• Andreas Kornevall

The Story of Svipdag and Menglad

Updated: 2 days ago


The Story of Svipdag and Menglad


The Lay of Svipdagr (Fjölsvinnsmál, 17th century manuscript)

translated by Andreas Kornevall


Svipdag was playing with a ball, it bounced through the courtyard, in through a door and landed in his stepmother's chambers. Embarrassed by the coincidence he tried to sneak inside to fetch it. But before he left the chamber, she cast a spell on him, saying: "Don't you dare throw your ball at me! There is a woman called Menglad and she lives on a high mountain in a foreign land, she is longing for you. You will never rest until you have liberated her from her longing."


Svipdag went away knowing what he must do, he saddled his horse and entered his quest. Svipdag had set out to travel to the shores of the dead and his horse’s hooves drummed across the landscape in ceaseless rhythm.


At dawn, he stopped before a large grave mound and pierced the silent brooding with his voice.


“Wake up now, Groa! Wake up, my beloved mother! I raise your ward-memory at the doors of the dead, my love for


you has brought me here.


“What is the matter with my only son? My love? What evil has befallen you? Why do you call me from beyond the trembling veil?


“A cunning woman has advised me to walk towards darkness and danger to seek my destined beloved bride, the beautiful Menglad."



The mother said: ”The longings of the living are endless but if your will is raised, I will call for the wisdom of the witches to make it happen, for you to meet your beloved.”


“Sing to me galder-songs that can help me mother. Protect me in my journey to the great darkness and unknown.


"I will sing your triumph galder as Rane sang for Rind. Know this: from the shoulder the arrow flies, be your own judge of manners, and be a leader unto yourself.


I sing you a second: If out o


n the road you shall go without joy, my song will make you upright. Know that the witch's homely enclosure can be found everywhere, even when the ground is barren.


I sing you a third: If the cu


rrents are strong within the cascading rivers of conflict, I will reduce their surging waves for yo


u.


I sing you a fourth: When enemies are keen to lead you to the gallows. May their spirit be turned to reconciliation and friendship.


I sing you a fifth. If fetters are to be bound about your arms and legs, let feasting and fellowship unlock your shackles.


I sing you a sixth: May the proud bow of your ship carry you over the high and curved waves of the whale-road.


I sing you a seventh: May


your body be kept safe from the sharp frosts and the arrows of hail on the high mountain passes.


I sing you an eighth: A dead Christian woman may not do away with you on the twilight paths.


I sing you a ninth: If you need to


boast with your weapons. I sing for common sense and feelings of the good heart be the first and last strike.


Never go where danger is palpable. When I stood in front of the dark gates, magic songs I carved onto my staff. Carry with you these rune-songs, let them dwell in your chest, happiness and fullness in life you will have, as long as you remember them.

She then gave him five gifts: a spell for this horse to never tire over land and water. A table-cloth, on which food will appear if hunger strikes; a golden drinking-horn, which can never empty; a sword named Aldering, hardened in dragon's blood; and a ship that can ride over crested waves and that will never sink before enemy ships.




Through many lands he travelled, many kingdoms he helped with his sword, he was unbowed before enemy ships, and he travelled to the end of the nine-words and arrived at the gates of his beloved.


At The Gate of Menglad

Svipdag faced the shining gates. A hooded watchman approached him and said:

”What kind of troll is standing outside the golden gates, wandering around with a flame of love at heart?


“What are you looking for and what are you snooping for, friendless and defenceless, what do you want to know?"


Svipdag replied:


"What kind of a troll is standing outside his keep and does not welcome a lonely wanderer? Have you lived a life without praise?”


The Watchman answered:


“With a tongue like that you will not find greetings here”


Svipdag replied:


“I would like to enter the full bright gates and visit the golden halls.“


The Watchman said:


"Tell me, to whom were you born?”


Svipdag said:


”My father's name was Varkald and Fjolkald was his father.


“Now tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, who rules this realm and who has power and property of these great lavish halls?”


The Watchman said:


Her name is Menglad. She rules here and has all the power and property.


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what are these gates called?


The Watchman said:


“The gates are called Trymglol, made by the sons of Solblinde and gold is forever bestowed to the one who travels through them.


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what is the name of the high boundary of this realm?


The Watchman said:


"Gastropner is the name of the boundary and made from the clay giant’s limbs, the boundary will stand high until the Giants ride over the rainbow bridge.”


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and want to know, what are the names of these hungry hounds that are heard barking beyond the gates?”


The Watchman said:


"One is called Givr and the other Gere, if you want to know.”


Svipdag said: "Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, must a man enter only when such beasts are asleep?


The Watchman said:


"Uneven sleep guards their domain; one wolf sleeps at night, the other during the day. They are always watchful.


Sviddag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, is there any food in those high halls for mortals to eat?


Fjolsvinn said: “If you want to know, the only food you require here is found in the tail feathers of the wind-hawk.


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what is the tree called, which spreads its branches over all people and the Gods, Goddesses and Giants?”


The Watchman said


"It is called Mimameid, but none knows where the roots flow. It grows from somewhere that few can imagine; the Tree cannot be struck down by flame or iron.


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what fruit does the high-tree bear as it cannot be felled by flames or iron?”


The Watchman said:


"From its acorns leaps a flame to help women who suffer in secret and in childbirth, the flame burns over outwards and reveals what inwardly is hidden, it also burns within men.”


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, who is the cockerel who sits in the high tree, glowing of gold?”


The Watchman said:


"His name is Wind-hawk. In the wind his feathers glow on the tree’s twigs. He bestows angst to Surt Sinmora.”


Sviddag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what weapon can be used to reach the halls of the deepest Hel-hem below?”


The Watchman said:


“The weapon is named Lävatei. Lopt forged it with runes written on the doors of death. In Lägjarns casket it lies with Sinmara, but it is enclosed by nine strong locks.”


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, can a man ever hope to return who tries to win this weapon?


Watchman said:


"He who turns away greed may take the steel, but only if he brings back the sickle to the shining Goddess of gold."


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what treasure makes the great Giantess gentle?


The Watchman said:


The sickle is found within the wind hawk’s feathers. Give it to Sinmora and she will bless a weapon to be born."


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what is the name of the hall which is closed by magic flames?”


The Watchman said:


“That noble house is called Lyr and long and sharp are the spear-flames.


Svipdag said:


”Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, who were the Gods that made the halls great to behold?”


Watchman said: "Une and Ire, Bare and Ore, Var and Vegdrasil, Dore and Ure, Delling and Loki, the fear of the folk.”


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what is the mountain called, whereupon the bride sits high in her glory!"


Watchman said:


"Lyfjaberg it is called and long shall it be a joy to the sick and the sore. Health shall grow in each woman who climbs it even though she has lain sick for long."


Svidag said:


Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, what maidens are they that sit gladly at Menglad's knees?"


Watchman said:


"One is called Liv, the other Livtrasa, the third known as Tjodvarta, Bjort and Blid, Blid and Frid, Eir and Aurboda."


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know. Do they bring aid in exchange of offerings or when need is given?


The Watchman said:


“They help the wise to give, if they are offered sacrifices in the place where the high altar stands. They guard us from illness.”


Svipdag said:


"Tell me, Watchman, I must ask and wish to know, is there a man who can sleep happily in Menglad's ams?”


The Watchman said: "There is no man who can sleep happily in Menglad's army, except Svipdag alone; the bride on the mountain to him is destined."


Svipdag said:


“Up with the doors! Open the gate! Here you can see Svipdag. Go and ask if Menglad is glad to receive me.


The Watchman said:


"Do you hear, Menglad, a man has come here. The dogs greet him, the gates have opened; it seems as if he is Svipdag.”


Menglad said: "On the gallows high, hungry ravens will pluck your eyes, if you lie saying that at last the hero has come to my hall. Where have you been? Where did you travel from? What do you call a home? An emblem I must know if I am destined to be your bride.”


Svipdag said:


“Svipdag is my name, Solbjart was my father's name; away they drove me on cold roads and high winds. No one can resist the onslaught of fate, even if happiness does not become our lot. "


Menglad said:


“I am happy you have now come; my longing is met. I greet you with a loving kiss! My love and delight. Long have I sat on Lyfjaberg, the healing mountain, waiting for you, day by day, and now I have all that I ever hoped for, for you my love has come to my halls.

Alike we yearn and I longed for you and you for my love has longed: now together we know our lives and when it seems like the end, we shall live together."


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