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Thor’s Day Alert #30: Ragnarok, part two

Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!

In my prior Thor’s Day entry I posted the first part of the Ragnarok story, as told in the Prose Edda and translated by Jean I. Young. If you didn’t know, an Icelander named Snorri Sturluson wrote Prose Edda in about 1220. His goal was not only to preserve stories of Norse gods — which with the Christianization of northern Europe were threatened to be lost — but to craft a primer for other writers such that the classic ways of Nordic storytellers and poets — skalds — might also be preserved.

Snorri wrote the first part of the Ragnarok myth in prose. But he wrote the next part in verse, which was the truest form of skaldic narration. Here, then, is the second part of the Ragnarok story, in verse:

Heimdall blows loud
his horn raised aloft;
Odin speaks
with Mimir’s head;
Yggdrasil trembles,
old outspreading ash,
and groans
as the giant gets free.

How fare the Aesir?
How fare the elves?
All Giantland resounds —
the Aesir in assembly;
inhabitants of hillsides groan
dwarfs
by their doorways of stone.
Do you know any more or not?

Hrym drives from the east
holds high his shield before him,
Jormungand writhes
in giant rage;
the serpent churns up waves;
screaming for joy
ghastly eagle will tear
dead bodies with his beak.

From the east sails a ship,
from the sea will come
the people of Muspell
with Loki as pilot;
all sons of fiends
are rowing with Fenrir,
with them on this voyage
is Byleist’s brother. [Loki]

Surt from the south
comes with spoiler-of-twigs [fire]
blazing his sword
[like] sun of the Mighty Ones;
mountains will crash down,
troll-women stumble,
men tread the road to Hel,
heaven’s rent asunder.

Then occurs
Hlin’s second grief,
when Odin goes
to fight the wolf
and Beli’s bane [Frey]
turns, fair, on Surt,
then will Frigg’s
beloved die.

To fight the wolf
goes Odin’s son,
Vidar
is on his way;
sword in hand
he will pierce the heart
of Hvedrung’s son.
Thus is his sire avenged.

The famous son
of Earth falls back,
fainting from the serpent
fearing not attack.
All mankind
must abandon home
when Midgard’s buckler [Thor]
strikes in wrath.

The sun will go black
earth sink in the sea,
heaven be stripped
of its bright stars;
smoke rage
and fire,
leaping the flame
lick heaven itself.

Further it says here:

Vigrid’s the plain
where the conflict takes place
between Surt and the kindly gods.
One hundred and twenty
leagues each way
is the plain for them appointed.

So there you have it — Ragnarok in verse. There’s one more part to this, and it includes both prose and poetry. Be sure to come back for my next Thor’s Day post on August 14th to read the rest of the Ragnarok story according to Snorri Sturluson. (It has a happy ending. Sort of.)

Thanks for stopping by!

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