Vǫluspá: The Norse Poem of Creation and Ragnarok

hi my name is dr. Jackson Crawford I’m a specialist in the Old Norse language currently teaching at the University of California Berkeley previously at UCLA and some other institutions over the past year or so I’ve been producing a series of videos on YouTube about topics in the worst language and myth and today from my subject I’m going to take the first and according to many most-significant poem from the poetic Edda the porchetta is a compilation of about 30 poems in the Old Norse language written down in Iceland and the year twelve seventy and a manuscript usually referred to as the codex Regis the poetic Edda has been translated into english numerous times one of the most recent translations is my own which is available from Hackett publishing company and which renders the poems the poetic Edda for the first time not just in contemporary English but also in a modern English first so that hopefully the reading is more pleasant the bolus bullet is the first poem in this collection it has never been conclusively dated to the agreement of all scholars I have a video in which I discuss the poetic Edda and the prose edda and some of the reasons why we think that many of the poems in the poetic Edda are much older than the manuscript I’ll link that in an annotation and in the video description below I also discuss the pros and the same video now bullet ball does have some archaic terms of language and certainly by a higgins source material seems to be somewhat early but there’s nothing that conclusively points to it being composed particularly early in the Viking Age most people are content to datato right around the time when – would have been converting to Christianity so right around the Year 1000 AD the name volus ball is a compound with the word spool which means prophecy or vision of future together with the possessive form of the word vulva now evolved uh is a woman with magical powers that seemed particularly to relate to seeing the future the vulva in the poem bolus ball is not the only Volga and Norse literature there’s another famous example in the saga Eric the red which also describes in some detail the clothing and preparations that the vulva makes but this folder is one of the most famous and you can read bullish bulletins as meaning the prophecy of the prophetess of the series of the witch of the woman with powers of seeing the future now Bullis ball is a rare poem from the poetic Edda and as much as it is preserved not just in our main manuscript of the poetic Edda the codex Regis but also in a manuscript from the mid 1300s called quick spoke the version in hoax book is longer than the version in codex Regis and it includes a next to last stanza that’s not in the Codex Regis version which says that one greater than all will come after rot nuraghe most scholars have interpreted that together with the somewhat more detailed vision of ragnarok that is in the hooks book version as suggesting that the high spoke version is a later version of bolus ball which has more deliberate christian influence on it then Snorri in his prose at a quote much of a bolus poem however the version of bolus ball – he knew the first somewhat from the version that’s in either could experience or vogue spoke and allows us to see that this poem was popular enough to exist in several different variations even in the 1213 hundreds and stories quotes also helped us understand some stanzas that might be garbled in transmission in the more complete Magus the poem Volvo is written in Florida this log which is the most typical meter of mythical poetry and Old Norse I have a video about Norse poetry and its structures which I’ll link and an annotation and in the video description below as well well having introduced Bulls ball then I’m going to narrate a little bit of what it says and quote some stances the quotations that I’m going to give in Old Norse will be followed by a translation from my English translation and the pronunciation that I’ll use in Old Norse is the medieval reconstructed pronunciation that I use in my other videos for Old Norse I’m a historical language and quite confident about my projection of what Old Norse and sound like in annotations and in the video description below I will link to videos about the pronunciation of Old Norse and modern reciting the differences between them and how we reconstruct the sound of dead language so without further ado the poem was bought opens with the which I’ll call her wearable about speaking and addressing not just humankind but Odin who she says summoned her to give this account and Stan the one she says here was Vivek a lark India merely Oh miny moe uhane dollar viscera Iqbal volunteer Italia poor in spirit era that were friends will mom heed my words all classes of men you greater and lesser children of handle you summoned me Odin to tell what I recall of the oldest deeds of gods and men when she refers to human beings that the children of Haendel this is probably a reference to the same myth as is preserved in the poem Greeks fool and the Porta which tells of how Hendel under the name reader slept with the progenitors of the different human classes so having addressed her audience to which then was on to telling about creation I have a video about creation that I’ll lengthen annotation in the video description most of the details the creation story that we know today come from stories pros at a where he tells it in a much more cohesive form Bulls bow has only a sort of hinting presentation about the creation because she’s painting a picture for audience that probably already knows the details of the story but she is immeasurably old she says in stanza 2x mañana Elohim Borna so ever for the meek for the Hongkou pneumonic Emma knew Eva to her yokas marrow pyramid nettle I remember the Giants born so long ago and those ancient days they raised me I remember nine worlds nine giantesses and the seed from which aggressive spread then telling about the gods and decisions they make in creating the world’s she reaches a point where the God seemed very happy they lived on a place called Eva bull or some kind of perpetually green playing and they clay with golden chess pieces and they’re happy but it stands the page their happiness is interrupted for the first time devil do retuning take your photo thought of an Bethenny’s without door duty puts periodic home source similar walnut our milk will reopen ahamill they played in the grass they were chirping they had no lack of gold till three giantesses came fiendish giantesses from Jotunheim he open hand is the realm of the giants the enemies of the gods but right after this stanza stands at eight the witch gets to a completely new subject at least it seems so to us as a modern audience from stanzas 916 she’s occupied with the dwarves and the gods decision to make the doors and then she gives what purports to be a list of all the names of the dwarves this is the famous catalog of the dwarves from this catalogue j.r.r tolkien took the names of the dwarves in his book The Hobbit so you’ll find Thorin Oakenshield fili Kili Bombur etc and this list and he’ll also find gotten Dover Gandalf and this list so from 9 to 16 she’s talking about Forbes and then in stands of 17 she abruptly skips back to the creation that and this time again three come and this changes the mood so and sent a three giantesses come but then in stanza 17 three male figures come o then together with hernia and Lowther not very well described gods and they make the first human beings out of trees that’s also discussed more in the creation video then and stanzas 19 to 20 she discusses iguazu the world tree and the Nords the three shadowy women who control the fate of the gods and human beings and who tend to the tree across oh then we have a very shadowy story and stanzas 21 to 26 of the first war how Snorri seems to interpret this as a war between the two major families of the gods a seer and the banya but reading Bulls bull and isolation it’s really hard to tell who’s fighting who and for what and then there are two Asterius women figures mentioned a cuvette who has burned three times as well as a haven who is a vulva a witch or prophetess who sees good in the future or who is good at prophesying it’s not even clear if these are the same woman but it seems implied somehow that one of them that they’re not the same person started this first four we have stanzas like this stanza 24 politically / than 44 skate thought 4n4 PhD Haney protein Barbara beccaboyer alsa note – Vani Weeksville follows Borla Odin let a spear fly and shot it into the fray that was the first war ever in the world the outer wall of Asgard was broken the bonheur new war magic that trampled the valleys but then having told about this first war the Bulova seems to come back to present tense and she makes observations about some pledges made by God both King dollar who she seems to fly has given up an ear and Bothan who she says gave up at eye and she knows where it is she then says that Odin seems to pay her to continue I’ll read these stanzas 27 to 29 faithful name dollar she old on forged under his bottom hell combate while seraphim husk algorithm for sea of the duvall folders fitted Aaron ever fought aims at home booty Thor and old Nicole younger OSA okay relates we’re pregnant Nick who faces me on cerveza : course to our report en enero me miss Maroney tres Arroyo’s me Mira Morgan who area a bet evolve others with Aaron and the what both the any hair for the finger of men fair spill spark leg books for Ghana so coldest of whom B’s of barrel to area I know for him though hit his ear under the heaven bright holy branches of Yggdrasil I see a river that feeds the muddy water fall for Houten’s I hides have you learned enough yet all father i sat alone when that ancient one came to me Odin of the ass here and he looked into my eye what do you seek for me own why do you seek me : oh I know where you hit your eye and the shining waters of the will of me Mia but me mana can drink every morning from those waters for your own eye drowns have you learned enough yet all-father wasn’t opened my eyes to bring you the necklaces in exchange he got wisdom and prophecy I saw more and more looking out over all the worlds and notice that the phrase and she repeats at the end of stanzas 27 and 28 and which she’ll repeat again and again through the rest of the poem is an Old Norse Victor’s a 10 and a fight translating that extra literally I would say do you know yet or what but who is you she uses a plural form of you so modern American English you guys were yelling but the plural you can be used as a form of respectful address to one individual so I’ve usually taken this to mean that she’s addressing Odin asking Odin if he knows yet what he came to ask her or not she almost seems to taunt him like this as she tells more and more about Ragnarok and to lead up to runner-up now Odin do you really want to hear more of this at least that’s how I personally tend to hear it now having talked about these pledges in stanza 30 as she mentioned she sees the Valkyries and she names them she calls in schools goggle goons or Hilda her gold oil and gas gold there are many more Valkyries names other stories so this doesn’t seem to be a complete list Constanza 31 to 34 she hints about the story of Baalbek being killed how she sees holder is blind brother to a shot and she sees an Avenger born and then one night old swear to kill hold her and kill him putting him on the funeral pyre and she sees Loki punished from bullets ball alone we wouldn’t be able to make very much sense out of the story but nobody tells it in some more detail and I give the bare bones back in a video about the Norse gods like an annotation and the video description then in stanzas 35 241 she sees a vision of hell and a golden hammer where the gods enemies the Giants and the monsters are preparing for Ragnarok and then in sands of 42 we here at the first sign of Ragnarok golden balsam Gulen Kombi solo vector hold at heavier focus and I’m not Gendler here your metal so proud of honey Absolem heavy on near the ass here sing as the rooster names golden comb he wakes the men who fight for Odin Lord of battle but another thing is below the earth a certain red rooster and the halls of hell and now the second side of Santa 43 go Aragon Ramon York Geneva Haley says four moons latina and freakier Anna Farrell debate home to the crown see a clinger room Ragnarok Barone jookiba garm hell’s terribly before the doors to hell the wolf will break his bones and run I know much wisdom I see deep in the future all the ways Roger look a dark day for the gods it’s not particularly clear who God rumor is other than quote the dog at Hell most people because the dog is breaking out of sounds that have held it’s a rocky road interpret garm as Fenrir the monstrous wolf who will eat odin at Ragnarok and I interpret the same way and I translate it that way in my translation now we here in Santa 44 about what Ragnarok is write it like among human beings brother Munna Barry ask Lucas Vohland Avila Melissa’s throwing our serums Bella heart fairy Hany horrid Omar making schedules Gorman’s gilded requote near bindles Farkle well develops Turkish c’mon ng mother autumn derma brothers will fight one another and kill one another cousins will break peace with one another the world would be a hard place to live in be an age of adultery and age of the axe and age of the sword an age of storms an age of wolves shields will be cloven before the world thinks in the sea there will be no man left who is true to another now more signs of ragnarok standards 45 to 46 lake a mean sinner and the opener kin disc in oh god allah allah holy host bless him dollar on arrow lofty Mallard odin with memes homeless emirate of not read any open lost our scale gracias oscar stand only the giants are at play and god’s face is kindled at the blast of Gjallarhorn aimed all blows that horn hard holds it high aloft odin speaks with meemers head the old tree sighs when the giant shakes it a grotto still stands but trembles so even a cross fill the world tree that’s at the center of norse cosmology is being broken and shaking now it stands is 47 to 49 she talks about the Giants and the monsters on their way the preparations been made the warnings are out and now they’re moving she mentioned the shift not afar the nail has been probably fingernail ship that will be written by some of the enemies of the gods and then it stands at 50 we have the tense moment as the gods and their allies await bought their medals wat arum at all near allah reopen hammer a several thingy stood near the variegata here stained Durham Tech barracks be here because you got in at a fight what news from the gods what news from the elves all the open ham is roaring the acid are in Council and the dwarves creatures of the mountains tremble by their doors of stone have you learned enough you all father then in sands is 51 to 54 we have the tools between the leading gods and their enemies for the god of Agriculture zotkin sorcerer the fire giant chlorophyta Midgard serpent and it will kill one another Rosen will face Fenrir the monster school Fenner will follow him but then did our Putin son will avenge his father and then once the great gods have fallen we read about the end in Sansa 55 Souls Arizona seeker full de la Huerta immunity a varsity owner gays are amy is al de nada liquor for hippy with him in seolin the Sun turns black the earth sinks into the sea the bright stars fell out of the sky flames scorched the leaves of iguazu a great bonfire reaches the highest clouds and so the tree that holds the cosmos together burns up then in 56 she repeats the ominous sign she saw in stanza 43 send her howling breaking his bonds and she says once again that she sees all the way to Ragnarok a dark day for the God but a new earth arises in stanzas 57 to 62 she talks about this new world and it’s not just a new world for humans where the wheat will grow without anyone having to plant it but a new world for the gods Balder and holder will come back from hell and rule and who near the shadowy God who is with Odin at the beginning of human beings will come back to the poem lost earth as well as some other gods will be back like Thor sons Modi’in Magni and the surviving gods or read and figure a to gods will be again untii the bowler or the gods met at the beginning of those ball with the golden chess pieces and they’ll enjoy a new hall a place called a melee but stands at 63 the last stanza again polis ball and codex rages ends on a haunting final note that evil is forever in the form of the dragon deed holder Indymedia van de nada from net on foreign leader feel better if your rooms bigger bowl dinner is over no a loo one whole sock busk then the Dark Dragon will come flying down from the dark mountains that glistening serpents new hope will bear corpses in his wings as he flies over that Valley now I must retire and that is fullest paw in summary note that in my translation of it I take the folder references to herself as both she and I and consistently translated as I to make it more consistent for an English readership today now in a final note I make these videos available for free because I don’t think that knowledge does anyone any good locked inside a specialist head or in an ivory tower or behind archaic language but if you like the work that I do I encourage you to check out my patreon page where I have rewards for supporters which include special translations for instance I have a translation of the passage about Ebola and Saga character bread the opportunity to request your own translations which I only do for patreon supporters or on a commission basis and other surprises like a rune thought from the University of California Berkeley I’m wishing you all the best

32 thoughts on “Vǫluspá: The Norse Poem of Creation and Ragnarok

  1. Voluspå was actually how I first found your channel. I was looking for a Bokmål translation of it, but only found Nynorsk translations. I noticed "Jackson Crawford" as the author of one of the translations, which was not the kind of name I expected as an author of an Old Norse-Nynorsk translation. So I googled you, and found this. It's great.

  2. I thought that using the plural you as a formality came form romance influence.

  3. That was another very interesting video Dr Crawford, thank you again. You mention them several times in passing in this video and because you recently made a video on the Elves and the Dwarves, might you consider making a video about the Jötunn as well? In your creation video you mention they are like the Æsir in many ways, and are their sworn enemies because of the killing of their father, Ymir, but how do they differ from the Gods, for they speak, act and do in many ways like the Gods in many of the old tales, even marrying with and copulating with them on occasion. I think that would be an interesting topic that I've been curious about after watching your recent videos. Thanks for all your hard work,


  4. Völuspá is a mandatory read in Icelandic high school (as is the Hávamál and a bunch of Sagas). Lóðir and Hænir are Óðinn´s brothers, and Gullveig is actually the personification of greed.

  5. Thanks for making the videos you do. I've heard about the riots and I know that must have been pretty tough. We the subscribers do enjoy and appreciate the content you make, even more so that you upload it regularly.

  6. You have a gift of bringing these stories to life in a way I feel is consistent with their architects intent. I truly hope you are your own voice actor for the audiobook of your Poetic Edda translation. There is NOTHING like hearing the Vǫluspá read aloud in the sober manner which reflects the respect that this material demands. Heard in that way, free of all the bells and whistles, the weird sounds, and the sing-song effect that plagues most online readings of material of the Poetic Edda, suspension of disbelief is intact and the darkness and power of Ragnarok comes roaring through. Stanzas 44 and on (starting at about 17:00 on the vid) is some of the heaviest, darkest material you will ever hear in any medium. That is some serious art.

    Dr. Crawford, your format of reading only a few stanzas in old norse, then in english, followed by a brief but complete narration, is incredibly effective. You should do the entire Poetic Edda exactly like that in a series of videos. You'd make a killing either by selling it as an audiobook, or by offering it as a bonus for top tier patreon donors. Just sayn 🙂

  7. Dear Dr. Crawford,
    I'm following your videos for quite some time now and your passion for the Old Norse language has caught on to me. In some of your older videos you presented a choice of books both regarding vocabulary and grammar which I found very useful indeed for learning Old Norse. I am however also interested in modern Icelandic and since your former choice of books worked so well for me I was wondering if you also had a recommendation for modern Icelandic. If so, could you please tell them to me, or maybe even do a video on them?
    Until then, all the best to you!

  8. Thank you so much! This is so interesting. ^^ I definitely want to read your translation – I love Medieval European literature of all kinds – the older the better.

  9. In the edda theirs a phrase which states that Baldr was red at birth can you clarify what that means?

  10. Farbauti does mean "cruel striker," right? Am I right in interpreting that as possibly having to do with lightning?

  11. Every spreader of wisdom is a true son of Odin in my book. 😀 So thanks for this.

  12. If "alda" in Old Norse is literally "big wave," why do so many people not translate alda as "big wave"?

  13. Excellent. I assume you work in the Scandinavian department? I'm trying to get into the Celtic Studies program myself.

  14. Thankyou for sharing your knowledge. Your norse pronounciation sounds amazing – I could listen to that all day? Have you made a recording of you reading extended sections of the Voluspa anywhere?

  15. I don't know how I ended up on your channel, it's the Google-suck effect I guess, but I ended up watching so many of your videos last night and am totally fascinated. The way Old Norse sounds is deeply moving to hear. And you are a fellow Boulderite. Boulderidian? Anyway, my field of research is in human behavior, social sustainability, and belief systems. Since I was little I've been interested in the beliefs around apocalypse, ragnarok type prophecies. Would you say that all cultures derived their end times prophetic influences from Christianity and the Bible? Many have similarities in a story about a figure like Jesus. I"m asking you because I can see that you're genuine about keeping this professional, and a lot of the stuff I read is not so much, so its authenticity is questionable. I know this is a little stretch out of your field it seems, but I am just curious your opinion, even with just the bible and Ragnarok. Also, I find it really amazing that you said you don't believe knowledge should be in some ivory tower and I find that amazing with your credentials and all. Thank you for being a person for the people and sharing this really awesome information. I hope this finds you well.

  16. What a coincidence to find your video now. I'm actually reading your book right now. Fantastic work. And by the way, you could totally voice one of the gods!

    Thanks for the book and the videos!

  17. Hope I don't offend you or anyone else but omg I could hear you talk in Old Norse and read Nordic poems all day lol

  18. Greetings from the North and a big thank you for all your fantastic videos! I have only recently come across a music band called "Wardruna" who seeks to revive music with traditional instruments… Apparently they are also responsible for the majority of film music in the "VIkings" series. They also have a great song entitled "Völuspá" – and it is what it says: A musical like rendering of the original poem… bardic style… Fantastic work and worth checking out if you are not familiar with the band already… I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…despite the fact that I cannot vouch for the correctness of their pronunciation 😉

  19. Thank you Dr. Crawford. May I ask what you know of the Pictish people or if you could recommend any literatures on the Picts.

  20. I didn't realize Aiden Turner was a scholar of Norse mythology. Gracious me.

  21. Thank you very much for this video, it will be useful for my Norse Mythology class.

  22. Thank you! What a great listen this was. I was searching the internet to learn more of the Voluspa, and this was perfect. Definitely will be looking into more of your videos for my research.

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