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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 28

Two Norse Lays: I. The Home-bringing of the Hammer, II. The Awakening of the Gods

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Two Norse Lays.

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Two Norse Lays

Kirkwall Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., J. Menzies & Co. William Peace, Albert Street London Edinburgh 1872

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Printed at the "Orkney Herald" Office, Kirkwall.

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In fact, these old Norse songs have a truth in them—an inward perennial truth and greatness—as indeed all must have that can very long preserve itself by tradition alone. It is a greatness not of mere body and gigantic bulk, but a rude greatness of soul. There is a sublime uncomplaining melancholy traceable in these old hearts—a great free glance into the very deeps of thought. They seem to have seen—these brave old Northmen—what meditation has taught all men in all ages, that this world is after all but a show, a phenomenon or appearance, no real thing. All deep souls see into that—the Hindoo Mythologist, the German Philosopher, the Shakespeare, the earnest thinker wherever he may be—

"We are such stuff as dreams are made of!"

Thor is vanished; the whole Norse world is vanished, and and will not return ever again. In like fashion to that pass away the highest things. All things that have been in this world, all things that are or will be in it, have to vanish. We have our sad farewell to give them. (Carlyle "On Heroes," Lect. I.)

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The home-Bringing of the hammer.

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The Thrymsquidha.

The "Thrymsquidha" is one of the poems of the Norse "Elder Edda," which is so named to distinguish it from the "Younger," or "Prose Edda," a work of much later date. These old Norse Eddas contain the whole mythological system of the Norse folk in the pre-Christian times. The Elder or Poetic Edda, sometimes called also, "Sæmund's Edda," is a compilation of poems of very great antiquity, * which were first collected into a canon of Norse Scripture by the priest Sæmund, in Iceland, about 1100. Of these lays of the Elder Edda, one part relates the famous tale of the Niflung, or Nibelungen—that story of love and hate which has been handed down through long centuries, in every branch of the Teutonic race, and of which a cycle of ballads has been collected in the Faroe Isles, and published in our own day. The other division of the Edda contains the probably more ancient lays, relating to the gods, to their deeds and transactions with men.

* Prior at least to the days of Harald Harfàgrà, in the ninth century. P. E. Müller, Sagabib II., 129 et seq.

Færoiske Qvædher (Lyngby). Randus, 1822. Sigurdhr Qvædher (Hainmershaimb). Copenhagen, 1851. Færoiske Kvædher Ib. Ib., 1855.

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The "Thrymsquidha," or the "Home-bringing of the Hammer," is one of these lays : a most ancient song doubt-less—so old indeed, that it is difficult to conjecture within some hundreds of years what its true age may be. This is certain, that more than seven hundred years ago it was taken down from oral recitation, and put on record by Sæmund as being then one of the ancient sacred poems of his race. It is also certain that, a century before Sæmund's time, the "Biarkamal"* (another of the Eddaic songs preserved by him) was then a popular song of the Norsemen, and familiarly known among them, since we find the men of King Olaf singing it before the great battle of Stikkle-stad, where the king was slain. The Sagaman expressly calls it "the old Biarkamal."

From internal evidence, there is every reason to allow, an age equally great—if not greater—to the "Thrymsquidha" as to the "Biarkamal;" and thus we have a thousand years at least as the probable age of this lay. Many northern scholars are, however, of opinion that the "Thrymsquidha" is the oldest of all the Eddaic lays, older

* "Welches vor der Schlacht hei Stiklestad 1030 als ein alter lied gesungen wurde, so dass mann es wenigstens in den Anfang des 9th Jahrhundert zurücksetzen muss. Dietrich Alt. Nord. Leseb. Introd. 21.

"hann qvâdh Biarkamal hinn fornu." Heimskringla Saga VII., Saga of Olaf the Saint, chap. 219. "He began to sing the old Biarkamal." Laing's Trans. Heimsk.

"älter als die grösseren Zusammenfassungen vom Lehen und Schicksal der Götter in ihrer Verflechtung in das Schicksal der Welt was der Inhalt der Völuspa ist und—deren erstere nicht under das 8th Jahr, herabzusetzen ist." Dietrich Alt. Nord. Leseb. 21.

page 11 even than the venerable and mystic Völuspa, the sacrosanct hymn of our forefathers, which sings in solemn prophetic manner of the beginning of the universe, of the gods, and of men, and of the relations between them, and of the end of all things which has to come—that Twilight of the Gods when the present earth is to perish in one great conflagration, but after which, says the inspired seer:—

"A hall I see standing
Fairer than the sun,
With its gleaming golden roof
Aloft in Heaven;
There shall men of worth
Abide for ever,
And bliss enjoy
Through endless ages." *

The "Thrymsquidha" is given here in the Old Norse text, together with a tolerably close English translation. As in Norse poetry rhyme was not the essential thing that it is in our modern verse, rhythm and alliteration of an elaborate kind supplied its place. In the present English version, both these requisites have been supplied wherever practicable, as a comparison will show.


Sal sêr hon standa
S⊚lo fagra,
gulli thanktan
a gimli;
Thar skolo dyggvar
dr⊚ttir byggja,
ok um aldrdaga
yndis niota.

Elder Edda, Völuspa, st. 57.

In Old Norse there were two characters to respresnt "th"—one for the soft, and the other for the hard sound of the letter. In the present version the English "dh" stands for the one, and "th" for the other. It may be remarked that this Norse peculiarity distinguishes the present dialect of the Shetland people, who do not pronounce the English "th."

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In order to elucidate the text in the best way, the explanatory notes appended are chiefly taken from the Prose Edda, * and are literally the sense of the original. This Prose or "Younger Edda," compiled by Snorro Sturleson (born A.D. 1178), is the authoritative exposition of the old Norse Odinic creed, a sort of Confession of Faith or Larger Catechism of the Norse religion as it flourished before the advent of Christianity in the North—before King Olaf Tryggveson, and other Defenders of the Faith, converted Norway and its dependencies of Orkney and Shetland from the worship of Odin and the Æsir to that of "Christ Maryson," as the Norsemen in their homely way named our Lord.

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* The enumeration of chapters follows the order of Rask's Edition (Snorra Edda ed. Rask Hafn. 1794.)

"at allir menn skyldo kristnaz lâta, ok trûa â einn gudh Krist Marioson." Hakon the Good's Saga, cap. 17.

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Thrymsquidha ed hr Hamarsheimt.

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Thrgmsquidha edhr hammarsheimt.

Reidhr var thâ Vingthôrr, er han vaknadhi,
ok sins hamars um saknadhi,
Skegg nam at hrista, skör nam at dŷja
rêdh Jardhar burr um at threifaz.

Ok han that ordha allz fyrst um quadh :
'Heyrdhu nû Loki, hvat ek nû mæli,
er eigi veit iardhar hvergi
nê upphimins; âss er stolinn hamri.'

Gengo their fagra Freyio tûna,
ok han that ordha allz fyrst um quadh :
'Muntu mer Freyia fiadhrhams lia,
ef ek mini hamr mættak hitta?'

"Th⊚ munda ek gefa ther, th⊚tt or gulli veri,
ok th⊚ selja, at veri or silfri."
Fl⊚ tha Loki, fìadhrhamr dundi,
unz fur innan kom Iötna heima.

Thrymr sat à haugi thursa drottin,
greyjom sînom gullbönd snoeri,
ok mörom sînom mön iafnadhi.

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'Hvat er medh Æsom? hvat er medh Ælfom?
hvî ertu einn kominn Î Iötunheima?'

"Ilt er medh Æsom, ilt er medh Ælfom?
hefir thu Hlòrridha hamar um folginn?"

'Ek hefi Hlòrridha hamar um folginn
àtta röstom fur jördh nedhan,
hann engi madhr aptr um heimtir
nema fœri mer Freyio at quen.'

Fl⊚ thâ Loki, fiadhrhamar dundi,
unz fur utan kom Iötnaheima,
ok fur innan kom àsa gardha;
mætti han Thôr midhra gardha,
ok han that ordha allz fyrst um quadh:

"Hefir thu erendi sem erfidhi?
Segdhu â lopti löng tithindi :
opt sitianda sögor um fallaz,
ok liggiandi lygi um bellir."

'Hefi ek erfidhi ok örindi :
Thrym hefir thinn hamar thursa drottinn,
hann engi madhr aptr um heimtr,
nema hanom færi Freyio at quen.'

Gânga their fagra Freyio at hitta,
ok han that ordha allz fyrst um quadh :
"Bittu thik Freyia brûdhar lini
vidh skolom aka tvau Î Iötunheima."

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Reidh vardh thâ Freyia ok fnasadhi,
allr Æsa salr undir bifdiz;
stökk that ith mikla men brisînga :
"Mik veiztu verdha vergiarnasta,
of ek ek medh ther Î Iötunheima."

Senn voro Æsir allir â thîngi
ok Asynior aliar â mâli,
ok of that redho rîkir tivar,
hvê their Hlòrridha hamar um sœtti.

Thâ quadh that Heimdallr, hvîtastr Æsa,
vissi ham vel fram sem Vanir adhrir :
"Bindo ver Thôr thâ brûdhar lîni,
hafi han idh mikla men brîsinga;

lâtom und hanom hrynja lukla,
ok kvenvâdhir um kne falla,
en â briosti breidha steina,
ok hagliga um höfud typpom."

Thâ quadh that Thôr thrudugr âss :
"Mik muno Æsir argan kalla,
ef ek bindaz læt brudhar lîni."

Thâ quadh that Loki Löfeyjar sonr :
'Thegi thu Thôrr theirra ordha,
thegar muno iötnar Asgardh bûa,
nema thu thinn hamar ther um heimtir.'

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Bundo their Thôr thâ brûdhar lini,
ok eno mikla meni brîsinga,
lêto und hanom hrynja lukla,
ok kvenvâdhir um kne falla,
en â briosti breidha steina,
ok hagliga um höfod typto.

Thâ quadh that Loki Löfeyjar sonr
'mun ek ok medh ther amb⊚tt vera
vidh skulom aka tvau. Î Iötunheima.'

Senn voro hafrar heim um reknir,
skyndir at sköklom skyldo vel renna;
biörg brotnodho, brann iördh loga,
⊚k Odhins sonr Î Iötunheima.

Thâ quadh that Thrymr thursa drottinn :
"Standidh upp iötnar, ok strâidh bekki,
nu fœrit mer Freyjo at quæn,
Niardhar d⊚ttr or Nòa-tûnom;

Gânga her at gardhi gull-hyrndar kŷr,
yxn alsvartnir iötni at gamni;
fiöld â ek meidhma, fiöld â ek menja,
einnar mer Freio âvant thikkir."

Var thar at qveldi um komit snimma,
ok fur iötna öl fram borit;
einn ât oxa âtta laxa,
kràsir allar thær er konor skyldo,
drakk Sifiar verr sâld thriu miadhr.

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Thâ quadh that Thrymr thursa drottinn :
'Hvar sâttu brûdhir bîta hvassara?
saka ek brudhir bîta en breidhara
nê inn meira miödh mey um drecka.'

Sat in alsnotra ambott fur,
er ordh um fann vidh iötuns mâli :
"At vætr Freyja âtta n⊚ttom,
svâ var hon ⊚dhfûs Î Iötunheima."

Laut und lîno, lysti at kyssa,
enn han utan stökk endlângan sal.
'Hvi ero önd⊚tt augo Freyjo?
thikki mer or augom brenna.'

Sat in alsnotra amb⊚tt fyri,
er ordh um fann vidh iötuns mâli :
"Svaf vætr Freyja âtta n⊚ttom,
sva var hon ⊚dhfus Î Iötunheima."

Inn kom in arma iötna systir,
hin er brûdhfiâr bidhia thordhi :
'Lâtto ther af höndom hrînga raudha,
ef thu ödhlaz vill âstir minar,
âstir mînar, alla hylli."

Thâ quadh that Thrymr thursa drottinn :
"Beridh inn hamar brudhi at vîgja,
leggit Miöllni, î meyjar knê
vîgît okr saman vararhendi."

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Hl⊚ Hl⊚rridha hugr î briosti,
er hardhhugadhr hamar um thekti;
Thrym drap han fyrstan thursa drottinn
ok ætt iötuns alla lamdi.

Drap han ina öldno iötna systor
hin er brûdhfiar of bedhit hafdhi,
hon skell um hlaut fur skillînga,
en högg hamars fur hrînga fiöld
sva kom Odhins sonr endr at hamri.

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Thrym's Lay; or The homebringing of the hammer.

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Thrym's Lay; or The Homebringing of the Hammer.

Wroth was Thor then when he awoke
And his hammer from him missed;
Beard he bristled, hair he hustled—
Earth's son searched all round about.

And he this word first of all spake—
"Hear thou now Loki, let me tell to thee,
What none knoweth either on earth below
Or up in heaven : stolen is Thor's hammer."

Then fared they to fair Freya's dwelling,
And he this word first of all spake—
"Wilt thou to me, Freya, feather-covering lend,
That I mine hammer may trace out?"

"That will I give thee though it were golden,
Thou shalt have it were it of silver :"
Flew then Loki, feather-covering whirring,
Until he came within Iötun land.

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Thrym sat on high, prince of giants,
Golden collars for his hounds twisting,
And his horses' manes a-smoothing.

"How go the Æsir? how go the Elves?
Why art thou come alone to Iötun land?"

"Ill go the Æsir, ill go the Elves;
Hast thou the Thunderer's hammer hidden?"

"I have the Thunderer's hammer hidden,
Eight miles deep in earth beneath;
No one shall get it back again ever,
Unless he bring to me Freya to wife."

Flew then Loki, feather-covering whirring,
Until he came without Iötun land,
And till he came within the ÆSIR'S city;
Met him Thor then, midst of the city,
And he this word first of all spake—

"Hast thou thy errand for thy trouble;
Say standing here thy long story :
Oft to one sitting a tale is tiresome,
And to one lying down many lies tell they."

"I have my errand and my trouble;
Thrym has thy hammer—prince of giants—
No one shall get it back again ever,
Until they bring him Freya to wife."

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Then fared they to speak with fair Freya,
And he this word first of all spake—
"Bind to thee, Freya, bridal attire,
We two shall drive together to Iötun land."

Wroth then was Freya, and fumed fiercely;
All the Æsir halls under her trembled;
Down she dashed the necklace Brising :
"Call me wantonest of all women
If I drive with thee to Iötun land."

Straight went the Æsir all to council,
And the Asynior all to discourse;
Now must the mighty gods consider
How they the Thunderer's hammer shall get.

Then spake Heimdall, fairest of Æsir,
Well foreseeing, like all his kindred—
"Bind we to Thor then, bridal attire,
Let him wear the great necklace Brising :

"Keys loud jangling join to his girdle;
Let round his knees fall women's clothing,
But on his breast set broad jewels;
With coif cunningly deck we his head."

There spake then Thor the valiant hero—
"Æsir would me call right womanish,
If I let bind to me bridal attire."

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There spake then Loki, son of Laufey
"Thor, with such words be thou silent;
Quickly shall Iötuns Asgard inhabit
If thou thy hammer bring not again."

Bound they to Thor then, bridal attire;
Bore he, too, the great Brising necklace,
Keys loud jangling joined they to his girdle,
Let round his knees fall women's clothing,
But on his breast set broad jewels;
With coif cunningly decked they Ms head.

There spake then Loki, son of Laufey,
"Now must I with thee as thy handmaid,
We two shall drive together to Iötun land."

Straight were driven home both the he-goats
Which in the traces should nimbly run;
Mountains were shattered, earth burnt in flame,
Odin's son rode unto Iötun land.

There spake then Thrym, prince of giants—
"Arise ye Iötuns, and cover benches;
Now bring to me Freya for bride,
Niord's daughter from Noatun.

"Here in the garth go gold-horned cows,
Coal-black oxen for Iötun's pleasure;
Treasures I have enough, gold rings I have enough,
But Freya only wanted I still."

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At evening early came the guests many,
And for the Iötuns broached was the ale;
Ate then Thor an ox and eight salmon,
And all the sweetmeats for the women made;
With three tuns mead Thor quenched his thirst.

There said then Thrym, prince of giants,
"Whoever saw a bride bite sharper?
Never saw I bride bite broader,
Never any maid more mead drink."

The cunning handmaid she said thereto,
And made answer unto Iötun speech—
"Freya for eight nights no meal hath eaten,
So sorely longed she for Iötun land."

He looked below the veil, wistful to kiss her,
But away frighted sprang through the hall:
"Why are so piercing the eyes of Freya;
In her eyes, methinketh, fire flameth."

The cunning handmaid she said thereto,
And made answer unto Iötun speech—
"Freya for eight nights sleep has not taken,
So sorely longed she for Iötun land."

In came the pitiful Iötun sister,
And dared then to beg for bridal gifts :
"Give me the ruddy ring from thy hand,
If thou wilt gain all my friendship,
My whole friendship and full favour."

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There spake then Thrym, prince of giants,
"Bear in the hammer the bride to hallow;
Lay ye Miölnir on the maiden's knees;
After Vora's custom hallow us together."

Blazed in his breast the heart of the Thunderer
When his own hammer the hardhitter knew;
Thrym slew he first—prince of giants—
And the whole Iötun race dashed he in pieces.

Slew he that paltry Iötun sister
Who for bridal gifts had dared to beg;
She got cuffs for copper coins,
And hammer strokes for silver money;
So came Odin's son again by his hammer.

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Note 1—Thor (Thr. l, l).

Next to Odin the mightiest of the gods is Thor. He is called Asa-Thor and Auku-Thor, and is the strongest of gods and men. His realm is named Thrúdváng, and his mansion Bilskirnir, in which are five hundred and forty halls. It is the largest house ever built. Thus it is called in the Grímnis-mál:—

Fire hundred halls and forty more,
Methinketh, hath bowed Bilskirnir;
Of houses roofed there's none I know
My son's surpassing.

Thor has a car drawn by two goats called Tanngníost and Tanngrisnir. From his driving about in this car he is called Auku-Thor (Charioteer Thor). He likewise possesses three very precious things. The first is a mallet called Mjölner (the mauler), which both the frost and mountain giants know to their cost when they see it hurled against them in the air; and no wonder, for it has split many a skull of their fathers and kindred. The second rare thing he possesses is called Megingjardir (belt of might). When he girds it about him his divine might is doubly augmented; the third, also very precious, being his iron gauntlet, which he is obliged to put on whenever he would lay hold of the handle of his mallet. There is no one so wise as to be able to relate all Thor's marvellous exploits, yet I could tell thee so many myself, that hours would be whiled away ere all that I know had been recounted. (Prose Edda, cap. 21. Mallet's Translation.)

Note II.—Jörd (Thr. 1, 4).

Jörd (Earth) is Odin's daughter and his wife, and with her he had his first-born son, Asa-Thor, who is endowed with strength and valour, and therefore quelleth he everything that hath life, (Ib., Cap. 9.) She is reckoned among the Asynior. (Ib., Cap. 36.)

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Note III.—(Thr. 2, 1).

This formula, which occurs repeatedly throughout the Lay, is a usual Eddaic one. Thus in Brynhildar Quidha (aunrr), 5, 2 :—

oc hon that ordha allz fyrst um quadh.

A similar phrase is common in all northern ballads. Thus in the Færöic "Sjúrdhar Kvædhi" (Brynh. 187):—

Gunnar so til ordha tekur.

Note IV.—(Thr. 2, 2).

Curiously enough, in the Färoese lays is an exact counterpart of this line:—

Hoyr tú Lokki, ek tàli til tiù.

(Lokka Tattur, 43.)

Note V.—Loki (Thr. 2, 2).

There is another god reckoned in the number of the Æsir whom some call the calumniator of the gods, the contriver of all fraud and mischief, and the disgrace of gods and men. His name is Loki or Loptur. He is the son of the giant Farbauti; his mother is Laufey or Nál; his brothers are Byleist and Helblendi. Loki is handsome and well-made, but of a very fickle mood and most cunning disposition. He surpasses all beings in these arts called Cunning and Perfidy. Many a time has he exposed the gods to very great perils, and often extricated them again by his artifices. (Prose Edda, cap. 33.) Loki having exasperated the gods by causing the death of Baldur (P. E., 49), they seized and confined him in a cavern with "a serpent suspended over him in such a manner that the venom should fall on his face, drop by drop; but Siguna his wife stands by him, and receives the drops as they fall in a cup, which she empties as often as it is filled. But while she is doing this, venom falls upon Loki, which makes him howl with horror, and twist his body about so violently that the whole earth shakes; and this produces what men call earthquakes." There will Loki lie till Ragnarök—the twilight of the gods. (Prose Edda, cap. 50.)

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Note VI—Freyja (Thr. 3, 1).

Freyja is ranked next to Frigga, wife of Odin. She is wedded to one called Odur, and their daughter, named Hnossa, is so very handsome that whatever is beautiful and precious is called by her name. But Odur left his wife, in order to travel into far countries. Since that time Freyja continually weeps, and her tears are drops of pure gold. She has a great variety of names; for, having gone over many countries in search of her husband, each people gave her a different name. She is thus called Mardöll (Sea-Nymph), Horn, Gefn (The Bountiful Giver), Syr, and also Vanadis. She possesses the necklace Brísíng. (Cap. 35.) Freyja is the most propitious of the goddesses. Her abode in heaven is called Foacutelkváng. To whatever field of battle she rides, she asserts her right to one-half of the slain, the other half belonging to Odin. (Grimnis-mál, 14.) It is from her name that women of birth and fortune are called in our language Freyjor. (Cap. 24.) Hence Old Norse frù, Danish frue, German frau, Dutch vrouw. In part II. of the Prose Edda (The Conversations of Bragi—Bragi-rasdur), in the story of Iduna and her apples, "Loki having borrowed from Freyja her falcon-plumage, flew to Iötun-heima." (Cap. 2.)

Note VII.—Thrym (Thr. 5,1).

Thrym or Hrym. Rime, the old word, now nearly obsolete, but still used in Scotland to signify hoar-frost. Rime was not then as now, a dead chemical thing, but a living Iötun or Devil; the monstrous Iötun Rime drove home his horses at night, sat "combing their manes," which horses were hail-clouds, or fleet frost-winds. (Carlyle's Hero Worship, Lect. 1,57.) Simrock derives the word from thruma (tonitru), and considers Thrym himself as originally identical with Thor, and one of the older gods, in whose hands the thunder had been before the coming of the Æsir. (Simrock's Edda, 4,39.)

Note VIII.—(Thr. 6, 1).

This verse appears to have been an Eddaic formula. We find it also in the Voluspa, v. 46.

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Note IX.—(Thr. 10, 1).

This is a formula used in more than one Eddaic poem. See Skirnisför 38. Frà Helga 6,1.

Note X.—(Thr. 13, 3).

Cf.—Volsunga Saga, cap. 38, str. c. Where the hero in anger breaks a jewel.

Note XI.—(Thr. 14, 3).

Cf.—Sigurdhquidha 49, 1.

Note XII.—Heimdall (Thr. 15, 1).

Heimball is called also the White God. He is the son of nine virgins who were sisters, and is a very sacred and powerful deity. He is the warder of the gods, and is therefore placed on the borders of heaven, to prevent the giants from forcing their way over the bridge Bifröst. He requires less sleep than a bird, and sees by night, as well as by day, a hundred miles around him. So acute is his ear that no sound escapes him, for he can even hear the grass growing on the earth, and the wool on a sheep's back. (Prose Edda, cap. 27.)

Note XIII—Asgard (Thr. 18, 2).

Then the sons of Bör (Odin Vili, Ve) built in the middle of the universe the city called Asgard, where dwell the gods and their kindred, and from that abode work out so many wondrous things, both on the earth and in the heavens above it. There is in that city a place called Hlidskjálf, and when Odin is seated there on his lofty throne, he sees over the whole world, discerns all the actions of men, and comprehends whatever he contem-plates. (Cap. 9.)

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Note XIV.—Odin (Thr. 21, 4).

The first and eldest of the Æsir is Odin. He governs all things, and although the other gods are powerful, they all serve and obey him as children do their father. Odin is named Alfadir (All-Father), because he is the father of all the gods, and also Valfadir (Choosing Father), because he chooses for his sons all those who fall in combat. For their abode he has prepared Valhalla and Vingoacutelf, where they are called Einherjar (Heroes or Champions). (Cap. 20.) In our language he is called Alfadir; but in the Old Asgard he had twelve names. He liveth from all ages, he governeth all realms, and swayeth all things, great and small. He hath formed heaven and earth, and the air and all things thereunto belonging. And what is more, he hath made man, and given him a soul, which shall live and never perish, though the body shall have mouldered away, or have been burnt to ashes. And all that are righteous shall dwell with him in the place called Gimli or Vingoacutelf; but the wicked shall go to Hel, and thence to Niflhel, which is below, in the ninth world. (Cap. 3.)

Note XV.—(Thr. 23,1).

Cf.—The First Lay of Helgi (Elder Edda) 5, 2.

Cf.—Frà Helga, 5, 1 (Elder Edda); "gullhyrndar kyr fra grams bui." So in the Saga of Gautrekr and Hrolfr it is related that the Peasant Reimr possessed a precious thing, which he prized more than all else, to wit, a great horned ox, whose horns were inlaid with gold and silver, and between them a silver chain, whereon three gold rings hung. Grimm thinks the gold-horned oxen to have, been sacrificial offerings. (Lieder der Alt. Ed. 29.)

Note XVI.—(Thr. 24, 5).

Literally: "drank Sif's man three tuns mead." Thor was Sif's husband, or "man," as the word is still used in Germany and Scotland. The phrase occurs also in the Hymisquidha (15, 3) as a synonym of Thor.

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Note XVII.—(Thr. 25, 2).

Similarly in the Lay of Hafbur and Signild. (Danish Kæmpeviser, 27.) Aldrig saae jeg djerve öjen paa nogen stolt Jomfrue, dertil saa Ear hun og to hænder, der ere som jern at skue. Cf.—The Second Lay of Helgi, 2, 1.

Note XVIII.—(Thr. 27, 3).

Cf.—Völundarquidha 15, 3.

Note XIX.—Vöra (Thr. 30, 4).

The goddess Vöra listens to the oaths that men take, and particularly to the troth plighted between man and woman, and punishes those who Keep not their promises. She is wise and prudent, and so penetrating that nothing remains hidden from her. (Cap. 35.)

Note XX.—(Thr. 31.)

The burying of the hammer eight miles deep in the earth, and its recovery, Grimm connects with the old belief, in Germany and the north, that the thunderbolt plunges so far down that it takes seven or nine years to rise again to the surface—"Every year it rises a mile." See "Die Edda," von Karl Simrock (4th Edit., Stuttgard, 1871): Grimm's Mythol., 165. M. Handbuch, p. 57, §28. For the mythical signification of the whole lay, Simrock refers to Uhland 98, and Karl Weinhold Leitschrift, 7, 22.

Note XXI.—Rask's Danish Version.

In the version of the "Thrymsquidha" into Modern Danish, by Rask (2d Edit., Lond. and Cop., 1847), there are a few passages interesting to Orkney and Shetland people as illustrative of the consanguinity which exists between the present dialect of the islands and the Danish tongue. I give them as parallel passages:— page 35
Verse. Line.
1 3 rev han og sit haar (Dan). rave he his hair (Ork. & Shet.)
2 2 hær du nu Loke ! hear du nu Loke!
14 4 hur de skulle hente. hoo dey sal hent.
16 4 fixe vi hans Hoved. (is this the Yankee "fix?")
21 3 brændte Jord in Lue. brunt ert in lowe.
22 2 reder os Bænke. raid wiz benks.
23 3 nok har jeg Skatte. (this is our old Skatt.)
24 3 aatte lakse. (eight salmon) hence Lax-firth.
24 5 törsten slukked Tor. Thor slockit his trist.
25 2 bedre tage til sig. tak bettor til her.
27 2 han luded under Lin. he loot under the veil.
28 3 Freyja Sövn ej fik. (hence our Shetland "Sove.")
29 3 Ræk mig do röde Ræk me de red
Ring af din haand. Ring aff dy haand.
31 1 lo i hans Bryst. leuch in his breest.
32 3 for hele Penge. (Penga, or Pinga, is still used in Shetland as a slang word for money.)

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Tord of Meeresburg

(Old Danish Folk-Song).

This "Volkslied," which manifestly relates the same story as the "Thrymsquidha," is an interesting illustration of the change and development which takes place in oral tradition. It is taken from the "Kæmpe-Viser," first printed in 1591, and we may assume the Eddaic lay to have taken this shape in the Danish islands about the first of the sixteenth century. Wilhelm Grimm, in the preface to his admirable German version of the "Kæmpe og Elskovs Viser," com-paring the two lays, says :—"In the Eddaic song, all occurs among the gods : Thor tosses his beard, and shakes his head, as he fails to find Ms hammer: Loki asks the feather-garb from Freyja, and she will give it to him if it were of gold or of silver. And how divinely rages Freyja at the proposal to become the giant's wife! all the dwellings of the gods tremble, and the great flashing jewel burets asunder. In the 'Volkslied,' on the contrary, there is no trace of the gods; there are other names (only the crafty servant is called Loki also); all happens in a human manner, and is told wholly without ornament." *

In his appendix, Grimm points out a remarkable similarity between the same tale and a narrative in the Samsonfagra Saga. (Ibid, 520.)

The Kæmpe Viser (p. 424) contains the first verse of another version of the same song, in which Tord is called Torekal.

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* Grimm's Altdänische Heldenlieder. Heid. 1811. Introd. XIX.

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Tord of Meeresburg and the Ugly Dwarf.

It was Tord of Meeresburg who rode o'er the plain away, And there he has lost his hammer of gold—'twas lost for many a day.

It was Tord of Meeresburg—he spake to his brother dear:
  • "Thou shalt go to the Norland burg, and bring me my hammer here."
  • And that was Lokke the serving man, a feather-garb took he,
  • So flew he away to the Norland burg, all over the salt salt sea;
  • And in the midst of the court-yard, then shouldered he his cloak;
  • So went he in to the ugly dwarf, who then to him thus spoke:
  • "Welcome, Lokke, thou serving man, welcome art thou to me;
  • How goes it now at Meeresburg, and in all lands over the seal"
  • "Well goes it all at Meeresburg, and well with all lands there;
  • But Tord has lost that hammer of his, and so am I come here."page 40
  • "Tord shall not get his hammer again, and to him thou canst that say,
  • For five and fifty fathoms deep in earth does it buried lay.
  • "Tord shall not get his hammer again, I freely tell to thee,
  • Unless the maiden Fridlefsborg with her gear you bring to me."
  • It was Lokke the serving man, his feather-garb took he,
  • And over the sea again he flew, home to Ms own countrie.
  • And in the midst of the castle yard then shouldered he his cloak,
  • So went he into the castle hall, and thus to his brother spoke:
  • "Thou shalt not get thy hammer again, in truth I tell to thee,
  • Unless the maiden Fridlefsborg and all her gear gets he."
  • But from the bench whereon she sat, that haughty maiden said:
  • "Rather would I a christened man than this hateful monster wed;
  • "But let us now take our father old, his hair comb cunningly,
  • And lead him away to the Norland burg, for me there bride to be."
  • They led out then that ancient bride, with a wedding company;
  • Gold was not spared on her bridal gown, I tell you truthfully.page 41
  • So took they then the lovely bride up to the bride seat fine,
  • And forth there stepped the ugly dwarf, to pour for her the wine.
  • Fifteen fat oxen ate she up, and thirty swine thereto;
  • She made a good meal or ever she drank, in sooth I say to you.
  • Twelve lasts of beer then drank she out, ere she her thirst could still;
  • She drank it from a two-handled pail, and then she had her fill.
  • Along the hall went the ugly dwarf, and both his hands wrung he:
  • "Whence cometh this so youthful bride, who eats so famously?"
  • Then spoke the dwarf to his cellar-man—"Look to thy spigots well,
  • For we entertain a wondrous bride, who for drinking bears the bell."
  • There spake the little Lokke so sly, and in his sleeve laughed he :
  • "For eight days past she has eaten nought, and all for love of thee."
  • Then spake the little ugly dwarf, and this word then spake he:
  • "Call now the table servants in, and that right speedily;page 42
  • "And bring to me the hammer of gold, I'll give it cheer-fully
  • To rid me of this bride, who'll bring shame and disgrace on me."
  • It was eight stalwart champions the hammer brought in on a tree,
  • And they laid it down with mickle care across the fair bride's knee.
  • And that was then the youthful bride who took the hammer in hand;
  • This will I say to you in truth, she wielded it like a wand.
  • First struck she down the ugly dwarf—hateful was he to see—
  • Then felled she next the younger dwarfs, and all that company.
  • Fear took the guests, and every cheek among them turned pale;
  • For strokes and wounds they all received, and loud arose their wail.
  • That was Lokke the serving man, and soft to himself said he:
  • "I think we'll go now with the widowed old man, home to our own countrie."
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The Awakening of the Gods.

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The Awakening of the Gods.

The following verses, written in October 1870, were first published in the Scotsman newspaper, in the early days of November of that same wonderful year, under the title of "The Franco-German War, from the Northern Mythic Stand-Point." At that date the siege of Paris by the Germans was beginning to drag its slow length along; but in due time the prediction with which the poem concludes was literally fulfilled.

When Thor, in this latest but not last incarnation, went on his journey, he had not only the Hammer, but the Belt and the Gauntlets with him. * As now-a-days we call the Hammer Moltke, so the Belt we name Bismark, and the Gauntlets Von Roon.

* See Note ante page 29.

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The Awakening of the Gods.

How the great gods awoke from their slumbers—
Out of the sleep of a thousand years;
How they arose, and with them the nations,
Long shall be told to tingling ears!

Thor's Journey.
Out of the North came Thor the Thunderer!
In his blue eyes the lightnings shone;
All the round world in silence beheld him,
As he descended from Odin's throne.

Southward straight fared he, the Ruler of Battles—
Swiftly behind the Valkyrior flew : *
Through the old Rhineland rustled their pinions,
Till on its borders the war-horns blew.

Where once again the brood of mud-giants
Out of their depths had risen to view :
There battle-ready—the great gods defying—
The world-old combat once more to renew.

* Meyiar flugo sumnan Myrkvidh í gognom. Völundrquidlia v. 1.

Thar voro hiá theim alptar-hamir theirra. Ib. prolog. Fiadhr-hamr dundi. Thrymsquidha 9, 1.

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Loki's Errand.
Slid also southward, Loki the shifty—*
Cunningest, craftiest of gods and of men;
Southwards by side-paths, clothed round with darkness,
He slipped into Paris across the plain.

There laid Loki down his divinity,
Took on the French form of mortal race,
Marched down the Boulevards shouting "A Berlin!"
Or singing with ardour the Marseillaise.

Possessed Monsieur About—dwelt in the journalists—
Inspired Le Gaulois with Gallic fire—
Wrote hourly bulletins—edited Figaro—
"Summoned the universe to stand and admire—"

Counselled the councillors, filled them with folly—
Gave to Ollivier his cœur legère—
Sat in the Senate, and cheered on the Ministry—
Instructed each prefect and each loyal maire.

Low laughed Loki, the great mischief-maker—
Laughed when he found his wires pull well—
Laughed to behold Le Bœuf and De Failly
Lead on a nation to the mouth of hell.

Long laughed Loki, beholding the Frank land
Under the feet of traitors and knaves—
Shaking beneath them, while with light-heartedness
Slaves of a despot ruled over slaves.

* See Note ante page 30.

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Low laughed Loki, and looked to the northward :
"Hasten thy coming, O Thor! for here
All things are ready; break out in thunder—
Ruler of Battles, from Asgard appear!"

The Hammer.
Then on a sudden arose the Thunderer—
Arose once again as in days of yore—
Grasp'd, knuckle-white, * the old mighty hammer,
The mighty, all-rending Hammer of Thor.

Not now Miolnir name we the hammer,
Rather now Moltke ye may it call;
Weapon of Asgard, nimble, tremendous—
Truly of weapons the greatest of all.

Hurl'd from on high hurtled down the great hammer,
Shattering, smashing, it rose and fell;
Blow upon blow in thunderbolts falling,
Stroke after stroke struck deftly and well.

How the blows rang on the German anvil!
Anvil of metal well-tried and true;
Hard is the hammer and steady the stithy—
Under the hammer hits lightnings flew.

Hesmote them, he crush'd them, he ground them to powder,
He trampled them down in the miry clay!
All the round world held breath and beheld him
March to the goal of his conquering way.

* "Thor knit his brows, and grasped the handle of his hammer with such force that the knuckles became white from the strain." Prose Edda, cap. 44.

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The Kaiser.
Then flew Loki, clad in dove-plumage,
Soared out of Paris, the goal of Thor's way—
Flew swiftly eastwards unto Kyffhaüser,
Where in his cavern the Great Kaiser lay. *

Still round the mountain the ravens were circling,
When the dun dove in the westward appeared;
Lo! in a moment, they vanish for ever :
Lo! Barbarossa has dreed his weird.

For out of Versailles shall come now the Kaiser—
The mightiest Kaiser the Reich has seen—
He shall ride home with his Princes surrounded,
And their brows all bound with laurels green.

Kirkwall: Printed by William Peace.

* Concerning Kaiser Friedrieh Barbarossa and his cavern, Mr Carlyle says:—"Nay, German tradition thinks he is not yet dead, hut only sleeping, till the bad world reach its worst, when he will re-appear. He sits within the hill near Salzburg yonder. A peasant once, stumbling into the interior, saw the Kaiser in his stone cavern: Kaiser sat at a marble table, leaning on his elbow, winking, only half asleep; beard had grown through the table, and streamed out on the floor; he looked at the peasant one moment, asked him something about the time it was, then drooped his eyelids again. Not yet time, but it will be soon! He is winking as if to awake—to awake, and set his shield aloft by the Roncalic Fields again, with: Ho, every one that is suffering wrong; or that has strayed guideless, devil-ward, and done wrong, which is far fataller!" Hist. Friedr II., Vol. 1, 65.

Like as the Great Kaiser sits in his hill-cave—according to German tradition—so the Norse folk say that their great chief, Harald Fairhair, sits through the centuries in his sea-cave. Down there, in the depths of the North Sea, sits King Harald, with the mermaid who has enchanted him by her magic arts, and knows not how the time goes by; but he will throw off the magic chains and come back to his Norse folk some day. Heine says about him, in one of his weird lays, how—

"The Great King Harald Harfager
Sits in the depths below,
With his beauteous water-fairy,
While the years come and go."