Vǫlundarkvia


Nur ht konungr Svj. Hann tti tv sonu ok eina dttur. Hon ht Bvildr. Brr vru rr, synir Finnakonungs. Ht einn Slagfir, annarr Egill, rii Vlundr. eir skriu ok veiddu dr. eir kmu lfdali ok geru sr ar hs. ar er vatn, er heitir lfsjr. Snemma of morgin fundu eir vatnsstrndu konur rjr, ok spunnu ln. ar vru hj eim lftarhamir eira. at vru valkyrjur. ar vru tvr dtr Hlvs konungs, Hlagur svanhvt ok Hervr alvitr, in rija var lrn Kjrsdttir af Vallandi. eir hfu r heim til skla me sr. Fekk Egill lrnar, en Slagfir Svanhvtrar, en Vlundr Alvitrar. au bjuggu sjau vetr. flugu r at vitja vga ok kmu eigi aftr. skrei Egill at leita lrnar, en Slagfir leitai Svanhvtrar, en Vlundr sat lfdlum. Hann var hagastr mar, sv at menn viti, fornum sgum. Nur konungr lt hann hndum taka, sv sem hr er um kveit:

A king in Sweden was called Nur. He had two sons and a daughter. She was called Bǫvildr. There were three brothers, sons of the king of the Finns. One was called Slagfir, the second Egill, and the third Vǫlundr. They were snow-shoing(1) and hunting animals. They came into lfdalir(2) and made themselves a house there. There is a lake there that is called lfsjr. Early in the morning on the bank of the lake, they found three women, who were spinning flax. There were their swan-garments beside them. They were valkyries. Two of them were daughters of King Hlǫv, Hlagur Swanwhite and Hervǫr Alvitr(3); the third was Ǫlrn, the daughter of Kjrr of Valland(4). They took them home to their hut(5) with them. Egill married Ǫlrn, Slagfir, Swanwhite, and Vǫlundr, Alvitr. They all lived [there] for seven winters.(6) Then [the women] flew off in search of battles and did not return. Then Egill went to look for Ǫlrn, and Slagfir looked for Swanwhite, but Vǫlundr stayed in lfdalir. He was the ablest man with his hands, so far as any can know, in old tales. King Nur had him captured, as is told here:


 

1. 1.

Meyjar flugu sunnan Maidens flew from the south

myrkvi ggnum, through Myrkvir(7),

Alvitr unga, otherworldly wights, young,(8)

rlg drgja; to fulfil rlǫg;

r svarstrnd on the bank of the lake they

settusk at hvlask alighted to rest,

drsir surnar, southern damsels,

drt ln spunnu. precious flax spun.

 

2. 2.

Ein nam eira One of them took

Egil at verja, Egill to embrace,

fgr mr fira, fair maid of humankind,

fami ljsum; at her bright breast,

nnur var Svanhvt, the second was Swanwhite,

svanfjarar dr, drew her swan-feathers,(9)

en in rija and the third,

eira systir their sister,

vari hvtan embraced the white

hals Vlundar. neck of Vǫlundr.

 

3. 3.

Stu san They then stayed

sjau vetr at at, seven winters after that,

en inn tta but all the eighth

allan ru, yearned,

en inn nunda and (in) the ninth

naur of skili; necessity parted them;

meyjar fstusk the maidens hastened

myrkvan vi, to the dark wood,

Alvitr unga, otherworldly wights, young,

rlg drgja. to fulfil rlǫg.

 

4. 4.

Kom ar af veii [He] came there from the hunt,

vereygr skyti, the weather-eyed(10) shooter,

[Vlundr, landi [Vǫlundr, travelling

um langan veg], a long way],(11)

Slagfir ok Egill, Slagfir and Egill,

sali fundu aua, the hut they found empty,

gengu t ok inn they went out and in

ok um susk; and looked around them;

austur skrei Egill eastward Egill set off

at lrnu, after Ǫlrn,

en sur Slagfir and southward Slagfir

at Svanhvtu. after Swanwhite.

 

5. 5.

En einn Vlundr But Vǫlundr alone

sat Ulfdlum, stayed in lfdalir,

hann sl gull rautt he beat red gold

vi gim fastan, around the fixed gem,(12)

luki hann alla he closed all

lind baugum vel; the lind-rings well;(13)

sv bei hann thus he waited

sinnar ljssar for his shining

kvnar, ef hnum wife, if to him

koma geri. she might come.

 

6. 6.

at spyrr Nur, That Nur learns,

Nra drttinn, lord of the Nrar,

at einn Vlundr that Vǫlundr alone

sat Ulfdlum; remained in lfdalir;

nttum fru seggir, by night went men,

neglar vru brynjur, nail-studded were their mailcoats,

skildir bliku eira their shields winked

vi inn skara mna. under the waning moon.

 

7. 7.

Stigu r slum They dismounted from their saddles

at salar gafli, at the hut's gable,

gengu inn aan went in from there

endlangan sal; the length of the hall;

su eir bast they saw there on bast

bauga dregna, rings strung,

sjau hundru allra, seven hundred in all,

er s seggr tti. which that man owned.

 

8. 8.

Og eir af tku And they took them off

ok eir ltu, and they put them on,

fyr einn tan, all except one,

er eir af ltu. which they left off.

Kom ar af veii [He] came there from the hunt,

vereygr skyti, the weather-eyed shooter,

Vlundr, landi Vǫlundr, travelling

um langan veg. a long way.

 

9. 8.

Gekk hann brnni He went to roast

beru hold steikja, flesh of a brown she-bear,(14)

r brann hrsi early(15) burned with brushwood

allurr fura, the dried-out pine,

vir inn vindurri, the wind-dried wood,

fyr Vlundi. in front of Vǫlundr.

 

10. 10.

Sat berfjalli, He sat on a bearskin,

bauga tali, counted rings,

alfa lji, chief of elves,(16)

eins saknai; one he missed;

hugi hann, at hefi He thought, that

Hlvs dttir, Hlǫv's daughter had it,

Alvitr unga, young Alvitr,(17)

vri hon aftr komin. that she had come back.

 

11. 11.

Sat hann sv lengi, He sat for so long

at hann sofnai, that he drowsed,

ok hann vaknai and he awoke

viljalauss; will-less;(18)

vissi sr hndum he felt on his hands

hfgar nauir, heavy shackles(19),

en ftum and on his feet

fjtur of spenntan. fetters fastened about.

 

Vlundr kva: Vǫlundr said:

12. 12.

"Hverir ro jfrar, "Who are the warriors

eir er lgu who placed upon

besti br sma [a bast rope wound](20)

ok mik bundu?" and bound me?"

 

13. 13.

Kallai n Nur Now called out Nur,

Nara drttinn: lord of the Nrar:

"Hvar gaztu, Vlundr, "Where did you get, Vǫlundr,

vsi alfa, leader of elves,

vra aura our wealth(21)

Ulfdlum?" in lfdalir?"

 

Vlundr kva: Vǫlundr said:(22)

14. 14.

"Gull var ar eigi "There was not gold there

Grana leiu, on Grani's path,

fjarri huga ek vrt land I thought our land far

fjllum Rnar; from the fells of the Rhine;

man ek, at vr meiri I think that we a greater

mti ttum, hoard had

er vr heil hj when we a family together

heima vrum. at home were.

 

15. 15.

Hlagur ok Hervr Hlagur and Hervǫr

borin var Hlv - she was born to Hlǫv -

kunn var lrn well-known was Ǫlrn,

Krs dttir." Kjrr's daughter."

 

16. 16.

[ti st kunnig [Outside stood the wise

kvn Naar], wife of Nur],(23)

hon inn of gekk she walked in

endlangan sal, the length of the hall,

st golfi, stood on the floor,

stillti rddu: controlled her voice:

"Er-a s n hrr, "He is not now calm,(24)

er r holti ferr." the one coming out of the woods."




Nur konungr gaf dttur sinni, Bvildi gullhring ann, er hann tk af bastinu at Vlundar, en hann sjlfr bar sverit, er Vlundr tti. En drttning kva:

 

King Nur gave the gold ring that he took off the bast at Vǫlundr's to his daughter, Bǫvildr, and he himself wore the sword that Vǫlundr owned. And the queen said:


 

17. 17.

"mun eru augu "Like are his eyes

ormi eim inum frna, to the gleaming snake,

tenn hnum teygjask, his teeth strain

er hnum er tt sver when the sword is revealed to him

ok hann Bvildar and he recognizes

baug of ekkir; Bǫvildr's ring;

sni r hann cut off

sina magni the power of his sinews

ok seti hann san and then put him

Svarst." on Svarstǫ.(25) "




Sv var gert, at skornar vru sinar knsftum, ok settr hlm einn, er ar var fyrir landi, er ht Svarstar. ar smai hann konungi alls kyns grsimar. Engi mar ori at fara til hans nema konungr einn. Vlundr kva:(26)

Thus it was done, that his sinews were cut in the feet(27) of his knees, and they put [him] on an island that was offshore there, called Svarstar. There he forged all kinds of treasures for the king. No one dared to go to visit him except the king alone. Vǫlundr said:


 

18. 18.

"Sknn Nai "Shines on Nur's

sver linda, belt the sword, (28)

at er ek hvessta, the one I sharpened

sem ek hagast kunna as I knew most skilfully how,

ok ek herak, and I tempered

sem mr hgst tti; as seemed most effective to me;

s er mr frnn mkir from me is that gleaming blade

fjarri borinn, borne far away for ever,

skk-a ek ann Vlundi I [will] not see it borne

til smiju borinn. to Vǫlundr's smithy.

 

19. 19.

N berr Bvildr Now Bǫvildr wears

brar minnar my bride's

- bk-a ek ess bt, - - I will never undergo recompense for

this -

bauga raua." red rings."

 

20. 20.

Sat hann, n hann svaf, vallt He sat always, nor did he sleep,

ok hann sl hamri; and he beat with the hammer;

vl geri hann heldr ingenious things he made rather

hvatt Nai. energetically for Nur.(29)

Drifu ungir tveir To see the treasures(30)

dr sa hurried the two young

synir Naar, sons of Nur,

Svarst. on Svarstǫ.

 

21. 21.

Kmu eir til kistu, They came to a chest,

krfu lukla, demanded the keys,

opin var ill evil intent was open(31)

er eir su; when they saw inside;

fjl var ar menja, many necklets were there,

er eim mgum sndisk which to the boys seemed

at vri gull rautt to be red gold

ok grsimar. and jewels.

 

Vlundr kva: Vǫlundr said:

22. 22.

"Komi einir tveir, "You two come alone,

komi annars dags; come tomorrow;

ykkr lt ek at gull I [will] make it that the gold

of gefit vera; is given to you;

segi-a meyjum do not tell the maids

n saljum, or the hall servants,

manni engum, not anyone,

at it mik fyndi." that you seek me out."

 

23. 23.

Snemma kallai Early one youth

seggr annan, called the other,

brir brur: brother to brother:

"Gngum baug sa!" "Let's go and see the rings!"

Kmu til kistu, They came to the chest,

krfu lukla, demanded the keys,

opin var ill, evil intent was open

er eir litu. when they looked inside.

 

24. 24.

Snei af hfu He cut off the heads

hna eira of those cubs(32)

ok und fen fjturs and under the marsh of the fetters(33)

ftr of lagi; he laid their feet;

en r sklar, but those bowls

er und skrum vru, that were under their hair,(34)

sveip hann tan silfri, he wrapped around with silver

seldi Nai. [and] gave to Nur.

 

25. 25.

En r augum And from the eyes

jarknasteina jewels(35)

sendi hann kunnigri he sent to the wise

konu Naar, wife of Nur,

en r tnnum and from the teeth

tveggja eira of the two of them

sl hann brjstkringlur he hammered out circular brooches(36)

sendi Bvildi. [and] sent to Bǫvildr.

 

26. 26.

nam Bvildr Then Bǫvildr started

baugi at hrsa to praise the ring

-- -- -- ---

[bar hann Vlundi], [she brought it to Vǫlundr],(37)

er brotit hafi: which she had broken:

"orig-a ek at segja "I don't dare tell

nema r einum." but you alone."

 

Vlundr kva: Vǫlundr said:

27. 27.

"Ek bti sv "I will mend in such a way

brest gulli the break in the gold

at fer num that to your father

fegri ykkir it will seem more beautiful

ok mr inni and to your mother

miklu betri much better

ok sjalfri r and to you yourself

at sama hfi." that it is of the same rightness."

 

28. 28.

Bar hann hana bjri, He overcame her with beer,

v at hann betr kunni because he was cleverer,

sv at hon sessi so that in the seat she

of sofnai. fell asleep.

"N hef ek hefnt "Now I have avenged

harma minna my wrongs,

allra nema einna all but one,(38)

vigjarna." of eager malice(39)."

 

29. 29.

"Vel ek," kva Vlundr, "A trick I [have](40) ", said Vǫlundr,

"vera ek fitjum "let me on those flippers be(41)

eim er mik Naar that Nur's

nmu rekkar." fighters took from me."

Hljandi Vlundr Laughing, Vǫlundr

hfsk at lofti, rose into the air;

grtandi Bvildr weeping, Bǫvildr

gekk r eyju, walked off the island,(42)

tregi fr friils sorrowing for her lover

ok fur reii. and her father's wrath.

 

30. 30.

ti stendr kunnig Outside stood the wise

kvn Naar, wife of Nur,

ok hon inn of gekk and she walked in

endlangan sal, the length of the hall,

- en hann salgar - and in the hall garth he

settisk at hvlask -: set down to rest -(43)

"Vakir , Nur "Are you awake, Nur,

Nara drttinn?" lord of the Nrar?"

 

Nur kva: Nur said:

31. 31.

"Vaki ek vallt "I am always awake,

viljalauss, will-less,(44)

sofna ek minnst I sleep least(45)

sz mna sonu daua; since the deaths of my sons;(46)

kell mik hfu, it is freezing in my head,

kld eru mr r n, to me your advice is cold,

vilnumk ek ess n, for my part I want this now:

at ek vi Vlund dma. to have words with Vǫlundr.

 

32. 32.

"Seg mr at, Vlundr, "Tell me, Vǫlundr,

vsi alfa, leader of elves,

af heilum hvat var what became of my hale

hnum mnum." bear-cubs."

 

Vlundr kva: Vǫlundr said:

33. 33

"Eia skaltu mr r "First you must swear to me

alla vinna, all the oaths,

at skips bori by ship's board

ok at skjaldar rnd, and by shield's round,

at mars bgi by horse's withers

ok at mkis egg, and by sword's edge,

at kvelj-at that you will not torment

kvn Vlundar Vǫlund's wife,

n bri minni or of my bride

at bana verir, become the slayer,

tt vr kvn eigim, even in the case where we have a wife

er r kunni, who is known to you,

ea j eigim or have offspring

innan hallar. within [your] halls.

 

34. 34.

"Gakk til smiju, "Go to the smithy,

eirar er gerir, that which you built,

ar fir belgi there you [will] find bellows

bli stokkna; sprinkled with blood;

snei ek af hfu I cut off the heads

hna inna, of your bear-cubs,

ok und fen fjturs and under the marsh of the fetters

ftr of lagak. I laid their feet.(47)

 

35. 35.

"En r sklar, "But those bowls

er und skrum vru, that were under their hair,

sveip ek tan silfri, I wrapped around with silver

selda ek Nai; [and] I gave to Nur;

en r augum and from the eyes

jarknasteina jewels(48)

senda ek kunnigri I sent to the wise

kvn Naar. wife of Nur.

 

36. 36.

En r tnnum And from the teeth

tveggja eira of the two of them

sl ek brjstkringlur, I hammered out circular brooches(49)

senda ek Bvildi; [and] I sent to Bǫvildr;

n gengr Bvildr now Bǫvildr goes

barni aukin, great with child,

eingadttir the only daughter

ykkur beggja." of you both."

 

Nur kva: Nur said:

37. 37.

"Mltir-a at ml, "You never spoke(50) that speech

er mik meir tregi, that would grieve me more,

n ek ik vilja, Vlundr, nor that I wish you, Vǫlundr,

verr of nta; worse to deny;(51)

er-at sv mar hr, there is no one so tall

at ik af hesti taki, that he could grab you from horseback,

n sv flugr, or so strong

at ik nean skjti, that he could shoot you down,

ar er skollir where you hang

vi sk uppi." up against the clouds."

 

38. 38.

Hljandi Vlundr Laughing, Vǫlundr

hfsk at lofti, rose into the sky,

en ktr Nur and Nur, un-merry,

sat eftir. still sat below.

 

Nur kva: Nur kva:

39. 39

"Upp rstu, akkrr, "Rise up, akkrr,

rll minn inn bezti, my best thrall,

bi Bvildi, ask Bǫvildr,

meyna brhvtu, maid white of brow,

ganga fagrvari to go bright-garbed

vi fur ra. to talk with her father.

 

40. 40.

Er at satt, Bvildr, "Is it true, Bǫvildr,

er sgu mr: what they told me:

Stu it Vlundr Did you and Vǫlundr sit

saman holmi?" together on the island?"

 

Bvildr kva: Bǫvildr said:

41. 41.

"Satt er at, Nur, "It is true, Nur,

er sagi r: what he told you:

Stum vit Vlundr Vǫlundr and I sat

saman holmi together on the island,

eina gurstund, a passing moment,(52)

va skyldi; it never should have [been];

ek vtr hnum I completely did not know

vinna kunnak, how to prevent him,

ek vtr hnum I completely could not

vinna mttak." prevent him."

 

 

Notes

 

1. or skiing

2. Wolf Valleys; the lake name means Wolf Sea.

3. For this name or epithet, see Note 8: it appears to mean "otherworldly being". Dronke has -vtr throughout.

4. Valland: the land of "Welsh", or foreigners; usually meaning France. Kjrr has also been interpreted as Karr; Hjalmar Falk plausibly suggested it means "Caesar", so this would be "Caesar of Gaul", which is Ursula Dronke's translation.

5. Skli can also mean a hall.

6. i.e, years

7. Myrkwood

8. Emending (here and in Verse 3) the syntactically problematic unga to ungar, as both Gubrandur Vigfsson and Dronke do, and following the conventional interpretation of alvitr as alvtr, from Anglo-Saxon lwiht, seen in "Bowulf"; however, I have left the "i" short in the text.

9. Scholars either see two lines as having been omitted here, or emend var Svanhvt to um Slagfinn, "around Slagfinn."

10. Vereygr is a hapax legomenon (uniquely occurring word) in Old Norse, but in Modern Icelandic it can refer to someone savvy about the weather, someone whose eyes are smarting from the wind, or a wary, nervous horse (compare "Keep a weather eye out" in English).

11. The editor has supplied these two lines from Verse 8, where the first two lines are repeated. Dronke argues that Vǫlundr was purposely left out here, to occur on his own in order to underline the contrast between his brothers' actions and his.

12. Gim is a loanword from A-S, and the manuscript's fstan is unclear; as Dronke says, it presumably refers to a jewel fixed in place for incorporation in the ring, with a stray accent.

13. Manuscript lind bauga; with Dronke and others, I read lindbauga, referring to rings meant to be strung on a (linen) string.

14. Rearranged for clarity in English; metrically flawed lines: the editor has added "hann" in the first line, while Dronke adds "biart" (bright) at the start of the second line.

15. Again the text appears to be defective: the manuscript has hr (high) and r usually means "of yore", not "quickly" as the emenders wish it to mean here.

16. That Vǫlundr is of the Alfar is also stated in Verse 15. As Dronke notes, lji is a hapax legomenon, but resembles two usages in Anglo-Saxon: loda, "countryman, member of a people", in which case it would be derived from the relatively rare ON word ljr for a people; and lod, "leader, prince". She points out that the Alfar are not otherwise described as a "nation" but rather as a "kin" or race, and renders it "prince"; Gubrandur Vigfsson similarly used "king" here.

17. To fit with Verses 1 and 3, this would be better in lowercase, "young otherworldly one".

18. i.e.: bereft of choice. There is a second implied meaning, "joyless".

19. Literally "oppressions", "sufferings", or "necessities" as in Verse 3. The use of the abstract word in the plural to mean "chains" occurs elsewhere in ON and also in A-S.

20. The manuscript has besti byr sma; no good emendation/interpretation has been suggested.

21. Literally "money", which took the form of rings.

22. Many editors move this to the middle of the verse, to make the first half part of Nur's challenge.

23. These two lines are inserted based on Verse 30, as is traditional. It is generally thought that something has gone missing at this point.

24. Dronke points out that the connotations of hrr are tameness and benevolence.

25. Svarstǫ: "Landing place at the water"; I have changed "in" to "on" since it is an island, following English usage. Svarstar in the following prose is "Settlement at the water".

26. The editor has omitted this. Things are wrong with the following stanza, but it is Vǫlundr's.

27. Commonly -ftum is construed as -btum, as suggested by Sophus Bugge, producing a reading "hollows of his knees."

28. There is no word to alliterate with sknn; Dronke inserts skyggt, "polished," before sver.

29. There are multiple ambiguities in these two lines. Vl can be both "clever things" and "trickery" - Gubrandur Vigfsson in fact renders it "a snare." Heldr, "rather," can either modify the adverb hvatt or mean "rather than sleeping"; hvatt can be simply "quickly" or "boldly, vigorously."

30. I have reversed this and the next line for clarity in English. There may be a pun on "animals" suggesting they claim to be hunting.

31. Multiple ambiguities in opin (the chest is open; motives are openly revealed) and ill (the boys' greed; Vǫlundr's desire for revenge; the treasures as a manifestation of his plan).

32. The German edition of the Elder Edda by Sijmons and Gering suggests he did so by bringing down the lid of the chest on their necks, but this is not in the text.

33. Fen fjǫturs occurs again in Verse 34 but is either a scribal error or a technical term we have lost; presumably it refers to the water from tempering steel softening the ground.

34. i.e, their skulls

35. A rare word in ON, only found here and in two places in "Gurnarkvia", presumably from A-S eorcnanstn, a word for "jewel" found in Christian texts.

36. Hapax legomenon.

37. Something has been lost in a copying error.

38. Dronke suggests amending this to allra n einna, "all, not one".

39. There are competing suggestions for how to amend the Codex Regius' ivi giarira, the second word of which makes no sense; some refer to people being "eager for malice", others to the harms themselves.

40. I adopt Dronke's emendation, reading vl, a trick, and understanding , have, as having been omitted, because the adverb vl, well, and the nominative ek, I, is syntactically highly peculiar.

41. Fitjar is used for the webbed feet of an aquatic bird or the flippers of a seal; vera is also problematic - it could alternatively be "I will not be", but as Dronke points out, this poet otherwise always has an additional ek in that construction.

42. A tidal island, it appears.

43. With Dronke I imagine the "garth" where Vǫlundr lands as either a courtyard or a garden; the traditional translation is "on the wall". In Verse 37 he is hovering.

44. i.e, against my will - but see Verse 11 and note. The text has been amended here: Codex Regius has "vilia ek laus" for this line.

45. i.e, not at all

46. Literally: "since my dead sons".

47. See Verse 24 and note.

48. See Verse 25 and note.

49. See Verse 25 note.

50. Probably to be understood as "You could never speak", given the subjunctive in the next line.

51. Dronke adopts Magnus Olsen's emendation of nta to nita, which would mean "worse to prosper from"; this is attractive as a reversal of the conventional njta betr, "enjoy better things, prosper well".

52. The compound ǫgurstund is otherwise unattested, but the first part appears to be a pun on "slack tide, the turning of the tide" and on "heavy, grievous".