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There is a general agreement that the poem is about the return of the old gods to the earth after some kind of cataclysm. There is also the possibility that it is simply about the retreat of a mostly defeated army that was once mighty and proud and powerful.
But if it is to be understood as a poem about the return of pre judeo-christian gods, it serves to portray them as broken, as having lost their power perhaps now that the world no longer pays them much mind. Their ranks have broken up, they are no longer cohesive or very cooperative and even their hounds lack the spirit and excitement they had in previous, better times.
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