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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~

Creation of the world...

In being’s earliest dawn,
All was one dark abyss,
Nor heaven, nor earth was known,
Chill noxious fogs and ice,
North from murk Niffl-heim’s hole,
Piled up in mountains lay;

From Muspell’s radiant pole,
South-wards fire held the sway.
Thus after ages past,
Mid in the chaos, met
A warm breath, Niffl-heim’s blast:
Cold with prolific heat:
Hence pregnant drops were formed,
Which, by the parent air,
From Muspell’s region, warmed
Produced great Aurgelmer.

He was the mighty root
Of all our ancient race,
Which now, from light shut out,
In caves their days must pass;
High as thou hold’st thine head,
Say where was then thy car?
The hammer-swinger said
Now lend to me an ear:

“Thy vaunt, how little worth,
My plain tale soon shall show!
The hour brought Ymer forth,
Saw, too, the mystic cow;
She shaped the cold salt stone,
Whence Bure our parent stood:
No vapourous root, we own,
But breathing flesh and blood.

“With beauty, strength and power,
Him, great Alfader bless’d;
His son was mighty Burr
Who the tall Bestia press’d.
The maid was good and fair,
Though of a giant race;
Their birth, hence spirits of air,
Elves, Aser, Vaner, trace.

“Need was the primal powers
Should ripen and unite,
Ere that, such race as ours,
Could fitly come to light;
The oak, the forest's sire,
Long in the earth must grow,
Ere empyreal fire
From its gross limbs can flow.”

I’ the gulf his body hurled
Odin and Vile and Ve;
Thereout to form the world:
His blood, the boundless sea,
His flesh they turn to earth,
His bones to mountains high,
His teeth as rocks spring forth,
His brains, clouds upwards fly.

They take his shaggy brows
And build fair Midgard’s towers
Which with a fence they close
’Gainst Utgard’s demon powers;
His spacious vaulted front
Aloft the brethren threw,
It formed the firmament,
And Frey
tinged it blue.


Askur and Embla night,
The first of human kind;
Their home the spirits of light
In Midgard’s realms assigned;
The countless human race,
Their praise on earth who sing,
From these their lineage trace;
All from one couple spring.

From Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger (1779-1850)      Short Biography of Adam Oehlenschläger

Translation by Grenville Pigott, in "A Manual of Scandinavian Mythology, Containing a
Popular Account of the Two Eddas and of the Religion of Odin" (London, 1839)