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After this Alfadur (the Almighty) will cause a new heaven and a new earth to arise out of the sea. The new earth, filled with abundant supplies, will produce its fruits without labor or care. Wickedness and misery will no more be known, but the gods and men will live happily together.

This twilight of the gods is aptly described in a conversation held between Balder and Hermod, after Hermod has a second time ridden to Hel:

And the fleet-footed Hermod made reply:-1
“Thou hast then all the solace death allows,
Esteem and function; and so far is well.
Yet here thou liest, Balder, underground,
Rusting for ever; and the years roll on,
The generations pass, the ages grow,
And bring us nearer to the final day
When from the south shall march the fiery band
And cross the bridge of heaven, with Lok for guide,
And Fenris at his heel with broken chain;
While from the east the giant Rymer steers
His ship, and the great serpent makes to land;
And all are marshall'd in one flaming square
Against the gods, upon the plains of heaven.
I mourn thee, that thou canst not help us then."

He spake; but Balder answered him, and said:--
“Mourn not for me! Mourn, Hermod, for the gods;
Mourn for the men on earth, the gods in heaven,
Who live, and with their eyes shall see that day!
The day will come, when fall shall Asgard's towers,
And Odin, and his sons, the seed of Heaven ;
But what were I, to save them in that hour?
If strength might save them, could not Odin save,
My father, and his pride, the warrior Thor,
Vidar the silent, the impetuous Tyr?
I, what were I, when these can nought avail?
Yet, doubtless, when the day of battle comes,
And the two hosts are marshall’d, and in heaven
The golden-crested cock shall sound alarm,

1 From Matthew Arnold's "Balder Dead."

And his black brother-bird from hence reply,
And bucklers clash, and spears begin to pour --
Longing will stir within my breast, though vain,
But not to me so grievous as, I know,
To other gods it were, is my enforced
Absence from fields where I could nothing aid;
For I am long since weary of your storm
Of carnage, and find, Hermod, in your life
Something too much of war and broils, which make
Life one perpetual fight, a bath of blood.
Mine eyes are dizzy with the arrowy hail;
Mine ears are stunned with blows, and sick for calm.
Inactive, therefore, let me lie in gloom,
Unarmed, inglorious ; I attend the course
Of ages, and my late return to light,
In times less alien to a spirit mild,
In new re-covered seats, the happier day.”

He spake; and the fleet Hermod thus replied: “ Brother, what seats are these, what happier day? Tell me, that I may ponder it when gone."

And the ray-crowned Balder answered him: " Far to the south, beyond the blue, there spreads Another heaven, the boundless — no one yet Hath reached it; there hereafter shall arise The second Asgard, with another name. Thither, when o'er this present earth and heavens The tempest of the latter days hath swept, And they from sight have disappeared and sunk, Shall a small remnant of the gods repair ; Höder and I shall join them from the grave. There re-assembling we shall see emerge From the brighf ocean at our feet an earth More fresh, more verdant than the last, with fruits Self-springing, and a seed of man preserved, Who then shall live in peace, as now in war. But we in heaven shall find again with joy The ruin'd palaces of Odin, seats Familiar, halls where we have supp'd of old, Re-enter them with wonder, never fill Our eyes with gazing, and rebuild with tears. And we shall tread once more the well-known plain

Of Ida, and among the grass shall find
The golden dice wherewith we played of yore;
And that shall bring to mind the former life
And pastime of the gods — the wise discourse
Of Odin, the delights of other days.
O Hermod, pray that thou may'st join us then!
Such for the future is my hope ; meanwhile,
I rest the thrall of Hela, and endure
Death, and the gloom which round me even now
Thickens, and to inner gulph recalls.
Farewell, for longer speech is not allowed.”

CHAPTER XXXI.

MYTHS OF NORSE AND OLD GERMAN HEROES.

§ 185. The Saga of the Volsungs.1 — Sigi, the son of Odin, was a mighty king of the Huns whom Odin loved and prospered exceedingly. Rerir, also, the son of Sigi, was a man of valor and one who got lordship and land unto himself; but neither Sigi nor Rerir were to compare with Volsung, who ruled over Hunland after his father Rerir went home to Odin.

To Volsung were born ten sons, — and one daughter, Signy by name ; and of the sons Sigmund was the eldest and the most valiant. And the Volsungs abode in peace till Siggeir, king of Gothland, came wooing Signy, who, though loth to accept him, was, by her father's desire, betrothed to him.

Now on the night of the wedding great fires were made in the hall of the Volsungs, and in the midst stood Branstock, a great oak tree, about which the hall had been built, and the limbs of the tree spread over the roof of the hall ; and round about Branstock they sat and feasted, and sang of ancient heroes and heard the music of the harp that went from hand to hand.

But e'en as men's hearts were hearkening some heard the thunder pass?
O'er the cloudless noontide heaven; and some men turned about
And deemed that in the doorway they heard a man laugh out.
Then into the Volsung dwelling a mighty man there strode,
One-eyed and seeming ancient, yet bright his visage glowed;
Cloud-blue was the hood upon him, and his kirtle gleaming-gray
As the latter morning sun-dog when the storm is on the way;

i See the Story of the Volsungs, by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson; William Morris' Sigurd the Volsung: Vigfusson and Powell's Corpus Poeticum Boreale; and Commentary $185.

2 The extracts in verse are from William Morris' Sigurd the Volsung. *

A bill he bore on his shoulder, whose mighty ashen beam
Burnt bright with the flame of the sea, and the blended silver's gleam.
And such was the guise of his raiment as the Volsung elders had told
Was borne by their fathers' fathers, and the first that warred in the wold.

So strode he to the Branstock, nor greeted any lord,
But forth from his cloudy raiment he drew a gleaming sword,
And smote it deep in the tree-bole, and the wild hawks overhead
Laughed 'neath the naked heaven as at last he spake and said:
“ Earls of the Goths, and Volsungs, abiders on the earth,
Lo there amid the Branstock a blade of plenteous worth !
The folk of the war-wand's forgers wrought never better steel
Since first the burg of heaven uprose for man-folks weal.
Now let the man among you whose heart and hand may shift
To pluck it from the oak-wood e'en take it for my gift.
Then ne'er, but his own heart falter, its point and edge shall fail
Until the night's beginning and the ending of the tale.
Be merry, Earls of the Goth-folk, O Volsung Sons be wise,
And reap the battle-acre that ripening for you lies:
For they told me in the wild wood, I heard on the mountain-side
That the shining house of heaven is wrought exceeding wide,
And that there the Early-comers shall have abundant rest
While Earth grows scant of great ones, and fadeth from its best,
And fadeth from its midward, and groweth poor and vile: –
All hail to thee, King Volsung! farewell for a little while!”

So sweet his speaking sounded, so wise his words did seem
That moveless all men sat there, as in a happy dream
We stir not lest we waken; but there his speech had end
And slowly down the hall-floor, and outward did he wend;
And none would cast him a question or follow on his ways,
For they knew that the gift was Odin's, a sword for the world to praise.

Then all made trial, Siggeir and his earls, and Volsung and his people, to draw forth the sword from Branstock, but with no success, till Sigmund, laying his hand carelessly on the precious hilt, drew forth the naked blade as though it were loose in the oak. Whereupon Siggeir offered money for the sword, but Sigmund scorned the offer.

But in time Siggeir had his vengeance. Inviting King Volsung and his sons to Gothland, he fell upon them, slew the king, and suffered the sons, fastened under a log, to be devoured in succes

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