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THE DESCENT OF ODIN.
FROM THE NOURSE TONGUE.
The original is to be found in Bartholinus, de Causis contemnendæ Mortis; Hafniæ, 1689, quarto, p. 632.
Upreis Odinn allda gautr, &c.
UPROSE the king of men with speed,
Ver. 4. That leads to Hela's drear abode] Niflheliar, the hell of the Gothic nations, consisted of nine worlds, to which were devoted all such as died of sickness, old age, or by any other means than in battle. Over it MASON. presided Hela, the goddess of death.
Hela, in the Edda, is described with a dreadfu countenance, and her body half flesh-colour, and half blue. GRAY.
Ver. 5. Him the dog of darkness spied] gives this dog the name of Managarmar. upon the lives of those that were to die.
Hoarse he bays with hideous din,
(The groaning earth beneath him shakes,) Till full before his fearless eyes
The portals nine of hell arise.
Right against the eastern gate,
Thrice he traced the Runic rhyme;
Slowly breathed a sullen sound.
What call unknown, what charms presume To break the quiet of the tomb? Who thus afflicts my troubled sprite, And drags me from the realms of night? Long on these mouldering bones have beat The winter's snow, the summer's heat, The drenching dews, and driving rain! Let me, let me sleep again.
Who is he, with voice unblest,
That calls me from the bed of rest?
A traveller, to thee unknown,
For whom yon glittering board is spread,
Mantling in the goblet see
Once again my call obey,
Ver. 40. Tell me what is done below] Odin was anxious about the fate of his son Balder, who had dreamed he was soon to die. He was killed by Odin's other son, Hoder, who was himself slain by Vali, the son of Odin and Rinda, consonant with this prophecy. See the Edda.
Ver. 51. Once again my call obey] Women were looked upon by the Gothic nations as having a pecu
What dangers Odin's child await,
In Hoder's hand the hero's doom;
leave me to repose.
Prophetess, my spell obey,
In the caverns of the west,
By Odin's fierce embrace compress'd,
liar insight into futurity; and some there were that made profession of magic arts and divination. These travelled round the country, and were received in every house with great respect and honour. Such a woman bore the name of Volva Seidkona or Spakona. The dress of Thorbiorga, one of these prophetesses, is described at large in Eirik's Rauda Sogu, (Apud Bartholin. lib. i. cap. iv. p. 688). "She had on a blue vest spangled all over with stones, a necklace of glass beads, and a cap made of the skin of a black lamb lined with white cat-skin. She leaned on a staff adorned with brass, with a round head set with stones; and was girt with an Hunlandish belt at which hung
A wondrous boy shall Rinda bear,
Yet a while my call obey;
What virgins these, in speechless woe
her pouch full of magical instruments. Her buskins were of rough calf-skin, bound on with thongs studded with knobs of brass, and her gloves of white cat-skin, the fur turned inwards," &c. They were also called Fiolkyngi, or Fiolkunnug, i. e. Multiscia; and Visindakona, i. e. Oraculorum Mulier; Nornir, i. e. Parcæ. GRAY.
Ver. 66. Who ne'er shall comb his raven hair] King Harold made (according to the singular custom of his time) a solemn vow never to clip or comb his hair, till he should have extended his sway over the whole country. Herbert's Iceland. Translat. p. 39.
Ver. 75. What virgins these, in speechless woe] "It is not certain," says Mr. Herbert, "what Odin means by the question concerning the weeping virgins; but it has been supposed that it alludes to the embassy