Illustration from A book of myths (1915) New York : G. P. Putnam's sons; London, T. C. & E. C. Jack.

Dreams of the Death of Baldr

Previous posts on Balder and his significance are available.

The Lay of Vegtam, or Baldr’s Dreams

Translation by Benjamin Thorpe, 1865

1. Together were the Æsir
all in council,
and the Asyniur
all in conference,
and they consulted,
the mighty gods,
why Baldr had
oppressive dreams.

2. To that god his slumber
was most afflicting;
his auspicious dreams
seemed departed.
They the Jötuns questioned,
wise seers of the future,
whether this might not
forebode calamity?

3. The responses said
that to death destined was
Ullr’s kinsman,
of all the dearest:
that caused grief
to Frigg and Svafnir,
and to the other powers —
On a course they resolved:

4. that they would send
to every being,
assurance to solicit,
Baldr not to harm.
All species swore
oaths to spare him;
Frigg received all
their vows and compacts.

5. Valfather fears
something defective;
he thinks the Hamingiur
may have departed;
the Æsir he convenes,
their counsel craves:
at the deliberation
much is devised.

6. Uprose Odin
lord of men,
and on Sleipnir he
the saddle laid;
rode thence down
to Niflhel.
A dog he met,
from Hel coming.

7. It was blood—stained
on its breast,
on its slaughter—craving throat,
and nether jaw.
It bayed
and widely gaped
at the sire of magic song: —
long it howled.

8. Forth rode Odin —
the ground rattled —
till to Hel’s lofty
house he came.
Then rode Ygg
to the eastern gate,
where he knew there was
a Vala’s grave.

9. To the prophetess he began
a magic song to chant,
towards the north looked,
potent runes applied,
a spell pronounced,
an answer demanded,
until compelled she rose,
and with deathlike voice she said:

10. “What man is this,
to me unknown
who has for me increased
an irksome course?
I have with snow been decked
by rain beaten,
and with dew moistened:
long have I been dead.”

11. “Vegtam is my name,
I am Valtam’s son.
Tell thou me of Hel:
from earth I call on thee.
For whom are those benches
strewed o’er with rings,
those costly couches
o’erlaid with gold?”

12. “Here stands mead,
for Baldr brewed,
over the bright potion
a shield is laid;
but the Æsir race
are in despair.
By compulsion I have spoken
I will now be silent.”

13. “Be thou not silent, Vala!
I will question thee,
until I know all.
I will yet know
who will Baldr’s
slayer be,
and Odin’s son
of life bereave.”

14. “Hödr will hither
his glorious brother send,
he of Baldr will
the slayer be,
and Odin’s son
of life bereave.
By compulsion I have spoken;
I will now be silent.”

15. “Be not silent, Vala!
I will question thee,
until I know all.
I will yet know
who on Hödr vengeance
will inflict
or Baldr’s slayer
raise on the pile.”

16. “Rind a son shall bear,
in the western halls:
he shall slay Odin’s son,
when one night old.
He a hand will not wash,
nor his head comb,
ere he to the pile has borne
Baldr’s adversary.
By compulsion I have spoken;
I will now be silent.”

17. “Be not silent, Vala!
I will question thee,
until I know all.
I will yet know
who the maidens are,
that weep at will,
and heavenward cast
their neck—veils?
Tell me but that:
till then thou sleepest not.”

18. “Not Vegtam art thou,
as I before believed;
rather art thou Odin,
lord of men!”

19. “Thou art no Vala,
nor wise woman,
rather art thou the mother
of three Thursar.”

20. “Home ride thou, Odin!
and exult.
Thus shall never more
man again visit me,
until Loki free
from his bonds escapes,
and Ragnarök
all—destroying comes.”

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