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"She sees, coming up a second time,
earth from the ocean, eternally green;
the waterfalls plunge, an eagle soars above them,
over the mountain hunting fish."
After the terrible conflagration of Ragnarok, the earth rises serenely again from the ocean, and life is renewed. The Poetic Edda
begins with The Seeress's Prophecy
which recounts the creation of the world, and looks forward to its destruction and rebirth. In this great collection of Norse-Icelandic mythological and heroic poetry, the exploits of gods and humans are related. The one-eyed Odin, red-bearded Thor, Loki the trickster, the lovely goddesses, and the giants who are their enemies walk beside the heroic Helgi, Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer, Brynhild the shield-maiden, and the implacable Gudrun. This translation also features the quest-poem The Lay of Svipdag
and The Waking of Angantyr
, in which a girl faces down her dead father to retrieve his sword.
Comic, tragic, instructive, grandiose, witty, and profound, the poems of the Edda
have influenced artists from Wagner to Tolkien and speak to us as freely as when they were first written down seven hundred and fifty years ago.