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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

THOR’S JOURNEY TO JOTUNHEIM, OR GIANT-LAND.

I. THOR SETS OUT ON ADVENTURES WITH LOKE.

Adown the painted way
As drove th’ impetuous god,
The red flames, lambent, play
Along the wheel-tracks broad.
Heimdall his horn blew loud,
The god with sleepless eye,
Seven maids submissive bow’d
As the gold car flew by.

On earth some meteor dire
Men thought then to behold;
The heavens were fraught with fire,
In peals the thunder roll’d:
Swift as enamour’d swan,
Passed on the Aser’s car,
With Thor, the Giant-Bane,
2
And Loptur thro’ the air.


(...)

So spake the god of war
And fearlessly drove on,
With Loptur in his car,
To earth’s green regions down:
The little birds sang sweet,
The trees, in reverence, bow’d,
All nature seem’d to greet
Valhalla’s warrior god.
4

The rose and violet blue
Wither’d afore his look:
Their tender forms to view
Such radiance could not brook:
Closed was each honied cup,
As their great lord drew nigh;
The gentle flow’rets droop,
Breathe on their god and die.

It was now getting towards night-fall:

The sun had sunk to rest
In purple green and gold;
5
In simple yellow drest
The moon rose o’er the wold.
Great Aüka-Thor drove fest
Two warrior barrows
6 by,
As the dark tombs they pass’d
Bright flash’d the Aser’s eye.

At length they arrived at a lonely peasant’s hut, and Thor called out to ask for a night’s lodging.

The peasant’s meagre store
Not ev’n a dish could yield:
It matter’d not to Thor,
Who ate from off his shield.
The goats were soon devoured,
A part was left to bleed,
The blood in jugs they pour’d,
And straight ’twas sparkling mead.


(...) The goats and car were now left at the cottage, and the two Aser with their attendants set out on foot for Jotun-heim.

Of Tialf it should be told,
Right well the lad turn’d out:
He proved a warrior bold,
His heart and arm were stout.
This came of hearty food,
To eat he ne’er was slack;
In favour high he stood
With Thor, and bare the pack.

A form as Freya’s bright
Had Roska, blue-eyed maid;
Her bosom round and white
In glittering steel array’d.
Proud smiled the maiden fair,
Pleased with her waving crest,
Her yellow, silken hair,
A golden morion prest.

Miölner o’er shoulder thrown,
Resolve mark’d in his look,
As Thor strode stoutly on
His rattling
8 copper shook.
With arms less cumbrous dight,
Loke, lightly tripp’d along,
From casque with silver white
His dark locks loosely hung.

They travelled on with such speed that they soon arrived at the sea, which it was necessary to pass. (...)

Then like some ponderous rock
He plunged into the wave:
Ran, frighten’d at the shock,
Slunk to her inmost cave.
With courage fill’d, the rest
Follow’d their fearless lord;
The sea their mail’d sides press’d,
And round them, threat’ning, roar’d.

For many a league they toil’d,
With desperate strength, along:
Hark! o’er the billows, wild,
And clear mermaid’s
10 song.
Hid by some sea-worn cliff
She chants ill-omen’d dirge:
I trow, with sinews stiff
They buffet now the surge.

(...) Thor said that no time was to be lost, but that they should proceed at once up into the country.

With many a weary step,
Through fen and bog they wend,
Now on the smooth ice slip,
Now sink into the sand.
The labouring sky was black
As raven’s glossy plume,
Save where with vivid streak
Blue lightnings mock’d the gloom.

Comets with fiery tails
Shot swift the heaven athwart,
The hail fell thick, huge whales
Bellow’d in monstrous sport;
Bitter the keen wind blew,
Young Roska swoon’d for fear,
Loke quick to aid her flew,
He ever loved the fair.

II. ENCHANTMENT ON THE HEATH.

[After spending the night in the giant Skrymir´s gauntlet, morning arrives.]

Now morn the heaven had cleared,
And plainly all descried,
What erst a hut appeared,
Was but a gauntlet wide.
Muttering betwixt his teeth
The giant drew it on,
Thor’s comrades held their breath,
Their courage was nigh gone.

After a short silence, Skrymner observed, that it was a very strange taste to journey so far
to see a barren waste of sand, and asked Thor why he came to Jotunheim?


Him answer’d haughtily,
The god to warriors dear;
It pleased me here to be,
And therefore am I here.

He added, that having heard much in Asgard of Utgardelok, he was resolved to see him
face to face, and that as for his magic and his frozen mountains, he only laughed at them.
[Skrymir scoffs.]

All Niffelheim seem’d loose,
So loud the giant roar’d:
“Thy neck into a noosé
Thou runn’st,” such was his word:
“Take warning ere too late,
Tall ramparts gird about
Our realm, from which ne’er yet
Unscourged came Aser out.

“Turn back, thou warrior true,
Nor madly further roam,
Too late, the hour thou’lt rue,
Thou sought’st the giant’s home.
With no benign intent
Thou com’st our monarch near:
On strife and war thou’rt bent,
Be warn’d, ’twill cost thee dear.

“Turn back, thou Aser bright,
Back from this hostile soil;
Turn to thy realms of light,
What boots it here to while!
A wild, which foot ne’er paced;
A sea, where tempests roar;
Thy sires as barriers placed
’Twixt us and Asgard’s shore.

“There joys which never cloy,
The feast, the fight, the dance,
By turns your days employ,
Gilt by Soel’s
11 ceaseless glance.
To ye fond nornies shared
A lordly destiny;
On earth, adored, and fear’d,
Blissful in heaven to be.

“But Ymer’s banish’d race
Far other lot obtain’d:
Bare rocks our dwelling-place,
To hard deeds we are train’d.
For us no flame ascends,
Mortals no altars raise;
Terror our steps attends,
Cunning and strength our praise.

“Our halls, caves dark and low!
Torch-lit, our rocks beneath:
As th’ Aser life bestow,
We bring disease and death;
Earth hides us in her womb,
Thick, knotted clubs we wield,
Within our cavern’s gloom
E’en gods with fear are chill’d.”

An instant Thor held back,
He struck his shield with force,
“Enchanter foul,” he spake,
In voice with passion hoarse:
“Tis well thy stature tall
Saves thee from Miölner’s swing:
Were we in Thrudheim’s
12 hall,
Mine arm should lightnings fling.

“Of Utgard, a vile slave,
Bid Thor to change intent!
A peasant, arm’d with stave,
Question my hardiment!
What, tho’ thy misshaped head
Thou lift’st on high, so proud,
Think’st thou to strike with dread
Valhalla’s warrior god!”

The god with rage flow’d o’er,
He clench’d his mail-clad hand:
“Were there of giants more
Than grains of ocean sand,
Or snakes on Nastrond’s
13 wall
Me little ’twould import,
To earth I’d fell them all,
Nor ask more welcome sport.

“Thou swoln and turgid sponge,
Spite of thy brittle spear,
I’d slay thee with one lunge
Of my good falchion here:
Let earth’s weak children cow’r
Before thine aspect grim,
To crush thee, Thor hath pow’r
With but his buckler’s rim.”

[Thor to Skrymir, about the giants´ race:]

The great Alfader set
Midst thickest gloom your home,
Treasures ye’re skill’d to get
From out the mountain’s womb.
When o’er the silent earth
Night spreads her sable veil.
Ye rush, blood-thirsting, forth.
Her helpless sons t’ assail.

Then, at the midnight hour,
When spirits of light retire,
Then rules with hellish pow’r
Dark Utgard’s demon sire.
Whate’er is good or fair
To harass, all your joy;
Like rav’nous wolf or bear,
Ye live but to destroy.

In th’ Empyrean heaven
Who sits with sleepless eye,

To th’ Aser pow’r hath given,
Wisdom and courage high.
By us your felon race
And Loke himself, your king
Must perish, nor your trace
Be left,—so nornies sing.


(...) they proceeded onwards (...)

They quicken’d now their pace,
For th’ evening star ’gan peer,
Skrymner, with smiling face,
Show’d where a grove was near.
This reach’d, his wallet down
The weary giant laid,
And, in a friendly tone,
Thus to the wanderers said:

“Beneath this leafy shade
We’ll lay us down to sleep,
Till o’er the dewy glade
The grey morn ’gins to peep.”

He gave Thor the wallet, which was fastened in a curious manner, saying,
that it contained as good i supper as Sif herself could have prepared, at the same time
he begged the god be careful in untying the strings, as he did not wish them to be broken.
He then retired into the wood and lay down to sleep.

Under the grove’s warm lee,
Shelter’d from rain and blast,
Stretch’d ’neath a greenwood tree,
He soon in sleep was fast.

Upon the velvet lawn
God Thor, and Roska fair,
And Loke, and Tialf, sate down
To breathe the ev’ning air.
The elves, with flow’rs who deck
The meads, their strength renew.
Being hungry, Skrymner’s pack
The thund’rer near him drew.

To Roska then he spake:
“Let’s to our host be true:—
The supper out to take,
Sweet maid, must fall to you.
The giant charged enow
To spare his paltry bands:
His wallet scarce, I trow,
Could fall to gentler hands.”

With ready smile the maid
Sank on her knee, so round,
T’ unloose, as Thor had bid,
The strings the pack that bound.

[None of the company can open the magic strings. They remain hungry, and Thor´s wrath rises.]

The God with fell intent,
Now gather’d all his strength,
And to the giant went,
Who lay stretch’d out at length.
A well-aim’d blow he struck
Just where the brows unite,
With force might cleave a rock,
Truth, ’twas a fearful sight.

Scarce roused, his heavy eyes
The giant open’d, half;
At his side Thor espies
All arm’d, and with him Tialf—
“What could have made me wake,”
Quoth he; “’twas sure a leaf—
Well Thor, what news o’ th’ pack?
Hast eaten all the beef?”

With rage Thor near had burst,
Fiercely his lips he bit:
He mutter’d: “Slave accurst!
Thou shalt not ’scape me yet.”
The giant gave no heed,
But slowly turn’d him o’er,
And soon the woody glade
Re-echo’d with his snore.

Thor, bent on deadly barm,
Frowning again drew near,
Miölner with out-stretch’d arm
Three times he swang in air.
The stroke was levell’d well,—
Swift as the meteor shaft
Full on his front it fell,
And sank up to the haft.

This Skrymner seem’d to move;
With force he struck his head.
“A murrain on the grove,”
In grumbling tone he said:
“In peace one cannot rest,
Some berry’s bruised my crown,
What, Thor! still up! ’twere best
Till morn to lay you down.”

Low murm’ring ’twixt his teeth,
He soon resank to sleep.
Awhile Thor held his breath;
He groan’d in spirit, deep;
To Odin, his great sire,
He raised his voice on high,
The little feathered quire
The grove, in terror, fly.

His eyes like lightnings flashed,
He drew his girdle tight,
On Skrymner’s temple crash’d
The steel with awful might.
It made the giant start;
He roar’d aloud: “How now!
What makes my forehead smart?
There must have fall’n a bough.”

[Skrymir accompanies them until Utgard appears, then leaves them.]

III. THOR IN HELHEIM.

The night-owl mournful scream’d,
The heavens as pitch were black;
Half crazed poor Roska seem’d,
Kept close to God Thor’s back.

For many a weary hour,
Still deeper down they went,
Heard chafing torrents roar,
In rocky prisons pent:
Pale spectres flitted past;
The god, with lengthened stride,
Adown the steep way fast,
In silence, onwards hied.

(...) they saw a large cavern which yawned across the path-way.
Entering it, they arrived at a wicket before which sate two tall ghastly spectres.


Both hasten’d up to rise
As Asa-Thor drew near,
And with dull, stony eyes
Return’d the war-god’s stare.

A woman one appeared,
The other was a man:
No mortal eye had dared
Their hideous forms to scan.
Rattled their leaden teeth,
They shook with icy pain,
Theirs was the chill of death,
May ne’er know warmth again.

A plume of raven hue
Shadow’d each bloodless head:
Over their armour blue
White winding-sheets were spread.
Their maces, strange to tell,
Of dead men’s bones were made.
Heavy to earth they fell,
Might stout heart have dismay’d.

In deep, sepulchral tone,
The spectres slowly spake,
’Twas like a half-check’d groan,
Made Tialf and Roska quake.
“What hath your footsteps here,
Ye rash intruders, sent?
Your blood runs warm and clear,
Your days not yet are spent.

“Ye yet may fell in fight,
What come ye here to seek
Within these realms of night?
Turn back, insane, turn back!
Here an enchantress dread
Governs with iron sway,
All who on peaceful bed,
Inglorious, quit the day.”

Thor, upon this, turned to his companions and said, that from what they had just heard
it was evident that they had been misled, and that this mast be the gate of Helheim. He added, jeeringly,
to Loke, that the prospect of seeing his daughter Hela must be highly gratifying to him.


Loke felt the bitter taunt,
Was white with ire his cheek;
Sudden he turn’d askant
As if retreat to seek.
“I’ll stay not here, ray race,”
He cried: “in plight forlorn
To view—this hateful place,
I’ll quit and back return.”

[Thor talks Loki into going onwards:]

But Thor, with warning voice,
Cried out; “Laufeya’s son
Beware! bethink thee twice,
Nor on destruction run:
What boots it to repine
At that the fates decree!
Befits it Loke to whine,
And yield so womanly?

The tall maid, Angerbode,
Thou tookest to thy bed:
All know, of giant blood
No produce ever sped.
What then—thine amorous fit,
No doubt, in Skulda’s
7 book
E’en from the first was writ;
Then why this angry look!

Horror thy race inspire,
But who contempt can feign?
Fate doom’d their birth, in ire,
To scourge both gods and men.
From thy loins sprang the plague,
E’en Odin’s self can fill
With trouble. Panics vague,
Which oft the boldest chill,

Arise strange god from thee.
In Asgard’s realm of joy,
’Midst banqueting and glee,
Dire thoughts our mirth alloy.
When Fenris shakes his chain;
In Valhal’s festive hall
Silence and terror reign,
No god but feels appal.

On Earth’s fair bosom look,
Smiling with flower-deck’d field,
Hill, dale, lake, rippling brook,
Doth scarce to Asgard yield:—
Were’t not, that pain and death
Her sons in bondage hold,

And the fell serpent’s wreath
Her prison’d shores enfold.

Hela thy blood to call
Well proud thou mightest be
Of craven cowards all
Unpitying scourger, she.
Avenger of my might
The brave her name esteem,
Then think not, Loke, of flight,
Nor thy race luckless deem.

[Loki stays with the company.]

The way Thor foremost led,
He fear’d nor foe nor spell;
Heavy and dull their tread
In the dead silence fell.
Roska, the fearful maid,
Her cheeks as lilies white,
To Thor close ever stay’d,
And his rough hand held tight.

[They arrive at Hela´s throne.]

Reck’d not the Aser proud,
With fierce disdain he burn’d,
And to the trembling crowd
Contemptuously turn’d:
“So be it with those,” he cried:
“Who fear like men to die,
Who, living, Thor denied,
Dead, let them wail and sigh.

“Ye woman-hearted fools,
Who shrank from wounds and strife,
What boots, where Hela rules,
Your soft inglorious life?
Your souls the battle-horn
Ne’er fill’d with warlike glee:
To cower were ye born,
Cower to eternity!”

Then straight to Hela’s throne
Advanced the warrior stern,
And spake in gentler tone:
“Well pleased am I to learn
That in thy realms, gaunt queen!
Cowards find fitting doom,
But do not falsely ween
That willing, here we come.

“Tow’rds Jotunheim to hie,
To Utgard’s king, we thought;
Twas Skrymner’s ready lie
Our footsteps hither brought.
I trow the way we’ve lost:
To the dark monarch’s home,
Then say, if that thou know’st,
How we may readiest come.”

Hela to Miölner’s lord,
With grating voice, replied;
(Such noise gives edge of sword
On steel-proof helmet tried).
“Leave quick my cavern’s gloom!
Your way is straight, begone!
Your full cheek’s healthful bloom
I dare not look upon.”

[They leave Hela´s realm.]

IV. THOR ARRIVES AT UTGARD.

On grim Utgardelok
Thor scowl’d with vengeful eye:
“Innocuous fell thy rock,
Thy poison I defy.
Cease from thy malice vain,
Thou’st now to deal with one
Scorns thee and all thy train;
Thou strivest ’gainst Odin’s son.”

The demon quick replied:
“Thou thund’ring god, full well
I know thee—wrath and pride
The Aser’s race reveal;
Usurping race, which now
Reigns in the realms of light;
Nay, boots not knit thy brow,
And Miölner grasp so tight.

“Thy pow’r to work us ill
Thou’st learn’d too high to rate;
Giants are giants still!
And that from ancient date:
Our race to light was brought
Full many an age before
Aser were known, or thought
Of Miölner was or Thor.”

[Thor comments on the giants´ race:]

“But as the noxious weed,
Tho’ ne’er so oft destroy’d,
Still, from some hidden seed,
Is ever fresh supplied:
So ye, infernal brood,
To earth oft howling cast,
Still thirst for strife and blood,
Unmindful of the past.

“But know ’twill work ye ill,
On evil ever bent,
The world with crimes to fill,
And sorrows not content,
Your sacrilegious ire
Not Odin’s self e’en spared.
His fane and sacred fire
To desecrate you dared:

“’Tis therefore I am come
Here, to these regions low,
To tell thee, in thine home,
Thy treasons foul I know:
That thee and all thy brood,
For these thy felon deeds,
T’ extirpate, but the nod
Of Bore’s great son there needs.”

’Twas a fair sight to see
The lofty warrior god,
As in his majesty
And conscious might he stood.
Bright on his godlike breast
His golden cuirass shone,
The trembling giants prest
Close to their monarch’s throne.

[Utgardloki invites Thor to a feast.]

God Thor a prompt assent
To Lok’s proposal gave:
To banquet then they went
Into an inner cave.
Of porphyr rimm’d with gold,
A slab with meats was spread;
From cups, the warriors bold,
Of amber, drank their mead.

For musick, rippling streams
And moaning winds made chime;
A concert strange, me-seems,
But suiting place and time.
With Roska by his side,
The mead Thor deep ’gan quaff,
Loke Tialf with bumpers plied,
And loud went round the laugh.

V. ENCHANTMENTS IN UTGARD.

[Logi appears to contest Loki.]

He gazed around with ire,
All o’er his armour play’d
Fork’d, hissing tongues of fire,
Most white, some blue, some red.

His long jagg’d iron teeth
Were set in double rows.
His mouth—of monstrous width—
His nails—like vulture’s claws—
His body—meagre, gaunt—
His eyes two live coals seem’d—
His cheeks—of ashy tint—
Fire from his nostrils gleam’d.

[The contest has ended.]

The umpires then drew near,
Loke had not striven in vain;
His bones of flesh were bare,
No jot was to be seen:
But when the giant’s place,
In turn they came to view;
He’d swallow’d all his mess,
And bones, and trencher too.

I trow there then was mirth,
Thor’s sides were near to split,
Tialf rolled upon the earth,
Roska was in a fit.
Loke, crest-fall’n, left the hall,
And all, with one accord,
Unto the giant tall
The victory award.

[The racing contest begins.]

Then loud the king ’gan call,
And forth a dwarf there came,
Pliant as yew, but small
Of limb, Hugo his name.
His semblance vague and strange,
None captive him could make,
Still, restless, he would range
Nor e’er repose would take.

A veil was o’er him thrown.

[Thor offers a drinking contest.]

The god replied: “’tis well,
Let straight be brought me here
A horn of Hydromel,
The draught I love, or beer;
Though Asa-Loke with shame
Was foil’d, he deep must drink
Who Thor to treat the same,
In emptying cups, doth think.”

The king a signal gave,
And, on his shoulders borne,
Straightways a brawny slave
Dragg’d in a monstrous horn—
Right ancient did it seem,
’Twas form’d of wroughten gold,
And, all around the rim,
Were graven letters old.

Quoth Loke to Utgard’s king:
“With Asa-Thor to drink
No god in Valhal’s ring,
But with despair would shrink—
When the brisk mead goes round,
By blue-ey’d Valkyrs pour’d,
His potent draughts astound
The thirstiest at the board.

“It may have reach’d your ear
How that to Mimer’s fount,
Each morning, to repair
Odin to drink is wont:
The horn in which the sage
The gifted liquor pours,
The one-eyed’s
17 thirst t’ assuage,
In size far passeth yours.

“It chanced, when Odin once
From Asgard was away,
Thor thought him, for the nonce,
The magic well to see;
The horn, fill’d to the brim,
The thirsty thunderer quaff’d,
Light emprize seem’d it him
To drink it at a draught.

“Of th’ hardy deed the fame
Was in each Aser’s mouth,
When t’ Odin’s ears it came,
The raven-god was wroth;
It grieves me of my son,
Quoth he: that men should tell
Such freaks, I trow that soon
He’ll drink e’en Urda’s well.
18

“Thus, by a lucky theft,
Did Thor his wit obtain,
He’d, else, been quite bereft,
Nor great e’en now the gain:
But if that Mimer’s cup
To clear, so little cost,
Be sure your lesser stoup
Will off with ease be tost.”

Not thirstier the parch’d sand
Drinks up the thunder shower,
When on th’ exhausted land
Its quickening waters pour;
Than Thor the liquor plied;
When now he’d quench’d his thirst,
Into the horn he spied,
But lo! as at the first,

’Twas full up to the brim.
He stood not long in doubt,
Though strange it seem’d to him;
Resolved to drink it out,
He lean’d on Miolner’s haft,
And quaff’d the mead again,
Which down his weason chafed,
Like torrent down ravine.

So lustily he swill’d,
Might turn e’en Glommen
19 dry;
“I trow it now will yield,”
Quoth he: and turn’d his eye
To see how far’t had sunk,
But still, e’en as before,
Twas full—in vain he’d drunk—
Furious he stamp’d the floor.

The lord of Thrudheim shook
With baffled pride and wrath:
The horn he fiercely took
And lifted to his mouth;
He drank, as when of yore
Th’ abyss drank Ymer’s blood,
The dark king’s brow ’gan lour,
Trembling the giants stood.

Thor was not one to flinch,
But all the god could do,
The drink scarce sank an inch,
The horn to earth he threw,
And cried: “More and I burst,
Boots not to strive at odds,
The fever’s burning thirst
Consumes not Valhal’s gods.

“With revelry and laugh
In the bright face of day,
To glad our hearts we quaff,
Not parching heat t’ allay.”
Quoth Lok: “We giants think
Deep drinking proof of might,
That those at board who shrink
Are like to shrink in fight.”

[Thor tries to lift the cat.]

But still, the more he strove
The cat the higher stretch’d,
Until the very roof
O’th’ cave at length it reach’d:
Thor struck it with such might
A fragment vast flew out;
But, all his force despite,
He could but raise one foot.

Now, when all vain he found,
With rage his teeth he gnash’d,
And, furious, to the ground
The struggling monster dash’d.
Quoth Lok: “My cat, no doubt,
Is large as here are all,
But though he think him stout,
The Thund’rer is but small.”

[Thor wrestles the crone.]

On this, with wonted sneer,
Dark Loke of Asgard spake:
“The crone had best beware,
Nor, rash, her credit stake:
Perchance she ne’er hath heard
Thor’s deeds on Geyruth’s rock,

How of the giant lord
The daughters’ backs he broke:

“Passing a river, one
Well-nigh the god had drown’d,
But with a pebble stone
He drove her from the ground;
Sure, of the mighty Thor
Well worthy was the feat,
In fight, three virgins fair
And an old man to beat.”

Thus th’ Aser false ‘gan rail,
But Thor, who ill could brook
His taunts, with glove of mail
To earth the caitiff struck.
His anger fiercely burn’d—
“What now, thou prating fool,”
He cried: “not yet hast learn’d
Thy venom’d tongue to rule?

“Thou shuffling weathercock,
Which each breeze turneth round!
Seed thrown upon a rock!
Echo to every sound!
Well doth it thee befit
The heavenly gods to jeer,
Whom, bounteous, they permit
At Valhal’s board t’ appear!

“But, by great Odin’s throne
Forbearance may be tried
O’er much”—with alter’d tone,
The prostrate recreant cried:
“What have I done, great lord,
To rouse thy fearful ire?
Can then an idle word
Set Auka-Thor on fire?

“Who’d e’er believed a jest,
In sportive humour spoke,
Had in the thunderer’s breast
Such angry feelings ’woke?
The hags, to all ’tis known,
Who fell beneath thy stroke,
Did nought in common own,
Save sex, with Embla’s stock.

“They were not maids who feel
And cherish Freya’s pow’r;
Their rugged breasts with steel
Were arm’d, and clubs they bore.
When that the sorcerer talk’d
Of the foul witch, his nurse,
Methought how they were baulk’d,
With her ’twill sure fare worse.”

Quoth Thor: “To Loke ne’er yet
Did specious reason lack,
But what is past forget,
And learn thy tongue to check.”
And now, a wither’d hag
Hobbled into the hall,
Like to a leathern bag
Her breasts, all shrivell’d, fall.

Upon a knotted crutch
Her feeble steps she stay’d;
Her eyes which rheumed much,
Were deep sunk in her head;
Like saffron was her cheek;
Her back as bow was bent;
Her foul hair matted thick;
She still cough’d as she went.

Quick from the witch unclean
The pure god, loathing, turn’d:
“What doth the sorcerer mean!
Is Thor the thunderer scorn’d!
Does the dark monarch trow
I’ll stoop to prove my strength
With one, who’s scarce enow
To walk the cavern’s length?”

But soon the god’s disgust
Did to compassion yield;
In haste his hand he thrust
Into his copper shield,
And, from a hollow, out
Two fragrant apples took;
“Eat, mother, of the fruit,”
Quoth he: “fair hands did pluck

“From Bragi’s golden tree:
Such is their magic pow’r
To th’ oldest, presently,
They vigorous youth restore.”
Oppress’d with age, the crone—
To see her, aye! ’twas ruth—
Upon a stool sate down—
“I’m old,” quoth she; “but youth

“Eternal I enjoy—
Your needful apples keep—
Though all things I destroy,
I need nor food nor sleep.”
With wonder Thor was struck
At such discourse obscure;
The god would fain have spoke;
But, sudden, from the floor

She leap’d, and round him tight,
Her long, lean arms she wound;
And strove, with all her might,
To cast him to the ground.
Like raging tigress, wild
Upon her prey she sprung,
And, though full long she toil’d,—
At length on one knee flung.

When, that a toothless crone
Valhalla’s pride could worst,
The Aser saw, a groan
Forth from their bosoms burst.
Thor, wrathful, turn’d about
Unto the giant foul—
“Straight, traitor, lead me out,”
He cried; “this witchcraft’s hole.

“Unknown to my great sire,
I left the realms above
To Utgard to repair,
Thy hellish power to prove;
Hence is it that thy spells
O’er all my strength prevail,
He, who presumption quells,
Has doom’d it, here, to fail.

“But let not triumph vain
More dice to ill-timed glee!
Soon shall these rocks again
My weighty hammer see;
Then shall appear who shuns
The strife, and if thy power
Thor’s sword and Odin’s Runes,
Combined, can triumph o’er.”

This said, the god in wroth
Hied towards the gate with speed,
The way the monarch forth
From out the care must lead:
In haste, Loke and the rest
Their lord to follow rose,
The gates, when scarce they’d past,
With a harsh grating close.

VI. ENCHANTMENTS EXPLAINED.

Deceived by magic art,
Though Thor had left his reign,
And burn’d but to depart
For Asgard’s realms again;
He knew that the deceit
To Hlidskialf’s lord was known,
And fear’d, when th’ Aser’s feet
Stood before Odin’s throne,

Th’ all-knowing might reveal
His arts, and both unite
To make the giants feel
Their then resistless might.

And so, in candid guise,
Though his false heart did quake
Within, the sire of lies
Thus to the thunderer spake:
“At length my fear’s at end,
Thy foot my threshold’s past,
And Skulda dire forefend
It there again should rest.

“But since concealment now
No peril would avert,
And that, e’en in a foe,
I honour high desert;
Those feats, which e’en the best
Of Utgard glazed with fear,
And with alarm my breast
O’er-whelm’d, I’ll now declare.

The rattling of thy car
On Bifrost,
23 when I heard,
Nought good I hoped,
O Thor! From thy trip netherward:
But when that thine intent
I learn’d, t’ Utgard to hie,
Each art thee to prevent
I straight resolved to try.

“I knew that, for defence,
’Twas vain to arms to flee
’Gainst Miölner’s lord, and hence
Cal’d to aid sorcery.
Twas I the furious storm
Stirr’d up, thy course t’ oppose;
In vain—thy bosom, firm,
Still o’er the wild waves rose.

“Here foil’d, quick out I drew
My form to monstrous height,
And, where thy course I knew,
As ’twere by chance, did wait:

I thought thee thus t’ affright,
And back thy footsteps turn;
But I had yet thy might,
And courage high to learn.

“If with a magic knot
I knew thy pack to bind,
To mock thee, Thor, the thought
Ne’er came within my mind;
That freak nigh cost me dear,
The truth to tell, e’en now
My blood runs cold with fear,
To think how thy first blow,

“To th’ other twain though light,
Close to my temples fell;—
Perdy, an ’t had me hit
I’d not been here to tell
The tale. But if, in doubt,
Thy mind still proof doth need,
Turn but thine eyes about,
Thy prowess thou may’st read.”

Thor turn’d to where the plain
A rocky barrier crost,
Wherein three dells were seen,
One deeper than the rest.
“Each time that Miölner fell,”
Quoth Lok, “the mighty stroke
Caused, as thou see’st, a dell,
I lay behind the rock,

“From thee, by magic, hid:
Trow me, Til ne’er deny
That when, O Thor! there’s need,
Thy blows fall heavily—
I led thee next astray
To Hela’s shadowy reign,
But here thy course to stay
My hopes, as erst, were vain.

“And now, in turn, to speak
Of all that late befel,
Need was by charms to seek
Your prowess to repel.
Thou, Loke, in eating, first
The palm did’st well contest;
E’en hunger’s self might burst
To swallow such repast.

“But, though you quickly clear’d
The trencher, piled on high,
Your tooth, it soon appeared,
With Löge’s could not vie:—
Still, need not thence be lower’d
Your pride, the Giant dire,
Who bones and flesh devour’d,
Know, was ‘incarnate fire.’

“In running, Tialf, your meed
In question none will call;
To say the truth, your speed
With wonder fill’d us all.
The dwarf, so quick of limb,
Whom to out-run you sought,
No shame his victory deem—
That dwarf, Tialf, was my ‘thought.’”
...
The magic horn would find,
And, when in sportive mood,
Might cause, if so inclined,
The ocean’s ebb and flood.
....
The ancient, wrinkled crone,
’Gainst whom your strength was staked;
Who seem’d with age fordone,
Who e’en your pity waked—
So feeble deem’d to be—
Who foird your manhood’s prime,
And forced you bend the knee,
That hag despised was Time.

“Time, who eternal youth,
Though old, doth still enjoy;
Whose ever-gnawing tooth
Must all at length destroy.
She leaneth on a crutch,
And slow doth seem her pace,
But ne’er wight her may catch,
If once she by do pass.

“Her all-consuming might
Will lay us giants low;
Ay! and the spirits of light
Must fall before her too.
To earth on one knee thrown,
The aged beldame’s power
Already once thou’st known,
Learn, hence, thy pride to lower.”

Thor’s patience now was spent,
Miölner with glove of steel
He grasp’d in firm intent
The king to earth to fell—
But king and rocks were gone,
The Thunderer’s wrath was vain;
The Aser stood, alone,
In a wide silent plain.

VII. RETURN HOME.

[They return to the hut of Thialfi´s and Roskva´s parents.]

A pollard lime, near bare
With age, stood nigh the cot,
’Neath which the ancient pair,
In the warm sun-shine, sat:
When the twain breathless came,
Th’ old folks, leaped op for joy;
My Roska! cried the dame—
The gaffer—Tialf! my boy!

Th’ old nether wept out-right—
Close to her aged breast
Her pride, her eyes’ delight,
Her darting girl, she prest;
As the pone morning dew
Doth on the violet lie;
So die full tear die blue
Scarce dimm’d of Roska’s eye.

Such scenes and horrors past,
When least she’d hoped again
In mother’s arms to rest!
Sure ’twas some phantasm vain—
Not less the dame’s surprize,
Ah! threefold happy day,
And can I trust mine eyes!
Can these my children be!

The aged sire, whose hair
Was white and eyes were dull,
Had well nigh dropp’d a tear:
On his son gazing full, He cried:
“Why, Tialf, my lad!
I scarce my son had known;
Thou’rt taller by a head,
And Roska, too, is grown.

“One moon has scarce grown old
Since, clown, thou left’st this place,
And, now, thy portaunce bold
No warrior would disgrace.
With ease thou wield’st thy lance—
And little Roska’s mien
How changed! her blue eye’s glance
Less downcast now I ween.”

[They stay for the night.]

Not yet the lark had sung
Her earliest matin lay,
When up from couch they sprung,
And, e’er that dawn’d the day,
Nail’d on the shoes of gold,
The harness’d goats led out;
Then up the warriors bold
Into the chariot got.

I trow o’ th’ aged pair
Not little the surprise,
When, sudden, in the air
Aloft the car ’gan rise;
At first, young Roska’s head
Was dizzy with the height;
But soon the maiden’s dread
Was changed t’ unmix’d delight.

From Bifrost’s lofty bow
With wond’ring eye she gazed
On the wide scene below—
Quoth Thor: “Thou’lt sure be pleased,
Dear maid, all dangers o’er
To learn,—henceforth a home
Thou’lt find in Freya’s bower—
In Thrudheim’s hall may come

“No woman.”————

[Returned to Asgard, Thor puts Roskva in Freya´s care.]

Thor here, in Freya’s train
The maid would place, for shield
And spear he well had seen
Were not for her to wield.
“Give back the arms,” he said:
Twas plain regrettingly:
“Such gear, thou gentle maid,
Is all too rude for thee.

“To fair Folkvangur’s queen
And nymphs I’ll thee present—
More fit for Freya’s train
Than deeds of hardiment.
No terror there thou’lt feel,
Pleasures thou’lt have enow,
To bear the warrior’s steel
Needs sterner stuff, I trow.”

Thor to Valhalla hied
With Tialf, and took his place;
His son when Odin spied,
Could scarce a smile suppress.
The Valkyrs, clothed in white,
Fill’d him a welcome cup;
Then out they went to fight,
And hew’d till time to sup.


From Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger
(1779-1850)      Short Biography of Adam Oehlenschläger

Translation and text in italics by Grenville Pigott, in "A Manual of Scandinavian Mythology, Containing a
Popular Account of the Two Eddas and of the Religion of Odin" (London, 1839)


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