The Waking of Angantyr

1 A young maiden met at sunset A man with his flock on Munarvag.

 

2 HERDSMAN: To visit this island all alone Is overbold: go back to your lodging.

3 HERVOR: I have no lodging: of the island folk I know none. I will not go back.

Before we part, first tell me How I may come to the Hjorvard graves.

 

4 HERDSMAN: Do not ask: it is unwise. You do not know your deadly peril: Let us

flee as fast as our feet can take us, All without is a horror to view.

 

5 HERVOR: It is vain to hinder the viking's friend. Show me the way: as a reward

you shall have This gold necklace: you will get nothing, Nor ring nor ornament

if you hold your peace.

 

6 HERDSMAN: To have come hither, all alone To this land of shadows, was sheer

folly. Over fen and fold fires are soaring, Graves are opening: let us go

quickly.

 

7 HERVOR: Fear not the fire, fear not the graves: Although the island be all

aflame, Never shall warriors while they live Yield to terror. Tell me the way.

 

8 The herdsman had taken to his heels already, Fled to the wood, far from the

maiden, But the fierce heart in Hervor's breast Swelled up at the sight of these

things.

She saw now the grave fires and the graves standing open. She went to the howe

and was not afraid. She passed the fires as if they were smoke, until she

reached the graves of the berserks. Then she said:

 

9 HERVOR: Angantyr, wake! Hervor calls you, Your only daughter whom you had by

Tofa. Give up from the grave the gleaming sword That the dwarves smithied for

Svafrlami.

 

10 Hervard, Hjorvard, Hrani, awake! Hear me, all of you, under the tree-roots,

With sharp swords, with shields and byrnies And red spears, the rig of war.

 

11 Much are you changed, children of Arngrim, Once so mighty: are you mold now?

Will Eyfur ás sons refuse to listen Or speak with me on Munarvag?

 

12 May ants shred you all to pieces, Dogs rend you; may you rot away. Give back

the sword that was smithied by Dvalin: Fine weapons are unfit for ghosts.

 

13 ANGANTYR: Evil it is, Hervor, my daughter, To call down such curses upon us:

Your words are mad, without meaning in them. Why do you wake the bewildered

dead?

 

14 Nor father nor brothers buried me deep. Tyrfing was owned by two who live,

Though only one owned it later.

 

15 HERVOR: Tell me the truth, that the timeless gods If May bless your grave.

Have you got Tyrfing? Why are you unwilling to yield Your heritage to your only

child?

Then it was as if a flame lit up all the graves which stood open. Then Angantyr

said:

 

16 ANGANTYR: Graves open and Hel's doors, The island surface is one searing

flame, All without is a horror to view: Go, while there's time: return to your

ship.

 

17 HERVOR: With no flames, tonight or ever, With no fire can you frighten me,

Nor daunt the heart in your daughter's breast With ghosts standing at

grave-mouths.

 

18 ANGANTYR: Hear me, Hervor, hear from me now, Daughter of princes, the doom I

fortell: This Tyrfing will, if the true blade, Destroy your kindred, kill them

all.

 

19 You will bear a son, a bold warrior, Who shall wield Tyrfing, trust in its

strength: After Heidrick shall the hero be named, The bravest one under heaven.

 

20 HERVOR: Churlish cowards! may my curse fall On all of you: may you ever lie

Wretched shades, in the rot of the pit. Give back the wondrous work of smiths:

Son of Vikings, it is vain to hide it.

 

21 ANGANTYR: No mortal maiden to me you seem, Who walk in the dark where the

dead lie, Uncowed by flames, with a carved spear And mailed corselet on

Munarvag.

 

22 HERVOR: A mortal maiden to men I seemed Until advised to visit your halls:

Surrender the blade, the Bane-of-Shields, Hater-of-Byrnies, Hjalmar's-Killer.

 

23 ANGANTYR: Hjalmar's-Killer lies under my shoulders, The sharp sword, sheathed

in flame: No maiden on earth, no mortal dare Touch such a weapon, take itto

hold.

 

24 HERVOR: I will touch the weapon, take hold of The sharp edge. In order to get

it I will walk through fire with unflinching step: The flames are sinking before

my eyes.

 

25 ANGANTYR: Reckless maiden, rather than see you Fling yourself on the flames

and perish, I will grant what you ask, give you the blade: Such courage of heart

I cannot refuse.

 

26 HERVOR: You have done well, dead warrior, To grant what I ask, give me the

blade: To possess the sword seems to me better Than to own all Norway.

 

27 ANGANTYR: Alas, daughter, little you know, Wretched woman, at what you

rejoice: I tell you again, this Tyrfing will Destroy your kindred, kill them

all.

 

28 HERVOR: With a glad heart I will go now To ride the horses of the roaring

sea: Little care I what may come after, What dole my sons may deal each other.

 

29 ANGANTYR: Long may you hold it and long enjoy it! But conceal it well. Beware

the edges Of Hjalmar's-Bane: both are poisoned. Mortal to man is the

Measurer-of-Fate.

 

30 Farewell, daughter: would I could give you All the strength and stoutness of

heart That was taken from Arngrim's twelve sons, The good of life they lost in

death.

 

31 HERVOR: I will hasten hence:I am eager to be gone. Blessed in your graves,

may you be at peace. I deemed in my mind that death was near When all about me

leaped high flame.

 

Notes

This non-Eddic poem is found in the Saga of King Heidrek the Wise. We have added

strophe 1 from the version in the Hauksbók manuscript. 14 Tyrfing. Svafrlami

forced Dvalin and Dulinn to forge him a sword which had a hilt and handle of

gold, which would never rust, and which would cut iron as though it were cloth.

The dwarves forged the sword, but Dvalin cursed it, saying that it would kill a

man each time it was drawn, and that it would perform three dastardly deeds, as

well as be the cause of Svafrlami's death. Arngrim then took Svafrlami's

daughter and had twelve sons by her. Angantyr, the eldest, fell heir to Tyrfing.

Hjalmar the Haughty and Arrow-Odd (the 'two who live') slew all twelve in a

fight in which Hjalmar was also slain ('only one owned it later'). Odd buried

the brothers in barrows with their weapons. Svava, Angantyr's wife, gave birth

to a daughter (Hervor) who was inclined to fighting and weapons. Posing as a man

(Hervrad) she joined a band of vikings and came thus to Munarvag. 22 Bane of

Shields, Hater of Byrnies, and Hjalmar's Killer are all kennings for Tyrfing. 29

Measurer of Fate is another kenning for Tyrfing.

 

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