Saturday, 19 May 2012


The Elder Edda begins with Voluspa, a short poem that starts with an equivalent of Genesis, includes a death and resurrection story and ends with an equivalent of Armageddon. Thus, a Norse mini-Bible. Ymir and Bur's sons inhabited a yawning gap with no sea, sand, earth, heaven or grass and Bur's sons lifted the land although Voluspa does not tell us how these beings originated or that Bur's sons made the land from Ymir's body. These details are in other Eddic poems. The beginning presents a more sophisticated view of a pre-cosmic void than Genesis. Voluspa envisages nothingness, not chaos. And the other Eddic poems account for change and the emergence of life through dialectical interactions, not through divine creation. 
After Ragnarok, the returning or surviving gods are Baldr, Hoth, Honir, Odin's nephews (Later: I must have meant Odin's grandsons.) and a mighty lord who comes on high, all power to hold, all lands to rule. The author of Voluspa can, like Virgil, be seen as a pagan prophet but post-Christians can simply appreciate the connections between mythologies.

Addendum: Neil Gaiman has the surviving gods as Odin's sons, Vidar, Vali, Balder and Hod, and Thor's sons, Modi and Magni.

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