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65

(1869) [MARC] Author: Rasmus Rask
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Sigfussen, an ecclesiastic, who was born in Iceland in 1056
and pursued his classical studies in the universities of
Germany and France, first collected and arranged the hook of
songs relating to the mythology and history of the ancient
North, which is called the poetic, or elder Edda. Various
and contradictory opinions have been maintained as to the
manner in which this collection was made by Sæmund, who
first gave it to the world. Some suppose that he merely
gathered the Runic manuscripts of the different poems, and
transcribed them in Latin characters. Others maintain that
he look them from the mouths of different Skalds, living in
his day, and first reduced them to writing, they having been
previously, preserved and handed down by oral tradition
merely. But the most probable conjecture seems to be, that
he collected some of this fragmentary poetry from
cotemporary Skalds and other parts from manuscripts written after
the introduction of Christianity and Latin letters into Iceland,
which have since been lost, and merely added one song of
his own composition the Sólar Ljód, or Carmen-Solare of
a moral and Christian religious tendency, so as thereby to
consecrate and leaven, as it were, the whole mass of paganism.“

The Edda contains Ist Songs of the Gods, and IInd Songs
of the Heroes. Völu-spá (the oracle of valá, the seer) tells
of the creation of the World, and the Gods and People who
dwell in it. The Seer has heard of the doings in this world
from her instructors, the primeval giants, and she is acquainted
with nine heavens, she also knows the future.

The entire poem is most prophetic and remarkable.

Grimnis-mál, the Song of Grimnir, in which he
describes the twelve dwellings of the Gods and the splendour of
Valhalla.

The Vafþruðnis-mál, Oðinn undertakes to visit a
wise and powerful giant and to question him on the World,
the Gods and the Giants. The giant gives his replies and
shows his knowledge, but from the tenour of the last question
he guesses that the visitor who has drawn his secrets from him
is the powerful God himself.

The Sólar-liód, the song of the sun, as we have
already seen is a Christian song, interwoven with old
mythological fancies.

Besides these four most important songs, the following are
of a very remarkable kind, in which the old poetry has a tinge

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