from Iceland’s Poetic Eddas
19. An ash I know, | Yggdrasil its name,
With water white | is the great tree wet;
Thence come the dews | that fall in the dales,
Green by Urth’s well | does it ever grow.
20. Thence come the maidens | mighty in wisdom,
Three from the dwelling | down ‘neath the tree;
Urth is one named, | Verthandi the next,–
On the wood they scored,– | and Skuld the third.
Laws they made there, and life allotted
To the sons of men, and set their fates.
Signed “H. L. M.” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Poetic Eddas were the oral literature of Iceland, finally written down from 1000 to 1300 C.E. The translation above is by Henry Adams Bellows.
This particular extract, about the three Norns, is from The Voluspa, or the Wise Woman’s Prophecy. The Norns determine our fates. Urth is the guardian of a sacred well at the base of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Each day, the Norns sprinkle water from Urth’s Well over the roots of the tree. The tree draws up the water and the water falls from the tree as dew, re-entering Urth’s well to repeat the cycle.
Full text of the Eddas can be found here http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/.