Völundarkviða

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Völundr and his two brothers see the swan-maidens bathing. Illustration by Jenny Nyström, 1893.
"The three smith boys spy and win three valkyrie maidens" (1882) by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine.

Völundarkviða (Völundr's poem, the name can be anglicized as Völundarkvitha, Völundarkvidha, Völundarkvida, Volundarkvitha, Volundarkvidha or Volundarkvida) is one of the mythological poems of the Poetic Edda.

Synopsis[edit]

The poem relates the story of the artisan Völundr. In the poem, he is called "prince of the elves" (vísi álfa) and "one of the álfar" or "leader of álfar" (álfa ljóði). He is also mentioned as one of the three sons of the king of the Finns in the poem. His wife Hervör-Alvitr, a valkyrie, abandons him after nine years, and he is later captured by Níðuðr, a petty-king of Närke (Sweden) greedy for his gold. Völundr is hamstrung and put to work on an island making artifacts for the king. Eventually he finds means of revenge and escape. He kills Niðuðr's sons, impregnates his daughter and then flies away laughing.

The poem is appreciated for its evocative images.

In the night went men,
in studded corslets,
their shields glistened
in the waning moon.

Völundarkviða 6, Thorpe's translation

Völund's smithy in the centre, Nidud's daughter to the left, and Nidud's dead sons hidden to the right of the smithy. Between the girl and the smithy, Völund can be seen in an eagle fetch flying away. From the Ardre image stone VIII.

The Völundr myth appears to have been widespread among the Germanic peoples. It is also related in the Þiðrekssaga af Bern (Velents þáttr smiðs) and it is alluded to in the Old English poem The Lament of Deor. It is moreover depicted on a panel of the 7th century Anglo-Saxon Franks Casket and on the 8th century Gotlandic Ardre image stone VIII.

The poem is preserved in its entirety among the mythological poems of the Codex Regius and the beginning of the prose prologue is also found in the AM 748 I 4to fragment.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

English translations[edit]

Old Norse editions[edit]