The Old High German Muspilli


The incomplete Old High German epic poem that has become known as the Muspilli represents a Germanic interpretation of the Final Judgement as a battle for souls between heavenly and infernal powers and an ultimate burning up of this world—a Christian Ragnarök. The 100 surviving lines of the poem exhibit the linguistic features of a southern OHG dialect (most saliently, an advanced stage of the High German consonant shift). The extant lines were written in the margins and blank folios of a single manuscript (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm 14098), which itself is from the 9th century and predominantly contains a theological text written in Latin.

The Muspilli is written in alliterative verse, the traditional form for virtually all early Germanic poetry. Although the precise requirements vary from language to language—Old English appears to exhibit stricter metrical rules than OHG, and North Germanic skaldic poetry features internal rhyme and highly complex kennings—common rules can be abstracted. Each line is metrically divisible into two hemistichs (half-lines), each of which contains exactly two stressed syllables. One or both of the stressed syllables in the first hemistich always alliterates with the first syllable in the second hemistich. Even this much is not inviolable, however (cf. l. 3, which contains a second alliterating syllable in the second hemistich: likkan lazzit).

I will publish the poem in a series of workable chunks, boldfacing the alliterating consonants. Reconstructed forms are Proto-Germanic unless indicated otherwise.

Part I (ll. 1–10)

Part II (ll. 11–24)

Part III (ll. 25–43)

Part IV (ll. 44–60)

Part V (ll. 61–72)

Part VI (ll. 73–90)

Part VII (ll. 91–105)


Muspilli Part VII (91-105)

Go to Part VI

so dar manno nohhein    uuiht pimidan ni mak,
dar scal denne hant sprehhan,    houpit sagen,
allero lido uuelihc    unzi in den luzigun uinger,
uuaz er untar desen mannun    mordes kifrumita.
dar ni ist eo so listic man    der dar iouuiht arliugan megi, 95
daz er kitarnan megi    tato dehheina,
niz al fora demo khuninge    kichundit uuerde,
uzzan er iz mit alamusanu furimegi
enti mit fastun    dio uirina kipuazti.
denne der paldet    der gipuazzit hapet, 100
denner ze deru suonu quimit.
uuirdit denne furi kitragan    daz frono chruci,
dar der heligo Christ    ana arhangan uuard.
denne augit er dio masun,    dio er in deru menniski anfenc,
dio er duruh desse mancunnes    minna fardoleta. 105

91   uuiht (fem. i) here = ‘anything’ but historically < ‘thing, living being,’ cf. wightpimidan (I bi-mīdan) ‘avoid, dodge’

92   houpit (neut. a) ‘head,’ replaced in the modern language by der Kopf, although das Haupt is still found in compounds (and, archaically, on its own); cf. head < OE hēafod; for the vocalic alternation in reconstructed *haubid-/*haubud- cf. Latin caput (nom.) but capitis (gen.)

93   lido (masc. i lid genitive plural) ‘body part’—unzi (preposition) ‘until’ but here with the force of ‘down to’—luzigun ‘little’—uinger ‘finger’ < *fingraz; possibly related to PIE *pénkʷe ‘five’

94   desen mannun is dative plural—mordes (masc./neut. mord genitive plural) ‘murder,’ a partitive genitive

95   Here is another line with twofold alliteration: l | m || l | mlistic ‘clever, crafty’—iouuiht ‘anything’ = io + uuiht, cf. the English cognate aughtarliugan (II ir-liogan) ‘lie, cheat’—megi (mugan 3sg present optative) ‘might be able’

96   dehheina (fem. accusative singular) ‘any’

97   niz = ni + iz—khuninge (masc. a dative singular) ‘king’—kichundit (1 kunden past participle) ‘made known’

98   This line seems incomplete—uzzan (conjunction) ‘except, unless,’ lit. ‘outside’—alamusanu (neut. a alamuosan accusative plural) ‘alms, sacrifice’ < Greek ἐλεημοσύνη ‘pity, mercy’—furimegi (-mugan 3sg present optative) ‘be able to, be successful at, prevail’

99   fastun (fem. ō fasta) ‘fasting’—uirina ‘sins’—kipuazti (1 gi-buozen 3sg preterite optative) ‘might atone, improve, repair’

100   denne … denne are correlative = ‘then … when (relative)’—der … der are correlative; the second der begins a relative clause—paldet (3 baldēn) ‘becomes bold, takes courage’—gipuazzit hapet is a periphrastic perfect form, rather new at this stage in the language; the older alternative would be gipuazta

101   denner = denne + er, ‘when he …’

102   uuirdit, an auxiliary verb in the passive construction (for kitragan), has chruci as its subject—furi is adverbial ‘forth,’ i.e. ‘before (the man being judged)’—kitragan (VI gi-tragan past participle) ‘brought’—frono ‘lordly,’ i.e. ‘belonging to a lord (frō)’; in this case probably = ‘holy, belonging to the Lord’—chruci (neut. ja krūci nominative singular) ‘cross’

103   dar … ana ‘on which’; dar is relative; cf. Dutch waar Christus aan werd gehangenarhangan (VII ir-hāhan) ‘hung up, crucified’—uuard is the historical preterite singular for uuerdan; in modern German ward has rather recently been replaced with wurde

104   augit (1 ougen) this verb typically means ‘shows, reveals,’ lit. ‘(puts to the) eye’ < *augijaną (cf. *augan- ‘eye’), but here apparently = ‘sees,’ since the subject er seems to be the man; cf. to eye in modern English—masun (fem. n māsa accusative plural) ‘scars, stigmata’—menniski (fem. īn dative singular) is properly ‘the state of being a mann’; therefore = ‘personhood, humanity’—anfenc (VII -fāhan 3sg preterite indicative) ‘received,’ cf. modern Ger. empfing

105   dio … is a second relative clause whose antecedent is l. 104 masunduruh here = ‘because of’ lit. ‘through,’ governs minnadesse (fem. genitive singular) goes with minnamancunnes (neut. ja genitive singular) ‘of humanity, mankind’; recall that, at this point, mann can still refer either to a male or female person—minna (fem. ō) ‘love’; the modern word Minne typically refers to the ‘courtly love’ sung of in the Minnesang genre of Middle High German lyric poetry, but OHG does not have this restricted meaning; the word is apparently from < PIE *ménh2yeh2 ‘thought, consideration’; the cognate verb in Greek, μνάομαι, tellingly has the double meaning ‘remember, be mindful of,’ and (at least in Homer) ‘woo for one’s bride, court’—fardoleta (3 -dolēn) ‘endured, tolerated, suffered’ Ger. Geduld, Old English geþyld), from the zero-grade of *tleh2– ‘endure’ (cf. Greek τλάω ‘endure’; Latin ferō ‘carry’ has two suppletive forms from this root: the perfect tulī and the participle lātus, which was tlātus before the initial cluster was simplified

No person will then be able to avoid anything,
for the hand shall speak, the head say,
each body part down to the little finger,
what murder he has done among these people.
For there has never been a man so crafty who may lie about anything, 95
so that he may conceal a single deed
and it will not be made known before the king,
unless he manage it with alms
and might atone for his sins with fasting.
Then the one who has atoned will take courage, 100
when he comes to the judgement.
The lordly cross will then be brought before him
on which the holy Christ was hanged.
Then the man will see the scars that he received while human,
that he suffered because of this love of humanity. 105

Muspilli Part VI (73-90)

Go to Part V

So daz himilisca horn kilutit uuirdit,
enti sih der suanari    ana den sind arheuit
der dar suannan scal    toten enti lepenten, 75
denne heuit sih mit imo    herio meista,
daz ist allaz so pald,    daz imo nioman kipagan ni mak.
denne uerit er ze deru mahalsteti,    deru dar kimarchot ist:
dar uuirdit diu suona, dia man dar io sageta.
denne uarant engila    uper dio marha, 80
uuechant deota,    uuissant ze dinge.
denne scal manno gilih    fona deru moltu arsten,
lossan sih ar dero leuuo uazzon:    scal imo auar sin lip piqueman,
daz er sin reht allaz    kirahhon muozzi,
enti imo after sinen tatin    arteilit uuerde. 85
denne der gisizzit,    der dar suonnan scal
enti arteillan scal    toten enti quekkhen,
denne stet dar umpi    engilo menigi,
guotero gomono:    gart ist so mihhil:
dara quimit ze deru rihtungu so uilo    dia dar ar resti arstent. 90

73   On first glance, the alliteration scheme here appears to be h | h || l | w, which violates the requirement of an alliterating sound in the second half-line; but since kilutit represents historical *hl- it is at least conceivable that this word used to alliterate in an older period of the language’s history. (While clusters like */hl/ usually alliterate with identical clusters and not with single sounds, exceptions can easily be found, e.g. Beowulf l. 52 hæleð under heofenum, hwa þæm hlæste onfeng.)mdash;So temporal ‘when’—kilutit (1 gi-hlūten) ‘sounded’ < *hlūdaz ‘loud’ < PIE *ḱlew- ‘hear,’ cf. Greek κλέ(ϝ)ω ‘hear, obey’; Russian слушать ‘to listen’; Sanskrit śṛṇoti ‘hears’; Old Irish ro∙cluinethar ‘hears’

74   suanari (masc. ja) ‘judge, conciliator’ = suona (cf. l. 7) + the agentive ending āri < *-ārijaz, which was borrowed from Latin ārius

75   This line does not alliterate. Take the whole line in apposition to l. 74 der suanarisuannan (1 suonen) ‘to judge’—toten enti lepenten are dative plural objects of suannan

76   herio (masc. ja genitive plural) ‘armies, hosts’—meista (neut. sg.) ‘greatest,’ superlative of mihhil; note the n-declension to imply definiteness: ‘the greatest of hosts’ i.e. ‘the greatest host’

77   pald ‘bold, courageous’; the antecedent of daz is l. 76 herio meistakipagan = the same as l. 6 pagan but with the prefix gi- implying perfectivity

78   deru (fem. sg. dative relative pronoun) the verb kimarchot is impersonal here, with a dative object—kimarchot (2 gi-markōn) ‘marked off’

79   man … sageta should probably be translated as a passive—io (adverb) here = ‘once, in the past’

81   Note the twofold alliteration in this line: w | þ || w | þdeota has been translated as ‘the dead,’ but both the d and e make this problematic; a better reading is perhaps (fem. ō diota) ‘the people’ < *þeudō < PIE *tewtéh2uuechant (1 uuekken) ‘wake’——uuissant (1 uuīsen) ‘guide, lead, summon’—dinge here = ‘court of (divine) law’

82   gilih (masc. sg.), like l. 32 kilihaz, has the meaning ‘each, every’—moltu (fem. ō molta) ‘earth, dust,’ cf. OE molde ‘earth’ > moldarsten (ir-stēn) ‘to stand up, arise’

83   lossan (1 lōsen) ‘to release, free’—ar (preposition) ‘out of’—leuuo (masc. wa genitive plural) ‘graves’ < *hlaiwaz, possibly the first element of Hlewagastizuazzon (fem. ō dative plural) ‘burdens’—auar here read as ‘moreover’—lip (masc./neut. a) ‘life’ but here = ‘body,’ cf. Ger. Leib

84   daz ‘so that’—sin reht here = ‘his case, his plea’—kirahhon (2 gi-rahhōn) ‘to tell, recount,’ related to rahhamuozzi (muozan 3sg present optative) ‘might be able’

85   after (preposition) ‘according to’—tatin (fem. i tāt) ‘deeds’—arteilit (1 ir-teilen past participle) ‘judged’ is impersonal with dative object imo

86   denne ‘when (relative),’ looks ahead to l. 88 denne ‘then’—der … der are a correlative pair; the second der is the relative pronoun—gisizzit (V gi-sizzen) ‘sits’

87   quekkhen (quek masc. dative plural) ‘alive,’ here substantivized = ‘the living’; cf. Ger. Quecksilber lit. ‘living silver’ i.e. ‘moving silver’

88   dar umpi ‘thereabout’ = ‘all around’—menigi (fem. īn) ‘multitude, crowd,’ cf. Ger. Menge

89   gomono (masc. n genitive plural) ‘men’; take this in apposition to engilo; OHG goma (cf. Latin homō, Irish duine) has obviously lost its historical semantics < PIE *dʰģʰom- ‘earth’; its only modern reflex is the second half of Bräutigam ‘bridegroom’ < *brūdi-guman- (the English bridegroom has acquired an r on analogy to an unrelated word)—gart (masc. a) ‘yard, circle,’ here = ‘choir’ < *gardaz, cf. yard

90   rihtungu (fem. ō rihtunga) ‘court, tribunal’—resti (fem. īn) ‘repose, peace, resting-place’

When the heavenly horn is sounded,
and the judge rises onto the way
who shall then judge the dead and the living, 75
there arises together with him the greatest army,
which is so bold that no one is able to fight against it.
Then he goes to the courtplace, which is marked out there;
then the judgement transpires that was once foretold.
Then angels will come over the land, 80
wake the people, summon them to the court.
Then every person shall rise up out of the ground,
loosen himself from the burdens of the graves; moreover, his body will come to him,
so that he might plead his whole case,
and that he might be judged according to his deeds. 85
When he sits, the one who shall then decide
and shall judge the dead and the living,
then a crowd of angels will stand all around,
(a crowd) of good people; the choir is so great.
Then so many come to the trial, those who rise up out of their resting-place. 90

Go to Part VII

Muspilli Part V (61-72)

Go to Part IV

diu marha ist farprunnan,    diu sela stet pidungan,
ni uueiz mit uuiu puaze:    so uerit si za uuize.
pidiu ist demo manne so guot,    denner ze demo mahale quimit,
daz er rahono uueliha    rehto arteile.
denne ni darf er sorgen,    denne er ze deru suonu quimit. 65
ni uueiz der uuenago man,    uuielihan uuartil er habet,
denner mit den miaton    marrit daz rehta,
daz der tiuual dar pi    kitarnit stentit.
der hapet in ruouu    rahono uueliha,
daz der man er enti sid    upiles kifrumita, 70
daz er iz allaz kisaget,    denne er ze deru suonu quimit;
ni scolta sid manno nohhein    miatun intfahan.

61   This line is metrically complete but lacks the expected alliteration: m | br || s | þwfarprunnan (III -brinnan past participle) ‘burned up’—pidungan (III bi-duuingan past participle) ‘defeated, overpowered’

62   uuiu (interrogatove pronoun uuaz instrumental singular) read mit uuiu as ‘with what’ = ‘how’—puaze (1 buozen 3sg present optative) ‘atone, remedy’ cf. Ger. büßenuuize (neut. ja uuīzi) ‘torture, punishment, hell’

63   pidiu looks ahead to l. 64 dazdenner = denne ‘when (relative)’ + er

64   rahono (fem. ō rahha) lit. ‘things said’ but here ‘things, matters’; the ō-stems have adopted the genitive plural of n-stems (foreshadowing a total merger that is only completed centuries later); rahono uueliha lit. ‘each of matters’ = ‘each matter’—arteile (1 ir-teilen 3sg present optative) ‘judge, determine’—This line refers to a man choosing his deeds carefully during his life; it is not helpful advice to the soul presently on trial, but the living audience may benefit from it.

65   denne … denne a correlative pair, ‘then … when’; the first is perhaps best left untranslated—ni darf exhibits the historical semantics of dürfen, ‘he does not need to’—suonu (fem. ō suona) ‘judgement, decision’

66   uuenago ‘miserable, wretched’—uuielhan ‘which’—uuartil (masc. a) ‘guard, protector’ < *wardilaz, cf. *wardōną > Ger. warten; uuielihan uuartil er habet, i.e. who is watching him

67   miaton (here fem. n; historically fem. ō) ‘payments, fees’ but here = ‘bribes’ < *mizdō, cf. Greek μισθός ‘reward, payment’—marrit (1 merren) ‘disturbs, hampers’ < *marzijaną, cf. mardaz rehta lit. ‘das Rechte’ = ‘what is right,’ i.e. ‘justice’

68   take the daz-clause of this line in apposition with l. 66 uuielihan uuartil er habet, an elaboration of what the uuenago man does not know—tiuual (masc. a) ‘devil’ with second u for /f/—dar pi lit. ‘thereby’ = ‘nearby’—kitarnit (1 gi-tarnen past participle) ‘hidden, concealed’ < *darnijaną, cf. the legendary Tarnkappestentit (VI standan) alternates in this text with stet (cf. l. 61)

69   der (emphatic 3sg pronoun) ‘that one’ = der tiuualruouu (fem. ō) ‘silence’—rahhono uueliha, as in l. 64, refers to ‘each matter’ (lit. ‘each of matters’), and not literally ‘speeches’; cf. the semantic evolution of Greek λόγος, Hebrew דבר‎‎, for ‘speech’ > ‘matter’

70   daz ‘what (relative)’; take this daz-clause in apposition to rahono uuelihaer enti sid lit. ‘earlier and later’ in his life, i.e. ‘ever’—upiles is a partitive genitive; ‘any(thing of) evil’—kifrumita (1 gi-frummen 3sg preterite indicative) ‘carried out, accomplished, did’

71   the devil’s function as accuser echoes both the etymology of tiuual < διάβολος from δια-βάλλω ‘falsely accuse, slander’ (even if there is an admitted leap between ‘(rightly) accuse,’ as here, and ‘slander’) and Satan’s historical role before his association with the underworld (cf. Job 1:10)—er in 71a refers to der tiuual; in 71b it refers to der uuenago mankisaget (2 gi-sagēn) ‘will say’—denne ‘when (relative)’—suonu (fem. ō) here = ‘judgement’

72   scolta (skulan 3sg preterite optative) ‘should,’ with the same normative force as its English cognate—sid lit ‘afterwards’ but here = ‘because of that’; cf. since < ME siþþenes < OE siþþan < *sīþ-þām ‘after that’ > Ger. seitdemmiatun again refers specifically to ‘bribes’—intfahan (VII -fāhan) ‘to receive, take,’ cf. Ger. empfangen with assimilation of nt > mp before f

The country is burned up, the soul stands overpowered;
it does not know how to atone; so it goes to punishment.
It will be so good for the man, when he goes to the tribunal,
that he determine each of his deeds rightly.
He will not have to worry when he comes before the judgement. 65
The wretched man is unaware of which watcher he has
when he mars with bribes that which is right,
that the devil stands hidden nearby.
He silently keeps every matter,
what evil the man ever accomplished; 70
he will tell all of it when the man goes on trial;
that’s why no person should take bribes.

Go to Part VI

Muspilli Part IV (44-60)

Go to Part III

der antichristo    stet pi demo altfiante,
stet pi demo Satanase,    der inan uarsenkan scal: 45
pidiu scal er in deru uuicsteti    uunt piuallan
enti in demo sinde    sigalos uuerdan.
doh uuanit des [uilo] gotmanno,
daz Elias in demo uuige    aruuartit uuerde.
so daz Eliases pluot    in erda kitriufit, 50
so inprinnant die perga,    poum ni kistentit
enihc in erdu,    aha artruknent,
muor uarsuuilhit sih,    suilizot lougiu der himil,
mano uallit,    prinnit mittilagart,
sten ni kistentit,    uerit denne stuatago in lant, 55
uerit mit diu uuiru    uiriho uuison:
dar ni mac denne mak andremo    helfan uora demo muspille.
denne daz preita uuasal    allaz uarprinnit,
enti uuir enti luft    iz allaz arfurpit,
uuar ist denne diu marha,    dar man dar eo mit sinen magon piehc? 60

44   altfiante ‘ancient enemy’

45   uarsenkan (1 senken) ‘to cause to fall, sink’

46   uuicsteti ‘place (stat) of battle (uuig)’—uunt ‘wounded’—piuallan (VII bi-fallan) ‘to fall’

47   sind lit. ‘path, direction but translate here as ‘manner, way’—sigalos ‘without victory’ from *siguz ‘victory’ + *lausaz ‘rid of, reft of,’ cf. Ger. sieglos

48   des is the object of uuanit and looks ahead to l. 49 dazuilo the MS appears to have uula but this may be erroneous; nonetheless, this line seems incomplete—gotmanno (genitive plural) ‘men of God’ = ‘clergymen’

49   aruuartit (1 ir-uuerten past participle) ‘injured’—uuerde (III uuerdan) optative because it is indirect discourse

50   so … so read as ‘when … then’—kitriufit (II gi-triofan 3sg present indicative) ‘drip’

51   inprinnant (III in-brinnan 3pl present indicative) ‘burn up’—perga (masc. a) ‘mountains’—poum (masc a) ‘tree’—kistentit ‘will stand, persist, remain’

52   enihc ‘any, a single’; read this with poumaha (fem. ō) ‘rivers’ cf. Latin aquaartruknent (3 ir-trokkanēn) ‘dry up’

53   muor ‘moor, swamp’—uarsuuilhit (III -suuelgan) ‘swallows up’; read the reflexive (with sih) as a passive = ‘will be swallowed up’—suilizot (2 suuilizzōn) ‘burns up, glows’—lougiu (instrumental singular) ‘with fire’

54   mano (masc. n) ‘moon’—mittilagart (masc. a) ‘Midgard’ lit. ‘middle-yard,’ i.e. the territory in Germanic cosmology occupied by humans (higher than the infernal worlds of ice and fire but lower than Asgard and the worlds that house the elves)

55   uerit (VI faran 3sg present indicative)—stuatago (masc. n) ‘judgement-day’ = stuoen ‘atone’ + dago ‘day’; note that the n-declension was productive in early Germanic to denote definiteness, cf. *beran- ‘the brown one’ = ‘bear’ (this strategy has parallels in personal names like Latin Catō < catus ‘clever’; Greek Πλάτων < πλατύς ‘broad[-shouldered]’); the semantics of definiteness accompanying the n-stem provided the motivation for the so-called “weak nouns” in Germanic

56   uiriho (masc. ja genitive plural) ‘people, humanity’ < *ferhʷijaz fom *ferhʷō ‘life, soul’ < PIE *pérkʷus ‘oak; strength; life’—uuison (2 uuīsōn) ‘to visit,’ takes a genitive object; translate this infinitive as an expression of purpose ‘to visit humanity’

57   mak (masc. a māg) ‘kinsman, relative’—muspille the word from which the poem’s de facto title is derived, a hapax legomenon in the language, has obscure semantics and etymology; perhaps the subject of a future post

58   preita ‘broad, wide’—uuasal ‘earth’

59   iz (3sg neut. accusative pronoun) ‘it’—arfurpit (1 ir-furben 3sg present indicative) ‘will purify, cleanse’

60   marha (fem. ō marka) ‘region, country’—man is indefinite ‘one,’ but is perhaps not most eloquently translated as such—piehc (VII bāgan 3sg preterite indicative) ‘fought’

The Antichrist stands next to the ancient fiend,
stands by that Satan, who will defeat him; 45
thus shall he fall, wounded, on the battlefield
and in this way become reft of victory.
Indeed, many men of God expect
that Elijah will be injured in the battle.
When Elijah’s blood drips onto the earth, 50
then the mountains will burn up; not a single tree
will stand on the earth, rivers will dry up,
the swamp will be swallowed up, the sky will glow with fire,
the moon will fall, Midgard will burn,
not a stone will stand; when Judgement Day comes into the land, 55
comes with that fire to visit humanity;
at that time, no kinsman there can help another before the muspille.
For the vast ground will all burn up,
and fire and air will purify it all;
where then is the country where kinsmen once fought each other? 60

Go to Part V

Muspilli Part III (25-43)

Go to Part II

uue demo in uinstri scal    sino uirina stuen, 25
prinnan in pehhe:    daz ist rehto paluuic dink,
daz der man haret ze gote    enti imo hilfa ni quimit.
uuanit sih kinada    diu uuenaga sela:
ni ist in kihuctin    himiliskin gote,
uuanta hiar in uuerolti    after ni uuerkota. 30
so denne der mahtigo khuninc    daz mahal kipannit,
dara scal queman    chunno kilihaz:
denne ni kitar parno nohhein    den pan furisizzan,
ni allero manno uuelih    ze demo mahale sculi.
dar scal er uora demo rihhe    az rahhu stantan, 35
pi daz er in uuerolti eo    kiuuerkot hapeta.
daz hortih rahhon    dia uueroltrehtuuison,
daz sculi der antichristo    mit Eliase pagan.
der uuarch ist kiuuafanit,    denne uuirdit untar in uuic arhapan.
khenfun sint so kreftic    diu kosa ist so mihhil. 40
Elias stritit    pi den euuigon lip,
uuili den rehtkernon    daz rihhi kistarkan:
pidiu scal imo helfan    der himiles kiuualtit.

25   uue ‘woe!’—demo has an elliptical nominative counterpart der = ‘woe to him who …’—uirina (fem. ō) ‘sins’ with u written for /f/—stuen (1 stuoen) ‘atone for, pay the penalty for’ < *stōwjan

26   prinnan in pehhe is in apposition to sino uirina stuendaz is a placeholder pronoun looking forward to daz … in the following line—paluuic ‘evil’ *balw-īg-az from balo ‘evil’ cf. baleful

27   haret (3 harēn) ‘shouts, cries out’; note the indicative, not optative, in this line; it is no hypothetical scenario but one that, from the narrator’s perspective, is vividly happening now

28   uuanit (1 uuānen) ‘hopes for’ cf. archaic English ween ‘to consider, suppose’; built from uuān ‘hope, expectation’ > Ger. Wahnsih is dative = ‘for itself’—kinada ‘mercy, clemency’ cf. Ger. Gnadeuuenaga ‘miserable, wretched’ cf. wenig

29   ist supply the subject ‘it’ = the soul in question—kihuctin (fem. i gi-hugd dative plural) ‘thoughts, memories’; shares a root with l. 23 huckan ‘to think’—himiliskin gote is dative of reference: the thoughts in question belong to the himiliskin gote

30   after adverb ‘afterwards, hereafter’—uuerkota (2 uuerkōn) ‘accomplish, did work’; note that this must be translated as intransitive as we are not given a direct object

31   denne ‘when (relative)’; its correlative is l. 32 dara ‘then’—mahal ‘judgement, tribunal’—kipannit (VII gi-bannan) ‘demands, mandates’

32   chunno (neut. ja kunni genitive plural) ‘families, races’—kilihaz (neut. a nominative singular) technically = Ger. gleich ‘alike’ < *ga-līkaz, but here better read as Ger. jeglich ‘each, every’ < io (as in l. 36) + gi-līh

33   ni … ni ‘neither … nor’ even though the entirety of l. 34 is essentially a restatement of parno nohheinkitar (gi-tar) ‘dares to’ < *ga-dars < PIE *dʰers- cf. θαρσέω ‘take courage,’ θρασύς ‘audacious’—parno (neut. a barn genitive plural) lit. ‘children’ but freq. = ‘people’—nohhein ‘not one, none’ cf. Ger. kein, Dutch geen; parno nohhein lit. ‘not one of people’ = ‘no person’; cf. l. 18 allero manno uuelihemopan (masc. a) ‘decree, judgement; ban, proscription’ related to l. 31 kipannitfurisizzan (V -sitzen) ‘neglect, miss out on’

34   uuelih ‘whichsoever’ a relative pronoun, the subject of sculisculi (skulan) ‘shall’ = ‘must’; optative because uuelih does not refer to a specific individual; an elliptical verb of motion (e.g. gangan) must be assumed with sculi

35   rihhe (masc. ja rīhhi dative singular) ‘powerful’; a substantivization of the adjective = ‘the mighty one’ < *rīkijaz, a loanword from Celtic (where PIE *ē > *ī) and ultimately cognate with e.g. Latin rēxaz (cf. English at) usually takes the dative in Germanic, unlike its Latin cognate adrahhu (fem. ō rahha dative singular) ‘speech, reckoning’—stantan (VI standan) ‘stand’; the only Germanic verb to feature a nasal infix in the present tense (cf. Latin vinco~vīcī); for its relationship to stēn ‘stand,’ cf. gangan and gēn, both ‘go’

36   pi daz ‘according to what (relative)’—eo ‘ever’—kiuuerkot hapeta the poet uses an early periphrastic construction (instead of simply kiuuerkōta) to form the pluperfect ‘had wrought’

37   daz is a placeholder for the clause introduced by l. 38 dazhortih is elision of hōrta ih ‘I heard’—rahhon (2) ‘say, tell,’ related to l. 35 rahhu (cf. reckon)—uueroltrehtuuison (masc. uueralt-reht-uuīs accusative plural) a substantivization of the adjective = ‘those who are knowledgeable (uuīs) concerning the laws (reht) of the world (weralt)’

38   sculi is in indirect discourse and therefore not indicative; it has future semantics, cf. shallantichristo this has apparently been loaned into OHG as an n-stem noun—EliaseElijah‘—pagan (VII bāgan) ‘to fight, do battle’

39   uuarch (masc. a) ‘slayer, fiend, evildoer’ < *wargazkiuuafanit ‘weaponed,’ i.e. ‘in possession of a weapon’—denne ‘for, because’—untar in ‘among them’ = ‘between them’—uuic ‘battle’—arhapan (VI ir-heffen past participle) ‘raised up’ = ‘being waged’

40   khenfun (masc. jan) ‘warriors’ < *kampijaną, ultimately from Latin campus ‘field, plain’; Germanic *kampijan- ‘warrior’ is the source (through Medieval Latin and Old French) of championkreftic ‘powerful, strong’—kosa ‘case, dispute’ < Latin causa

41   stritit (I strītan) ‘fights’—pi here = ‘for the sake of’

42   uuili ‘wishes to’; formally an optative <*wiljai ‘may wish’; the subject is l. 41 Eliasrehtkernon (masc. dative plural) ‘righteous, just’; a substantivization of the adjective = ‘for the righteous ones’; the compound means ‘yearning (gern) for justice (reht)’—rihhi (neut. ja accusative singular) ‘kingdom’—kistarkan (1 gi-sterken) ‘to strengthen, solidify’

43   scal future semantics = ‘shall’; the subject is an implied pronoun er, the antecedent of the relative derhimiles a genitive object, as freq. required by verbs of governance, cf. ‘be in charge of,‘ also cf. Il. 1.38 “Τενέδοιό τε ἶφι ἀνάσσεις”—kiuualtit (VII gi-waltan) ‘commands, rules’

Woe unto him who in darkness shall pay the penalty for his sins, 25
burn in hell-fire; it is truly a wicked thing
that the man calls out to God and help does not come to him.
The wretched soul hopes for mercy for itself;
It is not in the thoughts of the heavenly God,
since it afterwards did no work here in the world. 30
Thus when the mighty king demands a tribunal,
every people shall come there;
Then nobody will dare miss the decree,
not any person who must go to the tribunal.
There he shall stand before the mighty one in reckoning 35
of whatever he had wrought in the world.
I heard those knowledgeable in the laws of the world say
that the Antichrist will do battle with Elijah.
The enemy is armed, for a battle will be waged between them.
The warriors are so powerful, the dispute is so great. 40
Elijah will fight for eternal life,
wishes to strengthen the kingdom for the righteous ones.
Therefore he who rules heaven shall help him.

Go to Part IV

Muspilli Part II (11-24)

Go to Part I

upi sia auar kihalont die    die dar fona himile quemant,
enti si dero engilo    eigan uuirdit,
die pringent sia sar uf in himilo rihi:
dar ist lip ano tod,    lioht ano finstri,
selida ano sorgun:    dar nist neoman siuh. 15
denne der man in pardisu    pu kiuuinnit,
hus in himile,    dar quimit imo hilfa kinuok.
pidiu ist durft mihhil    allero manno uuelihemo,
daz in es sin muot kispane,
daz er kotes uuillun    kerno tuo 20
enti hella fuir    harto uuise,
pehhes pina:    dar piutit der Satanasz altist
heizzan lauc.    so mac huckan za diu,
sorgen drato,    der sih suntigen uueiz.

11   upi = l. 8 ipu ‘if’—auar ‘but, however’ (postpositive) cf. Ger. aberdie … die a correlative pair = ‘they who …’

12   eigan ‘property’ < *aiganą

13   This line lacks the expected alliteration: br | s || h | rpringent (bringan 3pl present indicative) ‘bring’—uf adverb ‘upwards, aloft’

14   ano ‘without’ + accusative

15   selida ‘dwelling, habitation’ < *sal-iþō from *saliz ‘house, hall’—sorgun ‘cares, sorrows’—nist contraction of ni ist ‘is not’; double negative with neoman ‘nobody’—siuh ‘sick’ cf. sick, Dutch ziek

16   denne ‘when (relative)’—pardisu ‘paradise,’ apparently with the modern English sense rather than an implication of Eden—pu ‘buiding, dwelling’ cf. Ger. Bau

17   hus in himile is in apposition to l.16 in pardisu puhilfa lit. ‘help’ but here read ‘shelter, protection’—dar lit. ‘there’ but here ‘then, at that time’—kinuok lit. ‘enough’ but really an understatement implying ‘ample’

18   pidiu ‘therefore, for that reason’ = *bīþiu ‘by these (things)’—durft ‘need, necessity’—allero manno uuelihemo ‘to each of all people’ i.e. ‘to each person’ (a construction common in old Germanic languages)

19   This line does not seem metrically complete in itself, but the syntax and semantics mesh well with our l. 18—in 3sg masc. accusative personal pronoun ‘him’—es 3sg neut. genitive personal pronoun ‘of it’; es … daz constitute a correlative pair—kispane (VI gi-spanan 3sg present indicative) ‘persuade, convince’

20   uuillun (noun) ‘will’ cf. Ger. Willekerno ‘happily’ cf. Ger. gernetuo (tuon 3sg present optative) ‘do’

21   hella ‘of hell’ < *haljō ‘underworld, covered place’ probably from PIE *ḱel- ‘cover’—harto ‘strongly, gravely’—uuise (I uuīsan 3sg present infinitive) ‘avoid’

22   pina ‘torment, agony’ < Latin poena ‘penalty’ < Greek ποινή ‘requital, fine’; pehhes pina is in apposition to hella fuirpiutit (II biotan) ‘offers, provides’—altist ‘oldest’ = ‘very old’

23   lauc ‘fire, flame’ < *laugiz—mac here means something like ‘ought to’; the subject of mac is l. 24 der ‘he who’—huckan (1 huggen) ‘consider, remember’—za diu ‘about these things’

24   drāto adverb ‘very much, exceedingly’; sorgen drato is in apposition to huckan za diusih … uueiz ‘knows himself to … (w. infinitive)’ = ‘knows that he … (w. finite verb)’—suntigen (3) ‘to sin’ cf. Ger. sündigen

But if the ones who come there from heaven receive it [=the soul],
and it becomes the property of the angels,
they will quickly bring it up in to the kingdom of the heavens;
there is life without death, light without darkness,
a habitation without sorrows; there no one is sick. 15
When that man attains a dwelling in paradise,
a house in heaven, then ample protection will come to him.
Therefore there is great need unto every person
that his heart convinces him [of it]
that he happily do God’s will 20
and gravely avoid the fire of hell,
the torture of hell-fire; there that most ancient Satan provides
the hot flame. Thus, he ought to ponder these things—
take a great deal of care—who(ever) knows himself to sin.

Go to Part III