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Fridthjof'd Saga by Esaias Tegne'r

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Wide for his welcome
Valhal it opens,
Hands to the hero
Heaven extends.

Absent is Asa-Thor,
Active in warfare.
Beckoned by Odin
The beaker is brought;
Frey the king graces
With garlands of grain-ears,
Blossoms the bluest
Binds Frigg therein.

Graspeth the gold-string,
Gray-bearded Brage,
Stiller now sigheth
The song than before;
Freyja the faithful,
Fondly reclining.
Bends o'er the board and
Burneth to hear.

"Sing high the smiting
Of sword upon helmet,
Boisterous billows,
Bloody for aye;
Power, the gift of
Gods ever gracious,
Bitter as berserk
Biting the shield.

"Hence was the hero-king,
Heaven-born dear to us,
Showing his shield
A shelter for peace.
Power's embodiment
Plainly impersonate,
Soared like a sacrifice-
Smoke to the sky.

"Words full of wisdom
Wise Odin chooseth
Sitting with Saga
Sokvabek's maid.
Such, too, the saying
Spoke by the monarch,
Fair as of Mimer
Flows the clear fount.

"Forsete faithful
All feuds adjusteth,
Sitting serenely
By the side of Urd's spring;
Thus high enthroned
Thou, king beloved,
Potently pleadest
For peace in the land.

"Niggard in nothing,
Near and far strewed he
Beauty and blessing,
Bought with his gold;
Gave he most gladly
Guerdon unstinted,
Sadness he solaced,
Suffering relieved.

"Welcome, thou wisest
Winner of Valhal!
Long thou'lt be lauded,
Loved of the North.
Brage, the bearded,
Bears thee the mead-horn,
Favored of fortune,
Friend from below."



"To thing! to thing!" from dale to hill
The cry arose.
"King Ring is dead; his place to fill
A king we'll choose."

From off the wall the peasant moves
His steel sword blue;
Its edge his practiced finger proves,
It biteth true.

The boys admire in pleased surprise
The gleaming blue:
To lift the sword one vainly tries,
It needeth two.

The daughter scours the helmet clean,
Bright shall it be.
And blushes, in its silvery sheen
Her face to see.

At last he takes his shield so round.
A sun in blood;
"Hail! iron man, so strong and sound,
Thou peasant good!

Renown and power which nations wield
From thee they draw,
In war thou art thy country's shield,
In peace its law."

The assembly met, while sounding high
Were arms and shields,
In open thing, 'neath heaven's sky,
In fair green fields.

Upon the thing-stone Fridthjof stands,
And with him there
A little one with shining bands
Of golden hair.

Then rose the cry on every hand:
"Too small indeed
The king's son is to rule our land,
Our wars to lead."

But Fridthjof on his shield raised up
The little boy:
"Ye Norsemen, here behold your hope,
Your king, your joy.

"High Odin's race embodied here
In image see,
As much at home 'mid shield and spear,
As fish in sea.

"I swear my lance and sword to set
Round land and throne,
And with the father's coronet
To crown the son.

"The oath I make to Balder's son*
Of high renown,
And if I fail, may he not shun
To strike me down."


The boy sat on the shield so high
As 'twere a throne~
Undaunted as the eaglet's eye
Looks toward the sun.

At last impatient grew his blood,
And to the ground,
The child leaped down and fearless stood ;--
A kingly bound!

Then rose the cry from all the thing:
"We of the North,
We choose but thee, be like king Ring,
Thou shield-borne youth.

"And Fridthjof shall a guardian be,
Thy youth to guide;
His mother, earl, we give to thee,
To be thy bride."

But Fridthjof frowned: "To-day," said he,
"Election make,
But not a bridal; leave to me
A bride to take.

"To Balder's temple I'll repair,
I go to see
The norns who are already there
Awaiting me.

"With them a council I have willed,
The shield-maids true,--
Beneath the tree of time they build,
Above it too.

"Against me Balder's anger sore
Doth still abide;
He took, he only can restore
My cherished bride."

Saluting then the monarch new,
He kissed his brow.
And o'er the broom-heath passed from view,
Silent and slow.



"How brightly smiles the sun, so friendly seeming.
As swift from branch to branch its soft rays glide!
Allfather's light within the dew-drop gleaming,
Is clear and pure as in the ocean wide.
See! all the mountain tops with red are streaming,--
From Balder's altar flows the bloody tide;
In night will shortly sink the world's commotion,
As sinks the golden shield beneath the ocean.

"Yet let me first behold those well known places,
My childhood friends that I have loved so well;
The same sweet beauty still the valley graces,
The same birds yet alight in wood and dell;
The same blue wave the stable rock embraces,--
Oh, would I ne'er had tried its treacherous swell!
It always speaks of fame and high endeavor,
But far from home it bears thee on forever.

"I know thee, stream, whose waters erst were freighted
With swimmer bold, who with thy billows fought!
I know thee, too, thou vale where oft we plighted
Eternal faith! Alas! earth holds it not!
Ye birchen trees, whose bark I carved delighted
With many runes, still wedded to the spot
Your white stems stand, crown-capped with sunshine golden,
All save myself unchanged since days now olden.

"Is all unchanged? Where, then, is Framness' dwelling,
And Balder's temple on the sacred shore?
At thought of childhood's dales my heart is swelling.
But fire and sword devoured them, they're no more.
Of human vengeance, of God's wrath their telling
To wanderers over blackened field and floor;
Thou pious pilgrim, come not here to ponder,
For forest beasts in Balder's grove now wander.

"With Nidhug's curse each human life is teeming,--
The cruel tempter from the land of shade,
He hates the asa-light with glory beaming
On hero's brow and on his shining blade;
Each coward deed, each act of wrathful scenting,
Is his, a tribute unto darkness paid;
He wins when temples burn and gods are slighted,
He claps his coal-black hands and laughs delighted.

"Is there no expiation, radiant heaven?
Thou blue-eyed god, dost thou no penance take?
Man pardons man who has for pardon striven.
When men atone the gods their wrath forsake;
By thee, the mildest one, I'm unforgiven ;--
Command, and any sacrifice I'll make;
No will had Fridthjof in the temple's burning;
Oh! stainless make his shield, thine anger turning.

"Thy burden take away, I cannot bear it,
The dark wood's music in my soul doth cry.
A moment's fault! cannot a life repair it,--
An upright life? Then hear my contrite sigh!
If Thor's fierce bolt should strike, I still would dare it:
Nor shrink to meet the look of Hel's pale eye.
Thou pious god, who moonlight glances bendest,
'Tis thee I fear, and vengeance which thou sendest.

"My father's grave is here. The hero sleepeth;--
Alas! whence he has gone none ever roam;
A starry tent his home, no more he weepeth,
Where shields rejoice and brimming mead-horns foam;
Thou asa-guest, from heaven look down where keepeth
His weary watch thy child. O father, come!
I bring not runes nor charms, but bending lowly
Would learn to appease pale Balder holy.

"Still silent is the grave? Ah yes, and cruel.
A sword roused Angantyr within his grave;
A sword is naught,--Tirfing a trifling jewel
Compared with what I ask. A sword the brave
Can gain on battle field or in a duel,
Forgiveness from the asas' home I crave;
Bear thou my plea, my sorrowing look to heaven,
No rest have noble minds if unforgiven.

"Thou'rt silent, father! Hear the waves resounding,
And send thy loving word by their sweet cry;
Now flies the storm, on its swift pinions bounding.
O, whisper to me as it flieth by;
See golden rings the western sky surrounding,
Let them the message give which words deny.
No sign or answer for thy son forsaken?
How poor indeed are those whom death has taken!"

The sun is quenched. The evening breeze is stealing
Upon earth's children with its lullaby,
And sunset tints in myriad circles wheeling
Around the brim of heaven's rosy sky,
O'er hill and dale their azure hues revealing,
A vision now of Valhal passeth by;
Then unexpected comes with rustling motion,
An image, gold and flames from western ocean.

A wondrous Hagring now the heavens covers.
(The name that Valhal gives hath lovelier sound),
And over Balder's grove it gently hovers.
A golden chaplet set in emerald ground;
Resplendence everywhere the eye discovers,
Such lustre mortals ne'er before had found.
It stops and sinks to earth, not disappearing,
But where the temple stood, a temple rearing.

An imaged Breidablik its wall upreareth,
(So burnished silver on the cliff had shone),
Each pillar cut of deep blue steel appealeth,
The altar is a single precious stone,
A power unseen the vaulted roof upbeareth,
A winter sky with sparkling stars o'erstrewn;
And there with golden crowns and robes befitting,
Of azure splendor. Valhal's gods are sitting.

With rune-writ shields, the maids of fateful power,
The noble norns, within the portal stand,--
Three rosebuds springing in a single flower,
A grave and yet a fascinating band;
While Urd is pointing to the ruined tower,--
The new one Skuld doth greet with welcome hand;
But scarce restored is Fridthjof, filled with blended
Delight and wonder, ere the scene is ended.

"From you, Time's maidens, comes illumination,--
Thine, hero-father, is the token good:
The wasted shrine I'll build on sure foundation,
In beauty shall it stand where erst it stood;
How excellent to thus make expiation,
By peaceful deeds to atone for actions rude!
The outcast still may hope who sues in meekness,--
The White God softens, and forgives his weakness.

"All hail, ye myriad stars in splendor beaming!
With joy I watch you silent tread the skies;
And welcome, Northern-lights. above me streaming,--
No more a flaming temple to mine eyes:
Grow green, O grave! and from the wave bright gleaming,
Thou wondrous melody again arise.

I'll sleep upon my shield, and dream how heaven
Forgets the faults its mercy hath forgiven.



Completed now was Balder's temple. Not enclosed
As heretofore with fence of wood; of hammered steel,
With golden knobs upon each bar, was built the fence
Round Balder's ground. Like steel-clad champions ranged for war,
With halberds and with golden helms, there stood it now
On guard around the sanctuary of the god.
Of giant stones alone the massive wall was built,
And joined with active skill, a noble giant work
For all eternity (as is Upsala's shrine,)
Where Norseland saw its Valhal in an earthly mold.
It stood there in its grandeur on the mountain cliff,
And mirrored in the ocean wave its lofty brow,
While round about it, like a zone of beauteous flowers,
Far stretched the dale of Balder with its sighing groves.
Its song of birds, a home where peace might reign supreme.
High rose the copper-bolted portal, and within
Two colonnades supported on strong omoplates
The vaulted canopy, and beautiful it hung
Above the temple, like a concave shield of gold.
At farthest end stood Balder's altar. It was hewn
From one huge block of northern granite: round it coiled
A graven serpent, covered o'er with written runes, -
Profoundest thoughts from Vala and from Ha'vama'l;
But in the wall above was left an open space,--
A dark blue ground all filled with golden stars; and there
A silver image sat--the pious god--as calm
And mild as sits the silver moon in heaven's blue.
Thus seemed the finished shrine. In couples entered now
Twelve temple virgins, clad in robes of silver gauze,
With roses glowing on their cheeks, and roses in
Their guileless hearts. Before the image of the god,
Around the altar newly consecrate they danced,
As light spring winds above the flowing fountains flit,
As dance the forest elves amid the waving grass.
While yet the morning dew. like pearls, lies glittering there.
And while they danced they joyful sang a sacred song
Of pious Balder, and how dearly he was loved
By every being; how he fell 'neath Hoder's dart,
And earth and sea and heaven wept. Yet sounded not
The song as though 'twere uttered by a human voice,
But as a tone from Breidablik, from Balder's home;
Or like the thought of lover to a lonely maid
When pipes the quail his deep notes in the hush of night,
And over northern birches falls the moonlight soft.
Enraptured Fridthjof stood; he leaned upon his sword,
And gazed upon the dance. Sweet childhood's memories thronged
His vision by,--an innocent and pleasant folk,
With smiling eyes reflecting heaven's blue, with heads
Surrounded hy a halo of bright locks, they waved
A kindly salutation to their childhood's friend.
Then sank the bloody shadow of his viking life,
With all its conflicts, all its perilous exploits,
Down into night, and in his fancy stood he forth
A flower-crowned monument above their grave.
And ever, as the song increased, his spirit soared
From earthly dales below to Valaskjalf above;
Then melted human hate and human vengeance, too,
As melts the icy coat of mail from off the cliff,
When shines the sun in spring. A sea of quiet peace.
Of silent ecstasy, possessed his hero-soul;
It was as if he felt the heart of nature beat
Against his own; as if, deep moved, he fain would fold
Creation in his brotherly embrace, and be at peace
With every living creature seen of God.
Then came into the temple Balder's priest most high,
Not young and beauteous as the god, but tall in form,
With heavenly mildness beaming in his noble face,
While down about his girdle flowed his silver beard.
An unused reverence possessed proud Fridthjof's heart;
The eagle wings upon his helmet meekly drooped
Before the aged man, who thus spoke words of peace:
"Son Fridthjof, welcome hither I've expected thee;
The strong man gladly roves around the earth and sea,
A berserk-like, who pallid bites the shield's hard edge,
But weary grown, and thoughtful, wanders home at last.
The powerful Thor went many times to Jotunheim,--
But spite his belt divine and gloves of finest steel,
Still sits the Utgard-Loke on his lofty throne;
For evil is itself a power, and will not yield,---
And piety not joined with power is children's play:
'Tis like the sunbeams on the breast of AEger thrown,--
An image faint, which falls and rises with the wave,
Foundationless and insecure, devoid of trust.
But power not joined with virtue eats itself away,
As rust the buried sword. 'Tis life's unchecked carouse;
The heron of oblivion hovers o'er the cup,
And when the drinker wakes, he blushes for his deed.
All power is from the earth of Ymer's body formed;
Wild waves and flowing waters are the veins therein,
From various metals are its tough strong sinews forged,
And yet 'tis empty, desolate, unfruitful, till
The sun its light and warmth, heaven's piety, sends down.
Then spring the grass and flowers a web of many hues;
The tree lifts up its crown and knits its golden fruit,--
And man and beast are nourished at the mother's breast.
'Tis thus with every child of Ask. Opposing weights
Has Odin laid within the scales of human life,--
And when they balance true, then even stands the beam;
And heavenly piety and earthly power they're called.
The power of Thor is great whene'er about his loins,
Immovable, he girds the belt of strength and strikes.
Indeed is Odin wise, when Urd's clear silver fount
He looketh down, and birds swift flying come to bring
The Asas' father tidings from the world's extreme:
Yet both turned pale, the radiance of their starry crowns
Was half extinguished when the pious Balder fell,--
The band was he of all the diadems of heaven.
Then withered on the tree of time its splendid crown,
And Nidhug gnawed upon its root; then were loosed
The powers of aged night. The Midgard serpent flung
Toward heaven its poison-swollen tail, and Fenris howled,
And Surt's swift fire-sword flashing gleamed from Muspelheim.
Since then wherever thou mayest look the strife goes on,
A war throughout creation. In Valhal crows
The cock with goldcn comb. Upon and 'neath the earth
The blood-red cock to battle calls. There once was peace
Not only where gods dwell, but also on the earth;
In man's as in the high gods' thoughts was peace.
Whate'er has happened here below has also chanced
In greater measure there; humanity is but
An image frail of heaven; it is as Valhal's light
Reflected in the shield of Saga writ with runes.
Its Balder hath each heart. Remember'st thou the time
When dwelt within thy breast sweet peace a guest, and life
As joyful seemed, as heavenly calm, as song bird's dream
When summer night-winds to and fro so gently wave
Each fragrant blossom sleeping in its bed of green?
Then holy Balder still abode in thy pure soul,
Thou asa-son, thou wandering image of high heaven.
For childhood Balder is not dead, and Hela gives
Again her prey us often as a child is born.
With Balder also groweth up in every soul
His brother Hoder, blind, the child of night; for blind
At birth is evil always, like the young of bears, and night
Its mantle, but the good of earth rejoice in light.
The tempter, busy Loke, always ready stands
To guide the blind one's murderous hand. The missile oft
To Valhal's love is sent, to Balder's tender breast.
Then Hate awakes and Violence upon its prey
Springs forth; the hungry sword-wolf prowls o'er hill and dale.
And fiercest dragons wild swim o'er the bloody waves.
For this meek Piety a powerless shadow sits
One dead among the dead, and with him pallid Hel,
And in its ashes Baldur's sanctuary lies.
So too the asa's life on high prefigures that
Mere human life below, and both are but the thoughts,
The silent thoughts of Odin which can never change.
What hath been, what shall be, that the song profound
Of Vala knows,--Time's lullaby, its drapa too.
Creation's annals have a melody the sam.
And man may hear his own life's history therein.
Dost comprehend or not? 'Tis Vala asketh thee.
Thou seek'st atonement; know'st thou what atonement is?
Oh, Fridthjof, look me in the eye and turn not pale!
Round earth a mediator goes, his name is Death.
A spark translucent, from eternity, is time:
All earthly life is but the refuse from Allfather's throne;
Atonement is to there return all purified.
The lofty asas fall themselves, and Ragnarok
The day of their atonement is, a bloody day
On Vigrid's hundred miles of plain; there will they fall,
But fall not unavenged, for there the evil die
Forever, but the fallen good arise again,
Refined, from out the flaming pyre to higher life.
'Tis true the star-crown, pale and withered, falleth down
From heaven's temple; earth too, sinks beneath the sea,
But brighter is it born again, and joyous lifts
Its flower crowned head from out the seething waves,--
And new created stars pursue with god-like glance
Their silent pathway round about the new-born earth.
But on the green hill-slopes will Balder govern then
The new-born asas, and a human race renewed.
The golden tablets filled with runes, lost long ago,
In Time's fresh morning, then are found amid the grass
On Ida's plain, by Valhal's children reconciled.
The fallen good in death are only tried by fire;
It is atonement made, a birth to higher life,
Which, purified, flies back to him from whom it came,
And plays a guileless child upon its father's knee.
Alas! that all the best is found beyond the grave,--
That gate of green which Gimle opens; vile is all,
Contaminated all that dwells beneath the stars.
And yet there is atonement found in life itself,--
A humble prelude to the peace of heaven above.
'Tis like the broken chords the minstrel strikes upon
The harp, when he with skillful fingers wakes the song;
The tone attuning with a gentle hand, before
With firmer touch he grasps the golden strings,--
Grand memories of old alluring from their grave,
While Valhal's splendor streameth on enraptured eyes.
For earth, indeed, is only heaven's shadow, life
The grounds in front of Balder's temple in the sky.
The people sacrifice unto the gods; the steed
Bedecked with gold and purple is an offering made.
A token this with meaning most profound,--for blood
Tints red the morning light of each atonement day.
But signs are not the substitute, they can not atone,
Thine own transgressions no one can amend for thee.
In Odin's breast divine the dead are reconciled;
Atonement for the living lies in their own hearts.
One offering, I know, unto the gods more dear
Than smoke of victims. 'Tis the sacrifice of thine
Own vengeance, and thy heart's untamed and bitter hate.
Canst thou not silence them, and canst thou not forgive,
O youth? What wilt thou then in Balder's sacred house?
With what intent hast thou this holy temple reared?
With stones is Balder not appeased. Atonement dwells
Below, as up above, alone where dwelleth peace.
With all thy foes and with thyself be reconciled.
The light-haired god will then be reconciled with thee.
They have a Balder in the south--the virgin's son,
Who by the Allfather wise was sent to explain the runes
Upon the norns' black shield rand,--unexplained before.
His battle-cry was peace, his conquering sword was love;
And blameless sat the dove upon his silver helm.
He holy lived and taught, he died and he forgave,--
And under distant palms his grave in sunlight lies.
From dale to dale his followers wander, it is said.
And melting hardened hearts, and laying hand in hand
Establish peace upon the reconciled earth.
I do not know the doctrine well, but dimly have I
In my better moments guessed what it may mean,--
And every human heart at times divines as well.
I know the time will come when it will lightly wave
Its white dove-pinions over all our northern hills;
But that day come, the North will be no more to us;
The oaks will sigh above our long-forgotten graves.
Oh, fortunate and blessed race! Ye who shall drink
The sparkling beaker of that light, I bid you hail!
It will be well if it can drive away the cloud
Whose humid covering hitherto has veiled life's sun.
But scorn not us, who, in sincerity, have sought
With unaverted gaze to find the light divine.
The Allfather is but one, though many herald him.

"Thou hatest Bele's sons. And wherefore hatest thou?
Because to thee, a yeoman's son, they did not choose
To give their sister, who belongs to Seming's race.--
The noble son of all-wise Odin. Their descent extends
To Valhal's throne,--and pride of birth is theirs.
Thou sayest that birth on fortune, not on worth, depends.
Of merit all his own, O youth, is no one proud,--
But only of his fortune; for the best of things
Are only God's good gifts to man. Art thou not proud
Of thy heroic deeds, of thy superior strength?
Who gave thee thy great strength? Did Asa-Thor not knit
Thy sinewy arms as firm and close as oaken boughs?
And is it not God's spirit high which joyous beats
Within the citadel of thine arched breast? Is not
The lightning God's which flashes in thy fiery eyes?
Beside thine infant cradle sang the haughty norns
The prince-song of thy life; for that thy merit is
No whit the greater than the king's son's for his birth.
Lest thy pride be condemned another's censure not.
King Helge now is fallen."
Here broke Fridthjof in:
"King Helge fallen? When and where?"

"Thou canst but know
That while thou here wert building, he was on the march
Among the Finnish mountains. On a lonely crag
There stood an ancient shrine. To Jumala 'twas built
Abandoned long ago,--the door was now fast closed;
But just above the portal still there stood a strange
Old image of the god, now tottering to its fall.
But no one dare approach, for there a saying rife
Among the people went from age to age, that he
Who first the temple sought should Jumala behold.
This Helge heard, and, blinded by his furious wrath,
Went up the ruined steps against the hated god,--
Intent to cast the temple down. When there arrived
The gate was closed,-- the key fast rusted in the lock.
Then grasping both the door-posts, hard and fierce he shook
The rotten pillars. All at once, with horrid crash,
Down fell the ponderous image, crushing in its fall
The Valhal-son. And thus he Jumala beheld.
A messenger last night arrived the tidings bore.
Now Halfdan sits alone on Bele's throne. To him
Thy hand extend, to heaven thy vengeance sacrifice.
That offering Balder asks, and I, his priest, require
In token that the peaceful god thou mockest not.
If thou refuse, this temple then is built in vain,
And vainly have I spoken."

Then stepped Halfdan in,
Across the copper threshold, and with doubtful look
He stood aloof from him he feared and silence kept.
Then Fridthjof loosed the breastplate-hater from his side,
Against the altar placed his shield's bright golden orb,
And weaponless approached his silent waiting foe.
"In such a strife," said Fridthjof, in a kindly voice,
"The noblest he who offers first his hand for peace."
King Halfdan blushed, then off he drew his glove of steel,
And hands long separated met in friendly clasp,--
A hearty hand-shake, steadfast as the mountain's base.
And then the aged priest revoked the ban which on
The outlawed temple-violater long had lain.
'Twas scarce dissolved ere entered [Ingeborg, attired
In bridal robes and ermine mantle, with her maids,--
So glides the moon, whom stars attend, in heaven's vault;
With tear-drops in her lovely eyes, she fell upon
Her brother's neck; but he, with deep emotion, laid
His sister, grown more dear, on Fridthjof's faithful breast;
And o'er the altar of the god she gave her hand
To him, her childhood's early friend, her heart's beloved.


For such explanations as are not found in the original notes we are chiefly
indebted to Prof. R. B. Anderson, of the University of Wisconsin, and to his
valuable work, NORSE MYTHOLOGY. We are also under obligations to Mrs. E.
Hasselqvist, of the Augustana College of Rock Island, Illinois.

AEGER. The god of the stormy sea.
ALFHEIM (elf-home). Frig's dwelling.
ANGANTYR. A champion who was slain in a duel hy Hjalmar the vigilant, and was
buried with his sword Tirfing. His daughter Hervar called upon her dead father
for the sword, and, according to the story, was answered. See Canto XXIII.
ANGERVADIL (grief-wader). Fridthjof's sword.
ASA. God. It is used as a prefix, as Asa-Thor, Asa-Loke. etc.
ASA-SONS. A people who came from Asia and. settled the North, and who claimed
descent from the gods.
ASGARD. Home of the gods.
ASK. The first man.
BALDER (the best). The mildest, the wisest and the most eloquent of the gods.
He is the god of innocence, the White God.
"Balder dies in nature when the woods are stripped of their foliage, when the
flowers fade and the storms of winter howl. Balder dies in the spiritual world
when the good are led away from the paths of virtue, when the soul becomes
dark and gloomy, forgetting its heavenly origin. Balder returns in nature when
the gentle winds of spring stir the air, when the nightingale's high note is
heard in the heavens, and the flowers are unlocked to paint the laughing soil,
when light takes the place of gloom and darkness. Balder returns in the
spiritual world when the lost soul finds itself again, throws off tho mantle
of darkness, and like the shining spirit soars on wings of light to heaven, to
God who mgve it." See NORSE MYTHOLOGY, p. 294.
BAUTA-STONE. A rough stone set up at warriors' graves, and having no
BERSERK (bear-coat). The old Northern athletes or champions wore the skins of
bears, wolves or reindeer, and went into battle with loud cries, wearing no
BERSERK-GANG. The onset of the berserks.
BIFROST (the trembling way). The rainbow, the bridge of the gods.
BJORN (a bear). Notice the play upon this word in Canto X, p. 94:
"Bjorn attend the rudder,
Grip it with a bear's paw."
BLOOD-EAGLE. When a foe deserved especial cruelty, he was put to death by
carving the picture of an eagle on his back. see Canto XVI, p. 150.
BRAGE. God of poesy: a son of Odin.
BRAN. Fridthjof's dog.
BREIDABLIK (broad-gleaming). Balder's abode.
BURN SALT. A common expression for making salt.
DELLING (day-spring). Dawn.
DISARSAL. The temple of the goddesses.
DRAGON. A war vessel. See description of Ellide, Canto III, p. 3O.
DRAPA. A funeral hymn, reciting the virtues of the deceased.
EFJE-SOUND. A sound in the Orkney Islands.
FAFNER. A son of Hreidmar and brother of Regin and Otter. Fafner and Regin
demanded of their father a share of the gold obtained of Odin as Otter's
ransom. Hreidmar refused, and Fafner slew his father, and, taking all the
gold. assumed the form of a dragon and fled. He concealed tho gold on Gnita
heath, where he was found by Sigurd, who, at the instigation of Regin, slew
Fafner. He accomplished this by digging a pit in Fafner's path and concealing
himself therein until the dragon passed over him, when he thrust his sword
through Fafner's heart. See NORSE MYTHOLOGY, p. 377; also the story of the
Volsungs and Niblungs, translated by Magnusson and Morris. Sweden, 1870.
FAFNER'S BANE. The slayer of Fafner; Sigurd.
FENRIS. A wolf, and one of Loke's children. Chained by the gods until
Ragnarok, he gets loose and conquers Odin, but is himself slain hy Vidar.
FOLKVANG (the folk-field). Freyja's dwelling.
FORSETE (the presider). Son of Balder and Nanna. The god of justice.
FOSTER-BROTHER. It was customary in the North, when two persons entered into
friendship for life and death, or, as it was called, foster-brothership, that
each wounded himself and allowed his blood to mingle with the other's. See,
concerning Fridthjof and Bjorn, Canto III, p. 34.
FREY (a lord). The god of harvests: the dispenser of wealth.
FREYJA. Frey's soster, and goddess of love.
FRIGG. The wife of Odin and mother of Balder.
FUTHORC. The runes taken collectively are properly called the futhorc, the
word being made up of the names of the first of the runes. Compare "alphabet".
GEFJUN. The goddess of maids.
GEIRS-ODD (spear-death). Death by the spear, self-inflicted. See Valhal.
GERD. Frey's wife, and very beautiful.
GIMLE. The heaven of heavens, where dwell the righteous after Ragnarok.
GJALLARHORN. The horn of Heimdal, the Saint Peter of the old mythology. It was
heard all over the world.
GLITNER (the glittering). Forsete's golden dwelling.
GRONING-SOUND. A sound between the Danish Islands.
GUDBRAND'S DALE. Canto XIV, p. 138. in the diocese of Aggerhus, celebrated
afterward (1612) for a battle in which the Norwegians slaughtered the forces
of Col. St. Clair, the Scotch ally of Christian IV, of Denmark.
HAGBART. the sea-king, who became secretly betrothed to Signe, of Princess,
thereby gaining the enmity of her father, who captured and hung him. Signe,
unwilling to survive her betrothed, set fire to her dwelling and was burned to
death.--See Cantos XVI and XVII.
HAGRING. Fata morgana.
HA'VAMA'L. The high song of Odin, containing many wise precepts for the
government of men.
HEL. The goddess of death.
HILDER. The goddess of war.
HODER. The blind god; brother of Balder. Tempted by Loke, he slew Balder with
the mistletoe.
IDA'S PLAIN. Where the gods assemble after Ragnarok.
IDUN. Wife of Brage. She is the rejuvenating goddess, the "ever-renovating
spring," and hence she is dressed in green. --See Canto I, p. 5. She keeps
the apples of immortality.
JOTUNHEIM. The abode of the Giants.
LOKE. The evil one. "He is the sly treacherous father of lies. In appearance
he is beautiful and fair, but in his mind he is evil, and in his inclinations
he is inconstant. Notwithstanding his being ranked among the gods, he is the
slanderer of the gods, the grand contriver of deceit and fraud, the reproach
of gods and men. Nobody renders him divine honors. He surpasses all mortals in
the arts of perfidy and craft." -See NORSE MYTHOLOGY, page 373.
MIDGARD. The earth; the abode of man.
MIDGARD-SERPENT. A child of Loke. It was cast into the sea by Odin, and it
grew till it reached around the whole world.
MIMER. The wise giant keeper of the holy well of wisdom.
MORVEN'S HILLS. Hills in the north of Scotland.
MUSPELHEIM. The abode of fire.
NANNA. Balder's wife; goddess of flowers. She died heartbroken at Balder's
NASTRAND (the shore of corpses). Where the wicked are punished after Ragnarok.
NIDHUG. The dragon which lives in the fountain Hvergelmar and gnaws the root
of Ygdrasil.
NIFLHEIM. The world of mists; the lower world; the place of punishment.
NORNS. The Fates. They are three: Urd, the past; Verdande, the present, and
Skuld, the future. They control the destinies of gods and men.
ODER. Freyja's husband.
ODIN. The chief of the gods. He is the all-pervading spirit of the world, the
governor of the universe, the author of war and the inventor of runes and of
poetry. In appearance he is old, tall, one-eyed and long-bearded. He wears a
broad-brimmed hat and a many-colored coat, and carries a spear called Gungner.
ODIN'S BIRDS. Odin has two ravens, Hugin and Munin (reflection and memory),
which every day fly around the world and return to him with intelligence of
all that happens.
PEASANT. The piece of lowest rank in chess; a pawn.
RAGNAROK (the twilight of the gods). The day of the destruction of the world,
and of the regeneration of gods and men. See Canto XXIV.
RAN (the robber). Goddess of the sea; wife of AEger.
ROTA. One of Valhal's maidens; a valkyrie.
RUNES. The letters of the ancient Scandinavian alphabet were called runes
(secrets). The runes were sixteen in number, and previous to the introduction
of Christianity they were supposed to have been invented by Odin himself. A
knowledge of them was for a long time confined to a few, who use them for the
purposes of sorcery.
RUNE-STONE. A stone inscribed with runes, and set up at graves or elsewhere as
a monument.
SAGA. Goddess of history; hence a history.
SEMING. A son of Odin. The early kings of Norway traced their lineage
directly to Seming.
SIGNE. See Hagbart
SKINFAXE (shining mane). The horse of Day.
SKOAL. A health.
SKULD. The future. See Norns.
SLEIPNER (the slipper). Odin's course with eight feet.
SOKVABEK. Dwelling of Saga.
SURT. God of fire.
THING (pronounced ting). A deliberative assemblage of Norsemen, composed of
all who were capable of bearing arms. It was held in the open air. The
thingsmen expressed approval of any measure by striking the shield with the
THOR. The second of the gods; the thunderer; the subduer of the frost giants.
He has a red beard; his weapon is a short-handled hammer called Mjolner. He
is girt with a belt of strength, and wears iron gloves. His sons are Magne and
Mode, strength and courage.
URD. The past. See Norns.
URD'S FOUNT. The fountain from which the norns sprinkled the tree Ygdrasil.
UTGARD-LOKE. The Loke of the Giants,--called Utgard, because he dwelt in the
uttermost parts of the world, Jotunheim.
VALA. A prophetess.
VALASKJALF. Odin's dwelling.
VALHAL (the hall of the slain). Only those who fell by wounds received in
battle, or self-inflicted, were entitled to the joys of Valhal, where they
were feasted by Odin and attended by the valkyries.
VALKYRIES (choosers of the slain). Goddesses who serve in Valhal and go on
Odin's errands.
VAR. The goddess who presides over marriages.
VEGTAM. A name assumed by Odin when he went to consult the vala concerning the
fate of Balder.--See NORSE MYTHOLOGY, page 281.
VIDAR (forest). The silent god; a son of Odin. He slays the Fenris-wolf at
VINGOLF (floor of friends). Freyja's dwelling.
VOLUND. A renowned smith corresponding to Vulcan.
YGDRASIL. An ash tree; the tree of the world. The norns sprinkled the top
with water from Urd's fountain and thus kept it alive, although Nidhug gnawed
its roots.
YMER. An enormous giant slain by the gods, and of whose body they created the

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