarr = He-of-the-cliff OR (fjöl) He-of-the-skis, Frosti = Frost,  Finnr = Hunter or Saami, Ginnarr = Cheater or Powerful.




Lofarr = Praiser




The record of Lofarr’s


 is rembered at the top (as highly important),

as long as humnakind lives.

Comments and explanations



Lofarr’s progeny will be  remembered  as long as mankind lives.”

This implies  implies that forgetting this line is one of the conditions for mankind extinction.



Fate related stanzas: 17-20 and 31


Stanza 17


The völva’s account stops at stanza 9 and is followed by a string of 9 stanzas giving the list of dwarf names. Thus, this account begins again at s 17: Everything happened as described in s. 1-8, until…



Unz ţrír kvámu               1. Until three came

ór ţví liđi                          2. out of their people

öflgir ok ástkir                 3. strong-always and loving-always

ćsir at húsi,                     4. ćsir to the house (of mankind),

fundu á landi                   5. they found on the ground

lítt megandi                      6. little having might

Ask ok Emblu                  7. Ask(r) and Embla

örlöglausa                        8. örlög-less.


Comment on the vocabulary


v. 2. liđ means a host/people. The ‘three’, in the first line left their ‘people’, i.e. the Giants.

v. 3.afl-gir is an adjective derivation of afl-gi = force-always. The same for ást = a lover.

v. 5. The word land describes the ground as opposite to the sea, “where the sea stops,” wherefrom comes the traditional image of the beach where Ask and Embla were found.

v. 7. The names of the first two human persons are here in the accusative (direct object complement of verb ‘found’). We can read the name of the man as Ask or Askr which are identical in the accusative. Askr means ash-tree but the experts vainly sought a name of tree (or anything else), which could be linked to the name Embla. Some translators claim to have found a solution, which reflects nothing but their personal beliefs. A traditional example is that of a shoot of vine, which is supposed to find its support on the solid ash, image of the fragile woman being carried by her strong man. All this is ridiculous also from the point of view of the name ‘Embla’.


Comment on the meaning of the stanza


Honesty however leads me to point out that line of 17 speaks of an ‘askr’ which is a man and that 19 begins by saying that Yggdrasill is also an ‘askr’, which gives to it/him a kind of status of a pillar. In fact, if we closely examine the structure of the Icelandic married couple, it seems that indeed the man is an (often disputed) pillar in the outer world whereas the woman is the (uncontested) pillar of an inner world represented by the family dwelling.


This stanza gives us also three invaluable indications on what defines a ‘true’ human being.

Firstly, Ask and Embla are found together and we will see that, moreover, all the features given to them by the gods in stanza 18 are given to both together, without reference to their genre. This unrelentingly separates us from all the cultures where the gods allot qualities to the male, and afterwards to the female, exemplified in note 1 above. This stanza thus describes, without reference to sex, what Ask and Embla both miss to be true human beings.

Secondly, they are both ‘lítt megandi i.e. ‘having little might’, unable of action. Thus, a fundamental quality of human is to be able to act on the world.

Thirdly, they are both ‘örlöglauss, without destiny. Thus, the second fundamental character defining a human being is to have a destiny. In Anglo-Saxon literature, the wyrd, fate or destiny, is presented as an unbearable constraint imposed on us, whereas here, constraint or not, it is one of the two paramount characters of human beings. To rebel against our destiny is to some extent to leave our human status. However, the first human capacity, the one of acting, moderates the fate’s inexorability. Our human destiny is to be (recursively!) wedged between an inexorable outer destiny and our capacity to act and we have to manage it.




Stanza 18



Önd ţau né átto,              1. Breath they did not own,

óđ ţau né höfđo,              2. intelligence they did not have

lá né lćti                           3. ‘the sea’ [internal waters] does not flow

né lito góđa;                     4. nor (shows) a hue good (beautiful);

önd gaf Óđinn,                 5. breath gave Óđinn

óđ gaf Hśnir,                   6. intelligence gave Hśnir

lá gaf Lóđurr                    7. ‘sea’ gave Lóđurr

oc lito góđa.                     8. and beautiful hue.


This stanza does not explicitly speak of örlög but it shapes the general structure of these stanzas.


Comment on the vocabulary


The verbs eiga and hafa, to own and to have, are here in their preterit subjunctive case.

The verb láta, like English ‘to let’, has several meanings. I use one meaning in line 3. (“to let run/flow”) and I consider that another meaning is implied in line 4. (“to let appear/show”). It is a subjunctive present: the preterit of the two first lines is not kept.

is the sea water near the seashore. I suppose that this word is used to evoke the internal liquids that any living being carries inside, as opposed to the land (see s. 17) on which the putative human beings are lying.


Comment on the meaning of the stanza


This comment has been developed in the above paragraph entitled, "Örlög", where we meet a triple of gods, Óđinn, Hśnir, Lóđurr who give to human beings their fundamental qualities by which they will be able to acquire a destiny and a capacity to act.


The present comment attempts to provide some explanations on the name of these gods and their bond with another triple of gods, called Óđinn, Vili and Vé. The latter appear from the very start of the construction of the universe in two principal sources. One is Snorri Sturluson who carefully describes the way in which these three gods transformed the original giant, Ymir, so that the various parts of his ‘body’ are used to create the world in which we live. We also know their names by Lokasenna where Loki accuses Frigg to have taken as husbands Vili and Vé during some Óđinn’s absence.

Insofar as each triple starts with Óđinn and that they are ordered, it is tempting to seek bonds between Vili and Hśnir, and between Vé and Lóđurr. We will see that this research is not conclusive but that analyzing their names and by itself interesting.


Vili is undoubtedly related to vil, ‘a wish, a desire’. The word even took the pejorative meaning of ‘satisfaction of our own yearnings’. Vili is certainly very close to Óđinn since skaldic poetry created the kenning ‘Vili’s brother’ to indicate Óđinn.

Hśnir comes from an Indo-European root meaning ‘the high one, the inflamed one’ to which also one of Óđinn’s names is attached, Hár (the High one). In Völuspá stanza 63 (available below), Hśnir is one of the gods surviving Ragnarök and he seems to collect Óđinn magical inheritance. In addition, he seems to be a silent god of whom we know little.

Finally, what brings the closest Vili and Hśnir they are their bonds with Óđinn.


The wordmeans sanctuary what gives to Vé a status of a god of the consecrated places. It is associated the verb vígja, to hallow, and, as such it is linked to Thórr’s hallowing hammer. No kenning connects him to Óđinn.

The word means ‘light’ and etymology connects the name Lóđurr to the one of ‘distributor of fire’ [Note 4]. The often advanced assumption that Lóđurr is another name of Loki runs up against the fact that the ‘wicked’ Loki cannot have given ‘the sea and beautiful hue’ to humankind. It should however be remembered that, for a long time, Loki is nothing different a god embarrassing to the Ćsir by its often ambiguous role with respect to the giants. Only after Baldr’s murder and his insulting attitude in Lokasenna he becomes the ‘wicked one’, described by Snorri with such an amount of aggressiveness. In addition to being a giant-god, he may have been also an ‘evolving god’.

Finally, which brings the closest Vé and Lóđurr is fact that they hardly have any bond with Óđinn, which does not enlighten us much, I must confess.


[Note 4] Loki is very often associated to fire through a pun on his name and the one a giant called Logi. As a matter of fact log is a flame and loga means ‘to burn with a flame’. Logi is certainly a representative of the flames. A paltry pun: Loki/Logi makes them identical. However, the only precise knowledge we have about Logi is an eating competition between Loki and Logi were opposed and Logi wins because: “What eats faster than Loki? – wild-fire,” as goes a riddle. All this hints at Loki having a power similar to but different of the one of fire.




Stanza 19



Ask veit ek standa,           An askr know-I stands,

heitir Yggdrasill,              it is named Yggdrasill,

hár bađmr, ausinn          high tree, sprinkled

hvíta auri;                        with white mud;

ţađan koma döggvar      wherefrom come the dews

ţćrs í dala falla,              that in the vale,

stendur ć yfir grćnn      it stands up always green above

Urđar brunni.                  Urđr’s source.


Comment on the vocabulary


Askr, here with the accusative, ask, means an ash-tree. The saying ‘askr Yggdrasill’ appears several times in Norse literature. This is why almost everyone claims that the tree of the world is an ash-tree… with the modern meaning of the word, Fraxinus excelsior. This is a typical anachronism and I have the feeling that the only goal of the ‘ash-tree-fanatics’ is to introduce yet another contradiction in our mythology: Everyone knows that an “always green ash-tree” does not exist. In skaldic poetry one of the classical techniques is the one of using heiti, i.e. replacing the name of an object by another of close meaning. For example, stating ‘ash-tree’ instead of ‘tree’. There even exist lists of heiti which indicate which replacements were used successfully by the old poets. For example the heiti for a tree (“viđar heiti) contain the word askr. It means that a traditional way to speak uses the word ‘ash’ to speak of a ‘tree’. In this list of heiti, we fin also the words sverđa, skipa, hesta (sword, boat, horse) which could express the word tree, according to the context. (Source: Jónsson, Skjaldedigtning B1, downloadable at http://www.septentrionalia.net/etexts/skjald_b1.pdf ) . Here, the word bađmr of the third line us provides a nonambiguous context.

Yggdrasill breaks up into yggr = fear and drasill (or drösull) = horse (exclusively in poetry).

- On yggr. The word yggr does not appear in Cleasby-Vigfusson that gives onlyt ýgr = wild. It is found in deVries who associates it to uggr = fear. It is also given by Lexicon Poeticum which identifies it with ýgr. The last two dictionaries announce that Yggr is one of the traditional names of Óđinn, which does also C-V but not at the word yggr.

- On drasill. The three dictionaries we use here give the words drasill and drösull with this spelling. The spelling ‘Yggdrasil’ is how translators write it, reduced to its root and avoiding to write the letter marking the nominative, here the second ‘l’.

Bađmr means tree. In the manuscript, it is written batmr.

Ausinn: The verb ausa = to sprinkle, here in the past participle, ausinn.

Döggvar = old nominative and plural genitive of dögg, dew


Comment on the meaning of the stanza


Lines 3-6 describe a way of explaining why the dew can settle on grasses even from an uncloudy sky.

By its roots, Yggdrasill is the support of all the Chtonian forces, which include Niđhöggr. I call it the ‘bottom snake’ because I do not stress the ‘i’ (níđ, slandering, and niđr, the son or ‘at the bottom’, have very different meanings).

By its trunk, its higher roots and its lower branches, it is the support of the nine inhabited worlds.

By its high branches and its leaves, it is the carrier of all heavenly forces. The moisture of the air, with or without clouds, contains some amount of moisture that settles in dew. The allegory contained in lines 3-6 is thus understood without contempt. It nevertheless could also bear a more mystical meaning, namely that the trees pour down an essence life that flows on our world.




Stanza 20




Ţađan koma meyjar

margs vitandi

ţrjár ór ţeim sć/sal,

er und ţolli stendr;

Urđ hétu eina,

ađra Verđandi,

- skáru á skíđi, -

(örlög seggja, line 12)

Skuld ina ţriđju.

Ţćr lög lögđu,

ţćr líf kuru

alda börnum,

örlög seggja [or segja?]


1.From there come maids

2.much knowing

3. three out of their sea/hall

4. which below a pine stands;

5. Urđr is called one,

6. the other Verđandi,

7.- they scraped on a wooden tablet -

(12) (“the örlög of humankind” as in 12 with seggja=humankind’s)

8. Skuld the third one.

9. They fixed the laws

10. lives they chose

11. of the children of humanity,

12. örlög of_human_ones (or örlög they said).



Norns’ names


The Norns’s names are given in a special order which is certainly significant since the poem specifies that Urđr “is the one” and Skuld “is the third.

The word urđr is one of the Norse words meaning ‘fate’, as örlög and sköp among others. It is linked to the verb verđa, the plural preterit of which is urđu, thus meaning “they became.” As for “spinning of the wyrd” we should be weary of possible Greek influences through the Parcae’s roles. This kind of misunderstanding should be deemed unavoidable since all translators are cultivated persons whose culture has been influenced by the Greek and Latin civilizations – as I am, though a feeble instance. Because of the meaning of urđu, we can suppose that Urđr is somewhat linked to something that happened in the past. Since the Norns do not deal only with individual destinies, we must understand that this ‘past’ actually is the sum of what happened to humankind, including our genetic inheritance, and even more generally the result of the whole evolution of our universe.

Verđandi is also linked to verb verđa, now in its present participle tense, thus meaning ‘becoming’. Here, there really no link with the Parcae since becoming is an action that takes some time and I feel cheated by people who claim she is the Norn of present time. Present time is a nice grammatical category but its semantics are almost empty since it has, so to say, a foot in our past and the other foot in our future. Verđandi is the Norn of what is presently under transformation and I see her as the Norn of evolution and action.

The word skuld means a debt, i.e., a commitment that cannot be avoided. When the saga or poetry characters complain of the unavoidable fate decided by the Norns, they essentially refer to Skuld. This name is also associated to a verb, skulu (shall and they shall). Its preterit is skyldi. It thus seems that Skuld is a sort of mix of a present and a past sense. It very clearly does not refer to any period of time, which confirms my doubts that the Greek categorizations would apply at all to the Norns.


As announced the ordering of the three Norns in s. 20 should significant and as already stated, I am very weary of an order based on time, namely past, present and future. Instead, I want to propose an ordering such that each Norn plays a specific role, while each can be active in all three segments of time, but based on logical relationships instead. The above analysis of name Urđr suggests someone who, as a conscientious doctor provides a complete check-up, or as an auditor provides an audit on the states of affairs. We could thus qualify her as being a controlling authority, who builds up a statement of accounts describing how humankind, and also individuals, have been, and are expected to manage their existence. The role of Verđandi is easier to grasp, she is the active authority who decides on the way the all actors of our universe have behaved and will behave in view of the account provided by Urđr. For Skuld also, her name tells of her role: she is who evaluates the debts, and, with Verđandi’s help sees that the debts are repaid. We could thus call her a repaying authority (more dignified than a simple collector).

I think I do not need to recall again that these three activities cooperate among them along the line of time. The order met in s. 20 can be understood as measure of the amount of direct constraint their decisions wield on people, even though all three are not easy to stand. Controlling asks for no more action than being aware of what has been happening. Acting with efficiency implies a kind of common agreement between the leading authority and the many actors who are involved. When mistakes have been done, the repaying authority is in charge of forcing on the actors what and how they should (skuld) repay, they like it or not.


This analysis should and will be reflected our view of örlög, ‘produced’ by the Norns, in a text to come relative to örlög in general.


Commentary on the vocabulary and the stanza structure


Dronke chooses to read sćr (an accusative singular) which translates as ‘lake’. She argues in favor of this translation using mythological reasons of the magic power of female water beings. Cleasby-Vigfusson, however, insists on the fact that this word is never used for a lake and always for the sea or the ocean. He provides a long list of compound words that illustrates that sćr always indicates the ocean or the sea. Dronke’s argument still applies for female marine beings. For example, Anglo-Saxon mythology tells that Beowulf’s only really dangerous adversary has been Grendel’s mother who dwells under the sea. Similarly, Scandinavian mythology says that the dead sailors do not join the dwellings of the sea god Ćgir, but those of the sea goddess, Rán.

Note also that salr does sal in its accusative singular and stays as a possible candidate, even if its mythological power is lower. A standing hall, besides, is more obvious than a standing lake or sea. We should keep in mind these two meanings.


A ţollr is a pine-tree. As already pointed out, skaldic poetry often replaces the more general, as here ‘tree’ by the more particular, as here ‘pine-tree’. Due to the context, this is an obvious allusion to the world tree, Yggdrasill.

In stanza 60, we find again this way of speech where the word used, ţinurr, has the same meaning as ţollr.


The verb skára, points at the action of mowing, which is not at all adapted to the context. The experts read skara, which means to scrape/poke and skaru gives ‘they scraped’. The ON grammatical use in of the verb skara is similar to that of the English language, someone ‘skarar an inscription (direct object - called here ‘accusative’) on a support (indirect object - called here ‘dative’). You see that in line 7 the verb is followed with a dative and it carries no accusative, it thus does not specify the meaning of what the Norns skara.

We must also note that line 7 cut the list of the names of Nornes in an almost ‘rude’ way, where from comes the pair of - - added by the editors of the poem. A detailed explanation is provided below.


The preposition á followed by a dative means on/upon. Since most translators do not read line 12 just after line 7, they tend also to forget to translate this slightly useless ‘upon’, in their understanding of these lines. They thus render the unambiguous dative skíđi as an accusative: “they scrape wooden tablets.”


Skíđ (here in the dative singular) means a piece of wood or a wooden tablet (incidentally: in another context, it also means ‘ski’). To scrape or incise or carve a tablet or a twig are typical ways to express the fact of writing runes.


The verb leggja does lögđu in its preterit plural; it means place/lay/take_care/build/settle.


The verb kjósa does kuru in its preterit plural; it means ‘to choose’.


Lastly, the last line always gave serious trouble to the translators.

This ‘seggja can be read as the verb segja (to say). With this choice, örlög is an accusative related to this verb. It can also be read, as chosen here, as seggja, which makes of it the genitive plural of seggr, a messenger (who indeed says ‘something’) and, in poetry, a human person. The choice between the two understandings is complicated because we know that the Middle Ages copyists themselves hesitated: There are two manuscripts (Codex Regius and Hauksbók) the first of which gives ‘seggja' and the second one ‘at segja’. I think that this dilemma has been definitively solved by Elizabeth Jackson in a downloadable article available at http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~alvismal/9scaro.pdf . She proposes an elegant solution as follows: “The present article will argue, first, that the verb for line 12 is provided in line 7…)”. This solution consists in keeping seggja and reading line 12 just after line 7: skáru á skíđi/örlög seggja (they scraped on a wooden tablet/the örlög of the humans). Note a significant difference between the two versions. If Norns segja (state) the örlög, any logical person will conclude: “they only state, therefore someone else allots this örlög.” Jackson’s interpretation makes it clear that the Nornes are these who allot its örlög to humankind.



Jackson’s argumentation is based on an analysis of the structure of the lists met in both writings, Anglo-Saxon and Norse. Before presenting (in a simplified form!) her argumentation, let us notice that modern writings also show list structures and I just gave you one example of it.

The comments above are a list of eight items each member of which is separated from different by a blank line. I announced the last item list by beginning it with “Lastly, the last line…” and adding a separating line of ‘*’ before the present paragraph. It thus is apart from the list above, which is completely implicit but can be easily guessed due to the ‘markers’ I used.

Mrs. Jackson does not do anything odder, even if I think her to be one of her kind, than seeking the list markers of a beginning or an ending that provide a specific list structure, according to the topic of the list. I do not know if she refers to Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism but I see in her work as being a bright illustration of the hidden structures defining relationships in between the lines of a stanza in Skaldic poetry.

She reckons in the two lists of s. 20 the structural characters similar to the ones of as in other lists, particularly those of lists describing two joined topics, here a list of Norns names and a list of Norns’ actions. In particular, line 7, seemingly oddly inserted in the list of Norns names is an end_of_list marker used elsewhere in much longer lists. The use of ‘at segja in line 12 does not respect this structure and imposes upon us to feel line 7 as not fully complete.


A small practical conclusion


When an internet site speaks of Germanic mythology and states or implies that Norns spin the örlög, or the wyrd, we can recognize that it confuses Germanic and Greek mythology.

Stanza 21


Old Norse


Ţat man hón fólcvíg

fyrst í heimi,

er Gullveigo

geirom studdo

oc í höll Hárs

hána brendo;


ţrysvar brendo,

ţrysvar borna,

opt, ósialdan;

ţó hón enn lifir.

litteral translation


That remember she a war of peoples

first in the world,

is Gullveig

by spears steadied

and in tea hall of Hár (High, Óđinn)

she was burned;


three times burned 

three times born,

often, non seldom;

nevertheless she still lives.

Comments and explanations


She’ is here the völva who seems to allude to her being Gullveig.


Gullveig means  gold power.” She causes the war between Ćsir and Vanir. She is of Vanr ‘race’, and she visits the Ćsir. They burn her three times, but it is three times born again. The war probably starts because of these ill treatments inflicted to Gullveig


Hár = the high one, Óđinn




She remembers a war of peoples

the first one in the world,

Gullveig is

‘steadied’ (transfixed) by spears

and in High’s hall

she has been burned;


three times burned,

three times born (again),

often, not seldom;

nevertheless she still lives.



Stanza 22


Old Norse


22. Heiđi hana héto,

hvars er til húsa kom,

völo velspá,

vitti hon ganda;


seiđ hon, hvars hon kunni,

seiđ hon hug leikinn,

ć var hón angan

illrar brúđar.

litteral translation


Heiđr her they called

when toward homes (she) came

völva well--prophecising

wise she about sorcery;


seiđ she, that she knew,

bewiched she a spirit played with ()   

always was she sweet-smelling

to bad wives.



Comments and explanations

I suppose that the völva still speaks about herself. Combined with s. 21 this would mean that Gullveig and Heiđr are the same person. In regard of Old Norse spirituality, that of an ancestor cult, this statement can be rationalized by saying that they belong to the same family line.

Noun seiđ means ‘witchcraft’.

siđa does seiđ in the preterit, and leika does leikinn in the past participle.

The word heiđr has three main meanings: shining, heather and honor. This name is often the one of a witch or a völva.




They called her Heiđr,

when she travelled to a dwelling,

as a völva (she was able to) well prophesize,

she was wise in witchcraft;


Seiđ, she knew well

she bewitched deluded minds,

her smell always was sweet

to bad wives.

The word heidr has three principal meanings: shining, heather and honor. This name is often the one of a witch or a völva


1. A völva who always prophecies that “all will be well” be really honest.





2. Her magic was intended to  delude naive minds. 


3. She is a friend to bad wives who deal with magic.




Three sharp remarks (1. 2. 3. above) against witches obviously seem to imply some Christian influence. However, this is not sure because even during Heathen times witches were tolerated but not appreciated.

The last line reflects a social rule that a good busy wife did not dawdle among witches.

This kind of mistrust for witches is illustrated by the Eddic poem Hávamál. I again recall that all the many attempts to ‘prove’ Christian influences on this poem have been mocked by the more objective scholars (see explanations just after s. 21 ), Hávamál is thus an example of Eddic poetry hardly influenced by Christendom.



Hávamál stanza 113


With a female magician excelling in her art,

you shall not sleep enfolded in her arms:

she could then lock your limbs.

Hávamál stanza 118


I saw, quite quickly,

the perfidious word of a witch

bite a man;

words of bad advice

brought him death

though that which one showed it

has not been proven.


Stanza 23


Old Norse


23. Ţá gengo regin öll

á röcstóla,

ginnheilög gođ,

oc um ţat gćttuz,


hvárt scyldo ćsir

afráđ gialda

eđa scyldo gođin öll

gildi eiga.

literal translation


Then went divinities all 

on judgement-stools,

sacredsaint gods

and for this they obtained,


if should ćsir

a tribute (for harm done) to beg

or else  if should gods all 

a banquet to have

Comments and explanations


In the 4 last lines, Ćsir discuss among them to decide if they will agree to pay tribute for their ruthless behaviour with Gullveig or if war is not desirable.


The form hvárteđa classically means: either… or.  





The first for lines are indentical to those of s. 9.

If the ćsir should

beg (peace in exchange of) a tribute

or if all gods 

should set up a banquet (before going to battle the following day).




Afráđ means, as gildi, tribute to paybut it can also mean festival, banquet’. 

Here, I understand that this alludes to the merry banquet that takes place before departure for the battle.





Stanza 24


Old Norse


24. Fleygđi Óđinn

oc í fólc um scaut,


ţat var enn fólcvíg

fyrst í heimi;


brotinn var borđveggr

borgar ása,

knátto vanir vígspá

völlo sporna.

Literal translation


Let fly Óđinn

and in the army beyond the area (of the enemy army)

that was a people-war

first in the world ;


broken was the enclosure

of castle of Ćsir,

were-able-of Vanir of victory-magic

the field they trod.

Comments and explanations


This gesture announces the beginning of the battle. It is attested by a saga describing a warrior who launches his spear above his enemies first rank, which announces the beginning of the battle. When  Óđinn acts in this way, the army flown over which his lance flies is supposed to perish at once. Here, obviously, that did not happen this way and Vanir won the war, as said the last four lines, and confirmed by Snorri’s Edda.





Óđinn let fly his spear

beyond the army area,

that was a people-war

the first in the world;


broken was the enclosure

of Ćsir’s castle,

Vanir were able of victory-magic

and the field they trod.

This stanza provides a summary of the war between the Vanir and the Ćsir,. The reader is supposed to know the feature of the following peace: fusion of the two families, hostage exchange etc. See HERE a version of this myth.


“They trod the field” is a way of saying that, instead of being a pack of corpses, as they ‘should’ have been after Óđinn threw his spear, the Vanir were still living and they were proudly walking upon the field.


Stanza 25


Old Norse


25. Ţá gengo regin öll

á röcstóla,

ginnheilog gođ,

oc um ţat gćttuz,


hverir hefđi lopt alt

lćvi blandit

eđa ćtt iötuns

Óđs mey gefna.

Literal translation


Then went the gods all 

on judgement-stools

‘sacredsaints gods

and from that obtained,


who had air all

with evilness blended

and (to) family Giants

of Óđr the maid offered

Comments and explanations


This stanza refers to the myth of building a wall protecting Ásgarđr. The reader is supposed to know the whole story that you will find find HERE,  




The rest of the myth shows that here also, Freyja is Óđr’s wife.




Then all  the gods went

to their judgement-stools,

‘sacredsaints gods,

and from that obtained


who had blended

the whole atmosphere with evilness

and to Giant family

had offered Óđr’s maid.



The last four lines are relative to Ásgarđr’s ambiance when the Ćsir realize that the ‘worker’ will fill up his contract terms, and that they will have to deliver to him Freyja, Sun and Moon.










Stanza 26


Old Norse


26. Ţórr einn ţar vá,

ţrunginn móđi

hann sialdan sitr

er hann slíct um fregn;


á genguz eiđar,

orđ oc sśri,

mál öl meginlig,

er á međal fóro.

Literal translation


Ţórr alone there fought,

full of anger

he seldom sits

when he such be informed.


gone oaths,

words and swearings,

words/measures all powerful

which between (them) travelled.

Comments and explanations


This stanza describes the end of the myth when

Ţórr has killed the Giant.



The first half of the stanza alludes to Ţórr’s arrival when the Ćsir realize that their ‘worker’ actually is a Giant. This why Ţórr, who has been away, is ‘informed’ of the situation and he will kill this Giant.




Full of anger, Ţórr

alone there fought

he seldom stays sitting

when he is informed of such news.


Full gone were oaths,

words and swearings,

all powerful measures

that they had shared.



The  Ćsir had a deal with this ‘worker-Giant’ that has been made explicit by a contract. Since he hid that he was a Giant, this contract does not hold anymore and the oaths they shared (upon which they ‘travelled’) are gone away.



A broken oath is nevertheless always a shame and the Ćsir have been shamed on this occasion.



Stanza 27



Old Norse


27. Veit hón Heimdalar

hlióđ um fólgit

undir heiđvönom

helgom bađmi;


á sér hón ausaz

aurgom forsi

af veđi Valföđrs -


vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?

Literal translation


Knows she (that) Heimdall’s

the noise (the noisy horn) entrusted

under  ‘needing- serenity’

sacred tree;


on looks she self-gushing

‘in a’ muddy torrent

off guarantee of Killedfather


You know still, and what?


Comments and explanations

The four first lines of 27 describe a myth related to Heimdall and the last four lines refer to various myths relating to Óđinn, together with stanzas 28, 29, 30.  

Heimdall’s horn is hidden in the roots of Yggdrasil, near to or under Urđr’s well.  


The world tree is  in need for serenity because of the multiple constraints and hits it undergoes.







She knows (that) Heimdall’s

noisy horn has been entrusted

to the ‘in lack of serenity’

sacred tree;


she looks on a muddy torrent

that self-gushes  

off Óđinn’s pledge


You still want to know, and what ?


Óđinn entrusted an eye to the source of Urđr which is the ‘pledge’ he had to provide in order to be allowed to drink wisdom from this spring.





It is interesting to note that Urđr’s spring  is always presented as a pure and clear water is qualified as muddy. Our stereotypes may need some revision.





Stanza 28


Old Norse


28. Ein sat hon úti,

ţá er inn aldni kom,

Yggiungr ása,oc í augo leit:


'Hvers fregnit mic,

Hví freistiđ mín?


alt veit ec, Óđinn,

Hvar ţú auga falt:

í inom mćra

Mímis brunni.'

Dreccr miöđ,”

morgin hverian

af veđi Valföđrs –


Vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?”

Literal translation


One was sitting she outside,

then him old came,

Dreadful-young  of Ćsir, and in the eye looked :

“What ask you  to me

why do you try me?


All know I, Óđinn, 

where thou (your) eye hid

in it the famous

Mímir’s spring.

Drinks mead Mímir,

morning each one

off the pledge of Valföđr -


You know still, and what?

Comments and explanations


A way of practicing seiđ is called útiseta’, that is: seta úti = to sit down outside;”. The völva certainly says that she was practicing this form of seiđ when Óđinn arrived. This is a solitary practice, in opposition to the public one carried out on a wooden platform.


The ‘old one’ and the ‘young one’ are two faces of Óđinn.


Dronke acknowledges ignoring what exactly means the suffix jungr’ means exactly. A young one is currently called úngr but júngr is also possible. The völva calls Óđinn Old one’ as everyone else,  but she may wish to underline that

Óđinn and all Ćsir with him are much younger






She alone was sitting outside,

then came he, the old one,

Ćsir’s dreadful young one, and he looked me in the eyes:

“What do you asked me

why do you try me?


I know all of it, Óđinn, 

where thou hid your eye

in this famous

Mímir’s spring.

Mímir drinks mead,

each morning

off Valföđr’s pledge -


You still want to know, and what ?

than she is. This is indeed plausible if she is a Giantess born at the origins of the world.

That would also explain why she allows herself to sometimes treat Óđinn as a young one.




This ‘you’ is in ON an explicit plural. This suggests that Óđinn is acting as a representative of the other Ćsir.



That Mímir drinks a “morning mead” may hint at the fact that a sacred drink flows from Mímir’s spring. Anyhow, this means that, each morning, Mímir holds a ritual consecrating the new day.


The way of speech “Valföđr’s pledge” is explained in s. 27 just above.




Stanza 29


Old Norse


29. Valdi henni Herföđr

hringa oc men,

fécc spjöll spaclig

og spáganda,

sá hon vítt oc um vítt

of verold hveria.

Literal translation


Chose for her Her-föđr (Army-father, Óđinn )

rings and necklaces,

he collected spells wise

and vision-sticks,

saw she far and wide

over world all.



Comments and explanations


The völva tells that Óđinn offered her many precious jewels in order to learn from her to ‘send’ curses and to foresee the future.

And this teaching enriched her (hon), not  Óđinn’s,  world-view.

It seems that he  acknowledges that he also enriched his world-view through a similar process,  in Hávamál 141: “I then became fertile / and was full of knowledge / and grew and well throve, / a word, out of my speech, /




Óđinn selected for her

rings and necklaces,

he collected wise spells


and ways for magic seeing,

all over the world

she saw wide and far.

looked for another word,  / a word, out of my speech, looked for help / a deed, out of my deeds,  / looked for another deed.”

Óđinn and this völva therefore are old acquaintances, another fact that explains her

casualness with Óđinn.


On vision-sticks: since magic is often carried by a stick, this word is used here as a heiti for magic.




Stanza 30


Old Norse



30. Sá hon valkyrior,

vítt um komnar,

gorvar at ríđa

til gođţióđar;



Sculd helt scildi,

enn Scögul önnor,

Gunnr, Hildr, Göndul

oc Geirscögul;



nú ero talđar

nönnor Herians,

gorvar at ríđa

grund, valkyrior.

Literal translation – ‘English’


She saw valkyries

from far they came

greedy for riding

towards goth-people (OR god-people) ;


Skuld held a shield,

and Skögul another one,

Gunnr, Hildr, Göndul

and Geirskögul ;


now are counted

the maiden of the War Leader (Óđinn),

greedy for riding

(across) earth, Valkyries.


Commentaries on s. 30


"Gođţióđ is usually translated by   people of Goths where gođ means a goth’. This meaning refers to the usual role of a Valkyrie who selects the heroes who will join Valhöll. In the context of Ragnarök, however, we can understand that the völva speaks of the  people of the gods (gođ or guđ means god '). This version suggests that the Valkyries are eagerto get rid of Óđinn’s supervision, as will the case after Ragnarök. The two meanings are then both possible.


Skuld is also the name of a Norn, and this word means debt’. This role of  who demands the debts to be paid can also be the one of a Valkyrie who is not necessarily confused with Norn Skuld

Skögul is undoubtedly related to the verb skaga (Devries) to project, to exceed = ‘who holds up’ (before launching axe or lance).

Gunnr = Battle, Hildr = Combat, Göndul =  who handles a magic stick, wizard.” This name evokes the witches who participated to combat, the alrunć’.

Geirskögul =  Who holds up a lance.”


As in the case of Dwarves, the völva simply provides a list of names. The reader is again supposed to understand the hidden meaning of these names.


This ends the description of Óđinn’s majesty by the völva. The following stanzas 31, 32 and 33 deal with the myth of Baldr’s death. They contain the first magic throbbing that will lead the gods towards Ragnarök.


Stanza 31




Ek Baldri,                    I looked at Baldr

blóđgum tívur,                 blood-covered divine being,

Óđins barni,                     Óđinn’s son,

örlög fólgin;                     (I saw) örlög hidden;

stóđ of vaxinn                  was standing (fully) grown

völlum hćri                     in the fields taller

mjór ok mjög fagr           slender and very beautiful

mistilteinn.                       mistletoe.


Comment on the vocabulary


The verb sjá, to see, gives in its preterit first person. The name of Baldr god is in the dative case so that we must understand the verb sá á (to ‘see on’ = to look at). This meaning will which expands to the two following lines. On the other hand, örlög in line 4 is in the accusative case, one must thus understand ‘alone and the völva says that she saw his hidden örlög.

The declension of tívi as tívur is somewhat irregular. This word is used in general in the plural and its dative is ‘normally’ tívum. Dronke tries to find either an explanation to this variation and she fails being convincing... I’ll certainly not do better than her!

The verb fela, to hide, confuse/entrust, does folginn in its past participle.

The adjective hár, high, does hćri in the comparative. Mistletoe is ‘higher’ that the other trees or plants.


Comment on the meaning of the stanza


After being run through by Höđr’s arrow, Baldr’s corpse has certainly been covered with blood. If we have to see an allusion here, we can reasonably think of no one else than Óđinn who was wounded by a spear while hanging at the world tree had also to be blood-covered, as described in Hávamál stanza 138. You will find other comments at this stanza, see HERE  . In addition, it seems that the warriors who did not die in combat could nevertheless join Óđinn in Valhöll by being made ` marked with “Óđinn’s sign” by a spear, another bloody process related to Óđinn.

The Baldr’s örlög is hidden. Everyone’s örlög is hidden. It seems however that Frigg and Óđinn were informed of anyone’s örlög, as that is noted several times in Eddic poems. Since this stanza underlines this topic, it must mean that neither Frigg nor Óđinn were able to know their son’s one. We already spoke of the gods’ panic where they were aware of Baldr’s imminent death. Note 3 of the text on "Örlög" even says that Óđinn believed that the Haminjur - certainly those of the gods’ clan - had left as long as such a disaster could occur. Baldr is the first to die within the gods’ family and we can easily imagine that his death announces that others of the Ćsir could die as well. Baldr’s death can thus be looked upon as the first signal of Ragnarök’s coming.


The last four last lines further increase the feeling of ‘end of a world’ for the Ćsir. One of the three ‘actors’ in their son’s murderer, mistletoe, is proudly standing on the fields, as if pointing out their ultimate mortality, even if a long-term one. It may seem that the universal chaos forces have been defeated by the Ćsir, but they strikingly, though poetically, force their remembrance upon the Ćsir through a vigorous mistletoe branch.

We can assume that the name ‘mistletoe’ points at a mythical plant the botanical name of which is unknown, since it cannot “proudly stand in the fields.” Celtic religions gave a mythical status to botanical mistletoe, it quite possible that Norse people chose this name to point at a magical tree.



Stanza 32


Old Norse


32. Varđ af ţeim meiđi,

er mćr (mjór) sýndiz,

harmflaug hćttlig,

Höđr nam scióta.


Baldurs bróđir var

of borinn snemma,

sá nam, Óđins sonr,

einnćttr vega.

Literal translation


Was of this stick

that slim self-appeared as

harm-elk dangerous

Höđr learned to fling.


Baldur’s brother was

born soon

this one learned, Óđinn’s son,

(in) one night (to) smite.


Comments and explanations


This stanza appears  meaningless  if it is not connected to well-known myths. 

The four first lines say that mistletoe, slim and very beautiful (s. 31) was in fact afated  missile of harm.”

The last four lines directly pass to Höđr’s punishment.


Baldr, Höđr, et Vali are all Óđinn’s sons.




This fateful stick

that looked slim

actually was a harm-missile

that Höđr learned to fling.


Baldur’s brother was

born soon

and, Óđinn’s son, he learned

to smite in a single night.


Höđr is blind and he kills Baldr, being  pushed by Loki’s slyness. Vali, who is one night old, will avenge Baldr by killing Höđr (“he learned to smite in a single night”). 



Vali is calledBaldr’s brother to underline that he avenges his brother and  Óđinn’s son to underline the miraculous speed of his growth and his relationship to Baldr.



Comments on s. 32


The most obvious remark to do about the episode of Baldr’s death is that it is similar to the one of Christ’s death. Here are two beings exceptional by several standards, loved by of everyone, beautiful and luminous, endowed with a powerful charisma. And both are killed at the beginning of their life. How to avoid assigning them to the same archetypal type? Nevertheless, a closer analysis of both courses of life leads to the realization that they embody two opposite prototypes. 

Christ, even if looked upon as partially divine throughout his life, lives a human life among human ones. Only at his death will he reach a full divine status. His death, moreover, announces an eternal new religious era that will last even after Doomsday. 

In fact, Baldr’s life runs the opposite. He is born a god and carries out a life among the gods. He is unaware of any feature human condition - at least no myth describes him mingling with humankind. After his death, and this in spite of the gods’ attempts, he will join the human ones in Hel, and he will thus lose his divine status. Lastly, his death  illustrates in a dazzling way that gods can die and it preludes to Ragnarök, thus announcing the end of religious era centered around Óđinn and Freyr.

That Norse have been influenced or not by Christendom is of no import since Christ’s and Baldr’s destinies of are completely opposite, in spite of a surface similarity.


- In the preceding stanza, mistletoe is qualified as mjór, that isslim’, which gives it an attractive feature. This word can take the form mćr with the same meaning. Of course, this evokes the other meaning, more usual, of mćr: ‘young girl, maiden’. The poet wants to say that mistletoe exerts a form of attraction, similar to the one of a slim young girl. In this case, attraction is morbid and mistletoe is the tool of Baldr’s death. All this has been made possible by the great show of Baldr’s invulnerability but this show itself is either stupid or morbid.

- The way of speech harm-elk is a way of speaking of a kind of missile since Höđr threw a spear or an arrow at Baldr.

- The only allusion, here, to the fact that Höđr could be influenced is that he learned how to launch.” In particular, Snorri explains why Höđr was pushed by Loki’s trick to Baldr’s kill, therefore Loki is also guilty. Some refuse this version  imagined by Snorri”, but the culpability of Loki in this myth is found elsewhere. For a longer discussion, consult my summary of Dumézil’s Loki HERE or, still better, read his book. 



Stanza 33


Old Norse


33. Ţó hann ćva hendr

né höfuđ kembdi,

áđr á bál um bar


Baldrs andscota;


Enn Frigg um grét

í Fensölum

vá Valhallar –


Vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?



Though he never hands (washed)

nor head combed

until on a pyre (they ?) carried

Baldr’s ennemy.


But Frigg wept

in Fensalir

the tragedy of Valhöll -

You still want to know, and what ?

Comments and explanations

This ‘He’  is certainly Óđinn who is mourning his son. We  suppose that  the hands means  did not wash his hands.”

Valhöll =  Residence of killed ones, where the warriors who died in the combat gather after death. They will fight at Óđinn’s side during  Ragnarök and thus will die with him. This explains why Baldr’s death announcing Ragnarök is tragedy for Valhöll.

Höđr is called here “Baldr’s ennemy.”

Frigg is Baldr’s mother, and she cries the death of her son as all mothers do wherever in the world.

Fensalir =  Hall of the marshes”, is the name of Frigg’s residence.


I remind to you that Dronke sees here a typical” Christian stereotype because Frigg cried her dead and bloodied son. See also right before s. 59.

In this stanza, we see that the father as well mourns his son. The human ‘father’ of Christ being dead before him, could obviously not do the same. I find hard to believe that his divine father lamented because, indeed, the relation Óđinn-Baldr and the relation God-Christ is basically different. Yet another essential difference between Völuspá and Christendom that the partisans of ‘Christian influences’ forget a little too fast!


Stanza 34


Old Norse


34. Ţá kná Vála

vígbönd snúa,

heldr vóro harđgerhöpt,

ór ţörmom.

Literal translation


However was able Váli

battle-bonds to twist

rather were hard-quite-chains

(done) out of entrails.


Comments and explanations


Here again, we meet an obvious lapse of  information, easily filled up with an episode of old Scandinavian mythology:

Loki will be punished of his crime by being bound with his son’s intestines.  





Váli was however able

to twist battle-bonds

that were rather quite hard chains

(done) out of entrails.


We learn here that Váli will be the organizer of the torture inflicted to Loki.


‘battle bondsseem to be particularly resistant bonds.


Stanza 35


Old Norse


35. Hapt sá hon liggia

undir hvera lundi,

lćgiarns líki

Loca áţeccian;

 ***This half stanza when ‘re-ordered’ as in English


Hon sá hapt áţeccian líki Loca lćgiarns, liggja undir hvera lundi.



ţar sitr Sigyn,

ţeygi um sínom

ver velglýiuđ –


Vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?

Literal translation


A prisoner she saw to lie down

under a boiler-grove

humbled in the like

of Loki non-pleasant.


***[‘re-ordered’ literal translation]


She saw bonded a non-pleasant prisoner similar to Loki humbled, to lie down under a boiler--grove. ***


here sits Sigyn,

in spite of she near her

husband non well-merry -


You know still, and what?

Comments and explanations


hveralundr = the grove of the cauldrons. That must refer to a thicket growing near  an ebullient volcanic source.


Preposition undir means ‘underand metaphorically under the power of’.


I do not understand why  not-pleasantmust evoke a tricky Loki as traditional translations do. His situation is unpleasant, he is humiliated, bound to live in a kind of outdoor boiling kettle, why adding some more?




An unpleasant prisoner,

she saw lying down

under a ‘boiler—grove’

and shaped as the body

of a humbled Loki.


There, Sigyn sits

in spite of being near her

husband she feels no merriness.


You want to know more, and what?







According to Snorri, a snake spits its venom on Loki’s face. Sigyn, his wife, protects him by collecting venom in a pot before it reaches him. Völuspá does not give these details that became legendary.




Stanza 36


Old Norse



36. Á fellr austan

um eiturdala,

söxom oc sverđom:

Slíđr heitir sú.



A river falls from the East

everywhere in the poisoned dales,

(done) with short sabers and swords:

Frightening it is called.

Comments and explanations


In  eitur-dala the word  eitr’ (poison) is twice used. It obviously qualifies dalr (= valley) but it is also coupled to á (= river) of the first line forming eitr-á, a poisoned river.

A ‘sax’ is a short heavy sword very much used in the Viking time. Slíđr = Frightening.



Stanza 37


Old Norse


37. Stóđ fyr norđan,

á Niđavöllom

salr úr gulli

Sindra ćttar;


enn annar stóđ

ŕ Ókólni

biórsalr iötuns,

enn sá Brimir heitir.

Literal translation


Stood to the North

on Fields of Waningmoon

a hall made of gold

of Redglowing of kinfolk;


and also stood

on Non-cold

bier-hall of a Jötun

and this one Surf is named.

Comments and explanations


niđa-vellir = ‘waning moon –fields’


Sindri = name of a Dwarf, and sindr means ‘red glowing’ as  very hot metal in a smithy. His ćtt (family) indicates all Dwarves.


The name Brimir means Sea or Surf.






Stood to the North

on Waningmoon Fields,

made of gold, the hall

of Redglowing’s kinfolk;


and also stood

on Non-cold

bier-hall of a Jötun

and this one Surf is named.

Ó-kólnir = Non-cold, from verb kólna = to become cold. The name Ókólnir sounds awkward for a Jötun (= a Giant) since they are often said to live in cold places. This Giant, however, is a very special one. His hall is a brewery and his name, Surf or Sea, suggests some link with the sea god, Ćgir. A hint is provided by the prose commentaries at the beginning of Lokasenna : “After getting the large cauldron, Ćgir, also named Gymir, prepared bier for the Ćsir.” All this tends to suggests that Brimir is also a hallowed bier provider for the Ćsir.


All the Dwarves and Jötun Brimir/Ćgir/Gymir are among the gods’ allies.


Stanza 38


Old Norse


38. Sal sá hon standa

sólo fiarri

Náströndo á,

norđr horfa dyrr;


féllo eitrdropar

inn um lióra,

sá er undinn salur

orma hryggjom.

Literal translation


A hall I see stand

from sun far-from (deprived of))

Náströnd in/on,

(toward) North are tuned the doors,


fall poison-drops

inside through roof ventilation, l

this is twisted hall

of serpents (with) backbones.

Comments and explanations




Ná-strönd = Corpse-shore.




The roof ventilations  let out the fires smoke and let light in.

undinn = p.p. vinda = ‘twist, plait (roughly)’




I see a hall standing

far from the sun

in Náströnd,

all its doors face North,


drops of poison fall

inside through roof ventilation,

this hall is roughly plaited

with serpent backbones..


Stanza 39


Old Norse


39. Sá hon ţar vađa

ţunga strauma

menn meinsvara

oc morđvarga,

oc ţannz annars glepr



ţar saug Niđhöggr

nái framgengna,

sleit vargr vera -


Vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?

Literal translation


Sees she there to wade

(in) heavy streams

people perjurer ones

and criminal-monsters,

and who of others wheedles

ear-secret wives;


There sucked Niđhöggr

‘at’ the corpse of the dead ones

slit a wolf/monster human ones -


You know still, and what?

Comments and explanations



The action probably takes place on  Náströnd, Corpse-Shore.


   mein-svari= bad-oath (perjury)

“morđvargr= criminal-wolf, where morđ indicates who committed a particularly infamous crime (for example, killing a defenseless enemy), and vargr = wolf or monster.






She sees here wading

in heavy streams

a crowd of perjurers

and criminal monsters,

and who wheedles

entrusted wives;


There Niđhöggr sucked

the dead corpse of

a monstrous wolf carved human bodies up.ones -


You want to know more, and what?



The word eyrarúna, meaning  wifeis composed of eyra = ear, and rún = rune or secrecy. In this way of speech, a wife’s ear  hosts all kind of secrecies. To wheedle such a woman is not only adultery but treason since she may in good faith provide crucial information. This aspect is not rendered in traditional translations, such as “tempting beloved ones.”


Niđ-höggr = Niđ-högg-ormr =  bottom-strikes-viper. This is the dragon, or the snake that lives in the roots of Yggdrasill of which it prevents the growth.

It is called usually Níđ-höggr = hatred-he strikes' .




Stanza 40


Old Norse


40. Austr sat hin aldna

í Iárnviđi

oc fśddi ţar

Fenris kindir;


verđr af ţeim öllom

einna noccorr

tungls tiúgari

í trollz hami.

Literal translation


To the East sits the she old one e

in Ironwood

and (she) feeds there

Fenrir’s kindred;


becomes of them all

one main

of the lamp (moon) the pitch-fork

in of a troll shape/skin.


Comments and explanations


This old woman must be the Giantess who begot with Loki: the wolf Fenrir and Hel. Hel is the place where stay human ones who have not been chosen, neither by Freyja nor by Óđinn.

The opposition between iron and wood exists as Old Norse:   jarn = iron, viđr = wood. The translation  forest of ironis not faulty, but does not render the oxymoron in  a wood of iron’.'

For the Norse, the ‘lamp of the sky’ is not the sun but the moon.





tranlation note : einna is not a feminine singular accusative, which would eina. Einna the plural génitive of einn used as an intensive: “this ‘one’ overall.”



An old woman sits to the East

and she feeds there

Fenrir’s kindred;


The main of them all

will become,

in the skin of a troll,

the pitch-fork of the moon.


tiúgari = pitchfork, hayfork. This ‘main one’ will catch the moon, as hay with a pitchfork, to remove it from the celestial canopy.

Note that the text does not describe this action as  a destruction but as a removal.


This hayfork is undoubtedly Fenrir which is the most spectacular of Loki’s children. To carry out his deed, he will have to slip into a Giant’s  skin  in order to magically acquire his strength.

Translating here hamr by ‘shapeinstead of ‘skinis not false but it underscores the inversed analogy of a human one slipping a wolf skin in order to become a hugely strong werewolf.


Stanza 41


Old Norse


41. Fylliz fiörvi

feigra manna,

rýđr ragna siöt

rauđum dreyra;


svort verđa sólscin

of sumor eptir,

veđr öll válynd –


Vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?

Literal translation


It fills itself fully with the life

of dying (‘fated-to-death’) human ones,

it reddens of the gods the dwelling

with red blood ;


black becomes sunshine

of summers after

winds all shifty -


You know still, and what?

Comments and explanations


In this comment, the sign (B) indicates that the word just before are those of Boyer’s translation (p. 543 of his ‘Edda poétique’).


This ‘itmust again point at Fenrir.  

The word fjör (singular dative fjörvi) means ‘lifeand not ‘flesh’ (B) or any other physical body part. “To fill oneself up with life” evokes more a magic operation, such as slipping into a Giant’s skin, than jaws slapping.




Fenrir fills itself up with

the dying ones’ life,

the gods’ dwelling reddens

with red blood ;


black becomes sunshine

of the following summers

all shifty become the winds -


You want to know more, and what?

Inversely,  the red gore is very material. Fenrir is a being more complex than a famished wolf.


The word sjót or sjöt, does not mean seat’, as a chair (B), but seatas the residence of an abstract entity (e.g. the seat of a company).Here, it points at a dwelling (or group of human).


The last line does not mean that storms are terrifying” (B) but that the winds are unforeseeable


What brings back Ragnarök to a natural disaster can only denature it and evoke well-known phenomena in the present world.



Stanza 42


Old Norse


42. Sat ţar á haugi

oc sló hörpo

gýgiar hirđir,

glađr Eggţér;


gól um hánom

í gálgviđi

fagrrauđr hani,

sá er Fialarr heitir.

Literal translation


Sat there on a burial mound

and stroke the harp

of the witches/ogresses shepherd,

the merry Eggţér, Servant of Sword-Edge;


cawed (shouted/-sung) above him

in gallows-wood

beautiful-red rooster

who Fjalarr (Of the Cliff) is named.

Comments and explanations



Eggţér is not sitting on a simple mound but on burial one  (haugr). He is no ordinary guard but a shepherd (hirđir).



egg-ţér possibly comes from an Anglo-Saxon influence. ON Egg is the edge of a sword but ţér in personal pronouns meaning ‘them’.




Note : in the sixth line, Dronke explains the version gáLGviđi .

The more classical reading is ‘gaGLviđi’ =goose-wood.



Merry Eggţér, Servant of Sword-Edge

shepherd of the witches,

sat there on a burial mound

and stroke the harp;


a beautiful-red rooster

who is named Fjalarr

loudly sung above him

in gallows-wood


The name of Beowulf’s father, Ecg-ţeow, means in Old English: ‘edge-sword–servant’.



Fjalarr = ‘him from the cliff’ or ‘him  pelt-wrapped’.



On the first three lines of stanza 42


Stanza 41 takes place in the world of the Gods and mankind. Stanza 42 carries us to Giant world. The last happens as well in the poem  Skírnis för(Skírnir’s travel) since Skírnir is used as intercessor between Freyr and his beloved, Giantess Gerđr. This poem describes his journey. The prose comment inserted between s. 10 and s. 11) explains that he at first observes that “fehirđir sat á haugi(a shepherd was sitting on a burial mound). In stanza 42, we see that, in the same way,  sat ţar á haugi … hirđir.” Besides being as well-known encircled by a fire, Giant world seems characterized by an entrance kept by a shepherd sitting on a burial hillock.

Stanza 43


Old Norse


43. Gól um ásom


sá vecr hölđa

at Herjaföđrs;


enn annarr gelr

fyr iörđ neđan,

sótrauđr hani,

at sölom Heliar.

Literal translation


Cawed (shouted-sung) around Ćsir


such that wakens chiefs

at Armies-father’s (Herjaföđr) place;


but another caws (shouts-sings)

before earth below,

soot-red rooster

in the halls of Hel.

Comments and explanations


Armies should wake up at rooster crowing.





Two diferent roosters wake up the two opposed armies.





Gold-comb loudly

sung over the Ćsir

so as it awakes the chiefs

at Armies-father’s place;


but another loudly sings

below under the earth,

a soot-red rooster

in the halls of Hel.










Hel is the residence of those who did not die in combat. Hel is also the name of the Goddess who reigns in Hel



Stanza 44


Old Norse


44. Geyr Garmr miöc

fyr Gnipahelli,

festr mun slitna,

enn freki renna;


fiölđ veit hon frśđa,

fram sé ec lengra

um ragna röc,

römm, sigtýva.

Literal translation


Barks Garmr much

in front of Gnipahellir,

links become slit/broken

and freki (the wolf) (will) run;


many knows she knowledge,

in front see I far

‘around’ of the gods fate,

robust, winning powers.





Loudly barks Garmr

in front of Gnipahellir,

the links begin to break

and the wolf Fenrir will soon run;


she knows much of everything,

I see far what is in stock

of the gods fate,

robust, winning powers.

Comments and explanations


Garmr = Dog, the name of a huge dog, guard of Hel.


Gnipahellir = Open Rock, the opening leading to Hel.


The bonds that are breaking are the magic chains binding Fenrir wolf. Ragna röc begins when Fenrir is released from its chains.


Ragnais the plural genitive of regin: divine powers, Heathen gods.


Völuspá way of speech: ‘ragna rök’, became the modern academic way of pointing at the doom of the gods. The word ‘rök’ means cause, marvelous sign, life, destiny '. The currently accepted translation of ragnarök is something like ‘divine powers’ destiny’.


Snorri had adopted a different spelling, found in his Edda: rökr where the final R is not a mark of nominative as it often is, it belongs to the radical part of this word. For once, it has one meaning only, that of twilight’. Hence Snorri speaks of a  the twilight of the divine powers’ and Wagner followed this trend  when speaking of the Twilight of the Gods’.


Stanza 45


Old Norse


45. Brśđr muno beriaz

oc at bönum verđaz,

muno systrungar

sifiom spilla;


hart er í heimi,

hórdómr mikill,

sceggöld, scálmöld,

scildir ro klofnir,

vindöld, vargöld,

áđr verold steypiz;


mun engi mađr

öđrom ţyrma.

Literal translation


Brothers will strike

and both dead become,

will cousins

family relations spoil;


hard and sad is on earth

adultery much,

times of beard/halberd, times of sword,

shields are cleaved

windy times, monstrous times

until the world crashes down;


will no human being

at another respect.

Comments and explanations



Law did not accept weddings between parents to less the 5th degree. The poem states  that marriages will happen between less distant cousins, and that is called here adultery '. In this Heathen world,  ‘adultery’ does not mean a doctrinal prohibition but a taboo intended to maintain family coherence (spoiled by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th degree ‘cousins’ who  married).





No one will respect anyone.




Brothers will strike each other

and both will die,

cousins will

spoil family relations;


hard and sad is life on earth

large amount of adultery,

halberd times, sword times,

shields are cleaved

windy times, monstrous times

until the world crashes down;


no human being

will respect another one.




Stanza 46


Old Norse


46. Leica Míms synir,

enn miötuđr kyndiz

at ino gamla



hátt blćss Heimdallr,

horn er á lopti,

mćlir Óđinn

viđ Míms höfuđ;

Literal translation


Play/Move about  Mímir’s sons,

and measure ruler burns

at him (= when resounds) old

Gjallahorn ;


up blows Heimdallr,

the horn is aloft,

speaks Óđinn

with Mímir’s head ;.

Comments and explanations


Mímir = a wise Giant, guardian of knowledge. His sons: perhaps the Giants who start moving to join the battle.


Miötuđr can take, as in s. 2, a meaning of Anglo-Saxon origin (see s. 2) ‘ruler of the measureor the one  the ‘destiny measure’ (if we read uđr = Urđr). In s. 2 it cannot be something else than a heiti for Yggdrasill.


Gjalla-horn = shout/song- horn.

Old or ancient qualifies  Gjallarhorn and its sound indicates that destiny will start blazing up, physically and metaphorically wise.








Mímir’s sons move about,

and the measure ruler burns

while old Gjallahorn ;

loudly resounds.


up blows Heimdallr,

the horn is aloft,

Óđinn speaks

with Mímir’s head ;.

Dronke translates miötuđr by  fate’s measure . C-V. suggests that the varation from s. 2, miötviđr, to s. 46 miötuđr, is a simple  copyist mistake.

Since C V ‘forgetsthe precise meaning of miötviđr:  tree of measure,” he tries to allot this name to Heimdallr. It is true that speaking of Gjallahorn looks like alluding to Heimdallr, and the next line cites him.  Dronke’s translation shows however that modern interpretations dropped this assumption due to Bergmann, the first translator in French of the Eddas, in the years 1870.


A follow up to this discussion appears in s 57.


Stanza 47


Old Norse


47. Scelfr Yggdrasils

ascr standandi,

ymr iţ aldna tré,

enn iötunn losnar;


hrćđaz allir

á helvegom,

áđr Surtar ţann

sefi of gleypir.

Literal translation


Shakes of Yggdrasill

ash standing,

moans him old tree,

the Giant gets loose ;


fear all

on hel-ways,

until Surtr that

soothes ‘of’ swallows.

Comments and explanations





This Giant is the wolf Fenrir.


Surtr is fire. It swallows (burns) as long as ‘all that’ (Yggdrasill and/or the way of Hel) will not have fulfilled his hunger (by burning everything).




Yggdrasill ash

shakes, (still) standing,

the old tree moans,

the Giant gets loose;


all are scared

on the ways to Hel,

until Surtr soothes

while swallowing all that.





Stanza 48


Old Norse


48. Hvat er međ ásom,

hvat er međ álfom?

gnýr allr iötunheimr,

ćsir ro á ţingi;


stynia dvergar

fyr steindurom,

veggbergs vísir –


Vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?

Literal translation


48. What is with Ćsir

what is with elves ?

resounds all giant-home,

Ćsir are on a thing;


groan Dwarves

before their stone-doors,

at wall-rock they point.


You know still, and what?

Comments and explanations




A thing (ţing) is a meeting where the powerful ones decide of political or judicial matters.


Dwarves are visibly afraid and  they hide behind their walls.




What about the Ćsir

what about the elves ?

all giant-home rings,

Ćsir are holding a thing;


Dwarves groan

in front of their doors of stone,

they point at their rocky walls.


You want to know more, and what?


49 = 44.




Stanza 50


Old Norse


50. Hrymr ecr austan,

hefiz lind fyrir,

snýz iörmungandr

í iötunmóđi;


ormr knýr unnir,

enn ari hlaccar,

slítr nái neffölr,

Naglfar losnar.

Literal translation


50. Hrym arrives from the East, 

he has of shield of lime before,

Jörmungandr twists

in the fury of giants;


the worm (dragon) strikes waves  ,

the eagle screems,

tears corpses, beak-pale,

Naglfar is loose.

Comments and explanations


Hrym = old weakened Giant.


Jörmungandr is the serpent-dragon that circles Miđgarđr.

A “Giant fury” points at a behaviour typical of them, that is a blind and erratic anger.


read: “the eagle… beak-pale…” as  “the eagle with a pale beak.”


Naglfar = Nail-ship is a gigantic ship made of the dead ones’ nails.




Hrym arrives from the East, 

before him he carries a shield of lime,

Jörmungandr twists

in the fury of giants;


the worm (dragon) strikes waves,

pale beak eagle screems,

he tears corpses,

(and) Naglfar is loose.






Stanza 51


Old Norse


51. Kjóll ferr austan,

koma muno Muspellz

um lög lýđir,

enn Loki stýrir;


fara fífls megir

međ freca allir,

ţeim er bróđir

Býleiptz í for.

Literal translation


A ship fares from East,

come would they Muspell’s

by the sea people

and Loki steers;


fare  the madman’s large ones

with  greedy one all,

they are brothers

of Býleistr in the travel.

Comments and explanations


Mus-spell may mean:  earth-destruction”

We read here : “Muspell’s … people »




Býleistr is known as Loki’s. Here, he seems to be Loki himself..




A ship fares from East,

Muspell’s people

would come by sea,

and Loki steers;


the madman’s giants all fare

with the greedy one,

they are Býleistr’s brothers

in this travel.

Freki is the name of the one of the of Óđinn’s dogs but the word frekiespecially means greedy, gluttonousand can point at various characters according to the context.


We meet here a ‘fool, a madman’ and a ‘greedy one’ who may point at the same character, Loki. My feeling is that the ‘greedy one’ could well be Loki, greedy to revenge from what he suffered from the Ćsir. Surtr would then rather be the ‘madman’ here since he is the fire that will eat up everything the Ćsir’s world was standing for.

The ‘fífls megir’ are then Fire-Giants who travel with Loki.


Stanza 52


Old Norse


52. Surtr ferr sunnan

međ sviga lćvi,

scínn af sverđi

sól valtíva;


griótbjörg gnata,

enn gífr rata,

trođa halir helveg,

enn himinn klofnar.

Literal translation


Surtr fares from the South

with of sticks the bane,

the shine of a sword

sun of Valtýr ;


rocks hit

and monsters travel

walk human ones hel-way

and the sky cleaves.

Comments and explanations


Surtr is the name of the main Giant of fire.


bane of sticks = fire


the shine Valtýr’s sword (is) the sun.


Valtýr = Týr of death = Surtr (plausibly).





Surtr fares from the South

with the bane of sticks (fire),

the shine of a sword

(becomes) Valtýr’s sun;


rocks hit one another

and monsters travel

mankind walks on the way to Hel

and the sky cleaves.












« mankind walks on the way to Hel » =  people die by the score.


Stanza 53


Old Norse


53. Ţá křmr Hlínar

harmr annarr fram,

er Óđinn ferr

viđ úlf vega,

enn bani Belia

biartr, at Surti;


ţá mun Friggiar

falla angan.

Literal translation


Then comes (towards) Hlín

harm other before,

he Óđinn fares

with the wolf fight,

and the killer of Beli (Freyr)

shiny, at Surtr ;


then the love of Frigg

falls, soft (of a sugary smell).

Comments and explanations


“then another tragedy comes in front of Hlín”


Hlín is another name of Frigg. Her first misfortune is her son’s, Balder, death. The second one is her husband’s, Óđinn, death.


Freyr is the shiny killer of Beli.


angan’ is a noun meaning “sweet smell”: Óđinn is Frigg’s sweetheart.




Then comes facing Hlín

another harm,

Óđinn fares to

fight the wolf,

and shiny Beli’s killer

fares to fight Surtr;


then falls the nice smelling

love of Frigg.

One of the keys to understanding the poem Skírnir’s Journey is that Freyr’s sweetheart, Giantess Gerđr, had her brother killed by Freyr. This key role is explained at http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/SkirnisforTale.htm .


Snorri tells us  that Beli has been killed with an antler because he had to give his sword to Skírnir. All this interestingly hints at the existence of a lost myth of “Beli’s Death,” though it his hopeless to attempt recreating it and its heroes.



54 = 44





Stanza 55




55. Ţá křmr inn micli

mögr Sigföđur,

Víđarr, vega

at valdýri;


Lćtr hann megi Hveđrungs

Mund um standa

Hiör til hiarta,

Ţá er hefnt föđur.

mot ŕ mot


Alors vient lui, le grand

fils de Sigföđr,

Víđarr, pour combattre

le charognard ;


fait (‘to let’) qu’il puisse de Hveđrungr

de la main  placer

l’épée jusqu’au cśur,

ainsi il venge (son) pčre.




Sigföđr = Óđinn. Son fils, ici Víđarr.


Le charognard = Fenrir qui a tué Óđinn s. 53.

Cette strophe dit Vidarr tue Fenrir.


Hveđrungr est le nom d’un géant, ici Fenrir.


(jusqu’au cśur de Hveđrungr).


En français


Alors arrive l’immense

fils de Sigföđr,

Víđarr, pour combattre

le charognard ;


il est capable de  pousser

de sa main

l’épée jusqu’au cśur

de Hveđrungr,

ainsi il venge son pčre.




Le Ragnarök est bien un événement cosmique, cependant la mort de Fenrir est représentée par une image classique, celle d’une épée enfoncée jusqu’ŕ la garde dans la poitrine de Fenrir.



Stanza 55


Old Norse


55’. Gínn lopt yfir

lindi iarđar,

gapa ýgs kiaptar

orms í hćđom;


mun Óđins sonr

eitri mśta

vargs at dauđa

Víđars niđja.

Literal translation


Huge mouth up in the air

buckle of earth,

gapes (of) dreadlful jaws

of the worm in the heights.


he will Óđinn’s son (Ţórr)

with poison meet

of monster to die

Víđarr’s family (the Ćsir).

Comments and explanations


55' : This stanza has been newly discovered , this is why I call it 55'. Dronke did not consider it.





‘Buckle of earth’ gapes,

its mouth up in the air

the worm’s dreadlful jaws

are high up.


He will Óđinn’s son (Ţórr) meet

the poison of the monster

when Víđarr’s family (the Ćsir)

will die.






Stanza 56


Old Norse


56. Ţá křmr inn mśri

mögr Hlöđyniar,

gengr Óđins sonr

viđ orm úlf vega,


drepr hann af móđi

Miđgarđz véor,


Muno halir allir

heimstöđ ryđia,


gengr fet nío

Fiörgyniar burr

neppr frá nađri

níđs óqvíđnom.

Literal translation


Then comes him famous

son of Hlódyn (Ţórr)

he goes Óđinn’s son

against worm-wolf to fight.


strikes him in rage

Miđgarđr’s defender  (Ţórr)


- Must  mankind all

(their) dwelling empty, -


he  (Ţórr) goes of feet nine

Fjörgyn’s descendant

weakened from the serpent

of shame non-fearing.

Comments and explanations



Hlóđyn = Stormy = Earth, Ţórr’s mother.


worm = dragon, wolf = monster.

It certainly points at Jörmungandr.


Véorr = Ţórr (Lex. Poet.). Véor = defender.




Fjörgyn = Earth.




Then comes famous

Hlódyn’s son, Ţórr,

who, being Óđinn’s son,

will fight the monstrous dragon.


Ţórr, Miđgarđr’s defender,

strikes in a fit of anger


- the whole  mankind must

empty their dwelling, -


he  (Ţórr) goes off nine feet

Fjörgyn’s descendant

weakened by the serpent

has no reason for shame.


Ţórr dies, poisoned by the dragon venom.


Ţórr backs up nine feet away from the serpent. He is weakened by its poison – which starts to kill him. He his not afraid of any kind of shame since he has been killing it. -




Stanza 57


Old Norse


57. Sól tér sortna,

sígr fold í mar,

hverfa af himni

heiđar stjörnor;


geisar eimi

viđ aldrnara,

leicr hár hiti

viđ himin siálfan.

Literal translation


Sun shows to blacken

sinks earth in the sea

swirl (or disappear) in the sky

shiny stars.


rage the fumes

along ancient-fosterer

plays high the heat

until sky itself.

Comments and explanation


“Earth sinks in the sea” is obviously a sailor’s metaphor, “the ship is sinking.” Dronke very aptly reminds that this image is very seldom used in mythology documents. You need a sailor people to look at the earth as being a kind of ship sailing through the universe.


aldr = ancient,  nári = fosterer, though we could also suppose a link with nara = “going on living




Sun shows blackening

earth sinks in the sea

swirl in the sky

the shiny stars.


rage the fumes

along Ancient-fosterer

the heat plays high

up to the sky itself.


while being near death.”


viđ aldr-nara” : Dronke does not apply ‘viđ’ to aldrnara; Orchard translates as ‘Yggdrasill’; Boyer does not translate at all this line that evokes Yggdrasill’s final destruction.


We do not really know who this “ancient fosterer” is, because we miss a myth that called thus one of the Powers. This why I rather not ‘translate’ this word. This leads to reduce this ancient fosterer to a well-known power such as Yggdrasill, as Orchard does, or to a known being such as ‘fire’, as Dronke does, or even to simple fillers, as Boyer does.



Comments on 57


Here are translations of the last 4 lines of this stanzas as suggested by the three academic translators.



Dronke s. 54

(who changed stanza ordering)

Fume rages against fire,

fosterer of life,


the heat soars high

against heaven itself.

Orchard s. 57


Flame flickers up

against the world-tree;


fire flies high

against heaven itself.

Boyer s. 57


Rage the fires,

Roar the flames.

(‘Ronflent les flammes’)

An intense heat

Plays until the sky.


You see that Orchard only translated “viđ aldrnara” by a preposition followed by a substantive, as in the original.

Dronke has ‘pushed up’ the preposition viđ in the line before (which is quite possible while reading Skaldic Poetry) and her “fosterer of life” is used as a qualifier for ‘fire’, i.e. it qualifies fire as being a “fosterer of life.” In an ordinary context this would be quite possible (as told in Hávamál s. 68, upon which her argument stands), but in a context where the god of fire, Surtr, swoops down on our universe in order to burn it, this understanding is at least hazardous and at most worth of the Cathar heresy.

Boyer entirely forgets this line and replaces it by an invented “Roar the flames” so as avoiding this embarrassing “fosterer” and nevertheless to preserve four lines in the last half-stanza.


Of course, the nature of this “ancient fosterer” (or, possibly ‘ancient hard-to-die one’ since stanza 45 says that it still upright) that is aflame  carries a deep meaning. As Orchard, I think that it points at Yggdrasill’s tree that thus completely disappears during Ragnarök. I know that many people dislike accepting Yggdrasill’s disappearance, but that belongs to the severe truths that the völva manages to tell Óđinn, and to us.


Moreover, Dronke does not accept that Yggdrasill is this aldrnari because, according to her, s. 46 tells us that Yggdrasill groans and that would imply that 46 describes its destruction Here her argument is very weak  It though marks that academics are now in agreement to see in Völuspá the destruction of Yggdrasill’s tree.

But this initiates another debate. Ragnarök starts with a the Giants’ attack, and they will destroy the support of our universe, Yggdrasill. However, Giants’ residence, Jötunheim, is a part of this universe… what will be of them after Ragnarök? Our poem hardly worries about the Giants’ destiny and the simplest answer is that they also will disappear. It then seems that  they have launched a kamikaze attack the Ćsir’s world, did they?



Ongoing new English translation from Stanza 58 to 59


After Ragnarök, Gimlé

The last eight stanzas (59-66)



These last eight stanzas raised many problems because many state that a large Christian influence is obvious within these stanzas. I give you below initially two recent translations, then a literal translation with added notes.

I cannot really have an absolute opinion though it is even more obvious that the arguments of the pro-Christian influences are not really convincing, and sometimes look like mere bigotry. Dronke, in her comments, manages to place 11 pages on the “Christian context” of the poem, which are a sequence of hazardous assumptions although they are based on a mass of academic knowledge. She sees Christian influences throughout poem whereas only the eight last stanzas might justify such an opinion. For example, she states that: “The image of the bleeding Baldr (31) and of the weeping mother (33), recall Christian stereotypes.” as if these images were reserved to Christian characters: they are universal stereotypes!


1. Two recent translations by American academics



Ursula Dronke, a relentless promoter of Christianity in her comments though impeccably academic in her translations (Poetic Edda vol. II, Clarendon Press, 1997).

Andy Orchard, the most recent translation of poetic Edda, not expensive and very precise. (The Elder Edda, Penguin Classic, 2011)


In the translations, notation X/Y means: “The Norse word is translated either by X or by Y”






She sees come up

a second time

earth out of the ocean

once again green.

The waterfalls flow,

an eagle flies over,

in the hills

hunting fish.



 She sees rising

a second time

the earth from the ocean,


the cataracts tumble,

an eagle flies above,

hunting fish

along the fell.





Ćsir meet

on Eddying plains,

and discourse on the mighty

enmesher of earth,

and call to mind there,

the momentous judgements

and the Gigantine God’s

ancient runes.



The Ćsir come together

on Action-field,
and pass judgement on the powerful earth-coil,

and commemorate there

the mighty events,

and the ancient runes

of Potent-god.





Dronke sees a nominative iđa = swirl; Orchard sees (?) a verb iđa = to be agitated.

Iđavöllr is a traditional place of gathering of Ćsir, a plain placed at the center of their fortress in Ásgarđr.



There will be once more

the miraculous

golden checkers

be found, in the grass

those that in the old days

they had owned.


. 61.

Afterwards there will be found, wondrous,

golden gaming-pieces

in the grass,

those which in ancient days

they had owned.





Höđr killed Baldr under the influence Loki.

Hroptr, can be “the Crier", always names Óđinn.


[Note that the völva obviously begins to be tired with Óđinn’ questions.]




Without sowing

cornfields will grow-

all harm will be healed,

Baldr will come.

They inhabit, Höđr and Baldr,

Hroptr’s walls of triumph,

gods of the sanctuary.


Do you still seek to know? And what?



All unsown

the fields will grow,

all harm will be healed,

Baldr will come;

Höd and Baldr will inhabit Hropt's victory-halls,

sanctuaries of the slain-gods:


do you know yet, or what?






Then Hśnir picks out

the twig of augury,

and sons of the two brothers

set up their home

in the wide wind realm.


Do you still seek to know? And what?



Then Hśnir shall choose

the wooden lots,

and the sons of two brothers

build dwellings

in the wide wind-home:


do you know yet, or what?







Hśnir is a name of dubious etymology. In stanza 18, “óđ gaf Hśnir” (Hśnir gave the intelligence) to the first human beings, Ask and Embla. The substantive óđr, here in the accusative, means ‘intelligence’. Independently, the adjective óđr means furious and is the base of Óđinn’s name, ‘The Furious One’.




A hall she sees standing,

brighter than the sun,

roofed with gold,

on Refuge from the Flames.

There shall the worthy

warrior bands dwell

and all their days of life

enjoy delight.




She sees a hall standing,

more beautiful than the sun,

better than gold,

at Gimlé.

Virtuous folk

shall live there,

and enjoy pleasure

the live-long day.





A tentative etymology for Gimlé is gim-hlé, where gim = jewel/fire; hlé = shelter. Dronke comments on Gimlé possibly being a shelter against the flames of the Christian hell (?).




Not translated


[65.Then there comes the mighty one down from above,

the strong one, who governs everything, to powerfulness.]





Dronke leaves out the stanza known as 65th because she believes it to be a late Christian addition. Orchard puts it in between square brackets to indicate that this stanza is of disputable authenticity.

You see that Orchard refuses to use the classical translation, ‘last judgment’, for regindómr. This meaning is suggested in Cleasby-Vigfusson’s dictionary at word regin. This illustrates the fact that the 19th century scholars used to include purely Christian concepts to render Heathen ones. Boyer follows this old tradition in using “last judgment.” Regin means ‘the gods, the powers’. Dómr it is the judgment or the destruction. Thus regindómr is the “judgment or the destruction of the gods", which is very far the Christian “last judgment.” Even if, as Dronke postulates, this stanza is a Christian addition, the literal translation of 65 and 66 shows us that this addition is not as shortsighted as these old translations unable to see further than their Christian beliefs.




There comes the shadowy

dragon flying,

glittering serpent, up

from Dark of the Moon Hills.

He carries in his pinions

-he flies over the field-

Malice Striker, corpses.


Now will she sink.



Then there comes there the dark

dragon flying,

the glittering snake up

from Moon-wane-hills,

it bears in its wings

- and flies over the plain;

Dead bodies : Spite-striker.


Now she must sink.






Niđafiöllom:  niđ = the waning moon, fjall = cliff, mountain. Can thus mean: “the falls or mountain of the waning moon.”

níđ-högg = insult-stroke/slaughter. Can thus mean: “insult that strikes/slaughters.”



(almost) Litteral translation



Old Norse

Literal pseudo English




Sér hon upp koma

öđro sinni

iörđ ór ćgi


falla fossar,

flýgr örn yfir,

sá er á fialli

fisca veiđir.



She goes up

other oneself

earth out of the ocean

very green;

fall waterfalls

flies the eagle above

on/near the cliff

the fish it hunts.






öđro sinni: “another oneself,” we could say ‘regenerated’. In the above translations it is rendered by “a second time.”

iđja - intensive prefix, ‘very’.

foss = modal of fors = waterfall.



Finnaz ćsir

á Iđavöllr

og um moldţinur


mátcan, dśma

oc minnaz ţar

á megindóma

oc á Fimbultýs

fornar rúnar.


Have just met the ćsir

on Iđavöllr [Swirl-Meadow ]

and about ground-pine_tree/ground-rope

[Yggdrasill/Jörmungandr ]

powerful, judge/chat

and recall

on the great judgments

and on Fimbultýr’s

ancient runes.





Iđa = swirl, völlr = field/meadow, dat. sing. and accusative plur: velli. The accusative implies a movement.

mold = earth/soil.

About ţinurr: in the traditional translations (as Dronke’s and Orchard’s), the translators read ‘ţinull” = a rope bordering a net and this leads to Jörmungandr. The word itself ţinurr = a pine-tree, and this leads to Yggdrasill.

The word ţinurr is here in the accusative (ţinur), this is why one must allot to it the nominative ţinurr. I tend to believe that the Heathen times readers were perfectly able to catch the pun implied by the confusion of these two characters of their mythology. This is why I preserve the two meanings in the literal translation.

Fimbul-Týr=Powerful-Týr (here: Týr = a god, in other contexts it can indicate a hero or human or, obviously, the god Týr himself).

rúnar = accusative plural of rún, rune.




Ţar muno eptir


gullnar töflor

í grasi finnaz,

ţćrs í árdaga

áttar höfđo.


There will become later


the golden figures of tafl

in the grass they find,

those which in the old days

of the family they used






For this stanza, the word order is very different from ours. Read: “They find in the grass the marvelous golden figures of the game tafl, the family ones, which they used during ancient times.”

Töfl are the figures of a game called Tafl often translated by ‘chess’. It has been reconstituted in a tactical play of encirclement which looks more as the Go game than chess.

hafa = to have/to use/(etc.), here in the plural preterit höfđu.



Muno ósánir

acrar vaxa,

böls mun allz batna,

Baldr mun koma;

búa ţeir Höđr oc Baldr

Hroptz sigtóptir,

vel valtívar


vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?


They must not-sown

harvests to grow,

harm will all [all harm will] cure,

Baldr must come;

will live here Höđr and Baldr

of Hroptr victory-walls/sites,

of the great dead heroes.


Do you know more, or what?



Batna = to cure or ‘they cure’, what undergoes the cure is with the genitive like “allz böls .”

Hropts sigtoptir indicates Valhöll.

Valtívar = valley-tívar = death-gods = dead gods. Here, rather dead heroes. Understand: Höđr and Bald will join Valhöll.

ér vituđ = you know.




Ţá kná Hśnir

hlautviđ kiósa,

oc byrir byggja

brśđra tveggja



vindheim víđan. -


Vitođ ér enn, eđa hvat?


Then Hśnir knows

sacrificial lots to choose (to draw)

and a favorable wind [ to settle,

(those) of the brothers both ]

[ OR:…  they settle ]

those of the two brothers… ]

(in) the house of the large wind.


Do you (want to) know more, or what?




The stanza is ambiguous. We cannot decide if

1. Hśnir knows how to draw the sacrificial lots and how to settle (byggja) a favorable wind. The two brothers’ parents settle (tveggja) in the house of the large wind.

2. Hśnir knows how to draw the sacrificial lots. The two brothers’ parents settle a favorable wind and they inhabit the house of the large wind.


Hlaut-viđr = sacrificial-wood/tree. ‘To choose’ means here to draw lots. The sacrificial lots are carved on a small wooden plank or a rod.

Bróđir (brother) does brśđra in the genitive plural case.


It is not obvious to understand wherefrom Dronke and Orchard’s “sons of two brothers” come except as a rendering of brśđra genitive plural grammatical case. I translated in an ambiguous way: “Those of the two brothers,” without saying who they are.

In this context, the two quoted brothers are certainly Höđr and Baldr appearing in stanza 62.

The drama of the fratricide concocted by Loki and carried out by Höđr is obviously a capital element around which our mythology and the gods’ örlög are hinged. This is not obvious to us because of our different religious and moral values.




Sal sér hon standa,

sólo fegra,

gulli ţacţan

á Gimlé;

ţar scolo dyggvar

dróttir byggja

oc um aldrdaga

ynđis nióta.


A hall sees she rising,

sun more shining (shinier than the sun)

with gold as a roof

on Gimlé (Protection from fire?);

To this place the faithful ones go

people to settle

and for always

of delight to benefit.





Fegri = comparative of fagr, beautiful.

Dyggvar = plural of dyygr meaning faithful/trusty. C.-V. who also specifies dyggvar dróttir = “worthy, good people”); (Lex. Poet.): aldyygr = fidelissimus, dyggleikr = fidelitas, and nevertheless dyggr = utilis, bonus, probus, prćstans; de Vries: dyggr = ‘zuverlässig, brav’ (trustworthy, good). As a summary, we can state that dyggr means either ‘faithful or trustworthy’ (first meaning) or ‘worthy’ (second meaning, chosen by Dronke). It does not mean ‘virtuous’ (as Orchard’s). In the discussion below, my argument will be based on the meaning ‘faithful/trustworthy’. The meaning ‘good’ could be used also but my point which is the Heathens could be faithful to their gods would not apply.




Ţá křmr inn ríki

at regindómi,

öflugr, ofan,

sá er öllo rćđr.


Then arrives him powerful

at the gods’ judgment,

magnificent, coming down,

who on all advises.





All this can be understood as being purely Heathen. The pagan oaths were done in front of Freyr, Njörđr and “inn almátki áss” (him, all-powerful of the Ćsir) and this stanza could speak of his Heathen successor.

The verb ráđa gives rćđr in the indicative present, 3rd person.




Ţar křmr inn dimmi

dreki fliúgandi,

nađr fránn, neđan

frá Niđafiöllom;

berr sér í fiöđrom -

flýgr völl yfir -

Niđhöggr, nái.


Nú mun hon sřcqvaz.


Here comes the dim one

dragon flying,

snake glimmering, up from below

from Waning-Moon Cliff (Niđafjöll);

it carries in its wings, -

it flies the meadow above -,

Insult-Stroke (Níđhöggr), corpses.


Now must she sink.




The four first lines are understood as follows: “Comes the flying dragon, the swarthy one, glimmering snake, it rises from Waning-Moon Cliff.”

The last three ones lines are read as follows: “Insult which Massacre flies above the plain. It carries corpses in its wings.”

Note that in stanza 65 the “powerful one, who advises on all” goes down from the sky whereas, in 66, Niđhöggr arrives “from below” i.e. it goes up to the surface of the earth.

This is extremely striking when we remember that the eagle perched at the top of Yggdrasill, Hrćsvelgr (Corpse-Swallower), and Níđhöggr hate each other.

Note again that an extremely pagan character, namely Níđhöggr, joins Gimlé.


This kind of reconciliation between the celestial forces and the chthonian ones must represent a pagan ideal of which we are hardly any more aware.


That the spelling given in the Norse text actually is Niđhöggr (with an ‘i’ not an ‘í’). I prefer to follow here the experts’ use… my translation is already dissenting enough as it is!



How to understand the composition of these stanzas?


The least we can say is that these stanzas appear disjointed, full of exaltation and sometimes hardly comprehensible. How to replace them in a Heathen context that provides some coherence, or at least explains the inconsistencies?

Let us start with inconsistencies relative to the spatial arrangement.

In stanza 60, the Ćsir meet on Iđavöllr, i.e. in a valley at the center of the fortifications which enclose Miđgarđ. As these stanzas describe a post Ragnarök situation, only the still living Ćsir are involved. They remember their past and find back a source of their power, the ancient runes. In stanza 61, they find back their tafl game, which implies a capacity handling a warlike strategy. Stanzas 61 and 62 describe, apparently without change of place, several ‘miraculous’ innovations as Höđr and Baldr return. The second part of stanza 62 even specifies that they will live between walls that have belonged to Óđinn, undoubtedly Valhöll. We thus see in 62 an allusion to the fact that, eventually, everyone gathers in Valhöll, the dead warriors ‘pagan paradise’.

In stanza 63, the divine family (or at least “these of two brothers”) is/are established in the “house of the high wind.” We meet here a celestial allusion, which is obvious since Valhöll is always described as being a celestial residence. The kenning vindheim víđan of course may describe many celestial places but the context rather makes us think of Valhöll [and, as an aside, of Iceland one day of fairly strong wind, which is enough to make of it a genuine ‘kingdom of the winds’]. Not before stanza 64, we learn the name of this place, Gimlé, which thus appears to be a continuation or a new version of Valhöll. The condition to be admitted in Gimlé changed: warriors dead in combat are no longer welcome here and they are replaced by the “faithful people.” Each religion has its faithful ones and, be them Christian or Moslem or other, they will all feel concerned by stanza 65.

Here, the context is the one of Germanic Heathens’ faithful ones and, at this point, I’ll need to argue that such person indeed existed. I will thus provide two examples in the two additions below. The first is relative to facts (no theories) about Verden slaughter and second comes from Kormaks Saga.

I will add a humorous ‘tourist addition’ which illustrates well that the names of the places quoted in Völuspá are still used today in Swedish Scania and Denmark.



On Verden slaughter (782)


The Carolingian Chronicles [ref. 1] begin in 741 and as of 744, state: “Again…Pepin invades Saxony… “, i.e. an almost ceaseless war opposed the Franks and the Saxons as of 741. Let us pass over the many horrors managed by the two parts during this war and come to the Charlemagne enacted laws called Capitulatio of partibus Saxoniae [ ref.. 2]. They have been proclaimed on an unspecified date between 775 and 790. These laws describe a state of religious war between the Franks and the Saxons. For example, refusal to accept baptism or going on with pagan practices are punished by death.

In fact, during the Verden slaughter, Charlemagne does nothing but applying these laws. He applies them to 4500 prisoners of war known as the leaders of the revolt and of the return to paganism, which is spectacular, but perfectly in accordance with the law. These laws have indeed been promulgated by Charlemagne himself. He needed such an official backing to support his laws, in particular the one of the clergy, so that they could be accepted by the other Franks.

The Carolingian Chronicles describe many Saxon revolts that disavow the Christian faith and, at the same time, they declare their political independence and at once start warring against the Frankish domination. The war of religion thus doubles a territorial war, as we could expect. But all that could have remained a ‘simple’ territorial war. That it has been a religion war shows how much 8th century Germans still held to their gods.


[ ref. 1] Carolingian Chronicles, translation B W Scholz and B Rogers, Univ. Michigan Press, 1972.

[ ref. 2] Capitulatio of partibus Saxoniae (775-790), ed. Alfred Boretius, MGH Capitularia regum Francorum1 (Hannover 1883), p. 68-69.


Gautreks Saga


This saga is apparently the only one to describe a place called ‘Ćtternisstapi’ = Family High Rock. This is a cliff from the top of which commentators claim that useless mouths, in particular old persons, have been thrown down. Obviously, this legend cannot be corroborated by archaeological discoveries, it is then mistrusted. In fact, Gautreks Saga does not describe what experts claim: it shows several cases where members of a family commit suicide from the top of this family rock.

The story is about a family the head of which is an old stubborn and full of pride character. In this story, people live afar in the middle of a forest, but do not know famine, each one seems to be in good health. Comes a king who lost his way and he frightens everyone by his warrior figure. This king humiliates several times the family head who, the following day when the king is gone away, decides to commit suicide. I suppose that he considered that he could not survive such a dishonor. He announces in this way his decision:

en ek ćtla mér ok konu minni ok ţrćli til Valhallar. Má ek eigi ţrćlnum will betra launa sinn trúleika in hann fari međ mér.

but I have the intention me and my wife and the ţrćll (of going) to Valhöll. I cannot better reward the ţrćll for his fidelity, than to have him traveling with me.


The word ţrćll indicates a ‘slave’ with the Scandinavian way, i.e. very integrated into the family life. To “take him along to Valhöll” it is not an ironic way to speak of a punishment: The head of the family wants to honor the ţrćll for his fidelity. The father divides his goods between his children and all the family goes to the Ćtternisstapi.

óru ţau öll upp á Gillingshamar, ok leiddu börnin föđur sinn ok móđur ofan to fyrir Ćtternisstapa, ok fóru ţau glöđ ok kát til Óđins.

They went all in top to Gillinghammer, and the children led their father and their mother ‘down ahead’ the Family Rock, and they travelled happy and merry towards Óđinn.


The verb leiđa regularly makes leiđu or leiddu in the preterit and means ‘to lead’ and not ‘to help’: the children lead their parents, they do not ‘help’ them, which could imply ‘to give a hand’ to commit suicide. The expression ofan fyrir expresses an action such as ‘swing over in order to fall’ but does not imply any ‘help’. By forcing the meaning of the words, we could nevertheless understand (just as many did) that the children pushed their parents from top of the rock in order to get rid of them. This contradicts the text stating that they left “happy and merry (glöđ ok kát).” It is more reasonable to think than the children accompanied their parents at the place where the latter have ‘rocked over’.

There too, some are able to see a “Christian influence” as the martyrs merrily going ahead of their death. However, even if the author of the saga has been somewhat influenced, he describes a supremely un-Christian behavior: a suicide caused by an exacerbated pride.

Here thus is a very clear example of a passionate faith in Óđinn.


The touristic addition


We can find charts on the internet, which indicate in an extremely vague way the existence in Sweden of cities named Gimle, Valhall etc. But they are not precise enough to find our way to go there. Thus let us trust our modern Google-map and here is a route you can check without problem.

Departure from Gimle (Denmark - 40km West of Copenhagen) and join Valhall (Sweden), close to Angelholm by E20.

You will pass near Malmö on arriving in Sweden, and you will be able to take a right turn to Vanstad (City of Vanir, 65 km East of Malmö). It will be necessary for you to come back to Malmö, and take again E20 and to go to Valhall.

From there, take the 506 to join Gimlevägen (Gimle Road), 16km North of Valhall.

If you are really courageous, you can then continue towards North and join Vanhäll, far to the North-West of Stockholm.

More seriously from the tourist point of view, Vanstad is to 30 km west of Kivik, one of the most famous Neolithic sites of Sweden. A bit more to the south, find the site of Simris, rich in petroglyphs.


A trip to Ćsir and Vanir, starting from Gimle (Denmark)




Now you have read the literal translation and you can know how much the translators interpreted in the sense of a Christian comprehension. I hope that you will agree with me that, obviously, a Christian influence is possible. I would even say that various influences, including the Christian one, but also continental Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Latin are very probable: the skalds were knowledgeable people, certainly those who knew the most the cultural currents of their time, in Scandinavia. But Völuspá's Heathen grounds are what stand out of the poem the most, including in the eight last stanzas.

In particular, in a little unexpected way, the literal translation underlines two significant facts of Scandinavian Heathen spirituality. One is the need (we would qualify it nowadays as “nearly morbid”) to ensure the clan cohesion, by regarding fratricide an ultimate offence to the divinities and not as a ‘simple’ crime. The other is the need, less often underlined, to reconcile the celestial and chthonian forces.






Cleasby-Vifusson, « Icelandic-English dictionary », Clarendon 1874 – 2nd edition 1957 (reprint 1962).

De Vries, « Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch » Leiden 1961 (in German).

Svenbjörn Egilsson, « Lexicon Poëticum Antiquć Linguć Septentrionalis » (1860) (in Latin).

Snorri Sturluson, « Edda », Translation, A. Faulkes, Everyman 1987 (reprint 1995). Contains Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skaldskaparmal, Hattatal.

Snorri Sturluson, L'Edda, Translation F. X. Dillmann, Gallimard, 1991 Contains Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál Ch 1-7

Nordberg, Andreas,. ‘Continuity, Change and Regional Variation in OldNorse

Religion. In eds C. Raudvere and J. P. Schjřdt More than Mythology: Narratives,


Andreas Nordberg, “Ritual Practices and Regional Distribution in Pre-Christian Scandinavian Religions” in “More than Mythology,” Nordic Academic Press, 2012. This paper presents the notion of “Christo-centricity.”



The Poetic Edda, Carolyne Larrington Translation, 1996, Oxford University Press

Norse Poems, W. H. Auden & P. B. Taylor, Faber and Faber, London 1986.

Hans Kuhn, Edda, Codex Regius, Vol. I. Texts; Vol. II. Short dictionnairy, Carl Winter, Heidelberg 1962.

L'Edda poétique, R. Boyer, Fayard, Paris 1992.

Die Edda, F. Genzmer, Eugen Diederichs, München 1992.

The Elder Edda, Andy Orchard, Penguin  2011.

The Poetic Edda Vol. II,  Ursula Dronke,  Clarendon 1997.