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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

Valhalla: The Myths of Norseland; A Saga, in Twelve Parts

Part First

Creation

In the dim morning-dawn of Time,
E´er yet was made the green Earth fair,
With Muspel bright, and dark Niflheim,
Ginunga, still as windless air,--
These three,--two Worlds of Fire and Night
With the Abyss,--ruled in their might.

Great Surtur, with his burning sword,
Southward, at Muspel´s gate kept ward,
And flashes of celestial flame,
Life-giving, from the Fire-World came;
While in the North, in Niflheim dread,
Dwelt Nidhögg, Dragon of the Dead;
Death-dealing frosts and vapors rise
From that black Mist-World, full of sights.
Between the two, Ginunga lay,
A yawning chasm void of day.
The salt rime-drops from Niflheim´s streams,
Quickended by Msupel´s living beams,
Met in Ginunga´gloomy space,
And Ymir bore, of Jötun race,
Who of himself Hrimthursar had,--
Frost-Giants they, and Jötuns´ bad.

The Cow, Audhumla, having nursed
The Jötun Ymir, licked the rime;
Just wrath to wreak on the accursed,
Then forth sprang Buri, the Divine.
From Bör, his son, came Aesir three,
Odin, and Vili, and great Vè,
Who, slaying Ymir in fierce war,
Drowned in his blood the Hrimthursar.

Now was conceived the god-like plan;--
The Spirit, Light, and mighty Fire,
Those Aesir three, their task began,--
Creation´s wondrous work entire.
From Asgard´s Hill, their heavenly home,
The sons of Bör triumphant come!
Into Ginunga, Ymir hurled;
Out of his parts they formed the Worlds;
His body, Earth; his blood, the Sea;
Mountains, his bones; each hair, a tree;
They of his skull created sky,
Above the Earth fair archéd high,
Adorned with sparks from Muspel bright,--
The Sun, and Moon, and stars of light;
While, for defence ´gainst Jötun raid,
A breast-work of his eye-brows made,
And called it Midgard, and acrost
From Asgard, threw the bridge Bifröst,
The Rainbow-bridge of colors three,--
That joined with Heaven, Earth might be.
Around the Earth they caused to swell
Deep seas upon whose utmost strand,
Jötuns escaped they gave to dwell
In black and fearful nether land.

Of Jötun race sprang black-browed Night,
Who unto bright-eyed Day gave birth;
Him Aesir placed in car of light
Darkness to chase away from Earth;
Hence Night and Day alternate course
The heav´ns in circle-wise, perforce.
Night rides before on dark Hrimfax,
Who hoar-frost from his bridle shakes;
While, from Skinfaxi´s mane so fair,
Day scatters light o´er earth and air.
Lest Jötun wolves should them devour,
To swiftest flight they bend each power.

The Sun, beneath the sultry noon,
Held, high in Heaven, her horses´s rein;
And, with her pale companion, Moon,
Waited until the gods should deign
To mark their path, their powers to tell,
And place the stars from bright Muspel.

Born in the flesh of Ymir old,
Four dwarfs the mighty Aesir set
Four corners of the sky to hold;
While, where the outmost boundaries met,
The giant Hrae, in eagle guise
Sat in the north,-- when he shall rise,
Each mighty wing-stroke will give birth
To storms that desolate the Earth.

Within, below, o´ershadowing all,
The Life-Tree, Igdrasil, upreared
Its sacred boughs o´ver Asgard´s Hall,
Alike by gods and Jötun feared.
Its Nornir sat by Odin's gate,
Sjjinning the thread of Time and Fate;
While deeper down was Mimir's Well
On which was laid rare Wisdom's spell ;
Its deepest root did Nidhögg gnaw,
Dragon of Death! forever more.
Hovered aloft the Eagle, Life,
While deep below lurked Death and Strife.

From high Valhalla's hall of might.
The Aesir looked the whole Earth o'er,
Did in their handiwork delight;
And then, upon the lone sea-shore
Seeing two trees, the Ash and Elm,
They chose them rulers of this realm,
Lest all the fair Creation vast
Be wasted, lonely, to the last.
Odin on them the Spirit poured,
And sense was their's by Vili's word;
With flesh, and speech, and sight were they
Endowed by power of mighty Vè.
He Ask, she Embla, they by name,
First Man and Woman now became.
On Midgard did the glorious Three
Place human life and destiny.

And now the gods' great work was o'er.
Creation, beautiful, complete.
The vaulted sky, the sea-girth shore
Lay, stretched along at Odin's feet.
But even in this early morn,
Faintly foreshadowed, was the dawn
Of that fierce struggle, deadly shock,
Which yet should end in Ragnarock;
When Good and Evil, Death and Life,
Beginning now, end then their strife.

by Julia Clinton Jones, 1878

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