ROMEO AND JULIET OF THE VIKING AGE
Last Sunday I began telling my version of the story about the legendary Mengloth and Svipdagr. As you might recall, Svipdagr had just been trapped by an enchanted iron gate.
Almost instantly a grouchy man appeared on the other side of the gate. “Who are you, whom do you seek? Turn around for there is nothing for you here”, said this gatekeeper harshly. This greeting surprised Svipdagr, for in this time before remembrance, generosity and hospitality were always offered to wanderers.
But, Svipdagr had encounter far more dangerous beasts on his adventures than this gatekeeper and he simply replied, “Who are you to deny a wayfarer his welcome? Now answer me, I would like to know, who is the owner of all these riches and the ruler of this realm? By the goddesses and gods, I have never seen a hall such as this, surrounded by magical flickering flames.”
The gatekeeper answered, “She is named Mengloth is she is the mightiest of rulers. You can see her at the mountaintop where she and her maidens are a joy to the sick and the sore. They bring aid to all and if they sense danger they guard each and everyone from peril.”
Svipdagr continued by posing another question, “Now answer me for I would like to know, what is the name of this gate? By the goddesses and gods, I have never seen such a grim a sight.”
The gatekeeper answered, “It is named Thrymgjol and it is the mightiest of gates for it traps whoever lifts its latch.”
“Now answer me for I would like to know, what it the name of this tree? By the goddesses and gods, I have never seen a tree whose branches stretch so vastly”, said Svipdagr.
“It is named Mimameith and it is the mightiest of trees for its fruits heal unwell expecting mothers. Few can guess what will destroy this tree for fire nor iron can touch it”, answered the gatekeeper.
Svipdagr continued asking, “Now answer me for I would like to know, what it the names of these dogs? By the goddesses and gods, I have never seen such fierce and angry hounds.”
“One is called Gif and the other Geri and they are the mightiest of guardians for one sleeps by day and the other by night. Not even a cat can evade them and so it will be until the end of time”, said the gatekeeper.
“Now finally answer me for I would like to know, lives there a man whom Mengloth allows to sleep in her arms?”, said Svipdagr.
“There is no man whom Mengloth would allow to sleep in her arms but Svipdagr and everyone knows that they are destined for each other”, answered the gatekeeper.
“Then fling back the gates and make the gateway wide for it is Svipdagr you see before you. But first, ask if the sun-bright Mengloth will receive me with gladness”, said Svipdagr smiling. Then, several things happened at once. The iron gate released him and the dogs greeted him with delight. The gatekeeper turned around and hurried to Mengloth for he knew it to be true, the young man could be none other than the long-awaited Svipdagr.
“Mengloth, a man has come. Go see your guest! The hounds are friendly, the gate has burst open – I think it must be him!”, called the gatekeeper as soon as he saw Mengloth on the mountainside.
Mengloth stood very still for a few moments before she said, “Hungry ravens will pluck your eyes out if you are not telling the truth about who has come to my realm”, and then she began heading down the mountain towards the gate.
No sooner had Mengloth seen the man at the gate than she asked, “How did you come here? What do your kinsmen call you?”
“I am Svipdagr and I came by wind-cold ways. Am I greeted with gladness?”
Mengloth looked at the open gate, the peaceful dogs and straight into the eyes of Svipdagr and replied, “You are welcome. What I wanted I have now obtained and a greeting kiss shall follow. We both yearned, I longed for you and you longed for me. Finally, you have come to my hall and from now on we know, we shall live our lives together. ”
Because of Mengloth and Svipdagr, people knew, in this time before remembrance, that for those who love, the longed-for meeting is the greatest gladness of all.