… the Beginning

 

 

“Myth is not prehistory, it is an eternal reality that repeats itself over history.”

Ernst Jünger

This Old Saxon hymn is one that I sing on Twelfth Night.

(Originally published on Ordgeþanc 12/31/2016)

Hwē mah wārlīko· gimang wermannum
werthigōsta tėllian· waldgodo dėdio
thero thea ādrosto· ēsi makodun,
hwan godu werolda· grôta skappun,
ertha brêda· uphimil hôhan
ėndi wallandan· wāgsêo diopan?

Sō munan ik mōt · medo mah ik drinkan
af themo Alswīthon· eofullen horne;
Sōtho mīnan sang· singan mīk lāte
sō sōthword ekir· singan ik mah.

That fregoda ik mid ferahum· forawitono mêstono
that ertha ne was· noh uphimil
noh bôm nênig· noh berg ne was
noh swigle sterron· noh sunna ne skên
noh māno ne liuhtida· noh was the māri sêo.

Thanna Wōdan wrisi· thena wildan slōh
thrīrosum than slōh· thuris ovargrôtan
gėgin argan eton· mid ordum slōhun:

is blōd warhtun· bremflōdu mikleru
wellandum watare· wāge brêdum
themo ėgislīkeru ahu· ėndi ovardioperu;

is flêsk warhtun· foldu brêderu
grunde wīdum· grōneru wurthi
erthu areru· jak alberanderu;

is bên warhtun· bergum stênīnum
holmum hôhum· huvilum stėgilum
wīdum fėlisum· wundargrôtum;

is hār warhtun· hardum diopum
bômholtum brêdum· berewidum grôtum
waldum thiustrum· wundarmirkum;

ôgon is warhtun· alsehanderu sunna
wīdglōiandum rathe· welglītandum skildo
māran mānon· themu metandan ôk;

hôvidbên is warhtun · himiles thakke
wegakkare sunna· wandarfelde mānon
that sterrono land· stormo ermanero;

githāhtium is warhtun · thiustria wolkanun
ėndi ūstwolkanun· althėkkianda
stormwolkanun grôta· strīdiga ja grimma;

tandium is warhtun · torne stênos
harde fėlisos· hėviga lėia
unôthia klif· ėndi ênharda;

brāwum is sia warhtun · bergandian riki
eder swīthlīkan· īsarnīnan tūn
brêda marka· bittara withar fīandun
etonum undar· in ūtlandum
jak middelgarde mikilum· mankunnies hême.

An medeme wahsid· middelgarda
brunnon ovar diopōstum· bôm hôhōsta
an sôthe bi sūli· sōnastėdi standid
sia ēsi thār· ādrosto samnodun
ja dōmos rėthodun· dag ėndi naht
morgan ja namodun· ėndi middendag
āvand ja ūhta· alle mahlidun
tīdi tō tėllian· that tal gēres.

Sunna sia sėttidun· swigle sterron
of wegum iro āwėndian· ja wathalōndan māno
hevan tō hėbbian· hêtun sia than
Ôst ėndi West· Ertha an rande
North ėndi Sūth· nithara radure.

Wōdan tō were· ja wīve than gaf
thrīrosum than gaf· tharflīka geva
līf gavun līk gavun· lud ėndi āthom
ferah gavun gêst gavun· farwi ėndi hêli
Mannes kunnie· māgum askes.

Irminsūl hêtid· aska grôtōsta
hôh ist that bôm· hwīte sindun asti
wīd ist the strunk· wurti sindun diopa
brêdum undar astium· brunno wellid
thār webbia thria· wėllu an sittiad
Wurd ist thero êrista· Werthanda ōthara
skerrad of stokkum· Skuld thea thriddia.
Mahtig sindun thea webbia· mahtig that wėbbi
mahtig iro giskap· ovar mannum ėndi godum.

Hôho in bôme· in hevanwangum
in tīrlīkum sėlium· tīwos giwonod;
diopo undar erthu· gidwerg būad
ėndi bihwelvide· hėlwonārios;
mankunni an middie· in middelgarde.
Hôriad an hevane· gī hôhe godu
ūs hēr anskauwad · mid unwrêthum ôgon!
ūsa gibed unnun· blīthie ēsi
that that irminbôm· eomêr stande!

Translation:

Who among men may truly
tell in the worthiest way of the ruling gods’ deeds
those that the gods did earliest,
when the gods shaped the great world,
broad earth, high up-heaven,
and the welling, deep wave-sea ?

As I must remember, so may I drink mead
from the ever-full horn of Alswītho;
True One, let me sing my song
so that I may sing only words of truth.

I learned of the greatest fore-knowers among men
that earth was not, nor up-heaven
nor was any tree, nor mountain,
nor shining stars, nor did the sun shine
nor glowed the moon, nor was the famous sea.

Then Wōdan struck the wild giant
one amongst three he struck the over-great thurs
against the evil giant they struck with points:

of his blood they wrought the great brim-flood
welling water, broad waves,
the awe-like water and overdeep;

of his flesh they wrought the broad earth
wide ground, green ground,
ripe and all-bearing earth;

of his bones they wrought stony mountains,
high hills, steep cliffs
wide boulders wonder-great;

of his hair they wrought deep woods
tree-holts broad, forest-woods great
forests dark, wonder-mirky;

of his eyes they wrought all-seeing Sun,
wide-glowing wheel, well-glistening shield,
and also the famous, measuring moon;

of his head-bone they wrought heaven’s roof,
Sun’s way-acre, Moon’s wander-field,
the land of stars, of great storms.

of his thoughts they wrought dark clouds,
and storm-clouds all-covering,
storm-clouds great, battlesome and grim;

of his teeth they wrought bitter stones
hard boulders, heavy rocks
unlight cliffs and very hard;

wrought they of his brows a protecting hedge,
a strong fence, an iron fence,
a broad march, bitter against foes,
between giants in outlands
and great Middleyard, mankind’s home.

At the middle of Middleyard grows,
the highest beam over the deepest well;
a judgement-stead stands at the well by the pillar;
there the gods gathered themselves earliest
and spoke dooms, day and night
and morning named, and midday,
evening and early-morning all spoke,
time to tell, the year’s tally.

Sun they set, shining stars,
to wend on their ways, and wandering moon,
then they ordered to heave heaven
East and West on Earth’s edge
North and South below the sky.

Wōdan then gave to man and wife,
one among three, then gave needful gifts:
life they gave, body they gave, shape and breath,
life they gave, ghost they gave, color and health
to Man’s kin, to the relatives of the ash tree.

Great Pillar is called the greatest of ash trees
high is the beam, white are branches,
wide is the trunk, roots are deep;
under broad branches a well flows,
there three weavers sit at the well:
Wurd is the first, Werthanda the other –
they score upon staves – Skuld the third.
Mighty are the weavers, mighty the web,
mighty their fate over men and gods.

High in the tree, in heaven-fields,
in glorious halls gods dwell;
deep under earth dwarves live
and the hidden Hell-dwellers;
mankind in the middle, in Middleyard.
Hear in heaven, ye high gods,
see us here with unwroth eyes!
grant our prayer, blithe gods,
that that great tree forever stand!

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