Wardruna are a Norweigan band that create songs talking about old norse mythology. The reason for me looking at these songs are for two reasons: to get more knowledge on Norse Mythology and maybe include excerpts of their songs into my book for when the characters are having a feast – a most common use for songs, or when they are about to go into battle to get the favor of Odin and the Gods. The second reason why I want to look at these songs is for inspiration for my own death song for Gunnar – Wardruna have created many death songs for the Gods, the most famous is Einar’s own intrepretation of Ragnar’s death song.
Tyr is about a one-handed God – with the same name – who was praised for his courage against the wolf Fenrir, who unfortunately bit his hand off in retaliation to being captured. There have been many speculations if Tyr was in fact the son of Odin (Prose Edda), or the son of Hymir (Poetic Edda). However, some think he is the father of the Gods; we simply do not know.
Though the song is about Tyr, it is also about battle and the ever-coming of Ragnarok.
“Healthy to battle,
Healthy from battle,
Whence they come back hale”
It is essentially saying that I will go into battle strong and powerful and I will also leave the battle unscathed, not murdered in battle as their enemies may have. The “Whence they come back hale” may be about Ragnarok, as they may have won the battle against their enemy (Fenrir), when Ragnarok strikes, Fenrir will attack, free from the curse of Gleipnir; a chain created by the dwarves.
I may use this song as a small chant at the start of battle, getting the blessing of Tyr as they state how they will go into battle strong and will leave the battle even stronger.
Helvegen is a funeral song, the person being depicted in the song making a journey to Hel, while begging for Odin to take him to Valhalla.
The song mentions many things to do with mythology
“I know it all, Odin
where you hid your eye”
It is very well known in norse mythology that Odin gave up his eye for a sip from the Well Of Urd, that was situated at the bottom of Yggdrasil’s roots. From this well he would get extensive knowledge. There is probably another interpretation of this line, which is probably more accurate to what is being said in the song, but I would like to think it as now that the person has died, they also aquired the knowledge Odin has, becoming a God themselves. It is fitting with the image I am trying to portray for Gunnar.
The last two stanzas are in fact from the Poetic Edda
“Cattle die, kinsmen die
You yourself will also die
but the word about you will never die
If you win a good reputation
Cattle die, kinsmen die
You yourself will also die
I know one that will never die
The reputation of those who died”
It is very obvious of the message the final two stanzas are conveying: “but the word about you will never die, if you win a good reputation” this is the most important line throughout the whole song. Just reading this gives me an image of how I could use it for my Viking. He has had many successful raids throughout his lifetime and suffered an honorable death in England – a good reputation by Vikings.