Excerpt from “Our Fathers Godsaga” based on the poem Fjölsvinnsmál and Svipdag
Viktor Rydberg’s Our Fathers’ Godsaga, translated by William P. Reaves
An epic introduction to Norse mythology for students of all ages
Excerpt from Chapter XXXII, based on the poem Fjölsvinnsmál
Heimdall, Bifröst's watchman, saw a youth, clad in armor with a sun-glistening sword at his side, advancing up the bridge that no one walks without the force of Urd's resolve. His approach was announced to the Aesir, and there was joy in the city of the gods because this meant that Svipdag had come and most certainly on a benevolent mission, for he resembled a bright spring day.
Asgard's drawbridge was lowered over the river that flowed rapidly, yet clear and sparkling, around the enormous city wall. As Svipdag advanced up Bifröst, he saw Glasir's golden grove and the gods' broad playing fields and Valaskjalf's silver roof and Hlidskjalf's tower glistening in the morning light. He climbed up onto the rampart that stood before the drawbridge. From there, he could view the city of the gods behind the wall, through the artistic gate. A watchman stood before it. Directly inside its grate lay one of Odin's wolfhounds, asleep; the other was awake and began to bark. Opposite Svipdag, a hall, decorated with gold, rose from behind a pleasure-garden, whose trees shaded a flower-strewn hill. On the hill sat a group of dises. One was foremost; the others sat in a circle around her knees. Svipdagrecognized Freyja. Like a statue, she sat motionless, as if sunken in dreams. The dises that sat closest to her were Bright, Friend, Peace, Gentle, Help, and Eir, the Asynje of healing. Another was named Aurboda.
Amazed, Svipdag saw the world-tree, which is invisible in Midgard; its crown spread out over Asgard and the whole of heaven, its fruits shimmering in the ethereal foliage. High up in the branches, glittered the golden cock Vidofnir-Goldcomb.
The man by the gate approached Svipdag. Pretending not to know who he was, the man received him in the manner customary among watchmen when they find a stranger on forbidden ground. "Whom do you seek here? No vagabonds come through these gates. Go hence on moist paths!"
"You go hence with your unfriendly words! Who do you believe would turn away from that which enchants his eye? I see estates reflected in golden halls. I want to stay here and enjoy this bliss."
"What are you called?" responded the watchman.
"Windcold. My father is called Springcold, my grandfather Verycold. The hounds behind the bars of the gate seem to me to be more stern watchmen than you. But one could probably pass them."
"Unlikely. One is awake when the other sleeps and they shall faithfully perform watch duty as long as the world exists. Unfortunate is the intruder who happens to meet them when they are at large. And behind them are eleven watchmen in the city."
"You mean that there is nothing in the world that can break the vigilance of these hounds and tempt their appetite, so that they neglect their duty?"
"Nothing but the delicious cutlets beneath Vidofnir's wings. If you throw those to Geri and Freki, they will forget their duty, and you can slip past them."
"What is the gold-glittering cock high up in the Tree called?"
"That is Vidofnir."
"Is there a weapon with which I can bring him down? Otherwise I won’t get the cutlets, and of course won’t enter here "
"Such a weapon exists. An evil smith forged it far away in Jötunheim, but the weapon was taken from him."
"Where was it taken?"
"To the dark dis Sinmara, who concealed it in a water-requiring vessel with nine embracing locks."
"Suppose now that someone went to Sinmara to get the weapon! Do you believe that he could return with it?"
"On one condition would that be possible. Sinmara is burdened by a sorrow. She broods on a single thought. Vidofnir too feels the weight of that burden. Between his round bones lies a shining sickle. He, who obtains the sickle and bears it to Sinmara, will receive the weapon she hides. And he who has received that weapon may pass through this gate."
"Who is the bright maiden who sits surrounded by dises on that beautiful hill, sunken in thought?"
"She is called Menglad (Necklace-lover). Sorrowful maidens and suffering women receive solace if they walk up to her. Altars are also established to her dises; they bring help and contentment to the praying."
"Do you know if anyone is destined to rest in Menglad's white arms?"
"One has been chosen by fate for that. His name is Svipdag."
"Open the gate, it is Svipdag you see here! But wait! I will not enter before I know that I have her heart."
When Svipdag pronounced his name, the wonderful Asgard gate began to open all by itself. The other hound awoke, and both approached Svipdag, licking his hands and welcoming him with playful leaps. The watchman went to Freyja with the news that a stranger had come. Surely, this was Svipdag. At this, she rose and ran to the youth. "Say your name and your family," she said, "my eyes want the testimony of your lips!"
"I am called Svipdag. My father's name is Sun-bright (because Egil-Örvandil's toe is a sun-bright star). I was driven from his home by winds along cold paths. No power can oppose Urd's decree, however it may fall."
Freyja scarcely managed to say welcome before she kissed him.
"My greeting rushed to meet you, but my kiss overtook it. How long I sat on that hill, day after day, and longed for you! Now, my love, I see you again and have you in my hall. Here we shall live together forever."
Svipdag and Freyja celebrated their lawful wedding in Asgard. As the bride-price and as compensation for Völund's failed duties as foster-father, Svipdag presented his sword to Frey.
Svipdag wished that his half brother Ull take part in his honor and be adopted into Asgard, since he had taken part in his journey to Jötunheim. This wish was granted by Odin so willingly that Thor announced that he and Sif had decided to become husband and wife. Sif the golden haired came to Asgard and brought Ull and Skadi, Völund's daughter. Thor and Sif celebrated their marriage shortly after that of Svipdag and Freyja.
Thereafter, a third and then a forth wedding were celebrated. Idunmarried Bragi, and Njörd married Skadi.