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THE EIGHTH FABLE.
Of the Holy City, or Residence of the Gods..
ANGLER demanded : Which is
the capital of the Gods, or the fa-, cred city ? Har answers, It is under the Alh Ydrasl; where the Gods assemble eve-> ry day, and administer justice (A). But, says Gangler, What is there remarkable with regard to that place? That Alh, says Jafnhar, is the greatest and best of all trees. Its branches extend themselves over the whole world, and reach above the heavens. It hath three roots, extremely diftant from each other : the one of them is among the Gods; the other among the Giants, in that very place where the abyss was formerly; the third covers Niflheim, or Hell; and under this root is the fountain Vergelmer, whence flow the infernal rivers: this root is gnawed upon below by the monstrous serpent Nidhoger. Under that root, which stretches out towards the land VOL. II. E
of the Giants, is also a celebrated spring, in which are concealed Wisdom and Prudence. He who has possession of it is named Mimis; he is full of wisdom, bear cause he drinks thereof every morning. One day the Universal Father came and begged to drink a cup of this water; but he was obliged to leave in pledge for it one of his eyes, according as it is said in the VOLUSPA: “ Where hast thou concealed “'thine eye, ODIN? I know where; “ even in the limpid fountain of Mimis, • Every morning does Mimis pour Hyo dromel (or Mead) upon the pledge he “ received from the Universal Father. Do
you, or do you not, understand this? " (B).”. The third root of the Ath is in heaven, and under it lies the holy fountain of TIME-PAST. 'Tis here that the Gods fit in judgment. Every day they ride hither on horseback, passing over the Rainbow, which is the bridge of the Gods. These are the names of the horses of the Gods : Sleipner is the best of them; he hath eight feet, and he belongs to Odin. The others are Glader, Gyller, &c. The horse of the God Balder, was burnt along With his master. As for Thor, he goes on fogt to the tribunal of the Gods, and fords the rivers Kormt, Gormt, &c. All these is he obliged to cross every day on
foot, in his way to the Ash Ydrahl; for the Bridge of the Gods is all on fire. How comes it to pass, interrupted Gangler, that the Bridge Bifrost is on fire? That, says Har, which you see red in the Rainbow, is the fire which burns in heaven : for the Giants of the mountains would climb
up to heaven by that Bridge, if it were easy for every one to walk over it.
There are in heaven a great many pleafant cities, and none without a divine garrison. Near the fountain, which is under the Ash, stands a very beautiful city, wherein dwell three virgins, named Urda, or the Past; Verdandi, or the PRESENT ; and Sskulda, or the Future. These are they who dispense the ages of men; they are called Nornies, that is, Fairies *, or Destinies. But there are indeed a great many others, besides these, who affist at the birth of every child, to determine his fate. Some are of celestial origin; others defcend from the Genii ; and others from the Dwarfs : as it is said in these verses, “ There are Nornies of different originals : “ some proceed from the Gods, some from " the Genii, and others from the Dwarfs.” -Then, says Gangler, if these Nornies dis
* Nornir, In. is rather Faies, or Destinies, Parca. I have therefore chose to retain the original word in some of the following passages rather than render it FAIRIES, after M, Mallet. E 2
pense the destinies of men, they are very -unequal in their distribution; for some are fortunate and wealthy, others acquire neither riches nor honours; some come to a good old age, while others die in their prime of life. Har answers, The Nornies, who are sprung of a good origin, are good themselves, and dispense good destinies : but those men to whom misfortunes happen, ought to ascribe them to the evil Nornies or Fairies (c). Gangler proceeds, and desires to know something more concerning the Athi Har replied, What I have farther to add concerning it, is, that there is an eagle perched upon its branches, who knows a multitude of things : but he hath between his eyes a sparrow-hawk. A squirrel runs up and down the Alh, fowing misunderstanding between the eagle and the serpent, which lies concealed at its root. Four stags run across the branches of the tree, and devour its rind. There are so many serpents in the fountain whence spring the rivers of hell, that no tongue can recount them, as it is said in these verses. “ The “ large Ath suffers' more than man would " believe, A stag eats and spoils it above ; « it rots on the sides; while a serpent “ gnaws and corrodes it below.” And also in these, “ Under the great Afh are many " serpents, &c.” They relate besides, that the Fairies or Destinies who reside near the
** which falls into the valleys, and which
fountain of the Past, draw up water thence, with which they bedew the Alh, to prevent its branches from growing withered and decayed. Of so purifying a nature is that water, that whatever it touches becomes as white as the film withinfide an egg. There are upon this subject very ancient verses, to this effect, The s« and sacred Ash is besprinkled with a " white water, whence 'comes the dew
“ The great
fprings from the fountain of PAST5: TIME.”. Men call this the Honey-dew, and it is the food of bees. There are also in this fountain two fwans, which have produced all the birds of that species.
REMARKS ON THE EIGHTH FABLE:
fize and age.
! (A) “ Administer ju tree remarkable for its k ftice.”] We fee in the
The state's preceeding fable, that the of East Friezeland, even Gods assemble together in fo late as the thirteenth the open-air, in a valley : century, assembled under Here is their principal re three large oaks which fidence, under an Alb
grew near Aurich; and Tree, In this, as in it is not more than three other things, the Gods centuries
that molt are made
conform of the German princes themselves to the man held their conferences unners of men. The an der trees t. The averfion cient Gothic and Cel-. these people had for intic nations for a long closed places; the fear time had no other place of putting themselves into of rendezvous, than fome the power of a perfidious + Vid. Keya. Antiq. Sept. p.78, 79, 80,