Excursus on Grógaldr and Fjösvinnsmál

 Excursus on Gróugaldr and Fjölsvinnsmál

This page is a modified and expanded reproduction of  http://pw1.netcom.com/~kyamazak/myth/edda/bugge/bugge-svipdags-excurs-e.htm
Below is a translation of Sophus Bugge's explanation for the combining of two poems under the single title of Svípdagsmál from his Edda Sæmundar (1867), pp. 352-355.

The two ballads Gróugaldr and Fjölsvinnsmál are parts of one and the same poem, whose protagonist is Svipdag, Groa's son.  I have therefore combined these under the name of Svipdagsmál; Svend Grundtvig (Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser [Denmark's Old Folk-ballads] II, 668 a) has suggested the title "Svipdagsför" [Svipdag's Journey]. The poem is available to us still undivided, in late form, as a Danish-Swedish folk-ballad about young Sveidal (Svedal, Svendal, Svedendal, Silfverdal): many (old and new) Danish examples printed by Svend Grundtvig, Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser No. 70 (II, pp. 239-254. III, pp. 841-843); two Swedish recensions: Geijer and Afzelius, Svenska Folkvisor No. 10 (I, pp. 57-59) and Arwidsson Svenska Fornsånger No. 143 (II, pp. 284-288) provide the ballad in a less-than-original form.

Svend Grundtvig first pointed out (Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser II, 238) the traditional relationship between the ballad's first part and Gróugaldr; Thereafter, I demonstrated (Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser II, 667 f.), that the last part of the ballad corresponded to Fjölsvinnsmál, and established that the Danish-Swedish ballad preserved the original unity of the ballad, which is familiar in Iceland as two separate poems. This has been further developed by Svend Grundtvig (D. g. F. II, pp. 668-673) and by me in my treatise on the connection between Gróugaldr and Fjölsvinnsmál (Forhandlinger i Videnskabs-Selskabet i Christiania Year 1860, pp. 123-140).

The ballad is of importance to the textual critique of Gróugaldr and Fjölsvinnsmál, and I will therefore reprint here nearly the entirety of the eldest Danish example and most of another, which in several respects has the correct mythic-form (both are given here in their plain unaltered wording and occasionally trivially deviate in phrasing from other examples).

(in a 16th century manuscript.)

1 Det var ungen Sveidal,
han skulde Bolden lege:
Bolden drev i Jomfruens Bur,
det gjorde hans Kinder blege.
Og lader du dine Ord vel!

There was the young Sveidal,

He was playing ball:
The ball flew into the Lady's bower,
It made his cheeks turn pale.
And choose his words well!
I translated the Jomfru (young woman) here as "Lady," to avoid confusion with the "maiden" who appears in strophe 3.
In the
26-verse version of Ungen Svejdal collected by Axel Olrik, it is hendes Kinder "her cheeks" that turn pale. (See Smith-Dampier's translation of Olrik in "Danish Ballads" [1920],  Young Svejdal).
2 Bolden drev i Jomfruens Bur,
Svenden efter gik:
førend han kom der ud igjen,
stor Sorg han i Hjærtet fik.

The ball flew into the Lady's bower
The swain went after it:
Before he came out of there again,
Great sorrow filled his heart.
Bur "bower" is repeated from the previous strophe here, but in Olrik's version, we see the ball went to the Skjød(skød) "[from the Lady's] lap, bosom" in the first verse.
3 «Du tørst ikke kaste
din Bold efter mig:
der sidder en Mø i fremmede Land,
hun længtes efter dig.

“ Don't you
throw your
ball at me:
There a maiden sits in a foreign land,
She is yearning for you.
The Lady binds Sveidal with runes so he becomes lovesick for a foriegn woman ( "maiden"). (* Illustreret dansk Litteraturhistorie, Vol. i, p. 90)
4 Du skalt aldri Roen bide
og aldri Roen faae:
førend du faar løst det sorgfulde Hjærte,
som længe haver ligget i Traa.»

Never shall you enjoy rest
And never rest obtain:
The rueful heart, which long lies yearning
will lead you far
5 Det var ungen Sveidal,
han svøber sit Hoved i Skind:
saa gaar han i Stuen
alt for sine Hofmænd ind.

There was the young Sveidal,

He swathed his head in fur:
Thus he goes into the room,
All of his courtiers within.
hofmænd "person of the court" or courtier In the Axel Olrik version (op. cit.), it reads hovmænd, which E. M. Smith-Dampier construes as "head man" and translates as "captain".
6 «Her sidder I, alle mine Mænd,
drikker Mjød af Skaale:
mens jeg gaar til Bjerget,
med min kjære Moder at tale.»

“ Here
you all sit, my men,

Drinking mead from cups:
While I go to the mound,
With my dear mother to talk ”.
We see now that Sveidal's mother is dead and buried up in a mountain/mound (although her ghost is able to communicate "good advice" to her son and even impart gifts). The Lady mentioned earlier turns out to be the Stivmoder "stepmother" (see strophe 10).
7 Det var ungen Sveidal,
han tog til at kalde:
der revned Mur og Malmersten,
og Bjerget tog til at falde.

It was the young Sveidal,

Off he went a-calling:
Riven were the wall and marble-stone,
And the mound came down tumbling.
8 «Hvem er det, der kalde,
og vækker mig saa mod?
maa jeg ikke med Freden ligge
op under den sorte Jord?»

“ Who is that, there calling,

And waking me so glumly?
May I not lie in peace
In the bowels of black Earth? ”
9 «Det er ungen Sveidal,
kjære Sønne din:
han vil fuld gjærne have gode Raad
af kjære Moder sin.

“It is young Sveidal,

The darling son of yours:
He full wishes to have good rede,
From his dear mother.
10 Jeg haver fanget en Stivmoder,
hun er mig vorden haard:
hun haver mit Hjærte i Tvangen lagt
for den, jeg aldrig saa.»

I have
gotten a Stepmother,

She is being hard on me:
She has placed a Compulsion in my heart ,
For one whom I have never seen. ”
11 «Skal jeg mig nu opreise
af Søvn og haarden Kvale:
udi de samme Veie
da skalt du end fuld vel fare.

“ Shall I now

From sleep and harsh agony:
Out the same way,
As you shall full well fare.
12 Jeg skal give deg en Fole,
han skal vel bære dig fram:
Han gaar saa vel over salten Fjord,
som paa det grønne Land.

I shall give you a

That shall well carry you forth:
He goes as well over salty fjord
As over the green land.
13 Jeg skal give dig Dugen,
alt om du kan den brede:
at den Mad, du ønsker dig,
den skal dig staa tilrede.

I shall give you
You can spread all 'round you:
When a meal is what you wish for,
It shall assuage your hunger.
14 Jeg skal give deg et Dyreshorn,
og det er spændt med Guld:
al den Drik, du ønsker dig,
da skal den staa al fuld.

I shall give you an namimal's

And it is clasped with gold:
All the drink you wish for,
it shall then stand filled.
15 Jeg skal give dig Sværdet,
er hærdet i Drageblod:
ihvor du riden gjennom mørken Skov,
da brænder det som et Baal.

I shall give you
the Sword
hardened in dragon-blood:
Whereever you ride through the mirky Wood,
It then burns like a pyre
Similar to the Mirkwood (myrkvið) mentioned several times in the Poetic Edda — the place where the three maiden descended to meet Volund and his brothers (Lay of Volund 1), and the place from where Muspilli's children shall ride forth (Lokasenna 42), etc.
16 Jeg skal give dig Snekken,
hun staar i salten Fjord:
alle dine Fiender, dig imod ville seile,
dem løber hun under i Flod.»

I shall give you a

She sits by the salty fjord:
All your foes, who you will sail up against,
She'll lay them under in the flood"
17 De vandt op deres Silkeseil
saa høit i forgyldene Raa:
saa seiled de for det samme Land,
alt som den Jomfru var paa.

They hoisted up their silken sails
So high on a gilded yard:
So they sailed for the same land,
where the Maiden was.
18 De kasted deres Anker
paa den hvide Sand:
det var ungen Sveidal,
han tren der først paa Land.

cast their
On the white sand:
It was the young Sveidal,
He trod there first on Land.
19 Det var ungen Sveidal,
han gaar paa hviden Sand:
den første Mand, han mødte,
var Hyrden paa det Land.

There was the young Sveidal,

He walked on the white sand:
The first man he met,
Was the Herdsman in that Land.
20 Det var goden Hyrde,
og han lod spørge først:
«Hvar da skader denne Ungersvend?
hvi er hans Hjærte saa tøst?»

It was the good Herdsman,

And he was allowed to question first:
What troubles the young swain?
Why is his heart so thirsting? ”
21 «Hans Hjærte ligger i Tvangen lagt
for den, han aldrig saa:
Svenden heder ungen Sveidal,
saa gaar Sagnen af.»

“In his heart lay a Compulsion

For one whom he has never seen:
The swain is named young Sveidal,
So the legend goes. ”
22 «Her er ogsaa en Jomfru paa dette Land,
hun ligger i stærken Traa:
alt efter en Svend, heder Sveidal,
hun aldrig med Øine saa.»

“Here is
also a Maiden in this land,

She is taken by a strong yearning:
For a swain named Sveidal,
whom her own
eyes have never seen. ”
23 «Hør du goden Hyrde,
hvad jeg siger dig:
vedst du, hvor den Jomfru er,
da dølg det ikke for mig.»

“Hark ye good Herdsman

What I say to you:
Wist thou where the Maiden is,
Hide it not from me. ”
24 «For oven ved den grønne Lund
der staar min Jomfrus Gaard:
Porten (?) er af det hvide Hvalsben
og Porten er lagt med Staal.

Fare over by the greenwood,

There stands my Maiden's courtyard:
The gate (?) is of white whale-bone
And the gate is laid with steel.
25 Uden for min Jomfrus Port
der stander en Løve saa gram:
men er I den rette Sveidal,
saa frit maa I gaa fram.»

Outside of my Maiden's gate

There stands a Lion so wrathful:
If you are the right Sveidal,
then freely may you enter. ”
26 «Er det nu saa Sanden,
alt som du siger for mig:
bliver jeg Konge paa dette Land,
til Ridder gjør jeg dig.»

“ Is that now the

All that you say to me?:
If I become king of this land
I will make you a knight. ”
27 Han gik til den gyldne Port,
og ind der han saa:
alle da var de Laase,
de faldt selv derfraa.

He went to the golden Gate,

And there he did see:
There were all these Locks,
They undid themselves.
28 Løven med de Hvidebjørne
de faldt den Herre til Fod:
Linden med sine Grene
hun bugner neder til Jord.

The Lion with the
White Bears

They fell at the Gentleman's Foot:
The Linden with her Branches
She spread down to the Ground.
There is a parallel in the second Svipdag poem, Fjölsvinnsmál 20-21, where the world-ash (here called Mimameiðr but otherwise known as Yggdrassill or Læraðr) spreads its branches over the entire world.
29 Midt udi den Borgegaard
der aksler han sit Skind:
saa gaar han i Høieloft
for hedenske Konning ind.

Middle of the
There he
draped himself in fur:
So he goes to the High Hall
For the heathen King inside.
Perhaps he is making sure he is he properly attired before he presents himself in the king's court; Smith-Dampier thus translates this as "vair" (type of costly fur thought to be gray squirrel).
30 «Hil sidder I, hedenske Konning,
over eders eget Bord:
vil I mig eders Datter give
og vide mig Andvarsord?»

sittest Thou, heathen King,
Over by thine own Table:
Wilt Thou give me Thine Daughter
And let me know thy Reply?
31 «Jeg haver ikke Datter, foruden én,
hun ligger i stærken Traa:
alt efter en Svend, heder Sveidal,
hun aldrig med Øine saa.»

“ I have no Daughter
besides the one,

She is bound by a strong Yearning:
To a swain named young Sveidal, [whom]
She has never seen with her eyes.”
32 Det svared den liden Smaadreng,
stod klædt i Kjortel hvid:
«Længtes hende efter Sveidal,
da er han nu kommen hid.»

He answered the little servant-boy,
Standing dressed in kirtle of white
Longing after her was Sveidal,
And now he has come hither. ”
33 Saa braadt kom Bud i Høieloft
for skjøn Jomfru ind:
«Nu sidder ungen Sveidal
næst hos Fader din.»

suddenly came the herald into the High Hall
for the beautiful Maiden inside:
“Now young Sveidal sits
Next to your Father. ”
34 «Da tager I bort de høie Raa
og saa de Ligebaar:
følger I mig i Høieloft
ind for min Hjærtenskjær.»

“ T
ake away the high yard

Also the bier:
Follow me to the High Hall,
Inside to my Heart's Desire. ”
35 Det da mælte den skjønne Jomfru,
hun ind ad Døren tren:
«Vær velkommen, ungen Sveidal,
Hjært-Allerkjæreste min!»

She thus
spoke the comely Maiden,

She stepped onto The Door :
“ Best of Welcome young Sveidal,
My Heart's Most-Beloved ! ”

In this example it [further] goes on to say that the Maiden asks her Father if he will let himself be baptized: otherwise she will go away with Sveidal; both father and daughter adopt the Christian Faith before The wedding is held; Sveidal dubs the Herdsman knight and sets him atop a pedestal. At the Closing it says that:
42 Nu haver ungen Sveidal
forvunden al sin Harm:
saa haver og den stolte Jomfru,
hun sover forinden hans Arm.
Og lader du dine Ord vel!

Now has young Sveidal

Recovered from all his grief:
And so has the proud Maiden,
Her there in his Arm asleep.
And choose your words well!
(In two 17th century
The beginning of this example essentially agrees with A. Although Svendal says in verse 11: “ My sister and my stepmother have afflicted my heart with a Yearning ”, this is merely a corruption.
13 «Jeg skal give dig den Hest
som skal være dig saa god:
rid du hannem baade Dag og Nat,
han vorder ret aldrig mod.

“ I give you a steed
That shall be so good:
Ride him both day and night,
He will hardly ever be discouraged.
14 Jeg skal give dig det gode Sværd,
som man kalder Adelring
du kommer ret aldrig i den Strid,
du skal jo Seiren vinde.»

I shall give you a good Sword,
That they call Adelring
You will never lose in the battle
You shall certianly win
victory. ”
* The sword that King Dietrich [Þjóðrekr, Þiðrekr] comes into the possession of is also so named. Adelring is a distortion of Nagelring, which is the name of Dietrich von Bern's sword, according to German sources. Also Beowulf's sword is called Nægeling.
15 Det var ungen Svendal,
han bandt sit Sværd ved Side:
han satte sig paa sin gode Hest,
han agted ikke længer at bide.

It was the young Svendal,
He girt his sword at his side:
He sat himself on his good steed,
He meant to abide no longer.
16 Det var ungen Svendal,
han tog sin Hest med Spore:
saa red han over det brede Hav
og gjennem de grønne Skove.

It was the young Svendal,
He urged on his horse with the spur
So he rode over the ocean wide
And through the green shaw.
17 Han red over det vilde Hav
og gjennem de mørke Skove:
til han kom til det samme Slot,
hans Fæstemø monne inde sove.

He rode over the wild
And through the murky
He comes to the selfsame castle
Where his betrothed
doth sleep.
18 «Hør du, goden Hyrde,
hvad jeg siger dig:
er her en Jomfru paa dette Slot,
du dølg det ikke for mig.

Hark ye good Herdsman
What I say to you:
Is there a maid here in this castle
Don't hide it from me. ”
19 Er her en Jomfru paa dette Slot,
du dølg det ikke for mig:
bliver jeg Konning paa dette Land,
til en Herre saa gjør jeg dig.»

Is there a maid here in this castle?
Don't hide it from me.:
If I become King of this Land
A Lord I will make you. ”
20 «Plankerne ere af haarde Jern,
og Porten er af Staal:
det er vel atten Vintre siden
den Jomfru Solen saa.

“Planks are of hard iron
And the gate is of steel:
It is well eighteen
winters since
The maiden has seen the sun.
21 Løven og den vilde Bjørn
de stander der inden fore:
der kommer aldrig nogen levendes ind,
foruden hin unge Svendal.»

The lion and the savage
They stay there at front:
There never comes anyone
living inside,
Unless 'tis the young Svendal. ”
22 Det var ungen Svendal,
han satte sig paa sin Hest:
saa red han til den samme Mur,
som han kunde allerbedst.

It was the young Svendal,
He sat up on his steed:
Thus he rode up to the same wall
That he knew
best of all.
23 Det var ungen Svendal,
han tog sin Hest med Spore:
saa sprang han saa listelig
alt i den Borgegaard.

It was the young Svendal,
He urged on his steed with the spur:
He sprang so stealthily

Right to the courtyard.
24 Saa sprang han saa listelig
udi den Borgegaard
Løven og den vilde Bjørn
de falder ned for hans Fod.

He sprang so stealthily
Out to the courtyard.
The lion and the savage Bear
They fell low at his foot.
25 Løven og den vilde Bjørn
de falder den Herre til Fod:
Linden med sine forgyldene Blade
bugned neder til Jord.

The lion and the savage bear
They fell at the master's foot:
The linden with its gilded
underneath to ground.
26 Linden bugned neder til Jord
med sine forgyldene Blade:
op da stod den stolte Jomfru,
som længe havde ligget i Dvale.

The linden spread underneath to ground
With its gilded leaves:
Up then stood the proud maiden,
Who had long lain in benumbed slumber
We discover now that the maid is a "sleeping beauty", so that although she has been lying in wait for eighteen years (str. 20), we can presume she has not aged in her state of animated suspension.
27 Det da var den stolte Jomfru,
hun hørte de Sporer klinge:
«Hjælp mig Gud Fader i Himmerig,
jeg maatte end blive løst af Pine!

It was thus the proud maiden,
She heard the spurs clang
“Help me God, Father of Heaven,
I must
at last be released from pain!
28 Hjælp mig Gud Fader i Himmerig,
jeg maatte blive løst af Tvang:
og Skam saa faa min Stivmoder,
mig haver gjort Tiden saa lang!»

Help me God, Father of Heaven,
I must be released from this Compulsion
And shame on my stepmother,
For doing this to me, such a long time! ”
29 Det var ungen Svendal,
han ind ad Døren tren:
det da var den stolte Jomfru,
hun stander ham op igjen.

It was the young Svendal,
He stepped inside The door
Then it was the proud maiden,
She revived again for him.

30 Ind kom ungen Svendal,
han var baade favr og ung:
det da var den stolte Jomfru,
saa vel favned hun hans Komme.

In came young Svendal,
He was both fair and young:
It was then the young maiden,
Much embracing his Arrival.
31 «Velkommen, ungen Svendal,
ædelig Herre min:
Tak have Gud Fader i Himmerig,
os baade haver løst af Pine!»

“ Welcome, young Svendal
my noble lord:
Thank God, Father in Heaven,
For releasing us both from pain! ”
32 Nu haver ungen Svendal
forvunden baade Angest og Harm:
nu sover han saa gladelig
udi sin Jomfrus Arm.

Now has the young Svendal
Recovered from both anguish and grief
Now he sleeps so gladly
In his maiden's arm.
33 Nu haver den stolte Jomfru
forvunden baade Angest og Kvide:
nu sover hun saa gladelig
ved ungen Svendals Side.
Og lad dine Ord vel!

Now has the proud maiden
Recovered from both anguish and distress
Now she sleeps so gladly
At young Svendal's side.
And choose your words well!
The preceding is a reproduction of a webpage by "kyamazak" (c. 2006)
copied with modifications, in the interest of preserving the information it contains.
The website now appears to be defunct.