Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Freya's Capture and Return

The far-weeping mother of Baldur asked Hati's target if she, the day's awakener of green on stone halls, had anywhere seen the cat-drawn maiden, for much she mourned, the old matron of harvest's children, her loss in the dwarf-carved citadel o'er-looking the stars. Bearer of day's bright disc quoeth she saw with fierce beams shining Frey's flower-clad sibling off in far woodlands led by shrouded handmaiden. But further even Sol's keen eyes could not see, for air was much mixed with ill. All her golden lips could spill to gift the benevolent queen of wide-seeing green pastures was their footsteps led North towards home of trollkin. At this, the Bride of Odin was sore distressed, and gathered the Sea's Father to sail out searching for the daughter and son. Long years Njord searched by sea, Sol by air, yet some wight skilled in sorcerous arts set waves in torrent, and tempest to the winds, so fog's old odal overspread the darkened lands, striking eyes dim in the haze, and Sol's keenest eyes saw little. So it went for some time. Snow fell for years at a time, relentless.

Then youngest beam of Delling's far-descendants flickered, walked past snow and glacier, through fog and darkness to once-hailed home of the dayling's king, and sailed out with the sister boldly. Still shrouded cower in the corpse-bride's bale-words, the brother Beli caught and rowed out, whipping. At last swan-wing's feather-blades cut through the fog, and the moonship captain's brightest sibling caught her eye upon the youth. Uplift, light singing, she cast gaze on swan-maidens' eyes the sight, beloved boy, dispatched her elfin maids to tell Njord the tale. No fog the father's frolic held back, and soon upon the sea-steeds' gallop, he crest and trough rode raging to bring back his boy. The maiden, eloquence led back, awaited them back home. Sol baked the first cake of homecoming in the horse-carried chariot-oven of each day dawning ; the high celestial ones feasted that sunset with earth's rhythmic kin! And men once more made bread and ale to sup. Spring was dawning!

Don't know this tale? It is told in patches by Saxo, here : Ea tempestate per summam caeli intemperantiam agrorum ubertate corrupta, ingens annonae caritas incidit. Cumque oborta victualium raritate gravis plebem inedia laceraret, rex, quonam modo temporis difficultati succurreret, anxius, cum aliquanto maiorem bibulorum quam edacium impensam animadverteret, frugalitatem populo intulit [Gesta Danorum,Liber VIII], "At the same time [the reign of King Snow], the fertility of the fields was destroyed through the most extreme of weather, and there was immense loss of year's produce. Indeed, there arose such a rarity of food that the common folk were wasted by terrible starvation, so that the king, anxious to help in this time of hardship, when he noticed that those fond of drinking spent more than the hungry, imposed frugality on the populace."

There was a time when the Frost-Giant named Snow ruled over the people, and there was terrible starvation as all the crops were lost.

And here : ...[C]upidus gigas ... feminam subornat, quae, cum obtenta virginis familiaritate eius aliquamdiu pedissequam egisset, hanc tandem a paternis procul penatibus, quaesita callidius digressione, seduxit; quam ipse mox irruens in artiora montanae crepidinis saepta devexit. ... Quod ut comperit Otharus, indagandae virginis gratia montis penita perscrutatus, inventam, oppresso gigante, secum abduxit [Gesta Danorum, Liber VII],"A lecherous giant outfitted a woman who, as soon as she had obtained the young woman [Syr-itha : Freya]'s friendship, spending some time as her handmaiden, at last led her astray away from her father's ancestral homelands, departing on a crafty quest ; whence, the giant rushed out and carried her down into the narrow mountain, confining her behind a retaining wall. ... When Odr discovered this, seeking the maiden's friendship, he tracked her down, and searching high and low throughout the innards of the mountain, he found her, crushed the giant, and led her away."

Freya, the harvest-maiden, was stolen away and betrayed by her hand-maiden into the giant's lair ; whence Odr, her to-be husband, wooed her by winning her back from the vanquished foe.

And here : ...[V]ir magicae artis doctus ... concitatis carmine procellis ... exasperatos maleficio fluctus ... Vi carminum hostilem hebetavit aspectum ... adeo retusis obtutibus [Gesta Danorum, Liber V], "A man skilled in the magical arts ... stirred up tempests with his incantations ... roughening the tides through sorcery ...The strength of his incantations dulled the vision of the enemy ... to such a degree that their gaze was greatly weakened."

At this time, one skilled in galdurs darkened the air, poisoning the weather with fog and the sea with storms, such that no one could see.

And here : Ubi Fridlevus noctu speculandi gratia castris egressus, cum inusitatum quendam icti aeris sonum comminus percepisset, fixo gradu suspiciens trium olorum superne clangentium hoc aure carmen excepit: Dum mare verrit Hythin rapidosque intersecat aestus, / auro verna bibit et lactea pocla ligurit. / Optima condicio servi, cui rege creatus / obsequitur, temere mutatis sortibus, heres. ... regis quippe Thialamarchiae filium pueriliter obludentem, Hythin nomine, gigas usitatum mortalium habitum mutuatus abduxerat eoque usus remige, cymba in proximum litus traiecta, Fridlevum tunc forte speculationis officio fungentem navigio praeteribat. Quem rex captivi adolescentis opera uti non passus, praeda raptorem exuere gestiebat. ... Quo dicto gigantem pede manuque curtatum, liberato captivo, coegit in fugam. ...Quibus spoliis ovans ereptique adolescentis in traiciendo mari navigatione usus hoc alacri carmen voce subtexuit: ... At nos defunctum membris opibusque gigantem / contudimus vastique chaos penetravimus antri. / Illic congestum raptu violavimus aurum. / Et iam fluctivagum tonsis everrimus aequor / confertamque ratem spoliis ad litus ovantes / remigio reduces agimus, percurrimus undas / permensore maris carabo; sulcemus alacres / hoc pelagus, ne nos hosti lux obvia prodat. / Ergo leves totoque manus conamine nisi / rimemur mare, castra prius classemque petentes, / quam roseum liquidis Titan caput exserat undis..."" [Gesta Danorum, Liber VI], "Whence Fridleif ["Remains in Frith", Father of Frodi-Freyr, and thus Njord] set sail by night, with goodwill searching for the fortress, perceived an unusual sound close at hand striking through the air, and fixing his step, looked up at three heavenly swans singing, and heard this song that follows : "While the sea is swept by Hythin ["The Whipped One"] and the rapid sea-swell cleaves / his slave drinks out of gold and licks up drink from milk-white bowls. / Good is the slave's situation, when the son of the king obeys him, for rashly are their fates exchanged, in dire straits is he!" ... For as you see, while the king of Telemark's son, named Hythin, played childlike, a giant who had exchanged his usual form for that of a human abducted him, and consequently used him as an oarsman, crossing the nearest shore in a small skiff ; thereupon, Fridleif, as luck would have it, was passing by as he performed the duty of inspecting his ship. Yet the king would not allow him to make use of the youthful captive's service, and eagerly desired to strip the robber of his prey. ... Declaring he would cut off the hand and foot of the giant, he forced him to flee, and liberated his captive. ... He rejoiced in the rescue of booty and transported the youth into the sea for their voyage, enjoying with lively voice the song that follows : "...While we have brought to an end the limbs and might of the giant / and entering his monstrous, underworld cavern, crushed him, / There we seized the gold he piled up dishonorably / and now, cutting the wave-tossed sea's surface we sail out / and rejoicing, densely pack our ship with spoils to the seashore / and driving oars, return, quickly running o'er the waves / our small skiff cheerfully plowing and passing over the sea ; the open sea shall not betray us to the hostile enemy of daylight / Therefore, lift spirits, and advance with the support of all hands / exploring the seas, aiming for our fleet and fortress, ere / Sol stretch forth her rosy head from clear and flowing waves...""

Njord faithfully searched for the fortress where his son and daughter were kept captive, and finally learned the whereabouts of Freyr from three swan-maidens, who told him he was kept whipped by a giant who had abducted him and forced him to row in a small boat. Thereupon Njord intercepted the giant, cut off his limbs, and freed Freyr, sailing off in song, awaiting celebration as Sol began to rise.

Weep not, therefore, that your ancestral stories are lost : there, in Saxo, they await.

all translations copyright 2010 by Siegfried Goodfellow


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