Baldrs draumar

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"Odin rides to Hel" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood

Baldrs draumar (Baldr's dreams) or Vegtamskviða is an Eddic poem which appears in the manuscript AM 748 I 4to. It describes the myth of Baldr's death consistently with Gylfaginning. Bellows suggest that the poem was composed in the mid 10th century as well as the possibility that the author also composed Völuspá or at least drew from it, pointing at the similarity of stanza 11 in Baldrs draumar and stanzas 32-33 in Völuspá.[1]

Synopsis and text[edit]

Baldr has been having nightmares. Odin rides to Hel to investigate. He finds the grave of a völva and resurrects her. Their conversation follows, where the völva tells Odin about Baldr's fate. In the end Odin asks her a question which reveals his identity and the völva tells him to ride home.

Here follows the full text and translation.[2]

Senn váru Æsir
allir á þingi
ok Ásynjur
allar á máli,
ok um þat réðu
ríkir tívar,
hví væri Baldri
ballir draumar.

Upp reis Óðinn,
alda gautr,
ok hann á Sleipni
söðul of lagði;
reið hann niðr þaðan
niflheljar til;
mætti hann hvelpi,
þeim er ór helju kom.

Sá var blóðugr
um brjóst framan
ok galdrs föður
gól of lengi;
fram reið Óðinn,
foldvegr dunði;
hann kom at hávu
Heljar ranni.

Þá reið Óðinn
fyrir austan dyrr,
þar er hann vissi
völu leiði;
nam hann vittugri
valgaldr kveða,
unz nauðig reis,
nás orð of kvað:

‘Hvat er manna þat
mér ókunnra,
er mér hefir aukit
erfitt sinni?
Var ek snivin snævi
ok slegin regni
ok drifin döggu,
dauð var ek lengi.’

Óðinn kvað:

‘Vegtamr ek heiti,
sonr em ek Valtams;
segðu mér ór helju,
ek mun ór heimi:
Hveim eru bekkir
baugum sánir,
flet fagrlig
flóuð gulli?’

Völva kvað:
 
‘Hér stendr Baldri
of brugginn mjöðr,
skírar veigar,
liggr skjöldr yfir,
en ásmegir
í ofvæni;
nauðug sagðak,
nú mun ek þegja.’

Óðinn kvað:
 
‘Þegj-at-tu, völva,
þik vil ek fregna,
unz alkunna,
vil ek enn vita:
Hverr mun Baldri
at bana verða
ok Óðins son
aldri ræna?’

Völva kvað:
 
‘Höðr berr hávan
hróðrbaðm þinig,
hann mun Baldri
at bana verða
ok Óðins son
aldri ræna;
nauðug sagðak,
nú mun ek þegja.’

Óðinn kvað:
 
‘Þegj-at-tu, völva,
þik vil ek fregna,
unz alkunna,
vil ek enn vita:
Hverr mun heift Heði
hefnt of vinna
eða Baldrs bana
á bál vega?’

Völva kvað:
 
‘Rindr berr Vála
í vestrsölum,
sá mun Óðins sonr
einnættr vega:
hönd of þvær
né höfuð kembir,
áðr á bál of berr
Baldrs andskota;
nauðug sagðak,
nú mun ek þegja.’

Óðinn kvað:
 
‘Þegj-at-tu, völva,
þik vil ek fregna,
unz alkunna,
vil ek enn vita:
Hverjar ro þær meyjar,
er at muni gráta
ok á himin verpa
halsa skautum?’

Völva kvað:

‘Ert-at-tu Vegtamr,
sem ek hugða,
heldr ertu Óðinn,
aldinn gautr.’

Óðinn kvað:

‘Ert-at-tu völva
né vís kona,
heldr ertu þriggja
þursa móðir.’

Völva kvað:

‘Heim ríð þú, Óðinn,
ok ver hróðigr,
svá komir manna
meir aftr á vit,
er lauss Loki
líðr ór böndum
ok ragna rök
rjúfendr koma.’

Later the gods were
all in a meeting
and the goddesses
all in conversation,
and the powerful gods
talked about
why there were
bad dreams for Baldr.

Up rose Óðinn,
men’s sacrifice,
and he laid the saddle
on Sleipnir.
He rode from there, down
to mist-hell;
he met a dog,
which came out of hell.

It was bloody
in front, round its breast,
and bayed for a long time
at the father of magic.
Óðinn rode on,
the earth-road resounded;
he came to the high
house of Hel.

Then Óðinn rode
to the door to the east,
where he knew of
a witch’s grave.
He began to sing
a wiser death-spell
until, under duress, she rose,
and said these words:

‘What person is it—
unfamiliar to me—
who has strengthened me
for a difficult journey?
I was snowed on with snow
and beaten with rain
and soaked with dew;
I was dead a long time.’

Óðinn said:

I am called Road-Tame,
I am the son of Death-Tame,
tell me about hell—
I must go from the world;
for whom are the benches
strewn with rings,
the fine dais
overflowed with gold?’

The witch said:

‘Here stands mead
brewed for Baldr,
bright drinks;
a shield lies over them;
and the sons of gods are
in suspense.
I speak under duress;
now I will be silent.’

Óðinn said:

‘Don’t fall silent, witch:
I want to ask you,
to know everything;
I still want to know
who will become
Baldr’s slayer
and steal Óðinn’s son
from life?’

The witch said:

‘Höðr will carry the high
fame-tree here:
he will become
Baldr’s slayer
and steal Óðinn’s son
from life.
I speak under duress;
now I will be silent.’

Óðinn said :

‘Don’t fall silent, witch,
I want to ask you,
to know everything;
I still want to know
who will get the evil deed
avenged on Höðr,
or convey Baldr’s
slayer onto the funeral pyre?’

The witch said:

‘Rindr will bear Váli
in western halls:
he, Óðinn’s son,
will fight when one night old;
he’ll neither wash his hands
nor comb his head
before he conveys Baldr’s
shooter onto the funeral pyre.
I speak under duress;
now I will be silent.’

Óðinn said:

‘Don’t fall silent, witch,
I want to ask you,
to know everything;
I still want to know
who the maidens are
who will weep from longing
and throw into the sky
the corners of their neck-cloths?’

The witch replied:

‘You’re not Road-Tame,
as I thought,
but you’re Óðinn,
the old sacrifice.’

Óðinn said:

‘You’re not a witch,
nor a wise women,
but you’re the mother
of three ogres.’

The witch said:

‘Ride home, Óðinn,
and be proud:
more men will come
back on a visit
when Loki is free,
slips from his bonds,
and the fate of the gods
comes, ripping everything apart.’

Form and date[edit]

The poem is one of the shortest Eddic poems, consisting of 14 fornyrðislag stanzas. Some late paper manuscripts contain about five more stanzas, those are thought to be of young origin. Sophus Bugge believed them to have been composed by the author of Forspjallsljóð, which is thought to have been written in the 17th century. Bellows, on the other hand, suggests the poem is much older but could not date it earlier than the tenth century.

Influence[edit]

The confrontation between The Wanderer (Wotan) and Erda in Act 3, Scene 1 of Richard Wagner's opera Siegfried is based upon Baldrs draumar.

The poem inspired a ballet, Baldurs draumar (Baldur's Dreams), by the Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt, first staged in 1938.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe13.htm
  2. ^ Modernised from 'Baldrs draumar', in De gamle Eddadigte, ed. by Finnur Jónsson (Copenhagen: Gad, 1932), with reference to 'Baldrs draumar', in Eddukvæði: Sæmundar-Edda, ed. by Guðni Jónsson, 2 vols (Reykjavík: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan, 1949).

External links[edit]

English translations[edit]

Old Norse editions[edit]

Other links[edit]