Fjǫlsvinnsmál is the thirty-sixth part of the Older Edda (OE) or Poetic Edda.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE by Henry Adams Bellows
The two poems, Grougaldr (Groa's Spell) and Fjolsvinnsmol (the Ballad of Fjolsvith), which many editors have, very wisely, united under the single title of Svipdagsmol, are found only in paper manuscripts, none of them antedating the seventeenth century. Everything points to a relatively late origin for the poems: their extensive use of „kennings“ or poetical circumlocutions, their romantic spirit, quite foreign to the character of the unquestionably older poems, the absence of any reference to them in the earlier documents, the frequent errors in mythology, and, finally, the fact that the poems appear to have been preserved in unusually good condition. Whether or not a connecting link of narrative verse joining the two parts has been lost is an open question; on the whole it seems likely that the story was sufficiently well known so that the reciter of the poem (or poems) merely filled in the gap with a brief prose summary in pretty much his own words. The general relationship between dialogue and narrative in the Eddic poems is discussed in the introductory note to the Grimnismol, in connection with the use of prose links.
The love story of Svipdag and Mengloth is not referred to elsewhere in the Poetic Edda, nor does Snorri mention it; however, Groa, who here appears as Svipdag's mother, is spoken of by Snorri as a wise woman, the wife of Orvandil, who helps Thor with her magic charms. On the other hand, the essence of the story, the hero's winning of a bride ringed about by flames, is strongly suggestive of parts of the Sigurth-Brynhild traditions. Whether or not it is to be regarded as a nature or solar myth depends entirely on one's view of the whole „solar myth“ school of criticism, not so highly esteemed today as formerly; such an interpretation is certainly not necessary to explain what is, under any circumstances, a very charming romance told, in the main, with dramatic effectiveness.
In later years the story of Svipdag and Mengloth became popular throughout the North, and was made the subject of many Danish and Swedish as well as Norwegian ballads. These have greatly assisted in the reconstruction of the outlines of the narrative surrounding the dialogue poems here given.
Eddukvæði II, Hetjukvæði, Jónas Kristjánsson og Vésteinn Ólason gáfu út, p. 442-450, Íslenzk fornrit, Reykjavík 2014.
Fjolsvinnsord (Fjǫlsvinnsmǫ́l), tr. G.A Gjessing, Kristiania 1899.
FJOLSVINNSMOL, The Lay of Fjolsvith, tr. Henry Adams Bellows, in the Poetic Edda, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1936.
Input by Angela Kowalczyk, August 20th, 2016.