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Völuspá (Prophecy of the Volva, Prophecy of the Seeress) is the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda. It tells the story of the creation of the world and its coming end related by a völva or seeress addressing Odin. It is one of the most important primary sources for the study of Norse mythology. The poem is preserved whole in the Codex Regius and Hauksbók manuscripts while parts of it are quoted in the Prose Edda. This is Benjamin Thorpe's English translation.


1. For silence I pray all
sacred children,
great and small,
sons of Heimdall
they will that I Valfather´s
deeds recount,
men´s ancient saws,
those that I best remember.

2. The Jötuns I remember
early born,
those who me of old
have reared.
I nine worlds remember,
nine trees,
the great central tree,
beneath the earth.

3. There was in times of old,
where Ymir dwelt,
nor sand nor sea,
nor gelid waves;
earth existed not,
nor heaven above,
‘twas a chaotic chasm,
and grass nowhere.

4. Before Bur´s sons
raised up heaven´s vault,
they who the noble
mid-earth shaped.
The sun shone from the south
over the structure´s rocks:
then was the earth begrown
with herbage green.

5. The sun from the south,
the moon´s companion,
her right hand cast
about the heavenly horses.
The sun knew not
where she a dwelling had,
the moon knew not
what power he possessed,
the stars knew not
where they had a station.

6. Then went the power all
to their judge-ment seats,
the all-holy gods,
and thereon held council:
to night and to the waning moon
gave names;
morn they named,
and mid-day,
afternoon and eve,
whereby to reckon years.

7. The Ćsir met
on Ida’s plain;
they altar-steads and temples
high constructed;
their strength they proved,
all things tried,
furnaces established,
precious things forged,
formed tongs,
and fabricated tools;

8. at tables played at home;
joyous they were;
to them was naught
the want of gold,
until there came
Thurs-maidens three,
all powerful,
from Jötunheim.

9. Then went all the powers
to their judgement-seats,
the all-holy gods,
and thereon held council,
who should of the dwarfs
the race create,
from the sea-giant’s blood
and livid bones.

10. Then was Mötsognir
created greatest
of all the dwarfs,
and Durin second;
there in man’s likeness
they created many
dwarfs from the earth,
as Durin said.

11. Nýi and Nidi,
Nordri and Sudri,
Asutri and Vestri,
Althiöf, Dvalin
Nár and Náin,
Niping, Dáin,
Bivör, Bavör,
Bömbur, Nori,
An and Anar,
Ai, Miödvitnir,

12. Veig and Gandálf,
Vindálf, Thráin,
Thekk and Thorin,
Thror, Vitr, and Litr,
Núr and Nýrád,
Regin and Rádsvid.
Now of the dwarfs I have
rightly told.

13. Fili, Kili,
Fundin, Nali,
Hepti, Vili,
Hanar, Svior,
Billing, Bruni,
Bild, Búri,
Frár, Hornbori,
Frćg and Lóni,
Aurvang, Iari,
Eikinskialdi.

14. Time ´tis of the dwarfs
in Dvalin´s band,
to the sons of men,
to Lofar up to reckon,
those who came forth
from the world´s rock,
earth´s foundation,
to Iora´s plains.

15. There were Draupnir,
and Dólgthrasir,
Hár, Haugspori,
Hlćvang, Glói,
Skirvir, Virvir,
Skafid, Ai,
Alf and Yngvi,
Eikinskialdi,

16. Fjalar and Frosti,
Finn and Ginnar,
Heri, Höggstari,
Hliódolf, Móin:
that above shall,
while mortals live,
the progeny of Lofar,
accounted be.

******************

17. Until there came three
mighty and benevolent
Ćsir to the world
from their assembly.
They found on earth,
nearly powerless,
Ask and Embla,
void of destiny.

18. Spirit they possessed not,
sense they had not,
blood nor motive powers,
nor goodly colour.
Spirit gave Odin,
sense gave Hoenir,
blood gave Lodur,
and goodly colour.

*******************
19. I know an ash standing
Yggdrasil hight,
a lofty tree, laved
with limpid water:
thence come the dews
into the dales that fallć
ever stands it green
over Urd´s fountain.

20. Thence come maidens,
much knowing,
three from the hall,
which under that tree stands;
Urd hight the one,
the second Verdandi, -
on a tablet they graved -
Skuld the third.
Laws they established,
life allotted
to the sons of men;
destinies pronounced.

21. Alone she sat without,
when came that ancient
dread Ćsir´s prince;
and in his eyes she gazed.

22. “Of what wouldst thou ask me?
Odin! I know all,
where thou thine eye didst sink
in the pure well of Mim.”
Mim drinks mead each morn
from Valfather’s pledge.
Understand ye yet, or what?

23. The chief of hosts gave her
rings and necklace,
useful discourse,
and a divining spirit:
wide and far she saw
o’er every world.

24. She the Valkyriur saw
from afar coming,
ready to ride
to the gods’ people:
Skuld held a sheild,
Skögul was second,
then Gunn, Hild, Göndul,
and Geirskögul.
Now are enumerated
Herian´s maidens,
the Valkyriur, ready
over the earth to ride.

25. She that war remembers,
the first on earth,
when Gullveig they
with lances pierced,
and in the high one´s hall
her burnt,
thrice burnt,
thrice brough her forth,
oft not seldom;
yet she still lives.

26. Heidi they called her,
whithersoe´r she came,
the well-forseeing Vala:
wolves she tamed,
magic arts she knew,
magic arts practised;
ever was she the joy
of evil people.

27. Then went the powers all
to their judgement-seats,
the all-holy gods,
and thereon held council,
whether the Ćsir should
avenge the crime,
or all the gods
receive atonement.

28. Broken was the outer wall
of the Ćsir´s burgh.
The Vanir, forseeing conflict
tramp oér the plains.
Odin cast (his spear),
and mid the people hurled it:
that was the first
warfare in the world.

********************

29. Then went the powers all
to their judgement-seats,
the all-holy gods,
and thereon held council:
who had all the air
with evil mingled?
or to the Jötun race
Od´s maid had given?

30. There alone was Thor
with anger swollen.
He seldom sits,
when of the like he hears.
Oaths are not held sacred;
nor words, nor swearing,
nor binding compacts
reciprocally made.

31. She knows that Heimdall’s
horn is hidden
under the heaven-bright
holy tree.
A river she sees flow,
with foamy fall,
from Valfather’s pledge.
Understand ye yet, or what?

32. East sat the crone,
in Iárnvidir,
Fenrir´s progeny:
of all shall be
one especially
the moon’s devourer,
in a troll’s semblance.

33. He is sated with the last breath
of dying men;
the gods’ seat he
with red gore defiles:
swart is the sunshine then
for summers after;
all weather turns to storm.
Understand ye yet, or what?

34. There on a height sat,
striking a harp,
the giantess’s watch,
the joyous Egdir;
by him crowed,
in the bird-wood,
the bright red cock,
which Fialar hight.

35. Crowed o’er the Ćsir
Gullinkambi,
which wakens heroes
with the sire of hosts;
but another crows
beneath the earth,
a soot-red cock,
in the halls of Hel.

36. I saw of Baldr,
the blood-stained god,
Odin’s son,
the hidden fate.
There stood grown up,
high on the plain,
slender and passing fair,
the mistletoe.

37. From that shrub was made,
as to me it seemed,
a deadly, noxious dart.
Hödr shot it forth;
But Frigg bewailed,
in Fensalir,
Valhall’s calamity.
Understand ye yet, or what?

38. Bound she saw lying,
under Hveralund,
a monstrous form,
to Loki like.
There sits Sigyn,
for her consort’s sake,
not right glad.
Understand ye yet, or what?

39. Then the Vala knew
the fatal bonds were twisting,
most rigid,
bonds from entrails made.

40. From the east a river falls,
through venom dales,
with mire and clods,
Slid is its name.

41. On the north there stood,
on Nida-fells,
a hall of gold,
for Sindri’s race;
and another stood
in Okolnir,
the Jötuns beer-hall
which Brimir hight.

42. She saw a hall standing,
far from the sun,
in Náströnd;
its doors are northward turned,
venom-drops fall
in through its apertures:
entwined is that hall
with serpent’s backs.

43. She there saw wading
the sluggish streams
bloodthirsty men
and perjurers,
and him who the ear beguiles
of another’s wife.
There Nidhögg sucks
the corpses of the dead;
the wolf tears men.
Understand ye yet, or what?

44. Further forward I see,
much can I say
of Ragnarök
and the gods´conflict.

45. Brothers shall fight,
and slay each other;
cousins shall
kinship violate.
The earth resounds,
the giantesses flee;
no man will
another spare.

46. Hard is it in the world,
great whoredom,
an axe age, a sword age,
sheilds will be cloven,
a wind age, a wolf age,
ere the world sinks.

47. Mim’s sons dance,
but the central tree takes fire,
at the resounding
Gjallar-horn.
Loud blows Heimdall,
his horn is raised;
Odin speaks
with Mim’s head.

48. Trembles Yggdrasil’s
ash yet standing;
groans that aged tree,
and the jötun is loosed.
Loud bays Garm
before the Gnupa-cave,
his bonds he rends asunder;
and the wolf runs.

49. Hrym steers from the east,
the waters rise,
the mundane snake is coiled
in jötun-rage.
The worm beats the water,
and the eagle screams:
the pale of beak tears carcases;
Naglfar is loosed.

50. That ship fares from the east:
come will Muspell’s
people o’er the sea,
and Loki steers.
The monster’s kin goes
all with the wolf;
with them the brother is
of Byleist on their course.

51. Surt from the south comes
with flickering flame;
shines from his sword
the Val-god’s sun.
The stony hills are dashed together,
the giantesses totter;
men tread the path of Hel,
and heaven is cloven.

52. How is it with the Ćsir?
How with the Alfar?
All Jötunheim resounds;
the Ćsir are in council.
The dwarfs groan
before their stony doors,
the sages of the rocky walls.
Understand ye yet, or what?

53. Then arises
Hlin´s second grief,
when Odin goes
with the wolf to fight,
and the bright slayer
of Beli with Surt.
Then will Frigg´s
beloved fall.

54. Then comes the great
victor-sire’s son,
Vidar, to fight
with the deadly beast.
He with his hands will
make his sword peirce
to the heart of the giant’s son:
then avenges he his father.

55. Then comes the mighty
son of Hlódyn:
(Odin’s son goes
with the monster to fight);
Midgárd´s Veor in his rage
will slay the worm.
Nine feet will go
Fiörgyn´s son,
bowed by the serpent,
who feared no foe.
All men will
their homes forsake.

56. The sun darkens,
earth in ocean sinks,
fall from heaven
the bright stars,
fire´s breath assails
the all-nourishing tree,
towering fire plays
against heaven itself.

57. She sees arise,
a second time,
earth from ocean,
beauteously green,
waterfalls descending;
the eagle flying over,
which in the fell
captures fish.

58. The Ćsir meet
on Ida´s plain,
and of the mighty
earth-encircler speak,
and there to memory call
their mighty deeds,
and the supreme god’s
ancient lore.

59. There shall again
the wondrous
golden tables
in the grass be found,
which in days of old
had possessed
the ruler of the gods,
and Fjölnir´s race.

60. Unsown shall
the fields bring forth,
all evil be amended;
Baldr shall come;
Hödr and Baldr,
the heavenly gods,
Hropt´s glorious dwellings shall inhabit.
Understand ye yet, or what?

61. Then can Hoenir
choose his lot,
and the two brother´s
sons inhabit
the spacious Vindheim.
Understand ye yet, or what?

62. She a hall sees standing
than the sun brighter,
with gold bedecked,
in Gimill:
there shall the righteous
people dwell,
and for evermore
happiness enjoy.

64. Then comes the mighty one
to the great judgement,
the powerful from above,
who rules o’er all.
He shall dooms pronounce,
and strifes allay,
holy peace establish,
which shall ever be.

**********************

65. There comes the dark
dragon flying from beneath,
the glistening serpent,
from Nida-fells.
On his wings bears Nidhögg,
flying oér the plain,
a corpse.
Now she will descend.

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