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THE DESCENT OF ODIN.

FROM THE NORSE 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,
And saddled straight his coal-black steed:
Down the yawning steep he rode,
That leads to Hela's drear abode.
Him the dog of darkness spied ;
His shaggy throat he open’d wide,
While from his jaws, with carnage fill’d,
Foam and human gore distill’d:

Ver. 4. That leads to Hela's drear abode] Nifheliar, the bell 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 presided Hela, the goddess of death. MASON.

Hela, in the Edda, is described with a dreadful countenance, and her body half flesh-colour, and half blue.

GRAY. Ver. 5. Him the dog of darkness spied] The Edda gives this dog the name of Managarmar. He fed upon the lives of those that were to die. Mason.

Hoarse he bays with hideous din,
Eyes that glow, and fangs that grin;
And long pursues, with fruitless yell,
The father of the powerful spell.
Onward still his way he takes
(The groaning earth beneath him shakes),
Till full before his fearless eyes
The portals nine of hell arise.

Right against the eastern gate,
By the moss-grown pile he sate ;
Where long of yore to sleep was laid
The dust of the prophetic maid.
Facing to the northern clime,
Thrice he traced the Runic rhyme;
Thrice pronounced, in accents dread,
The thrilling verse that wakes the dead;
Till from out the hollow ground
Slowly breathed a sullen sound.

PROPHETESS.

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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 snows, 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?

ODIN.

A traveller, to thee unknown,
Is he that calls, a warrior's son.
Thou the deeds of light shalt know;
Tell me what is done below,
For whom yon glittering board is spread,
Dress’d for whom yon golden bed?

PROPHETESS.

Mantling in the goblet see
The pure beverage of the bee:
O’er it hangs the shield of gold;
'Tis the drink of Balder bold :
Balder's head to death is given.
Pain can reach the sons of heaven!
Unwilling I my lips unclose:
Leave me, leave me to repose.

ODIN.

Once again my call obey,
Prophetess, arise, and say,

Ver. 40. Tell me what is done below] Odin was an about the fate of his son Balder, who had dreamed he soon to die. He was killed by Odin's other son, Hoderwas himself slain by Vali, the son of Odin and Rinda, c nant with this prophecy. See the Edda.

Ver. 51. Once again my call obey] Women were lo upon by the Gothic nations as having a peculiar insigh futurity; and some there were that made profession of arts and divination. These travelled round the countrwere received in every house with great respect and he Such a woman bore the name of Volva Seidkona or Spa

ODES.

What dangers Odin's child await,
Who the author of his fate?

PROPHETESS.
In Hoder's hand the hero's doom;
His brother sends him to the tomb.
Now my weary lips I close:
Leave

me,
leave

me to repose.

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ODIN.
Prophetess, my spell obey,
Once again arise, and say,
Who the’ avenger of his guilt,
By whom shall Hoder's blood be spilt?

PROPHetess.
In the caverns of the west,
By Odin's fierce embrace compress’d,
A wondrous boy shall Rinda bear,

Who ne'er shall comb his raven-hair,
The dress of Thorbiorga, one of these prophetesses, is de-
scribed 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 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. Multi-
scia ; 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

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Nor wash his visage in the stream,
Nor see the sun's departing beam,
Till he on Hoder's corse shall smile
Flaming on the funeral pile.
Now my weary lips I close:
Leave me, leave me to repose.

ODIN

Yet awhile my call obey ;
Prophetess, awake, and say,
What virgins these, in speechless woe,
That bend to earth their solemn brow,
That their flaxen tresses tear,
And snowy veils that float in air?
Tell me whence their sorrows rose ;
Then I leave thee to repose.

PROPHETESS.

Ha! no traveller art thou,
King of men, I know thee now;

Mightiest of a mighty linevow never to clip or comb his hair, till he should have e tended his sway over the whole country. Herbert's IcelanTranslat.

p.

39. Ver 75. What virgins these, in speechless woe] “ It is n certain,” says Mr. Herbert, “what Odin means by the que tion concerning the weeping virgins; but it has been suppos that it alludes to the embassy afterwards sent by Frigga try to redeem Balder from the infernal regions, and that Od betrays his divinity by mentioning what had not yet ha pened.” Iceland. Translat. p. 48.

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