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In the beginning, before the heaven and the earth and the sea were created, the great abyss
Ginungagap was without form and void, and the spirit of Fimbultyr moved upon the face of
the deep, until the ice-cold rivers, the Elivogs, flowing from Niflheim, came in contact with
the dazzling flames from Muspelheim. This was before Chaos.
And Fimbultyr said: Let the melted drops of vapor quicken into life, and the giant Ymer
was born in the midst of Ginungagap. He was not a god, but the father of all the race of evil
giants. This was Chaos.
And Fimbultyr said: Let Ymer be slain and let order be established. And straightway
Odin and his brothers---the bright sons of Bure---gave Ymer a mortal wound, and from his
body made they the universe; from his flesh, the earth; from his blood, the sea; from his
bones, the rocks; from his hair, the trees; from his skull, the vaulted heavens; from his eyebrows,
the bulwark called Midgard. And the gods formed man and women in their own image
of two trees, and breathed into them the breath of life. Ask and Embla became living souls,
and they received a garden in Midgard as a dwelling-place for themselves and their children
until the end of time. This was Cosmos.
The gods themselves dwelt in Asgard. Some of them were of the mighty Asa-race:
Valfather Odin, and Frigg his Queen; Thor, the master of Mjolner; Balder, the good; the onehanded
Tyr; Brage, the song-smith. Idun having the youth-giving apples, and Heimdal, the
watcher of Asgard. Others were mild and gentle vans: Njord, Frey, and Freyja, the goddess of
love; but in the midst of Asgard in daily intercourse with the gods, the serpent Loke, the
friend of giants, winded his slimy coils.
To these gods our Teutonic ancestors offered sacrifices, to them prayers ascended, and
from them came such blessings as each god found it proper to bestow. Most of all were these
gods worshiped on the battle-field, for there was the home of the Teuton. There he lived and
there he hoped some day to die; for if the norns, the weavers of fate, permitted him to fall
sword in hand, then would he not descend to the shades of Hel, but be carried in valkyrian
arms up to Valhal, where a new life would be granted unto him, or better, where he would
continue his earthly life in intercourse with the gods.
Happy gatherings at the banquet, where the flowing mead-horn was passed freely round,
and where words of wisdom and wit abounded, or martial games with sharp swords and
spears, were the delight of the asas. Under the ash Ygdrasil they met in council, and if they
ever appeared outside of the walls of Asgard, it was to go on errands of love, or to make war
on the giants, their enemies from the beginning. Especially did Thor seldom sit still when he
heard rumors of giants; with his heavy hammer, Mjolner, he slew Hrungner and the Midgardserpent,
gave Thrym and all that race of giants bloody bridal-gifts in Freyja's garments, and
frightened the juggler Loki, of Utgard, who had to resort to his black art for safety. Thus lived
the gods in heaven very much like their worshipers on earth, excepting that Idun's apples ever
preserved them fresh and youthful.
But Loke, the serpent, was in the midst of them. Frigg's heart was filled with gloomy
forebodings in regard to Balder, her beloved son, and her mind could not find rest until all
things that could harm him had sworn not to injure Balder. Now they had nothing to fear for
the best god, and with perfect abandon and security they themselves made him serve as a
mark, and hurled darts, stones and other weapons at him, whom nothing could scathe. But the
serpent Loke was more subtle than any one within or without Asgard, whom Fimbultyr had
made; and he came to Hoder, the blind god, put the tender mistletoe in his hand and directed
his arm, so that Balder sank from the joys of Valhal down into the abodes of pale Hel, and did
not return. Loke is bound and tortured, but innocence has departed from Asgard; among men
there are bloody wars; brothers slay brothers; sensual sins grow huge; perjury has taken the
place of truth. The elements themselves become discordant, and then comes the great Fimbulwinter,
with its howling storms and terrible snow, that darkens the air and takes all gladness
from the sun.
The world's last day approaches. All bonds and fetters that bound the forces of heaven
and earth together are severed, and the powers of good and of evil are brought together in an
internecine feud. Loke advances with the Fenris-wolf and the Midgard-serpent, his own
children, with all the hosts of the giants, and with Surt, who flings fire and flame over the
world. Odin advances with all the asas and all the blessed einherjes. They meet, contend, and
fall. The wolf swallows Odin, but Vidar, the Silent, sets his foot upon the monster's lower
jaw, he seizes the other with his hand, and thus rends him till he dies. Frey encounters Surt,
and terrible blows are given ere Frey falls. Heimdal and Loke fight and kill each other, and so
do Tyr and the dog Garm from the Gnipa Cave. Asa-Thor fells the Midgard-serpent with his
Mjolner, but he retreats only nine paces when he himself falls dead, suffocated by the
serpent's venom. Then smoke wreathes up around the ash Ygdrasil, the high flames play
against the heavens, the graves of the gods, of the giants and of men are swallowed up by the
sea, and the end has come. This is Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods.
But the radiant dawn follows the night. The earth, completely green, rises again from the
sea, and where the mews have but just been rocking on restless waves, rich fields unplowed
and unsown, now wave their golden harvests before the gentle breezes. The asas awake to a
new life, Balder is with them again. Then comes the mighty Fimbultyr, the god who is from
everlasting to everlasting; the god whom the Edda skald dared not name. The god of gods
comes to the asas. He comes to the great judgment and gathers all the good into Gimle to
dwell there forever, and evermore delights enjoy; but the perjurers and murderers and
adulterers he sends to Nastrand, that terrible hall, to be torn by Nidhug until they are purged
from their wickedness. This is Regeneration.
These are the outlines of the Teutonic Religion. Such were the doctrines established by
Odin among our ancestors. Thus do we find it recorded in the Eddas of Iceland.
The present volume contains all of the Younger Edda that can possibly be of any
importance to English readers. In fact, it gives more than has ever before been presented in
any translation into English, German or any of the modern Scandinavian tongues.
We would recommend our readers to omit the Forewords and Afterwards until they have
perused the Fooling of Gylfe and Brage's Speech. The Forewards and Afterwards, it will
readily be seen, are written by a later and less skillful hand, and we should be sorry to have
anyone lay the book aside and lose the pleasure of reading Snorre's and Olaf's charming work,
because he became disgusted with what seemed to him mere silly twaddle. And yet these
Forewards and Afterwards become interesting enough when taken up in connection with a
study of the historical anthropomophized Odin. With a view of giving a pretty complete
outline of the founder of the Teutonic race we have in our notes given all the Heimskringla
sketch of the Black Sea Odin. We have done this, not only on account of the material it
furnishes as the groundwork of a Teutonic epic, which we trust the muses will ere long direct
some one to write, but also on account of the vivid picture it gives of Teutonic life as shaped
and controlled by the Odinic faith.
All the poems quoted in the Younger Edda have in this edition been traced back to their
sources in the Elder Edda and elsewhere.
Where the notes seem to the reader insufficient, we must refer him to our Norse
Mythology, where he will, we trust, find much of the additional information he may desire.
Well aware that our work has many imperfections, and begging our readers to deal
generously with our shortcomings, we send the book out into the world with the hope that it
may aid some young son or daughter of Odin to find his way to the fountains of Urd and
Mimir and to Idun's rejuvenating apples. The son must not squander, but husband wisely,
what his father has accumulated. The race must cherish and hold fast and add to the thought
that the past has bequeathed to it. Thus does it grow greater and richer with each new
generation. The past is the mirror that reflects the future.
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