Open main menu
Baldrs draumar
by Unknown, translated from Icelandic by Wikisource
Later the gods were
all in a meeting
and the goddesses
all in conversation,
and the powerful gods
talked about
why there were
bad dreams for Baldr.
Up rose Óðinn,
men’s sacrifice,
and he laid the saddle
on Sleipnir.
He rode from there, down
to mist-hell;
he met a dog,
which came out of hell.
It was bloody
in front, round its breast,
and bayed for a long time
at the father of magic.
Óðinn rode on,
the earth-road resounded;
he came to the high
house of Hel.
Then Óðinn rode
to the door to the east,
where he knew of
a witch’s grave.
He began to sing
a wiser death-spell
until, under duress, she rose,
and said these words:
‘What person is it—
unfamiliar to me—
who has strengthened me
for a difficult journey?
I was snowed on with snow
and beaten with rain
and soaked with dew;
I was dead a long time.’

Óðinn said:

I am called Road-Tame,
I am the son of Death-Tame,
tell me about hell—
I must go from the world;
for whom are the benches
strewn with rings,
the fine dais
overflowed with gold?’

The witch said:

‘Here stands mead
brewed for Baldr,
bright drinks;
a shield lies over them;
and the sons of gods are
in suspense.
I speak under duress;
now I will be silent.’

Óðinn said:

‘Don’t fall silent, witch:
I want to ask you,
to know everything;
I still want to know
who will become
Baldr’s slayer
and steal Óðinn’s son
from life?’

The witch said:

‘Höðr will carry the high
fame-tree here:
he will become
Baldr’s slayer
and steal Óðinn’s son
from life.
I speak under duress;
now I will be silent.’

Óðinn said:

‘Don’t fall silent, witch,
I want to ask you,
to know everything;
I still want to know
who will get the evil deed
avenged on Höðr,
or convey Baldr’s
slayer onto the funeral pyre?’

The witch said:

‘Rindr will bear Váli
in western halls:
he, Óðinn’s son,
will fight when one night old;
he’ll neither wash his hands
nor comb his head
before he conveys Baldr’s
shooter onto the funeral pyre.
I speak under duress;
now I will be silent.’

Óðinn said:

‘Don’t fall silent, witch,
I want to ask you,
to know everything;
I still want to know
who the maidens are
who will weep from longing
and throw into the sky
the corners of their neck-cloths?’

The witch replied:

‘You’re not Road-Tame,
as I thought,
but you’re Óðinn,
the old sacrifice.’

Óðinn said:

‘You’re not a witch,
nor a wise women,
but you’re the mother
of three ogres.’

The witch said:

‘Ride home, Óðinn,
and be proud:
more men will come
back on a visit
when Loki is free,
slips from his bonds,
and the fate of the gods
comes, ripping everything apart.’

Translated from 'Baldrs draumar', in De gamle Eddadigte, ed. by Finnur Jónsson (Copenhagen: Gad, 1932), with reference to 'Baldrs draumar', in Eddukvæði: Sæmundar-Edda, ed. by Guðni Jónsson, 2 vols (Reykjavík: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan, 1949).