Special Sub-Topic: The Dream Song of Olav Asteson
|How much of the song do we know today?|
Only fragments, but fortunately enough to reconstruct most of it. Having published the song in 1853, the editor M. D. Landstad didn't know the whole text. This was due to the fact that the song had never been written down before - mothers taught it their daughters, and fathers taught it their sons. Many paragraphs were thus forgotten. Landstad knew a woman who remembered about thirty paragraphs, while others knew others. All in all, Landstad collected about fifty paragraphs, and managed to bring them in order and make them seem complete. Yet the original song was much longer.
|Who was long thought to be the man who dreamt all this?|
The Norwegian king Olav the Holy. Olav the Holy was a Norwegian king who fought for Christianity. He was killed in a battle in 1030, and his mother's name was Asta (derived from astr = love), which would make him an Asteson ("Asta's son"). Yet it wasn't usual to name the son after his mother. It's more likely that the name "Olav Asteson" was chosen for the song, because it sounded so much like the king's name - to make the song more popular. A Norwegian poet named Olav Astegad doesn't and didn't exist.
|True or false: The original Dream Song had twelve parts.|
t. One part for each sign of the zodiac; one for each night Olav slept.
|Now to the song itself: In the first part, Olav wakes up, dresses, and goes to church. A certain piece of clothing is mentioned throughout this part. Which one?|
belt. I can't quote because I only know the German version (my book also includes the Norwegian text, but my Norwegian is a little rusty :). However, it is said that the glimmering of Olav's belt brightens up the world and catches everybody's atttention.
|The last lines of the paragraphs in part two and three are always the same. What is said to shine brightly in these lines?|
the moon. The moon shines brightly, and the ways are wide.
|In the third part, Olav wanders through a moor where the thorns tear what?|
his coat and nails. His scarlet coat and his toenails are torn by the thorns that grow on the moor. The scarlet coat is a symbol for wealth. As for the toenails - in Norse mythology it is said that the nails of the dead serve to build the ship Nagelfar which sails on when Ragnarök (the end of the world - the Götterdämmerung) is near. So this might have something to do with it.
|Later during part three, Olav crosses the Gjallar bridge which is guarded by three animals. Which animals?|
bull, snake, and dog. The Gjallar bridge in the mythology is the connection between Utgard (the world of the dead) and Midgard (the world of the living). In contrast to what Olav sees, the bridge is guarded by the maiden Modgruder who decides if a soul may pass and leave the world of the dead. Olav Asteson, however, encounters not the lady but a bull, a snake, and a dog.
|In the fourth part, Olav walks on the milky way and sees the paradise. There is only one person whom he knows, and that's...|
his godmother. The Norwegian word "gudmor" - like the English "godmother" - is derived from "god's mother", so this godmother could very likely be a symbol for the Virgin Mary. She tells Olav to go to Broksvalin.
|In part five and six, Olav witnesses how the souls of the sinners are weighed. He meets St. Michael and Jesus Christ who take care of the souls who are forgiven. But what is the place called where this happens?|
Broksvalin. You didn't chose Brooklyn, did you? Though I must confess, when I was a child, I always got these two places mixed up - due to the fact that I knew the Dream Song before I learned English and heard of New York :)
|In the seventh and last part, Olav Asteson praises those who help the poor. What is the last blessing he speaks?|
to those who give the poor food. ... then they won't experience hate and envy in Ghostland.
The Dream Song has been interpreted countless times, and the experts all state a different opinion - some say that Olav's experiences are physical, others say they're spiritual, others say it was just a nightmare because Olav ate too much on Christmas Eve (no, really, I heard someone saying this!). I tend to say they're spiritual. However - this song has always impressed me, and I could have said a lot more about it here, but I couldn't express it - after all, I only learned English in school. Putting up this quiz without a dictionary was hard enough! :)
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