Baldrs draumar (Vegtamskviða) – Baldr's Dreams

The Eddic poem Baldrs Draumr is only preserved in the manuscript known as AM 748 I 4to. It contains 14 verses. Later paper manuscripts of the same poem, however, titled Vegtamskvida, contain several extra lines and verses not found in the single surviving vellum manuscript copy of the poem. Today, because they are not found in the oldest copy of the poem, these extra lines are no longer found in scholarly editions and translations.

Bellows’s notes on the poem

Introductory Note:

Baldrs Draumar is found only in the Arnamagnæan Codex, where it follows the Harbarthsljoth fragment. It is preserved in various late paper manuscripts, with the title Vegtamskvitha (The Lay of Vegtam), which has been used by some editors.

The poem, which contains but fourteen stanzas, has apparently been preserved in excellent condition. Its subject-matter and style link it closely with the Voluspo. Four of the five lines of stanza 11 appear, almost without change, in the Voluspo, 32-33, and the entire poem is simply an elaboration of the episode outlined in those and the preceding stanzas. It has been suggested that Baldrs Draumar and the Voluspo may have been by the same author. There is also enough similarity in style between Baldrs Draumar and the Thrymskvitha (note especially the opening stanza) to give color to Vigfusson’s guess that these two poems had a common authorship. In any case, Baldrs Draumar presumably assumed its present form not later than the first half of the tenth century.

Whether the Volva (wise-woman) of the poem is identical with the speaker in the Voluspo is purely a matter for conjecture. Nothing definitely opposes such a supposition. As in the longer poem she foretells the fall of the gods, so in this case she prophesies the first incident of that fall, the death of Baldr. Here she is called up from the dead by Othin, anxious to know the meaning of Baldr’s evil dreams; in the Voluspo it is likewise intimated that the Volva has risen from the grave.

The poem, like most of the others in the collection, is essentially dramatic rather than narrative, summarizing a story which was doubtless familiar to every one who heard the poem recited.