Dasent George Webbe - A collection of popular tales from the Norse and North German


Author : Dasent George Webbe
Title : A collection of popular tales from the Norse and North German
Year : 1907

Link download : Dasent_George_Webbe_-_A_collection_of_popular_tales_from_the_Norse_and_North_German.zip

Introduction. Norse popular tales. The Norsemen came from the East, and brought a common stock of tradition with them. Settled in the Scandinavian peninsula, they developed themselves through Heathenism, Romanism, and Lutheranism, in a locality little exposed to foreign influence, so that even now the Daleman in Norway or Sweden may be reckoned among the most primitive examples left of peasant life. We should expect, then, that these Popular Tales, which, for the sake of those ignorant in such matters, it may be remarked, had never been collected or reduced to writing till within the last few years, would present a faithful picture of the national consciousness, or, perhaps, to speak more correctly, of that half consciousness out of which the heart of any people speaks in its abundance. Besides those world-old affinities and primaeval parallelisms, besides those dreamy recollections of its old home in the East, we should expect to find its later history, after the great migration, still more distinctly reflected ; to discover heathen gods masked in the garb of Christian saints ; and thus to see the proof that a j nation more easily changes the form than the essence of its faith, and clings with a toughness which endures for centuries to what it has once learned to believe. In the Norse mythology, Frigga, Odin's wife, who knew beforehand all that was to happen, and Freyja, the goddess of love and plenty, were prominent figures, and often trod the earth ; the three Norns or Fates, who sway the minds of men, and spin their destinies at Mimirs' well of knowledge, were awful venerable powers, to whom the heathen world looked up with love and adoration and awe. To that love and adoration and awe, throughout the middle age, one woman, transfigured into a divine shape, succeeded by a sort of natural right, and round the Virgin Mary's blessed head a halo of lovely tales of divine help beams with soft radiance as a crown bequeathed to her by the ancient goddesses. She appears as divine mother, spinner and helpful virgin. Flowers and plants bear her name. In England one of our commonest and prettiest insects is still called after her, but which belonged to Freyja, the heathen "Lady," long before the western nations had learned to adore the name of the mother of Jesus. The Norseman's god was a god of battles, and victory his greatest gift to men ! but this was not the only aspect under which the Great Father was revered. Not victory in the fight alone, but every other good gift came down from him and the Æsir. Odin's supreme will was that treasurehouse of bounty towards which, in one shape or the other, all mortal desires turned, and out of its abundance showers of mercy and streams of divine favour constantly poured down to refresh the weary race of men. All these blessings and mercies, nay, their very source itself, the ancient language bound up in a single word, which, however expressive it may still be, has lost much of the fullness of its meaning in its descent to these later times. This word was "Wish," which originally meant the perfect ideal, the actual fruition of all joy and desire, and not, as now, the empty longing for the object of our desires. ...

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