THE ELDER EDDAS
OF SAEMUND SIGFUSSON.
Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English
OF SNORRE STURLESON.
Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English
HON. RASMUS B. ANDERSON, LL.D.,
EDITOR IN CHIEF.
J. W. BUEL, Ph.D.,
PUBLISHED BY THE
LONDON STOCKHOLM COPENHAGEN BERLIN NEW YORK
(After a painting by B. Guth.)
Gunnar, Gunther, or Gunter, King of Burgundy, was probably a real
personage of the troubled times with which his name is associated—a
period distinguished as much for heroic characters as for tragic
events. Gunther represents the best type of kinghood of his age; a man
swayed by his affections rather than by ambition, who scrupled at
misdeeds, yet yielded to the mastering passions of love; one whose
instincts were loyalty to friends and country, and who shrank from
cruelties to gain his ends, but who fell a victim to woman’s
fascinations. History accordingly praises him more for a lover than
for a sovereign.
LIST OF PHOTOGRAVURES.
(ELDER AND YOUNGER EDDAS.)
THE ELDER EDDAS OF SAEMUND.
Sæmund, son of Sigfus, the reputed collector of the poems bearing his
name, which is sometimes also called the Elder, and the Poetic, Edda,
was of a highly distinguished family, being descended in a direct line
from King Harald Hildetonn. He was born at Oddi, his paternal dwelling
in the south of Iceland, between the years 1054 and 1057, or about 50
years after the establishment by law of the Christian religion in that
island; hence it is easy to imagine that many heathens, or baptized
favourers of the old mythic songs of heathenism, may have lived in his
days and imparted to him the lays of the times of old, which his
unfettered mind induced him to hand down to posterity.
The youth of Sæmund was passed in travel and study, in Germany and
France, and, according to some accounts, in Italy. His cousin John
Ogmundson, who later became first bishop of Holum, and after his death
was received among the number of saints, when on his way to Rome, fell
in with his youthful kinsman, and took him back with him to Iceland,
in the year 1076. Sæmund afterwards became a priest at Oddi, where he
instructed many young men in useful learning; but the effects of which
were not improbably such as to the common people might appear as
witchcraft or magic: and, indeed, Sæmund’s predilection for the sagas
and songs of the old heathen times (even for the magical ones) was so
well known, that among his countrymen there were some who regarded him
as a great sorcerer, though chiefly in what is called white or
innocuous and [Pg viii.]defensive sorcery, a repute which still clings to his
memory among the common people of Iceland, and will long adhere to it
through the numerous and popular stories regarding him (some of them
highly entertaining) that are orally transmitted from generation to
generation. Sæmund died at the age of 77, leaving behind him a work
on the history of Norway and Iceland, which is now almost entirely
The first who ascribed to Sæmund the collection of poems known as the
Poetic Edda, was Brynjolf Svensson, bishop of Skalholt. This
prelate, who was a zealous collector of ancient manuscripts, found in
the year 1643, the [Pg ix.]old vellum codex, which is the most complete of
all the known manuscripts of the Edda; of this he caused a transcript
to be made, which he entitled Edda Saemundi Multiscii. The
transcript came into the possession of the royal historiographer
Torfæus; the original, together with other MSS., was presented to the
King of Denmark, Frederick. III., and placed in the royal library at
Copenhagen, where it now is. As many of the Eddaic poems appear to
have been orally transmitted in an imperfect state, the collector has
supplied the deficiencies by prose insertions, whereby the integrity
of the subject is to a certain degree restored.
The collection called Sæmund’s Edda consists of two parts, viz., the
Mythological and the Heroic. It is the former of those which is now
offered to the public in an English version. In the year 1797, a
translation of this first part, by A.S. Cottle, was published at
Bristol. This work I have never met with; nor have I seen any English
version of any part of the Edda, with the exception of Gray’s spirited
but free translation of the Vegtamskvida.
The Lay of Volund (Volundarkvida) celebrates the story of Volund’s
doings and sufferings during his sojourn in the territory of the
Swedish king Nidud. Volund (Ger. Wieland, Fr. Veland and Galans)
is the Scandinavian and Germanic Vulcan (Hephaistos) and Dædalus. In
England his story, as a skillful smith, is traceable to a very early
period. In the Anglo-Saxon poem of Beowulf we find that hero desiring,
in the event of his falling in conflict with Grendel, that his
corslets may be sent to Hygelac, being, as he says, the work of
Weland; and king Ælfred, in his translation of Boethius de
Consolatione, renders the words fidelis ossa Fabricii, etc. by Hwæt
(hwær) Welondes? (Where are now the bones of the famous and wise
goldsmith Weland?), evidently taking the proper name of Fabricius for
an appellative equivalent to faber. In the Exeter Book, too, there is
a poem in substance closely resembling the Eddaic lay. In his novel of
Kenilworth, Walter Scott has been guilty of a woeful perversion of the
old tradition, travestied from the Berkshire legend of Wayland Smith.
As a land-boundary we find Weland’s smithy in a Charter of king Eadred
On the Lay of Helgi Hiorvard’s Son there is nothing to remark beyond
what appears in the poem itself.
The Lays of Helgi Hundingcide form the first of the series of stories
relating to the Volsung race, and the Giukungs, or Niflungs.
The connection of the several personages celebrated in these poems
will appear plain from the following tables:[Pg x.]
Sigi, king of Hunaland, said to be a son of Odin | Rerir | Volsung = a daughter of the giant Hrimnir __________________| | Sigmund = Signi = Borghild = Hiordis | | | | Hamund. Sinfiotli. Helgi = Sigrun Sigurd = Gudrun __|____________ | | Sigmund, Svanhild. m Jornmnrek. Giuki = Grimhild. _______________________| | Gunnar=Glaumvor. Hogni=Kostbera. Guthorm. Gudrun, = 1 Sigurd. | 2 Atli. Solar. Giuki. Snævar. 3 Jonakr. Budli. | Atli = Gudrun: Brynhild = Gunnar. Oddrun. Beckhild = Heimir. | | Erp. Eitil Alsvid. Jonakr = Gudrun _____| |_____________ | | Erp Hamdir. Sorli.
[Pg xi.]The Eddaic series of the Volsung and Niflung lays terminates with the
Lay of Hamdir; the one entitled Gunnar’s Melody is no doubt a
comparatively late composition; yet being written in the true ancient
spirit of the North is well deserving of a place among the Eddaic
poems. Nor, indeed, is the claim of the Lay of Grotti to rank among
the poems collected by Sæmund, by any means clear, we know it only
from its existence in the Skalda; yet on account of its antiquity, its
intrinsic worth, and its reception in other editions of the Edda, both
in original and translation, the present work would seem, and justly
so, incomplete without it.
The Prose, or Younger Edda, is generally ascribed to the celebrated
Snorre Sturleson, who was born of a distinguished Icelandic family, in
the year 1178, and after leading a turbulent and ambitious life, and
being twice the supreme magistrate of the Republic, was killed A.D.
1241, by three of his sons-in-law and a stepson. When Snorre was
three years [Pg xii.]old, John Loptson of Oddi, the grandson of Sæmund the
Wise, took him into fosterage. Snorre resided at Oddi until his
twentieth year, and appears to have received an excellent education
from his foster father, who was one of the most learned men of that
period. How far he may have made use of the manuscripts of Sæmund and
Ari, which were preserved at Oddi, it is impossible to say, neither do
we know the precise contents of these manuscripts; but it is highly
probable that the most important parts of the work, now known under
the title of “The Prose Edda,” formed a part of them, and that
Snorre—who may be regarded as the Scandinavian Euhemerus—merely
added a few chapters, in order to render the mythology more
conformable to the erroneous notions he appears to have entertained
respecting its signification. Be this as it may, the Prose Edda, in
its present form, dates from the thirteenth century, and consists
of—1. Formali (Fore discourse); or the prologue. 2. Gylfa-ginning
(The deluding of Gylfi). 3. Braga-roedur (Conversations of Bragi).
4. Eptirmali (After discourse); or Epilogue. The Prologue and
Epilogue were probably written by Snorre himself, and are nothing more
than an absurd syncretism of Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Scandinavian
myths and legends, in which Noah, Priam, Odin, Hector, Thor, Æneas,
&c, are jumbled together much in the same manner as in the romances of
the Middle Ages. These dissertations, utterly worthless in themselves,
have obviously nothing in common with the so-called “Prose Edda,” the
first part of which, containing fifty-three chapters, forms a complete
synopsis of Scandinavian mythology, derived principally from the
 The following, the first among many, may serve as a
Sæmund was residing, in the south of Europe, with a famous Master, by
whom he was instructed in every kind of lore; while, on the other
hand, he forgot (apparently through intense study) all that he had
previously learned, even to his own name; so that when the holy man
John Ogmundson came to his abode, he told him that his name was Koll;
but on John insisting that he was no other than Sæmund Sigfusson, born
at Oddi in Iceland, and relating to him many particulars regarding
himself, he at length became conscious of his own identity, and
resolved to flee from the place with his kinsman. For the purpose of
deceiving the master, John continued some time in the place, and often
came to visit him and Sæmund; till at last, one dark night, they
betook themselves to flight. No sooner had the Master missed them than
he sent in pursuit of them; but in vain, and the heavens were too
overcast to admit, according to his custom, of reading their
whereabouts in the stars. So they traveled day and night and all the
following day. But the next night was clear, and the Master at once
read in the stars where they were, and set out after them at full
speed. Then Sæmund, casting his eyes up at the heavens, said, “Now is
my Master in chase of us, and sees where we are.” And on John asking
what was to be done, he answered: “Take one of my shoes off, fill it
with water, and set it on my head.” John did so, and at the same
moment, the Master, looking up at the heavens, says to his companion:
“Bad news; the stranger John has drowned my pupil; there is water
about his forehead.” And thereupon returned home. The pair now again
prosecute their journey night and day; but, in the following night,
the Master again consults the stars, when, to his great amazement, he
sees the star of Sæmund directly above his head, and again sets off
after the fugitives. Observing this, Sæmund says: “The astrologer is
again after us, and again we must look to ourselves; take my shoe off
again, and with your knife stab me in the thigh; fill the shoe with
blood, and place it on the top of my head.” John does as directed, and
the Master, again gazing at the stars, says: “There is blood now about
the star of Master Koll, and the stranger has for certain murdered
him,” and so returns home. The old man now has once more recourse to
his art; but on seeing Sæmund’s star shining brightly above him, he
exclaimed: “My pupil is still living; so much the better. I have
taught him more than enough; for he outdoes me both in astrology and
magic. Let them now proceed in safety; I am unable to hinder their
 Bishop P.E. Muller supposes the greater number of the
Eddaic poems to be of the 8th century. Sagabibliothek II, p, 131.
 Codex Regius, No. 2365, 4to. The handwriting of this MS.
is supposed to be of the beginning of the 14th century.
 Snorre, at the death of John Loptson (A.D. 1197), does
not appear to have possessed any property whatever, though he
afterwards became the wealthiest man in Iceland. His rise in the world
was chiefly owing to his marriage with Herdisa, the daughter of a
priest called Bersi the Rich,—a very enviable surname, which no doubt
enabled the Rev. gentleman to brave the decrees of Popes and Councils,
and take to himself a wife—who brought him a very considerable
fortune. If we may judge from Snorre’s biography, Christianity appears
to have effected very little change in the character of the
Icelanders. We have the same turbulent and sanguinary scenes, the same
loose conduct of the women, and perfidy, and remorseless cruelty of
the men, as in the Pagan times.
INTRODUCTION TO THE VOLUSPA.
As introductory to the Voluspa, the following description of a
wandering Vala or prophetess may be thought both desirable and
interesting: “We find them present at the birth of children, when they
seem to represent the Norns. They acquired their knowledge either by
means of seid, during the night, while all others in the house were
sleeping, and uttered their oracles in the morning; or they received
sudden inspirations during the singing of certain songs appropriate to
the purpose, without which the sorcery could not perfectly succeed.
These seid-women were common over all the North. When invited by the
master of a family, they appeared in a peculiar costume, sometimes
with a considerable number of followers, e.g. with fifteen young men
and fifteen girls. For their soothsaying they received money, gold
rings, and other precious things. Sometimes it was necessary to compel
them to prophesy. An old description of such a Vala, who went from
guild to guild telling fortunes, will give the best idea of these
women and their proceedings”:—
“Thorbiorg, nicknamed the little Vala, during the winter attended the
guilds, at the invitation of those who desired to know their fate, or
the quality of the coming year. Everything was prepared in the most
sumptuous manner for her reception. There was an elevated seat, on
which lay a cushion stuffed with feathers. A man was sent to meet her.
She came in the evening dressed in a blue mantle fastened with thongs
and set with stones down to the lap; [Pg xiv.]round her neck she had a
necklace of glass beads, on her head a hood of black lambskin lined
with white catskin; in her hand a staff, the head of which was mounted
with brass and ornamented with stones; round her body she wore a
girdle of agaric (knoske), from which hung a bag containing her
conjuring apparatus; on her feet were rough calfskin shoes with long
ties and tin buttons, on her hands catskin gloves, white and hairy
within. All bade her welcome with a reverent salutation; the master
himself conducted her by the hand to her seat. She undertook no
prophecy on the first day, but would first pass a night there. In the
evening of the following day she ascended her elevated seat, caused
the women to place themselves round her, and desired them to sing
certain songs, which they did in a strong, clear voice. She then
prophesied of the coming year, and afterwards, all that would advanced
and asked her such questions as they thought proper, to which they
received plain answers.”
In the following grand and ancient lay, dating most probably from the
time of heathenism, are set forth, as the utterances of a Vala, or
wandering prophetess, as above described, the story of the creation of
the world from chaos, of the origin of the giants, the gods, the
dwarfs, and the human race, together with other events relating to the
mythology of the North, and ending with the destruction of the gods
and the world, and their renewal.
VÖLUSPÂ. THE VALA’S PROPHECY.
1. For silence I pray all sacred children, great and small, sons of
Heimdall, they will that I Valfather’s deeds recount, men’s ancient
saws, those that I best remember.
2. The Jötuns I remember early born, those who me of old have
reared. I nine worlds remember, nine trees, the great central tree,
beneath the earth.
3. There was in times of old, where Ymir dwelt, nor sand nor sea,
nor gelid waves; earth existed not, nor heaven above, ’twas a chaotic
chasm, and grass nowhere.
4. Before Bur’s sons raised up heaven’s vault, they who the noble
mid-earth shaped. The sun shone from the south over the structure’s
rocks: then was the earth begrown with herbage green.
5. The sun from the south, the moon’s companion, her right hand cast
about the heavenly horses. The sun knew not where she a dwelling
had, the moon knew not what power he possessed, the stars knew not
where they had a station.
[Pg 2]6. Then went the powers all to their judgment-seats, the all-holy
gods, and thereon held council: to night and to the waning moon gave
names; morn they named, and mid-day, afternoon and eve, whereby to
7. The Æsir met on Ida’s plain; they altar-steads and temples high
constructed; their strength they proved, all things tried, furnaces
established, precious things forged, formed tongs, and fabricated
8. At tables played at home; joyous they were; to them was naught
the want of gold, until there came Thurs-maidens three, all powerful,
9. Then went all the powers to their judgment-seats, the all-holy
gods, and thereon held council, who should of the dwarfs the race
create, from the sea-giant’s blood and livid bones.
10. Then was Môtsognir created greatest of all the dwarfs, and Durin
second; there in man’s likeness they created many dwarfs from earth,
as Durin said.
11. Nýi and Nidi, Nordri and Sudri, Austri and Vestri, Althiôf,
Dvalin Nâr and Nâin, Niping, Dain, Bivör, Bavör, Bömbur, Nori, An and
Anar, Ai, Miodvitnir,
12. Veig and Gandâlf, Vindâlf, Thrain, Thekk and Thorin, Thrôr,
Vitr, and Litr, Nûr and Nýrâd, Regin and Râdsvid. Now of the dwarfs I
have rightly told.
13. Fili, Kili, Fundin, Nali, Hepti, Vili, Hanar, Svior, Billing,
Bruni, Bild, Bûri, Frâr, Hornbori, Fræg and Lôni, Aurvang, Iari,
14. Time ’tis of the dwarfs in Dvalin’s band, to the sons of men, to
Lofar up to reckon, those who came forth from the world’s rock,
earth’s foundation, to Iora’s plains.
[Pg 3]15. There were Draupnir, and Dôlgthrasir, Hâr, Haugspori, Hlævang,
Glôi, Skirvir, Virvir, Skafid, Ai, Alf and Yngvi, Eikinskialdi,
16. Fialar and Frosti, Finn and Ginnar, Heri, Höggstari, Hliôdôlf,
Moin: that above shall, while mortals live, the progeny of Lofar,
17. Until there came three mighty and benevolent Æsir to the world
from their assembly. They found on earth, nearly powerless, Ask and
Embla, void of destiny.
18. Spirit they possessed not, sense they had not, blood nor motive
powers, nor goodly colour. Spirit gave Odin, sense gave Hoenir, blood
gave Lodur, and goodly colour.
19. I know an ash standing Yggdrasil hight, a lofty tree, laved with
limpid water: thence come the dews into the dales that fall; ever
stands it green over Urd’s fountain.
20. Thence come maidens, much knowing, three from the hall, which
under that tree stands; Urd hight the one, the second Verdandi,—on a
tablet they graved—Skuld the third. Laws they established, life
allotted to the sons of men; destinies pronounced.
21. Alone she sat without, when came that ancient dread Æsir’s
prince; and in his eye she gazed.
22. “Of what wouldst thou ask me? Why temptest thou me? Odin! I know
all, where thou thine eye didst sink in the pure well of Mim.” Mim
drinks mead each morn from Valfather’s pledge. Understand ye yet,
[Pg 4]23. The chief of hosts gave her rings and necklace, useful
discourse, and a divining spirit: wide and far she saw o’er every
24. She the Valkyriur saw from afar coming, ready to ride to the
god’s people: Skuld held a shield, Skögul was second, then Gunn, Hild
Göndul, and Geirskögul. Now are enumerated Herian’s maidens, the
Valkyriur, ready over the earth to ride.
25. She that war remembers, the first on earth, when Gullveig
they with lances pierced, and in the high one’s hall her burnt,
thrice burnt, thrice brought her forth, oft not seldom; yet she still
26. Heidi they called her, whithersoe’r she came, the
well-foreseeing Vala: wolves she tamed, magic arts she knew, magic
arts practised; ever was she the joy of evil people.
27. Then went the powers all to their judgment-seats, the all-holy
gods, and thereon held council, whether the Æsir should avenge the
crime, or all the gods receive atonement.
28. Broken was the outer wall of the Æsir’s burgh. The Vanir,
foreseeing conflict, tramp o’er the plains. Odin cast [his spear], and
mid the people hurled it: that was the first warfare in the world.
29. Then went the powers all to their judgment-seats, the all-holy
gods, and thereon held council: who had all the air with evil mingled?
or to the Jötun race Od’s maid had given?
[Pg 5]30. There alone was Thor with anger swollen. He seldom sits, when
of the like he hears. Oaths are not held sacred; nor words, nor
swearing, nor binding compacts reciprocally made.
31. She knows that Heimdall’s horn is hidden under the heaven-bright
holy tree. A river she sees flow, with foamy fall, from Valfather’s
pledge. Understand ye yet, or what?
32. East sat the crone, in Iârnvidir, and there reared up Fenrir’s
progeny: of all shall be one especially the moon’s devourer, in a
33. He is sated with the last breath of dying men; the god’s seat he
with red gore defiles: swart is the sunshine then for summers after;
all weather turns to storm. Understand ye yet, or what?
34. There on a height sat, striking a harp, the giantess’s watch,
the joyous Egdir; by him crowed, in the bird-wood, the bright red
cock, which Fialar hight.
35. Crowed o’er the Æsir Gullinkambi, which wakens heroes with the
sire of hosts; but another crows beneath the earth, a soot-red cock,
in the halls of Hel.
36. I saw of Baldr, the blood-stained god, Odin’s son, the hidden
fate. There stood grown up, high on the plain, slender and passing
fair, the mistletoe.
37. From that shrub was made, as to me it seemed, a deadly, noxious
dart. Hödr shot it forth; but Frigg bewailed, in Fensalir, Valhall’s
calamity. Understand ye yet, or what?
38. Bound she saw lying, under Hveralund, a mon[Pg 6]strous form, to Loki
like. There sits Sigyn, for her consort’s sake, not right glad.
Understand ye yet, or what?
39. Then the Vala knew the fatal bonds were twisting, most rigid,
bonds from entrails made.
40. From the east a river falls, through venom dales, with mire and
clods, Slîd is its name.
41. On the north there stood, on Nida-fells, a hall of gold, for
Sindri’s race; and another stood in Okôlnir, the Jötuns beer-hall
which Brîmir hight.
42. She saw a hall standing, far from the sun, in Nâströnd; its
doors are northward turned, venom-drops fall in through its apertures:
entwined is that hall with serpents’ backs.
43. She there saw wading the sluggish streams bloodthirsty men and
perjurers, and him who the ear beguiles of another’s wife. There
Nidhögg sucks the corpses of the dead; the wolf tears men. Understand
ye yet, or what?
44. Further forward I see, much can I say of Ragnarök and the gods’
45. Brothers shall fight, and slay each other; cousins shall kinship
violate. The earth resounds, the giantesses flee; no man will another
46. Hard is it in the world, great whoredom, an axe age, a sword
age, shields shall be cloven, a wind age, a wolf age, ere the world
47. Mim’s sons dance, but the central tree takes fire at the
resounding Giallar-horn. Loud blows Heimdall, his horn is raised; Odin
speaks with Mim’s head.
48. Trembles Yggdrasil’s ash yet standing; groans [Pg 7]that aged tree,
and the jötun is loosed. Loud bays Garm before the Gnupa-cave, his
bonds he rends asunder; and the wolf runs.
49. Hrym steers from the east, the waters rise, the mundane snake is
coiled in jötun-rage. The worm beats the water, and the eagle screams:
the pale of beak tears carcases; Naglfar is loosed.
50. That ship fares from the east: come will Muspell’s people o’er
the sea, and Loki steers. The monster’s kin goes all with the wolf;
with them the brother is of Byleist on their course.
51. Surt from the south comes with flickering flame; shines from his
sword the Val-gods’ sun. The stony hills are dashed together, the
giantesses totter; men tread the path of Hel, and heaven is cloven.
52. How is it with the Æsir? How with the Alfar? All Jötunheim
resounds; the Æsir are in council. The dwarfs groan before their stony
doors, the sages of the rocky walls. Understand ye yet, or what?
53. Then arises Hlîn’s second grief, when Odin goes with the wolf to
fight, and the bright slayer of Beli with Surt. Then will Frigg’s
54. Then comes the great victor-sire’s son, Vidar, to fight with the
deadly beast. He with his hands will make his sword pierce to the
heart of the giant’s son: then avenges he his father.
55. Then comes the mighty son of Hlôdyn: (Odin’s son goes with the
monster to fight); Midgârd’s Veor in his rage will slay the worm. Nine
feet will go Fiörgyn’s son, bowed by the serpent, who feared no foe.
All men will their homes forsake.[Pg 8]
56. The sun darkens, earth in ocean sinks, fall from heaven the
bright stars, fire’s breath assails the all-nourishing tree, towering
fire plays against heaven itself.
57. She sees arise, a second time, earth from ocean, beauteously
green, waterfalls descending; the eagle flying over, which in the fell
58. The Æsir meet on Ida’s plain, and of the mighty earth-encircler
speak, and there to memory call their mighty deeds, and the supreme
god’s ancient lore.
59. There shall again the wondrous golden tables in the grass be
found, which in days of old had possessed the ruler of the gods, and
60. Unsown shall the fields bring forth, all evil be amended; Baldr
shall come; Hödr and Baldr, the heavenly gods, Hropt’s glorious
dwellings shall inhabit. Understand ye yet, or what?
61. Then can Hoenir choose his lot, and the two brothers’ sons
inhabit the spacious Vindheim. Understand ye yet, or what?
62. She a hall standing than the sun brighter, with gold bedecked,
in Gimill: there shall be righteous people dwell, and for evermore
64. Then comes the mighty one to the great judgment, the powerful
from above, who rules o’er all. He shall dooms pronounce, and strifes
allay, holy peace establish, which shall ever be.
65. There comes the dark dragon flying from beneath the glistening
serpent, from Nida-fels. On his wings bears Nidhögg, flying o’er the
plain, a corpse. Now she will descend.
 In the Rigsmal we are informed how Heimdall, under the
name of Rig, became the progenitor of the three orders of mankind.
 In the Germanic tongues, as in the Semitic, the sun is
fem., the moon masc.
 The Vala here speaks of herself in the third person.
 His eye here understood to signify the sun.
 A personification of gold. With the introduction of gold
was the end of the golden age.
 i.e., Odin’s: his hall is the world.
 Of introducing the use of gold.
THE LAY OF VAFTHRUDNIR.
Odin visits the Giant (Jötun) Vafthrûdnir, for the purpose of proving
his knowledge. They propose questions relative to the Cosmogony of the
Northern creed, on the conditions that the baffled party forfeit his
head. The Jötun incurs the penalty.
1. Counsel thou me now, Frigg! as I long to go Vafthrûdnir to visit;
great desire, I say, I have, in ancient lore with that all-wise Jötun
2. At home to bide Hærfather I would counsel, in the gods’
dwellings; because no Jötun is, I believe, so mighty as is
3. Much have I journeyed, much experienced, mighty ones many proved;
but this I fain would know, how in Vafthrûdnir’s halls it is.
4. In safety mayest thou go, in safety return; in safety on thy
journeyings be; may thy wit avail thee, when thou, father of men!
shalt hold converse with the Jötun.
5. Then went Odin the lore to prove of that all-wise [Pg 10]Jötun. To the
hall he came which Im’s father owned. Ygg went forthwith in.
6. Hail to thee, Vafthrûdnir! to thy hall I am now come, thyself to
see; for I fain would know, whether thou art a cunning and all-wise
7. What man is this, that in my habitation by word addresses me? Out
thou goest not from our halls, if thou art not the wiser.
8. Gagnrâd is my name, from my journey I am come thirsty to thy
halls, needing hospitality,—for I long have journeyed—and kind
reception from thee, Jötun!
9. Why then, Gagnrâd! speakest thou from the floor? Take in the hall
a seat; then shall be proved which knows most, the guest or the
10. A poor man should, who to a rich man comes, speak usefully or
hold his tongue: over-much talk brings him, I ween, no good, who
visits an austere man.
11. Tell me, Gagnrâd! since on the floor thou wilt prove thy
proficiency, how the horse is called that draws each day forth over
12. Skinfaxi he is named, that the bright day draws forth over human
kind. Of coursers he is best accounted among the Reid-goths. Ever
sheds light that horse’s mane.
13. Tell me now, Gagnrâd! since on the floor thou wilt prove thy
proficiency, how that steed is called, which from the east draws night
o’er the beneficent powers?
14. Hrimfaxi he is called, that each night draws forth over the
beneficent powers. He from his bit lets fall drops every morn, whence
in the dales comes dew.
15. Tell me, Gagnrâd! since on the floor thou wilt prove thy
proficiency, how the stream is called, which earth divides between the
Jötuns and the Gods?
16. Ifing the stream is called which earth divides between the
Jötuns and the Gods: open shall it run throughout all time. On that
stream no ice shall be.
17. Tell me, Gagnrâd! since on the floor thou wilt prove thy
proficiency, how that plain is called, where in fight shall meet Surt
and the gentle Gods?
18. Vigrid the plain is called where in fight shall [Pg 12]meet Surt and
the gentle Gods; a hundred rasts it is on every side. That plain is to
19. Wise art thou, O guest! Approach the Jötuns bench, and sitting
let us together talk; we will our heads in the hall pledge, guest! for
20. Tell me first, if thy wit suffices, and thou, Vafthrûdnir!
knowest, whence first came the earth, and the high heaven, thou,
21. From Ymir’s flesh the earth was formed, and from his bones the
hills, the heaven from the skull of that ice-cold giant, and from his
blood the sea.
22. Tell me secondly, if thy wit suffices, and thou, Vafthrûdnir!
knowest, whence came the moon, which over mankind passes, and the sun
23. Mundilfoeri hight he, who the moon’s father is, and eke the
sun’s: round heaven journey each day they must, to count years for
24. Tell me thirdly, since thou art called wise, and if thou,
Vafthrûdnir! knowest, whence came the day, which over people passes,
and night with waning moons?
25. Delling hight he who the day’s father is, but night was of Nörvi
born; the new and waning moons the beneficent powers created, to count
years for men.
26. Tell me fourthly, since they pronounce thee sage, and if thou,
Vafthrûdnir! knowest, whence winter came, and warm summer first among
the wise gods?
27. Vindsval hight he, who winter’s father is, and Svâsud summer’s;
yearly they both shall ever journey, until the powers perish.
28. Tell me fifthly, since they pronounce thee sage, and if thou,
Vafthrûdnir! knowest, which of the Æsir earliest, or of Ymir’s sons,
in days of old existed?
29. Countless winters, ere earth was formed, was Bergelmir born;
Thrûdgelmir was his sire, his grandsire Aurgelmir.
30. Tell me sixthly, since thou art called wise, and if thou,
Vafthrûdnir! knowest, whence first came Aurgelmir, among the Jötun’s
sons, thou sagacious Jötun?
31. From Elivâgar sprang venom drops, which grew [Pg 14]till they became a
Jötun; but sparks flew from the south-world: to the ice the fire gave
33. Tell me seventhly, since thou are called wise, and if thou
knowest, Vafthrûdnir! how he children begat, the bold Jötun, as he had
no giantess’s company?
33. Under the armpit grew, ’tis said, of the Hrîmthurs, a girl and
boy together; foot with foot begat, of that wise Jötun, a six-headed
34. Tell me eighthly, since thou art called wise, and if thou
knowest, Vafthrûdnir! what thou doest first remember, or earliest
knowest? Thou art an all-wise Jötun.
35. Countless winters, ere earth was formed, Bergelmir was born.
That I first remember, when that wise Jötun in an ark was laid.
36. Tell me ninthly, since thou art called wise, and if thou
knowest, Vafthrûdnir! whence the wind comes, that over ocean passes,
itself invisible to man?
37. Hraesvelg he is called, who at the end of heaven sits, a Jötun
in an eagle’s plumage: from his wings comes, it is said, the wind,
that over all men passes.
38. Tell me tenthly, since thou all the origin of the gods knowest,
Vafthrûdnir! whence Niörd came among the Æsir’s sons? O’er fanes and
offer-steads he rules by hundreds, yet was not among the Æsir born.
39. In Vanaheim wise powers him created, and to the gods a hostage
gave. At the world’s dissolution, he will return to the wise Vanir.
40. Tell me eleventhly, since all the condition of the gods thou
knowest, Vafthrûdnir! what the Einheriar do in Haerfather’s halls,
until the powers perish?
41. All the Einheriar in Odin’s halls each day together fight; the
fallen they choose, and from the conflict ride; beer with the Æsir
drink, of Saehrimnir eat their fill, then sit in harmony together.
42. Tell me twelfthly, as thou all the condition of the gods
knowest, Vafthrûdnir! of the Jötuns’ secrets, and of all the gods’,
say what truest is, thou all-knowing Jötun!
43. Of the secrets of the Jötuns and of all the gods, I can truly
tell; for I have over each world travelled; to [Pg 16]nine worlds I came, to
Niflhel beneath: here die men from Hel.
44. Much have I journeyed, much experienced, mighty ones many
proved. What mortals will live, when the great “Fimbul”-winter shall
from men have passed?
45. Lif and Lifthrasir; but they will be concealed in Hoddmimir’s
holt. The morning dews they will have for food. From, them shall men
46. Much have I journeyed, much experienced, mighty ones many
proved. Whence will come the sun in that fair heaven, when Fenrir has
47. A daughter shall Alfrödull bear, ere Fenrir shall have swallowed
her. The maid shall ride, when the powers die, on her mother’s course.
48. Much have I journeyed, etc. Who are the maidens that o’er the
ocean travel, wise of spirit, journey?
49. O’er people’s dwellings three descend of Mögthrasir’s maidens,
the sole Hamingiur who are in the world, although with Jötuns
50. Much have I journeyed, etc. Which of the Æsir will rule o’er the
gods’ possession, when Surt’s fire shall be quenched?
51. Vidar and Vali will the gods’ holy fanes inhabit, when Surt’s
fire shall be quenched. Môdi and Magni will Miöllnir possess, and
warfare strive to end.
52. Much have I journeyed, etc. What of Odin will the life’s end be,
when the powers perish?
53. The wolf will the father of men devour; him Vidar will avenge:
he his cold jaws will cleave, in conflict with the wolf.
54. Much have I journeyed, etc. What said Odin in his son’s ear, ere
he on the pile was laid?
55. That no one knoweth, what thou in days of old saidst in thy
son’s ear. With dying mouth my ancient saws I have said, and the gods’
destruction. With Odin I have contended in wise utterances: of men
thou ever art the wisest!
THE LAY OF GRIMNIR.
The subject is wholly mythological.
King Hraudung had two sons, one named Agnar, the other Geirröd. Agnar
was ten, and Geirröd eight winters old. They both rowed out in a boat,
with their hooks and lines, to catch small fish; but the wind drove
them out to sea. In the darkness of the night they were wrecked on the
shore, and went up into the country, where they found a cottager, with
whom they stayed through the winter. The cottager’s wife brought up
Agnar, and the cottager, Geirröd, and gave him good advice. In the
spring the man got them a ship; but when he and his wife accompanied
them to the strand, the man talked apart with Geirröd. They had a fair
wind, and reached their father’s place. Geirröd was at the ship’s
prow: he sprang on shore, but pushed the ship out, saying, “Go where
an evil spirit may get thee.” The vessel was driven out to sea, but
Geirröd went up to the town, where he was well received; but his
father was dead. Geirröd was then taken for king, and became a famous
Odin and Frigg were sitting in Hlidskiâlf, looking over all the world.
Odin said, “Seest thou Agnar, thy foster-son, where he is, getting
children with a giantess in a cave? while Geirröd, my foster-son, is a
king residing in his country.” Frigg answered, “He is so inhos[Pg 19]pitable
that he tortures his guests, if he thinks that too many come.” Odin
replied that that was the greatest falsehood; and they wagered
thereupon. Frigg sent her waiting-maid Fulla to bid Geirröd be on his
guard, lest the trollmann who was coming should do him harm, and also
say that a token whereby he might be known was, that no dog, however
fierce, would attack him. But that King Geirröd was not hospitable was
mere idle talk. He, nevertheless, caused the man to be secured whom no
dog would assail. He was clad in a blue cloak, and was named Grimnir,
and would say no more concerning himself, although he was questioned.
The king ordered him to be tortured to make him confess, and to be set
between two fires; and there he sat for eight nights. King Geirröd had
a son ten years old, whom he named Agnar, after his brother. Agnar
went to Grimnir and gave him a full horn to drink from, saying that
the king did wrong in causing him to be tortured, though innocent.
Grimnir drank from it. The fire had then so approached him that his
cloak was burnt; whereupon he said:—
1. Fire! thou art hot, and much too great; flame! let us separate.
My garment is singed, although I lift it up, my cloak is scorched
2. Eight nights have I sat between fires here, and to me no one food
has offered, save only Agnar, the son of Geirröd, who alone shall rule
over the land of Goths.
3. Be thou blessed, Agnar! as blessed as the god of men bids thee to
be. For one draught thou never shalt get better recompense.[Pg 20]
4. Holy is the land, which I see lying to Æsir and Alfar near; but
in Thrûdheim Thor shall dwell until the powers perish.
5. Ydalir it is called, where Ullr has himself a dwelling made.
Alfheim the gods to Frey gave in days of yore for a tooth-gift.
6. The third dwelling is, where the kind powers have with silver
decked the hall; Valaskiâlf ’tis called, which for himself acquired
the As in days of old.
7. Sökkvabekk the fourth is named o’er which the gelid waves
resound; Odin and Saga there, joyful each day, from golden beakers
8. Gladsheim the fifth is named, there the golden-bright Valhall
stands spacious, there Hropt selects each day those men who die by
9. Easily to be known is, by those who to Odin come, the mansion by
its aspect. Its roof with spears is laid, its hall with shields is
decked, with corslets are its benches strewed.
10. Easily to be known is, by those who to Odin come, the mansion by
its aspect. A wolf hangs before the western door, over it an eagle
11. Thrymheim the sixth is named, where Thiassi dwelt that
all-powerful Jötun; but Skadi now inhabits, the bright bride of gods,
her father’s ancient home.
12. Breidablik is the seventh, where Baldr has built for himself a
hall, in that land, in which I know exists the fewest crimes.
13. Himinbiörg is the eighth, where Heimdall, it is [Pg 21]said, rules
o’er the holy fanes: there the gods’ watchman, in his tranquil home,
drinks joyful the good mead.
14. Fôlkvang is the ninth, there Freyia directs the sittings in the
hall. She half the fallen chooses each day, but Odin th’ other half.
15. Glitnir is the tenth; it is on gold sustained, and eke with
silver decked. There Forseti dwells throughout all time, and every
16. Nôatûn is the eleventh, there Niörd has himself a dwelling made,
prince of men; guiltless of sin, he rules o’er the high-built fane.
17. O’ergrown with branches and high grass is Vidar’s spacious
Landvîdi: There will the son descend, from the steed’s back, bold to
avenge his father.
18. Andhrimnir makes, in Eldhrimnir, Sæhrimnir to boil, of meats the
best; but few know how many Einheriar it feeds.
19. Geri and Freki the war-wont sates, the triumphant sire of hosts;
but on wine only the famed in arms, Odin, ever lives.
20. Hugin and Munin fly each day over the spacious earth. I fear for
Hugin, that he come not back, yet more anxious am I for Munin.
21. Thund roars; joyful in Thiodvitnir’s water lives the fish; the
rapid river seems too great for the battle-steed to ford.
22. Valgrind is the lattice called, in the plain that stands, holy
before the holy gates: ancient is that lattice, but few only know how
it is closed with lock.
23. Five hundred doors, and forty eke, I think, are [Pg 22]in Valhall.
Eight hundred Einheriar will at once from each door go when they issue
with the wolf to fight.
24. Five hundred floors, and forty eke, I think, has Bilskirnir with
its windings. Of all the roofed houses that I know, is my son’s the
25. Heidrûn the goat is called, that stands o’er Odin’s hall, and
bites from Lærâd’s branches. He a bowl shall fill with the bright
mead; that drink shall never fail.
26. Eikthyrnir the hart is called, that stands o’er Odin’s hall, and
bites from Lærâd’s branches; from his horns fall drops into
Hvergelmir, whence all waters rise:—
27. Sid and Vid, Soekin and Eikin, Svöl and Gunnthrô, Fiörm and
Fimbulthul, Rin and Rennandi, Gipul and Göpul, Gömul and Geirvimul:
they round the gods’ dwelling wind. Thyn and Vin, Thöll and Höll, Grâd
28. Vina one is called, a second Vegsvin, a third Thiodnuma; Nyt and
Nön and Hrön, Slid and Hrid, Sylg and Ylg, Vîd and Vân, Vönd and
Strönd, Gioll and Leipt; these (two) fall near to men, but fall hence
29. Körmt and Ormt, and the Kerlaugs twain: these Thor must wade
each day, when he to council goes at Yggdrasil’s ash; for the
As-bridge is all on fire, the holy waters boil.
30. Glad and Gyllir, Gler and Skeidbrimir, Sillfrintopp and Sinir,
Gisl and Falhôfnir, Gulltopp and Lettfeti; on these steeds the Æsir
each day ride, when they to council go, at Yggdrasil’s ash.[Pg 23]
31. Three roots stand on three ways under Yggdrasil’s ash: Hel under
one abides, under the second the Hrimthursar, under the third mankind.
32. Ratatösk is the squirrel named, which, has to run in Yggdrasil’s
ash; he from above the eagle’s words must carry, and beneath to
33. Harts there are also four, which from its summits, arch-necked,
gnaw. Dâin and Dvalin, Duneyr and Durathrôr.
34. More serpents lie under Yggdrasil’s ash, than any one would
think of witless mortals: Gôin and Môin,—they are Grafvitnir’s
sons—Grâbak and Grafvöllud, Ofnir and Svafnir, will, I ween, the
branches of that tree ever lacerate.
35. Yggdrasil’s ash hardship suffers greater than men know of; a
hart bites it above, and in its side it rots, Nidhögg beneath tears
36. Hrist and Mist the horn shall bear me Skeggöld and Skögul, Hlökk
and Herfiotur, Hildi and Thrûdi, Göll and Geirölul, Randgríd and
Râdgrîd, and Reginleif, these bear beer to the Einheriar.
37. Arvakr and Alsvid, theirs ’tis up hence fasting the sun to draw:
under their shoulder the gentle powers, the Æsir, have concealed an
38. Svalin the shield is called, which stands before the sun, the
refulgent deity; rocks and ocean must, I ween, be burnt, fell it from
39. Sköll the wolf is named, that the fair-faced goddess to the
ocean chases; another Hati hight, he is Hrôdvitnir’s son; he the
bright maid of heaven shall precede.[Pg 24]
40. Of Ymir’s flesh was earth created, of his blood the sea, of his
bones the hills, of his hair trees and plants, of his skull the
41. And of his brows the gentle powers formed Midgard for the sons
of men; but of his brain the heavy clouds are all created.
42. Ullr’s and all the gods’ favour shall have, whoever first shall
look to the fire; for open will the dwelling be, to the Æsir’s sons,
when the kettles are lifted off.
43. Ivaldi’s sons went in days of old Skidbladnir to form, of ships
the best, for the bright Frey, Niörd’s benign son.
44. Yggdrasil’s ash is of all trees most excellent, and of all
ships, Skidbladnir, of the Æsir, Odin, and of horses, Sleipnir,
Bifröst of bridges, and of skallds, Bragi, Hâbrôk of hawks, and of
dogs, Garm, [Brimir of swords.]
45. Now I my face have raised to the gods’ triumphant sons, at that
will welcome help awake; from all the Æsir, that shall penetrate, to
Oegir’s bench, to Oegir’s compotation.
46. I am called Grim, I am called Gangleri, Herian and Hiâlmberi,
Thekk and Thridi, Thund and Ud, Helblindi and Har,
47. Sad and Svipall, and Sanngetall, Herteit and [Pg 25]Hnikar Bileyg,
Bâleyg, Bölverk, Fiölnir, Grîm and Grimnir, Glapsvid and Fiölsvid,
48. Sîdhött, Sîdskegg Sigfödr, Hnikud, Alfodr, Valfödr, Atrid and
Farmatyr; by one name I never have been called, since among men I have
49. Grimnir I am called at Geirröd’s, and at Asmund’s Jâlk and
Kialar, when a sledge I drew; Thrôr at the public meetings, Vidur in
battles, Oski and Omi, Jafnhâr and Biflindi, Gôndlir and Harbard with
50. Svidur and Svidrir I was at Sökkmimir’s called, and beguiled
that ancient Jötun, when of Midvitnir’s renowned son I was the sole
51. Drunken art thou, Geirröd, thou hast drunk too much, thou art
greatly by mead beguiled. Much didst thou lose, when thou wast of my
help bereft, of all the Einheriar’s and Odin’s favour.
52. Many things I told thee, but thou hast few remembered: thy
friends mislead thee. My friend’s sword lying I see, with blood all
53. The fallen by the sword Ygg shall now have; thy life is now run
out: Wroth with thee are the Dîsir: Odin thou now shalt see: draw near
to me if thou canst.
54. Odin I now am named, Ygg I was called before, before that,
Thund, Vakr and Skilfing, Vâfudr and Hrôptatyr, with the gods, Gaut
and Jâlk, Ofnir and Svafnir, all which I believe to be names of me
King Geirröd was sitting with his sword lying across his knees, half
drawn from the scabbard, but on finding [Pg 26]that it was Odin, he rose for
the purpose of removing him from the fires, when the sword slipt from
his hand with the hilt downwards; and the king having stumbled, the
sword pierced him through and killed him. Odin then vanished, and
Agnar was king for a long time after.
 What in this strophe is said of Ullr has apparently
reference to a lost myth. It would seem that, through the intervention
of the kettles, the Æsir were unable to see Odin’s unpleasant position
between the two fires.
 My version of this strophe is not in accordance with
those of other interpreters. Odin raises his countenance to heaven, in
full confidence that when seen help will forthwith be afforded him.
Under the name of Oegir, Gierrod is generally understood: I rather
think the meaning to be, that all the Æsir who [sit at] Oegir’s
compotation will forthwith come to his aid.
THE LAY OF VEGTAM, OR BALDR’S DREAMS.
1. Together were the Æsir all in council, and the Asyniur all in
conference, and they consulted, the mighty gods, why Baldr had
2. [To that god his slumber was most afflicting; his auspicious
dreams seemed departed. They the Jötuns questioned, wise seers of the
future, whether this might not forebode calamity?
3. The responses said that to death destined was Ullr’s kinsman, of
all the dearest: that caused grief to Frigg and Svafnir, and to the
other powers—On a course they resolved:
4. That they would send to every being, assurance to solicit, Baldr
not to harm. All species swore oaths to spare him; Frigg received all
their vows and compacts.
5. Valfather fears something defective; he thinks the Hamingiur may
have departed; the Æsir he convenes, their counsel craves: at the
deliberation much is devised.]
6. Uprose Odin lord of men and on Sleipnir he the [Pg 27]saddle laid; rode
thence down to Niflhel. A dog he met, from Hel coming.
7. It was blood-stained on its breast, on its slaughter-craving
throat, and nether jaw. It bayed and widely gaped at the sire of magic
song:—long it howled.
8. Forth rode Odin—the ground rattled—till to Hel’s lofty house he
came. Then rode Ygg to the eastern gate, where he knew there was a
9. To the prophetess, he began a magic song to chant, towards the
north looked, potent runes applied, a spell pronounced, an answer
demanded, until compelled she rose, and with deathlike voice she said:
10. “What man is this, to me unknown, who has for me increased an
irksome course? I have with snow been decked, by rain beaten, and with
dew moistened: long have I been dead.”
11. “Vegtam is my name, I am Valtam’s son. Tell thou me of Hel:
from, earth I call on thee. For whom are those benches strewed o’er
with rings, those costly couches o’erlaid with gold?”
12. “Here stands mead, for Baldr brewed, over the bright potion a
shield is laid; but the Æsir race are in despair. By compulsion I have
spoken. I will now be silent.”
13. “Be not silent, Vala! I will question thee, until I know all. I
will yet know who will Baldr’s slayer be, and Odin’s son of life
14. “Hödr will hither his glorious brother send, he of Baldr will
the slayer be, and Odin’s son of life bereave. By compulsion I have
spoken; I will now be silent.”
15. “Be not silent, Vala! I will question thee, until I know all. I
will yet know who on Hödr vengeance will inflict, or Baldr’s slayer
raise on the pile.”
16. “Rind a son shall bear, in the western halls: he shall slay
Odin’s son, when one night old. He a hand will not wash, nor his head
comb, ere he to the pile has borne Baldr’s adversary. By compulsion I
have spoken; I will now be silent.”
17. “Be not silent, Vala! I will question thee, until I know all. I
will yet know who the maidens are, that weep at will, and heavenward
cast their neck-veils? Tell me but that: till then thou sleepest not.”
18. “Not Vegtam art thou, as I before believed; rather art thou
Odin, lord of men!”
19. “Thou art no Vala, nor wise woman, rather art thou the mother of
20. “Home ride thou, Odin! and exult. Thus shall never more man
again visit me, until Loki free from his bonds escapes, and Ragnarök
THE HIGH ONE’S LAY.
1. All door-ways, before going forward, should be looked to; for
difficult it is to know where foes may sit within a dwelling.
2. Givers, hail! A guest is come in: where shall he sit? In much
haste is he, who on the ways has to try his luck.
3. Fire is needful to him who is come in, and whose knees are
frozen; food and raiment a man requires, wheo’er the fell has
4. Water to him is needful who for refection comes, a towel and
hospitable invitation, a good reception; if he can get it, discourse
5. Wit is needful to him who travels far: at home all is easy. A
laughing-stock is he who nothing knows, and with the instructed sits.[Pg 30]
6. Of his understanding no one should be proud, but rather in
conduct cautious. When the prudent and taciturn come to a dwelling,
harm seldom befalls the cautious; for a firmer friend no man ever gets
than great sagacity.
7. A wary guest, who to refection comes, keeps a cautious
silence, with his ears listens, and with his eyes observes: so
explores every prudent man.
8. He is happy, who for himself obtains fame and kind words: less
sure is that which a man must have in another’s breast.
9. He is happy, who in himself possesses fame and wit while living;
for bad counsels have oft been received from another’s breast.
10. A better burthen no man bears on the way than much good sense;
that is thought better than riches in a strange place; such is the
recourse of the indigent.
11. A worse provision on the way he cannot carry than too much
beer-bibbing; so good is not, as it is said, beer for the sons of men.
12. A worse provision no man can take from table than too much
beer-bibbing: for the more he drinks the less control he has of his
13. Oblivion’s heron ’tis called that over potations hovers; he
steals the minds of men. With this bird’s pinions I was fettered in
Gunnlods dwelling.[Pg 31]
14. Drunk I was, I was over-drunk, at that cunning Fialar’s. It’s
the best drunkenness, when every one after it regains his reason.
15. Taciturn and prudent, and in war daring, should a king’s
children be; joyous and liberal every one should be until his hour of
16. A cowardly man thinks he will ever live, if warfare he avoids;
but old age will give him no peace, though spears may spare him.
17. A fool gapes when to a house he comes, to himself mutters or is
silent; but all at once, if he gets drink, then is the man’s mind
18. He alone knows who wanders wide, and has much experienced, by
what disposition each man is ruled, who common sense possesses.
19. Let a man hold the cup, yet of the mead drink moderately, speak
sensibly or be silent. As of a fault no man will admonish thee, if
thou goest betimes to sleep.
20. A greedy man, if he be not moderate, eats to his mortal sorrow.
Oftentimes his belly draws laughter on a silly man, who among the
21. Cattle know when to go home, and then from grazing cease; but a
foolish man never knows his stomach’s measure.
22. A miserable man, and ill-conditioned, sneers at every thing: one
thing he knows not, which he ought to know, that he is not free from
23. A foolish man is all night awake, pondering over everything; he
then grows tired; and when morning comes, all is lament as before.[Pg 32]
24. A foolish man thinks all who on him smile to be his friends; he
feels it not, although they speak ill of him, when he sits among the
25. A foolish man thinks all who speak him fair to be his friends;
but he will find, if into court he comes, that he has few advocates.
26. A foolish man thinks he knows everything if placed in unexpected
difficulty; but he knows not what to answer, if to the test he is put.
27. A foolish man, who among people comes, had best be silent; for
no one knows that he knows nothing, unless he talks too much. He who
previously knew nothing will still know nothing, talk he ever so much.
28. He thinks himself wise, who can ask questions and converse also;
conceal his ignorance no one can, because it circulates among men.
29. He utters too many futile words who is never silent; a garrulous
tongue, if it be not checked, sings often to its own harm.
30. For a gazing-stock no man shall have another, although he come a
stranger to his house. Many a one thinks himself wise, if he is not
questioned, and can sit in a dry habit.
31. Clever thinks himself the guest who jeers a guest, if he takes
to flight. Knows it not certainly he who prates at meat, whether he
babbles among foes.
32. Many men are mutually well-disposed, yet at table will torment
each other. That strife will ever be; guest will guest irritate.
33. Early meals a man should often take, unless to a [Pg 33]friend’s house
he goes; else he will sit and mope, will seem half-famished, and can
of few things inquire.
34. Long is and indirect the way to a bad friend’s, though by the
road he dwell; but to a good friend’s the paths lie direct, though he
be far away.
35. A guest should depart, not always stay in one place. The welcome
becomes unwelcome, if he too long continues in another’s house.
36. One’s own house is best, small though it be; at home is every
one his own master. Though he but two goats possess, and a
straw-thatched cot, even that is better than begging.
37. One’s own house is best, small though it be, at home is every
one his own master. Bleeding at heart is he, who has to ask for food
at every meal-tide.
38. Leaving in the field his arms, let no man go a foot’s length
forward; for it is hard to know when on the way a man may need his
39. I have never found a man so bountiful, or so hospitable that he
refused a present; or of his property so liberal that he scorned a
40. Of the property which he has gained no man should suffer need;
for the hated oft is spared what for the dear was destined. Much goes
worse than is expected.
41. With arms and vestments friends should each other gladden, those
which are in themselves most sightly. Givers and requiters are longest
friends, if all [else] goes well.
[Pg 34]42. To his friend a man should be a friend, and gifts with gifts
requite. Laughter with laughter men should receive, but leasing with
43. To his friend a man should be a friend; to him and to his
friend; but of his foe no man shall the friend’s friend be.
44. Know, if thou hast a friend whom thou fully trustest, and from
whom thou woulds’t good derive, thou shouldst blend thy mind with his,
and gifts exchange, and often go to see him.
45. If thou hast another, whom thou little trustest, yet wouldst
good from him derive, thou shouldst speak him fair, but think
craftily, and leasing pay with lying.
46. But of him yet further, whom thou little trustest, and thou
suspectest his affection; before him thou shouldst laugh, and contrary
to thy thoughts speak: requital should the gift resemble.
47. I was once young, I was journeying alone, and lost my way; rich
I thought myself, when I met another. Man is the joy of man.
48. Liberal and brave men live best, they seldom cherish sorrow; but
a base-minded man dreads everything; the niggardly is uneasy even at
49. My garments in a field I gave away to two wooden men: heroes
they seemed to be, when they got cloaks: exposed to insult is a naked
50. A tree withers that on a hill-top stands; protects it neither
bark nor leaves: such is the man whom no one favours: why should he
51. Hotter than fire love for five days burns between [Pg 35]false
friends; but is quenched when the sixth day comes, and-friendship is
52. Something great is not [always] to be given, praise is often for
a trifle bought. With half a loaf and a tilted vessel I got myself a
53. Little are the sand-grains, little the wits, little the minds of
[some] men; for all men are not wise alike: men are everywhere by
54. Moderately wise should each one be, but never over-wise: of
those men the lives are fairest, who know much well.
55. Moderately wise should each one be, but never over-wise; for a
wise man’s heart is seldom glad, if he is all-wise who owns it.
56. Moderately wise should each one be, but never over-wise. His
destiny let know no man beforehand; his mind will be freest from’
57. Brand burns from brand until it is burnt out; fire is from fire
quickened. Man to’ man becomes known by speech, but a fool by his
58. He should early rise, who another’s property or wife desires to
have. Seldom a sluggish wolf gets prey, or a sleeping man victory.
59. Early should rise he who has few workers, and go his work to see
to; greatly is he retarded who sleeps the morn away. Wealth half
depends on energy.
60. Of dry planks and roof-shingles a man knows the measure; of the
fire-wood that may suffice, both measure and time.
61. Washed and refected let a man ride to the [Pg 36]Thing, although
his garments be not too good; of his shoes and breeches let no one be
ashamed, nor of his horse, although he have not a good one.
62. Inquire and impart should every man of sense, who will be
accounted sage. Let one only know, a second may not; if three, all the
63. Gasps and gapes, when to the sea he comes, the eagle over old
ocean; so is a man, who among many comes, and has few advocates.
64. His power should every sagacious man use with discretion; for he
will find, when among the bold he comes, that no one alone is
65. Circumspect and reserved every man should be, and wary in
trusting friends. Of the words that a man says to another he often
pays the penalty.
66. Much too early I came to many places, but too late to others:
the beer was drunk, or not ready: the disliked seldom hits the moment.
67. Here and there I should have been invited, if I a meal had
needed; or two hams had hung, at that true friend’s, where of one I
68. Fire is best among the sons of men, and the sight of the sun, if
his health a man can have, with a life free from vice.
69. No man lacks everything, although his health be bad: one in his
sons is happy, one in his kin, one in abundant wealth, one in his good
70. It is better to live, even to live miserably; a living man can
always get a cow. I saw fire consume the rich man’s property, and
death stood without his door.[Pg 37]
71. The halt can ride on horseback, the one-handed drive cattle; the
deaf fight and be useful: to be blind is better than to be burnt
no one gets good from a corpse.
72. A son is better, even if born late, after his father’s
departure. Gravestones seldom stand by the way-side unless raised by a
kinsman to a kinsman.
73. Two are adversaries: the tongue is the bane of the head: under
every cloak I expect a hand. * * *
74. At night is joyful he who is sure of travelling entertainment.
[A ship’s yards are short.] Variable is an autumn night. Many are
the weather’s changes in five days, but more in a month.
75. He [only] knows not who knows nothing, that many a one apes
another. One man is rich, another poor: let him not be thought
76. Cattle die, kindred die, we ourselves also die; but the fair
fame never dies of him who has earned it.
77. Cattle die, kindred die, we ourselves also die; but I know one
thing that never dies,—judgment on each one dead.
78. Full storehouses I saw at Dives’ sons’: now bear they the
beggar’s staff. Such are riches; as is the twinkling of an eye: of
friends they are most fickle.
79. A foolish man, if he acquires wealth or woman’s love, pride
grows within him, but wisdom never: he goes on more and more arrogant.
80. Then ’tis made manifest, if of runes thou questionest him, those
to the high ones known, which the [Pg 38]great powers invented, and the
great talker painted, that he had best hold silence.
81. At eve the day is to be praised, a woman after she is burnt, a
sword after it is proved, a maid after she is married, ice after it
has passed away, beer after it is drunk.
82. In the wind one should hew wood, in a breeze row out to sea, in
the dark talk with a lass: many are the eyes of day. In a ship voyages
are to be made, but a shield is for protection, a sword for striking,
but a damsel for a kiss.
83. By the fire one should drink beer, on the ice slide; buy a horse
that is lean, a sword that is rusty; feed a horse at home, but a dog
at the farm.
84. In a maiden’s words no one should place faith, nor in what a
woman says; for on a turning wheel have their hearts been formed, and
guile in their breasts been laid;
85. In a creaking bow, a burning flame, a yawning wolf, a chattering
crow, a grunting swine, a rootless tree, a waxing wave, a boiling
86. A flying dart, a falling billow, a one night’s ice, a coiled
serpent, a woman’s bed-talk, or a broken sword, a bear’s play, or a
87. A sick calf, a self-willed thrall, a flattering prophetess, a
corpse newly slain, [a serene sky, a laughing lord, a barking dog, and
a harlot’s grief];
88. An early sown field let no one trust, nor prematurely in a son:
weather rules the field, and wit the son, each of which is doubtful;[Pg 39]
89. A brother’s murderer, though on the high road met, a half-burnt
house, an over-swift horse, (a horse is useless, if a leg be broken),
no man is so confiding as to trust any of these.
90. Such is the love of women, who falsehood meditate, as if one
drove not rough-shod, on slippery ice, a spirited two-years old and
unbroken horse; or as in a raging storm a helmless ship is beaten; or
as if the halt were set to catch a reindeer in the thawing fell.
91. Openly I now speak, because I both sexes know: unstable are
men’s minds towards women; ’tis then we speak most fair when we most
falsely think: that deceives even the cautious.
92. Fair shall speak, and money offer, who would obtain a woman’s
love. Praise the form of a fair damsel; he gets who courts her.
93. At love should no one ever wonder in another: a beauteous
countenance oft captivates the wise, which captivates not the foolish.
94. Let no one wonder at another’s folly, it is the lot of many.
All-powerful desire makes of the sons of men fools even of the wise.
95. The mind only knows what lies near the heart, that alone is
conscious of our affections. No disease is worse to a sensible man
than not to be content with himself.
96. That I experienced, when in the reeds I sat, awaiting my
delight. Body and soul to me was that discreet maiden: nevertheless I
possess her not.[Pg 40]
97. Billing’s lass on her couch I found, sun-bright, sleeping. A
prince’s joy to me seemed naught, if not with that form to live.
98. “Yet nearer eve must thou, Odin, come, if thou wilt talk the
maiden over; all will be disastrous, unless we alone are privy to such
99. I returned, thinking to love, at her wise desire. I thought I
should obtain her whole heart and love.
100. When next I came the bold warriors were all awake, with lights
burning, and bearing torches: thus was the way to pleasure closed.
101. But at the approach of morn, when again I came, the household
all was sleeping; the good damsel’s dog alone I found tied to the bed.
102. Many a fair maiden, when rightly known, towards men is fickle:
that I experienced, when that discreet maiden I strove to seduce:
contumely of every kind that wily girl heaped upon me; nor of that
damsel gained I aught.
103. At home let a man be cheerful, and towards a guest liberal; of
wise conduct he should be, of good memory and ready speech; if much
knowledge he desires, he must often talk on good.
104. Fimbulfambi he is called who’ little has to say: such is the
nature of the simple.
105. The old Jotun I sought; now I am come back: little got I there
by silence; in many words I spoke to my advantage in Suttung’s halls.
106. Gunnlod gave me, on her golden seat, a draught [Pg 41]of the precious
mead; a bad recompense I afterwards made her, for her whole soul, her
107. Rati’s mouth I caused to make a space, and to gnaw the rock;
over and under me were the Jotun’s ways: thus I my head did peril.
108. Of a well-assumed form I made good use: few things fail the
wise; for Odhrærir is now come up to men’s earthly dwellings.
109. ‘Tis to me doubtful that I could have come from the Jotun’s
courts, had not Gunnlod aided me, that good damsel, over whom I laid
110. On the day following came the Hrimthursar, to learn something
of the High One, in the High One’s hall: after Bolverk they inquired,
whether he with the gods were come, or Suttung had destroyed him?
111. Odin, I believe, a ring-oath gave. Who in his faith will
trust? Suttung defrauded, of his drink bereft, and Gunnlod made to
112. Time ’tis to discourse from the preacher’s chair. By the well
of Urd I silent sat, I saw and meditated, I listened to men’s words.
113. Of runes I heard discourse, and of things divine, nor of
graving them were they silent, nor of sage counsels, at the High One’s
hall. In the High One’s hall. I thus heard say:
114. I counsel thee, Loddfafnir, to take advice: thou wilt profit if
thou takest it. Rise not at night, unless to explore, or art compelled
to go out.[Pg 42]
115. I counsel thee, Loddfafnir, to take advice, thou wilt profit if
thou takest it. In an enchantress’s embrace thou mayest not sleep, so
that in her arms she clasp thee.
116. She will be the cause that thou carest not for Thing or
prince’s words; food thou wilt shun and human joys; sorrowful wilt
thou go to sleep.
117. I counsel thee, etc. Another’s wife entice thou never to secret
118. I counsel thee, etc. By fell or firth if thou have to travel,
provide thee well with food.
119. I counsel thee, etc. A bad man let thou never know thy
misfortunes; for from a bad man thou never wilt obtain a return for
thy good will.
120. I saw mortally wound a man a wicked woman’s words; a false
tongue caused his death, and most unrighteously.
121. I counsel thee, etc. If thou knowest thou hast a friend, whom
thou well canst trust, go oft to visit him; for with brushwood
over-grown, and with high grass, is the way that no one treads.
122. I counsel thee, etc. A good man attract to thee in pleasant
converse; and salutary speech learn while thou livest.
123. I counsel thee, etc. With thy friend be thou never first to
quarrel. Care gnaws the heart, if thou to no one canst thy whole mind
124. I counsel thee, etc. Words thou never shouldst exchange with a
125. For from an ill-conditioned man thou wilt never get a return
for good; but a good man will bring thee favour by his praise.[Pg 43]
126. There is a mingling of affection, where one can tell another
all his mind. Everything is better than being with the deceitful. He
is not another’s friend who ever says as he says.
127. I counsel thee, etc. Even in three words quarrel not with a
worse man: often the better yields, when the worse strikes.
128. I counsel thee, etc. Be not a shoemaker, nor a shaftmaker,
unless for thyself it be; for a shoe if ill made, or a shaft if
crooked, will call down evil on thee.
129. I counsel thee, etc. Wherever of injury thou knowest, regard
that injury as thy own; and give to thy foes no peace.
130. I counsel thee, etc. Rejoiced at evil be thou never; but let
good give thee pleasure.
131. I counsel thee, etc. In a battle look not up, (like swine the
sons of men then become) that men may not fascinate thee.
132. If thou wilt induce a good woman to pleasant converse, thou
must promise fair, and hold to it: no one turns from good if it can be
133. I enjoin thee to be wary, but not over wary; at drinking be
thou most wary, and with another’s wife; and thirdly, that thieves
delude thee not.
134. With insult or derision treat thou never a guest or wayfarer.
They often little know, who sit within, of what race they are who
135. Vices and virtues the sons of mortals bear in their breasts
mingled; no one is so good that no failing attends him, nor so bad as
to be good for nothing.[Pg 44]
136. At a hoary speaker laugh thou never; often is good that which
the aged utter, oft from a shriveled hide discreet words issue; from
those whose skin is pendent and decked with scars, and who go
tottering among the vile.
137. I counsel thee, etc. Rail not at a guest, nor from thy gate
thrust him; treat well the indigent; they will speak well of thee.
138. Strong is the bar that must be raised to admit all. Do thou
give a penny, or they will call down on thee every ill in thy limbs.
139. I counsel thee, etc. Wherever thou beer drinkest, invoke to
thee the power of earth; for earth is good against drink, fire for
distempers, the oak for constipation, a corn-ear for sorcery, a hall
for domestic strife. In bitter hates invoke the moon; the biter for
bite-injuries is good; but runes against calamity; fluid let earth
 Odin is the “High One.” The poem is a collection of
rules and maxims, and stories of himself, some of them not very
consistent with our ideas of a supreme deity.
 In the Copenhagen paper Ms. F. this strophe begins with
the following three lines:—
to him who travels far:
harm seldom befalls the wary:
They are printed in the Stockholm edition of the original Afzelius and
Bask, and in the Swedish translation by Afzelius.
 The sense of this line seems doubtful; I have adopted
the version of Finn Magnusen.
 The public meeting.
 That is dead on the funeral pyre.
 This line is evidently an interpolation.
 From this line it appears that the poem is of Norwegian
or Swedish origin, as the reindeer was unknown in Iceland before the
middle of the 18th century, when it was Introduced by royal command.
 The story of Odin and Billing’s daughter is no longer
extant; but compare the story of Odin and Rinda in Saxo, p. 126, edit.
Muller & Veleschow.
 In the pagan North oaths were taken on a holy ring or
bracelet, as with us on the Gospels, a sacred ring being kept in the
temple for the purpose.
140. I know that I hung, on a wind-rocked tree, nine whole nights,
with a spear wounded, and to Odin offered, myself to myself; on that
tree, of which no one knows from what root it springs.
141. Bread no one gave me, nor a horn of drink, [Pg 45]downward I peered,
to runes applied myself, wailing learnt them, then fell down thence.
142. Potent songs nine from the famed son I learned of Bolthorn,
Bestla’s sire, and a draught obtained of the precious mead, drawn from
143. Then I began to bear fruit, and to know many things, to grow
and well thrive: word by word I sought out words, fact by fact I
sought out facts.
144. Runes thou wilt find, and explained characters, very large
characters, very potent characters, which the great speaker depicted,
and the high powers formed, and the powers’ prince graved:
145. Odin among the Æsir, but among the Alfar, Dain, and Dvalin for
the dwarfs, Asvid for the Jotuns: some I myself graved.
146. Knowest thou how to grave them? knowest thou how to expound
them? knowest thou how to depict them? knowest thou how to prove them?
knowest thou how to pray? knowest thou how to offer? knowest thou how
to send? knowest thou how to consume?
147. ‘Tis better not to pray than too much offer; a gift ever looks
to a return. ‘Tis better not to send than too much consume. So Thund
graved before the origin of men, where he ascended, to whence he
148. Those songs I know which the king’s wife knows not nor son of
man. Help the first is called, for that will help thee against strifes
and cares.[Pg 46]
149. For the second I know, what the sons of men require, who will
as leeches live. * * * *
150. For the third I know, if I have great need to restrain my
foes, the weapons’ edge I deaden: of my adversaries nor arms nor wiles
151. For the fourth I know, if men place bonds on my limbs, I so
sing that I can walk; the fetter starts from my feet, and the manacle
from my hands.
152. For the fifth I know, if I see a shot from a hostile hand, a
shaft flying amid the host, so swift it cannot fly that I cannot
arrest it, if only I get sight of it.
153. For the sixth I know, if one wounds me with a green tree’s
roots; also if a man declares hatred to me, harm shall consume
them sooner than me.
154. For the seventh I know, if a lofty house I see blaze o’er its
inmates, so furiously it shall not burn that I cannot save it. That
song I can sing.
155. For the eighth I know, what to all is useful to learn: where
hatred grows among the sons of men—that I can quickly assuage.
156. For the ninth I know, if I stand in need my bark on the water
to save, I can the wind on the waves allay, and the sea lull.
157. For the tenth I know, if I see troll-wives sporting in air, I
can so operate that they will forsake their own forms, and their own
158. For the eleventh I know, if I have to lead my [Pg 47]ancient friends
to battle, under their shields I sing, and with power they go safe to
the fight, safe from the fight; safe on every side they go.
159. For the twelfth I know, if on a tree I see a corpse swinging
from a halter, I can so grave and in runes depict, that the man shall
walk, and with me converse.
160. For the thirteenth I know, if on a young man I sprinkle water,
he shall not fall, though he into battle come: that man shall not sink
161. For the fourteenth I know, if in the society of men I have to
enumerate the gods, Æsir and Alfar, I know the distinctions of all.
This few unskilled can do.
162. For the fifteenth I know what the dwarf Thiodreyrir sang before
Delling’s doors. Strength he sang to the Æsir, and to the Alfar
prosperity, wisdom to Hroptatyr.
163. For the sixteenth I know, if a modest maiden’s favour and
affection I desire to possess, the soul I change of the white-armed
damsel, and wholly turn her mind.
164. For the seventeenth I know, that that young maiden will
reluctantly avoid me. These songs, Loddfafnir! thou wilt long have
lacked; yet it may be good if thou understandest them, profitable if
thou learnest them.
165. For the eighteenth I know that which I never teach to maid or
wife of man, (all is better what one only knows. This is the closing
of the songs) save her alone who clasps me in her arms, or is my
166. Now are sung the High-one’s songs, in the High-one’s hall, to
the sons of men all-useful, but useless [Pg 48]to the Jotuns’ sons. Hail to
him who has sung them! Hail to him who knows them! May he profit who
has learnt them! Hail to those who have listened to them!
 The first eight strophes of this composition require an
explanation which I am incompetent to afford. They have had many
interpreters and as many interpretations. The idea of Odin hanging on
a tree would seem to have been suggested by what we read of the grove
at Upsala, or Sigtuna, in which the victims offered to that deity were
suspended from the trees. In the guise of an unknown wanderer, Odin
may be supposed to have been captured and thus offered to himself. It
no doubt refers to some lost legend.
 Probably, send them (the runes) forth on their several
 The miraculous powers here ascribed by Odin to himself
bear, in many instances, a remarkable similarity to those attributed
to him by Snorri.
 The ancient inhabitants of the North believed that the
roots of trees were particularly fitted for hurtful trolldom, or
witchcraft, and that wounds caused thereby were mortal. In India a
similar superstition prevails of the hurtfulness of the roots of
THE LAY OF HYMIR.
1. Once the celestial gods had been taking fish, and were in
compotation, ere they the truth discovered. Rods they shook,
and blood inspected, when they found at Oegir’s a lack of kettles.
2. Sat the rock-dweller glad as a child, much like the son of
Miskorblindi. In his eyes looked Ygg’s son steadfastly. “Thou to the
Æsir shalt oft a compotation give.”
3. Caused trouble to the Jotun th’ unwelcome-worded As: he forthwith
meditated vengeance on the gods. Sif’s husband he besought a kettle
him to bring, “in which I beer for all of you may brew.”
4. The illustrious gods found that impossible, nor could the exalted
powers it accomplish, till from true-heartedness, Ty to Hlorridi much
friendly counsel gave.
5. “There dwells eastward of Elivagar the all-wise Hymir, at
heaven’s end. My sire, fierce of mood, a kettle owns, a capacious
cauldron, a rast in depth.”
6. “Knowest thou whether we can get the liquor-boiler?”
“Yes, friend! if we stratagem’ employ.” Rapidly they drove forward
that day from Asgard, till to the giant’s home they came.
7. Thor stalled his goats, splendid of horn, then turned him to the
hall that Hymir owned. The son his granddam found to him most
loathful; heads she had nine hundred.
8. But another came all-golden forth, fair-browed, bearing the
beer-cup to her son:
9. “Ye Jotuns’ kindred! I will you both, ye daring pair, under the
kettles place. My husband is oftentimes niggard towards guests, to
10. But the monster, the fierce-souled Hymir, late returned home
from the chase. He the hall entered, the icebergs resounded, as the
churl approached; the thicket on his cheeks was frozen.
11. “Hail to thee, Hymir! be of good cheer: now thy son is come to
thy hall, whom we expected from his long journey; him accompanies our
famed adversary, the friend of man, who Veor hight.
12. See where they sit under the hall’s gable, as if to shun thee:
the pillar stands before them.” In shivers flew the pillar at the
Jotun’s glance; the beam was first broken in two.
13. Eight kettles fell, but only one of them, a hard-hammered
cauldron, whole from the column. The two came forth, but the old Jotun
with eyes surveyed his adversary.
14. Augured to him his mind no good, when he saw [Pg 50]the giantess’s
sorrow on the floor coming. Then were three oxen taken, and the Jotun
bade them forthwith be boiled.
15. Each one they made by the head shorter, and to the fire
afterwards bore them. Sif’s consort ate, ere to sleep he went,
completely, he alone, two of Hymir’s beeves.
16. Seemed to the hoary friend of Hrungnir Hlorridi’s refection full
well large: “We three to-morrow night shall be compelled on what we
catch to live.”
17. Veor said he would on the sea row, if the bold Jotun him would
with baits supply: “To the herd betake thee, (if thou in thy courage
trustest, crusher of the rock-dwellers!) for baits to seek.
18. I expect that thou wilt bait from an ox easily obtain.” The
guest in haste to the forest went, where stood an all-black ox before
19. The Thursar’s bane wrung from an ox the high fastness of his two
horns. “To me thy work seems worse by far, ruler of keels! than if
thou hadst sat quiet.”
20. The lord of goats the apes’ kinsman besought the horse of plank
farther out to move; but the Jotun declared his slight desire farther
21. The mighty Hymir drew, he alone, two whales up with his hook;
but at the stern abaft Veor cunningly made him a line.
22. Fixed on the hook the shield of men, the serpent’s slayer, the
ox’s head. Gaped at the bait the foe of gods, the encircler beneath of
[Pg 51]23. Drew up boldly the mighty Thor the worm with venom glistening,
up to the side; with his hammer struck, on his foul head’s summit,
like a rock towering, the wolf’s own brother.
24. The icebergs resounded, the caverns howled, the old earth shrank
together: at length the fish back into ocean sank.
25. The Jotun was little glad, as they rowed back, so that the
powerful Hymir nothing spake, but the oar moved in another course.
26. “Wilt thou do half the work with me, either the whales home to
the dwelling bear, or the boat fast bind?”
27. Hlorridi went, grasped the prow, quickly, with its hold-water,
lifted the water-steed, together with its oars and scoop; bore to the
dwelling the Jotun’s ocean-swine, the curved vessel, through the
28. But the Jotun yet ever frowned, to strife accustomed, with Thor
disputed, said that no one was strong, however vigorously he might
row, unless he his cup could break.
29. But Hlorridi, when to his hands it came, forthwith brake an
upright stone in twain; sitting dashed the cup through the pillars:
yet they brought it whole to Hymir back.
30. Until the beauteous woman gave important, friendly counsel,
which she only knew: “Strike at the head of Hymir, the Jotun with food
oppressed, that is harder than any cup.”
31. Rose then on his knee the stern lord of goats, [Pg 52]clad in all his
godlike power. Unhurt remained the old man’s helm-block, but the round
wine-bearer was in shivers broken.
32. “Much good, I know, has departed from me, now that my cup I see
hurled from my knees.” Thus the old man spake: “I can never say again,
beer thou art too hot.
33. “Now ’tis to be tried if ye can carry the beer-vessel out of our
dwelling.” Ty twice assayed to move the vessel, yet at each time stood
the kettle fast.
34. Then Modi’s father by the brim grasped it, and trod through the
dwelling’s floor. Sif’s consort lifted the kettle on his head, while
about his heels its rings jingled.
35. They had far journeyed before Odin’s son cast one look backward:
he from the caverns saw, with Hymir from the east, a troop of
many-headed monsters coming.
36. From his shoulders he lifted the kettle down; Miollnir hurled
forth towards the savage crew, and slew all the mountain-giants, who
with Hymir had him pursued.
37. Long they had not journeyed when of Hlorridi’s goats one lay
down half-dead before the car. It from the pole had sprung across the
trace; but the false Loki was of this the cause.
38. Now ye have heard,—for what fabulist can more fully tell—what
indemnity he from the giant got: he paid for it with his children
[Pg 53]39. In his strength exulting he to the gods’ council came, and had
the kettle, which Hymir had possessed, out of which every god shall
beer with Oegir drink at every harvest-tide.
 To wit, that they were short of kettles for brewing.
 That is divining rods.
 The great serpent that encircles the earth.
 According to the Prose Edda, the giant, overcome with
fright, took out his knife and severed Thor’s line.
 This strophe belongs apparently to another poem.
THE LAY OF THRYM, OR THE HAMMER RECOVERED.
1. Wroth was Vingthor, when he awoke, and his hammer missed; his
beard he shook, his forehead struck, the son of earth felt all around
2. And first of all these words he uttered: “Hear now, Loki! what I
now say, which no one knows anywhere on earth, nor in heaven above;
the As’s hammer is stolen!”
3. They went to the fair Freyia’s dwelling, and he these words first
of all said: “Wilt thou me, Freyia, thy feather-garment lend, that
perchance my hammer I may find?”
4. “That I would give thee, although of gold it were, and trust it
to thee, though it were of silver.”
5. Flew then Loki—the plumage rattled—until he came beyond the
Æsir’s dwellings, and came within the Jotun’s land.
6. On a mound sat Thrym, the Thursar’s lord, for his greyhounds
plaiting gold bands and his horses’ manes smoothing.[Pg 54]
7. “How goes it with the Æsir? How goes it with the Alfar? Why art
thou come alone to Jotunheim?”
8. “Ill it goes with the Æsir, Ill it goes with the Alfar. Hast thou
Hlorridi’s hammer hidden?”
9. “I have Hlorridi’s hammer hidden eight rasts beneath the earth;
it shall no man get again, unless he bring me Freyia to wife.”
10. Flew then Loki—the plumage rattled—until he came beyond the
Jotun’s dwellings, and came within the Æsir’s courts; there he met
Thor, in the middle court, who these words first of all uttered.
11. “Hast thou had success as well as labour? Tell me from the air
the long tidings. Oft of him who sits are the tales defective, and he
who lies down utters falsehood.”
12. “I have had labour and success: Thrym has thy hammer, the
Thursar’s lord. It shall no man get again, unless he bring him Freyia
13. They went the fair Freyia to find; and he those words first of
all said: “Bind thee, Freyia, in bridal raiment, we two must drive to
14. Wroth then was Freyia, and with anger chafed, all the Æsir’s
hall beneath her trembled: in shivers flew the famed Brisinga
necklace. “Know me to be of women lewdest, if with thee I drive to
15. Straightway went the Æsir all to council, and the Asyniur all to
hold converse; and deliberated the mighty gods, how they Hlorridi’s
hammer might get back.
16. Then said Heimdall, of Æsir brightest—he well foresaw, like
other Vanir—”Let us clothe Thor with bridal raiment, let him have the
famed Brisinga necklace.
17. “Let by his side keys jingle, and woman’s weeds fall round his
knees, but on his breast place precious stones, and a neat coif set on
18. Then said Thor, the mighty As: “Me the Æsir will call womanish,
if I let myself be clad in bridal raiment.”
19. Then spake Loki, Laufey’s son: “Do thou, Thor! refrain from
suchlike words: forthwith the Jotuns will Asgard inhabit, unless thy
hammer thou gettest back.”
20. Then they clad Thor in bridal raiment, and with the noble
Brisinga necklace, let by his side keys jingle, and woman’s weeds fall
round his knees; and on his breast placed precious stones, and a neat
coif set on his head.
21. Then said Loki, Laufey’s son: “I will with thee as a servant go:
we two will drive to Jotunheim.”
22. Straightway were the goats homeward driven, hurried to the
traces; they had fast to run. The rocks were shivered, the earth was
in a blaze; Odin’s son drove to Jotunheim.
23. Then said Thrym, the Thursar’s lord: “Rise [Pg 56]up, Jotuns! and the
benches deck, now they bring me Freyia to wife, Niord’s daughter, from
24. “Hither to our court let bring gold-horned cows, all-black oxen,
for the Jotuns’ joy. Treasures I have many, necklaces many, Freyia
alone seemed to me wanting.”
25. In the evening they early came, and for the Jotuns beer was
brought forth. Thor alone an ox devoured, salmons eight, and all the
sweetmeats women should have. Sif’s consort drank three salds of mead.
26. Then said Thrym, the Thursar’s prince: “Where hast thou seen
brides eat more voraciously? I never saw brides feed more amply, nor a
maiden drink more mead.”
27. Sat the all-crafty serving-maid close by, who words fitting
found against the Jotun’s speech: “Freyia has nothing eaten for eight
nights, so eager was she for Jotunheim.”
28. Under her veil he stooped desirous to salute her, but sprang
back along the hall. “Why are so piercing Freyia’s looks? Methinks
that fire burns from her eyes.”
29. Sat the all-crafty serving-maid close by, who words fitting
found against the Jotun’s speech: “Freyia for eight nights has not
slept, so eager was she for Jotunheim.”
30. In came the Jotun’s luckless sister, for a bride-gift she dared
to ask: “Give me from thy hands the ruddy rings, if thou wouldst gain
my love, my love and favour all.”
31. Then said Thrym, the Thursar’s lord: “Bring the hammer in, the
bride to consecrate; lay Miollnir on [Pg 57]the maiden’s knee; unite us each
with other by the hand of Vor.”
32. Laughed Hlorridi’s soul in his breast, when the fierce-hearted
his hammer recognized. He first slew Thrym, the Thursar’s lord, and
the Jotun’s race all crushed;
33. He slew the Jotun’s aged sister, her who a bride-gift had
demanded; she a blow got instead of skillings, a hammer’s stroke for
many rings. So got Odin’s son his hammer back.
THE LAY OF THE DWARF ALVIS.
1. The benches they are decking, now shall the bride with me
bend her way home. That beyond my strength I have hurried will to
every one appear: at home naught shall disturb my quiet.
2. What man is this? Why about the nose art thou so pale? Hast thou
last night with corpses lain? To me thou seemst to bear resemblance to
the Thursar. Thou art not born to carry off a bride.
3. Alvis I am named, beneath the earth I dwell, under the rock I own
a place. The lord of chariots I am [Pg 58]come to visit. A promise once
confirmed let no one break.
4. I will break it; for o’er the maid I have, as father, greatest
power. I was from home when the promise was given thee. Among the gods
I the sole giver am.
5. What man is this, who lays claim to power over that fair, bright
maiden? For far-reaching shafts few will know thee. Who has decked
thee with bracelets?
6. Vingthor I am named, wide I have wandered; I am Sidgrani’s son:
with my dissent thou shalt not that young maiden have, nor that union
7. Thy consent I fain would have, and that union obtain. Rather
would I possess than be without that snow-white maiden.
8. The maiden’s love shall not, wise guest! be unto thee denied, if
thou of every world canst tell all I desire to know.
9. Vingthor! thou canst try, as thou art desirous the knowledge of
the dwarf to prove. All the nine worlds I have travelled over, and
every being known.
10. Tell me, Alvis!—for all men’s concerns I presume thee, dwarf,
to know—how the earth is called, which lies before the sons of men,
in every world.
11. Jord among men ’tis called, but with the Æsir fold; the Vanir
call it vega, the Jotuns igroen, the Alfar groandi, the powers supreme
12. Tell me, Alvis, etc. how the heaven is called, which is
perceptible in every world.
13. Himinn ’tis called by men; but hlyrnir with the gods; vindofni
the Vanir call it, uppheimr the Jotuns, the Alfar fagraræfr, the
14. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the moon is called, which men see in
15. Mani ’tis called by men, but mylinn with the gods, hverfanda
hvel in Hel they call it, skyndi the Jotuns, but the dwarfs skin;
the Alfar name it artali.
16. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the sun is called, which men’s sons
see in every world.
17. Sol among men ’tis called, but with the gods sunna, the dwarfs
call it Dvalinn’s leika, the Jotuns eyglo, the Alfar fagrahvel, the
Æsir’s sons alskir.
18. Tell me, Alvis, etc., how the clouds are called, which with
showers are mingled in every world.
19. Sky they are called by men, but skurvan by the gods; the Vanir
call them vindflot, the Jotuns urvan, the Alfar vedrmegin; in Hel they
are called hialm hulids.
20. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the wind is called, which widely
passes over every world.
21. Windr ’tis called by men, but vavudr by the gods, the
wide-ruling powers call it gneggiud, the Jotuns oepir, the Alfar
dynfari, in Hel they call it hvidudr.
22. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the calm is called, which has to rest
in every world.
23. Logn ’tis called by men, but lægi by the gods, the Vanir call it
vindslot, the Jotuns ofhly, the Alfar dagsevi, the Dwarfs call it dags
24. Tell me, Alvis! etc., what the sea is called, which men row over
in every world.
25. Sær ’tis called by men, but silægia with the gods; the vanir
call it vagr, the Jotuns alheimr, the Alfar lagastafr, the Dwarfs call
it diupan mar.
26. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the fire is called, which burns before
men’s sons in every world.
27. Eldr ’tis called by men, but by the Æsir funi; the Vanir call it
vagr, the Jotuns frekr, but the Dwarfs forbrennir; in Hel they call it
28. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the forest is called, which grows for
the sons of men in every world.
29. Vidr ’tis called by men, but vallarfax by the gods, Hel’s
inmates call it hlidthangr, the Jotuns eldi, the Alfar fagrlimi; the
Vanir call it vondr.
30. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the night is called, that Norvi’s
daughter hight, in every world.
31. Nott it is called by men, but by the gods niol; the [Pg 62]wide-ruling
powers call it grima, the Jotuns olios, the Alfar svefngaman; the
Dwarfs call it draumniorunn.
32. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the seed is called, which the sons of
men sow in every world.
33. Bygg it is called by men, but by the gods barr, the Vanir call
it vaxtr, the Jotuns æti, the Alfar lagastafr; in Hel ’tis hnipinn
34. Tell me, Alvis! etc., how the beer is called, which the sons of
men drink in every world.
35. Ol it is called by men, but by the Æsir biorr, the Vanir call it
veig, hreina logr the Jotuns, but in Hel ’tis called miodr: Suttung’s
sons call it sumbl.
36. In one breast I have never found more ancient lore. By great
wiles thou hast, I tell thee, been deluded. Thou art above ground,
dwarf! at dawn; already in the hall the sun is shining!
 Thrud, Thor’s daughter by his wife Sif. Skaldskap.
 This appears to allude to a promise made to the dwarf;
but of which the story is lost.
 When this composition was written, it appears that Hel
was no longer regarded as a person, but as a place.
THE LAY OF HARBARD.
Thor journeying from the eastern parts came to a strait or sound, on
the other side of which was a ferryman with his boat. Thor cried
1. Who is the knave of knaves, that by the sound stands yonder?
2. Who is the churl of churls, that cries across the water?
3. Ferry me across the sound, to-morrow I’ll regale thee. I have a
basket on my back: there is no better food: at my ease I ate, before I
quitted home, herrings and oats, with which I yet feel sated.
4. Thou art in haste to praise thy meal: thou surely hast no
foreknowledge; for sad will be thy home: thy mother, I believe, is
5. Thou sayest now what seems to every one most unwelcome to
know—that my mother is dead.
6. Thou dost not look like one who owns three coun[Pg 64]try dwellings,
bare-legged thou standest, and like a beggar clothed; thou hast not
7. Steer hitherward thy boat; I will direct thee where to land. But
who owns this skiff, which by the strand thou holdest?
8. Hildolf fief is named who bade me hold it, a man in council wise,
who dwells in Radso sound. Robbers he bade me not to ferry, or
horse-stealers, but good men only, and those whom I well knew. Tell me
then thy name, if thou wilt cross the sound.
9. I my name will tell, (although I am an outlaw) and all my kin: I
am Odin’s son, Meili’s brother, and Magni’s sire, the gods’ mighty
leader: With Thor thou here mayest speak. I will now ask how thou art
10. I am Harbard called; seldom I my name conceal.
11. Why shouldst thou thy name conceal, unless thou crime hast
12. Yet, though I may crime have perpetrated, I will nathless guard
my life against such as thou art; unless I death-doomed am.
13. It seems to me a foul annoyance to wade across the strait to
thee, and wet my garments: but I will pay thee, mannikin! for thy
sharp speeches, if o’er the sound I come.
14. Here will I stand, and here await thee. Thou wilt have found no
stouter one since Hrungnir’s death.
15. Thou now remindest me how I with Hrungnir fought, that
stout-hearted Jotun, whose head was all of stone; yet I made him fall,
and sink before me. What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?
16. I was with Fiolvari five winters through, in the isle which
Algron hight. There we could fight, and slaughter make, many perils
prove, indulge in love.
17. How did your women prove towards you?
18. Sprightly women we had, had they but been meek; shrewd ones we
had, had they but been kind. Of sand a rope they twisted, and from the
deep valley dug the earth: to them all I alone was superior in
cunning. I rested with the sisters seven, and their love and pleasures
shared. What meanwhile didst thou, Thor?
19. I slew Thiassi, that stout-hearted Jotun: up I cast the eyes of
Allvaldi’s son into the heaven serene: they are signs the greatest of
my deeds. What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?
20. Great seductive arts I used against the riders of the night,
when from their husbands I enticed them. A mighty Jotun I believed
Hlebard to be: a magic wand he gave me, but from his wits I charmed
21. With evil mind then thou didst good gifts requitè Harbard.
22. One tree gets that which, is from another scraped: each one in
such case is for self. What meanwhile didst thou, Thor?
23. In the east I was, and slew the Jotun brides, crafty in evil, as
they to the mountain went. Great would have been the Jotun race, had
they all lived; and not a man left in Midgard. What meanwhile didst
24. I was in Valland, and followed warfare; princes I excited, but
never reconciled. Odin has all the jarls that in conflict fall; but
Thor the race of thralls.
25. Unequally thou wouldst divide the folk among the Æsir, if thou
but hadst the power.
36. Thor has strength over-much, but courage none; from cowardice
and fear, thou wast crammed into a glove, and hardly thoughtest thou
wast Thor. Thou durst not then, through thy terror, either sneeze or
cough, lest Fialar it might hear.
27. Harbard, thou wretch! I would strike thee dead, could I but
stretch my arm across the sound.
28. Why wouldst thou stretch thy arm across the sound, when there is
altogether no offence? But what didst thou, Thor?
39. In the east I was, and a river I defended, when the sons of
Svarang me assailed, and with stones pelted me, though in their
success they little joyed: they were the first to sue for peace. What
meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?
30. I was in the east, and with a certain lass held converse; with
that fair I dallied, and long meetings had. I that gold-bright one
delighted; the game amused her.
31. Then you had kind damsels there?
32. Of thy aid I had need, Thor! in retaining that maiden lily-fair.
33. I would have given it thee, if I had had the opportunity.
34. I would have trusted thee, my confidence if thou hadst not
35. I am not such a heel-chafer as an old leather shoe in spring.
36. What meanwhile didst thou, Thor?
37. The Berserkers’ brides I on Læsso cudgeled; they the worst had
perpetrated, the whole people, had seduced.
38. Dastardly didst thou act, Thor! when thou didst cudgel women.
39. She-wolves they were, and scarcely women. They crushed my ship,
which with props I had secured, with iron clubs threatened me, and
drove away Thialfi. What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?
40. I in the army was, which was hither sent, war-banners to raise,
lances to redden.
41. Of that thou now wilt speak, as thou wentest forth us hard terms
42. That shall be indemnified by a hand-ring, such as arbitrators
give, who wish to reconcile us.
43. Where didst thou learn words than which I never heard more
44. From men I learned them, from ancient men, whose home is in the
45. Thou givest certainly a good name to grave-mounds, when thou
callest them, homes in the woods.
46. So speak I of such a subject.
47. Thy shrewd words will bring thee evil, if I resolve the sound to
ford. Louder than a wolf thou wilt howl, I trow, if of my hammer thou
gettest a touch.
48. Sif has a gallant at home; thou wilt anxious be to find him:
thou shalt that arduous work perform; it will beseem thee better.
49. Thou utterest what comes upmost, so that to me it be most
annoying, thou dastardly varlet! I believe thou art lying.
50. I believe I am telling truth. Thou art travelling slowly; thou
wouldst have long since arrived, hadst thou assumed another form.
51. Harbard! thou wretch! rather is it thou who hast detained me.
52. I never thought that a ferryman could the course of Asa-Thor
53. One advice I now will give thee: row hither with thy boat; let
us cease from threats; approach the sire of Magni.
54. Go farther from the sound, the passage is refused thee.
55. Show me then the way, if thou wilt not ferry me across the
56. That’s too little to refuse. ‘Tis far to go; ’tis to the stock
an hour, and to the stone another; then keep the left hand way, until
thou reachest Verland; there will [Pg 71]Fiorgyn find her son Thor, and
point out to him his kinsmen’s ways to Odin’s land.
58. With pain and toil thou mayest get there, while the sun is up,
which, I believe, is now nigh.
59. Our talk shall now be short, as thou answerest with scoffing
only. For refusing to ferry me I will reward thee, if another time we
60. Just go to where all the powers of evil may have thee.
 Giantesses, witches, etc.
THE JOURNEY OR LAY OF SKIRNIR.
Frey, son of Niord; had one day seated himself in Hlidskialf, and was
looking over all regions, when turning his eyes to Jotunheim, he there
saw a beautiful girl, as she was passing from her father’s dwelling to
her bower. Thereupon he became greatly troubled in mind. Frey’s
attendant was named Skirnir; him Niord desired to speak with Frey;
when Skadi said:—
1. Rise up now, Skirnir! go and request our son to speak; and
inquire with whom he so sage may be offended.
2. Harsh words I have from your son to fear, if I go to speak with
him, and to inquire with whom he so sage may be offended.
3. Tell me now, Frey, prince of gods! for I desire to know, why
alone thou sittest in the spacious hall the livelong day?
4. Why shall I tell thee, thou young man, my mind’s great trouble?
for the Alfs’ illuminator shines every day, yet not for my pleasure.
5. Thy care cannot, I think, be so great, that to me thou canst not
tell it; for in early days we were young together: well might we trust
6. In Gymir’s courts I saw walking a maid for whom I long. Her arms
gave forth light wherewith shone all air and water.
7. Is more desirable to me that maid than to any youth in early
days; yet will no one, Æsir or Alfar, that we together live.
8. Give me but thy steed, which can bear me through the dusk,
flickering flame, and that sword, which brandishes itself against the
9. I will give thee my steed, which can bear thee through the dusk,
flickering flame, and that sword, which will itself brandish, if he is
bold who raises it.
10. Dark it is without, ’tis time, I say, for us to go across the
misty fells, over the Thursar’s land: we shall both return, or the
all-potent Jotun will seize us both. Skirnir rides to Jotunheim, to
Gymir’s mansion, where fierce dogs were chained at the gate of the
enclosure that was round Gymir’s hall. He rides on to where a cowherd
was sitting on a mound, and says to him:
11. Tell me, cowherd! as on the mound thou sittest, and watchest all
the ways, how I to the speech may come, of the young maiden, for
12. Either thou art death-doomed, or thou art a departed one. Speech
wilt thou ever lack with the good maid of Gymir.
13. Better choices than to whine there are for him who is prepared
to die: for one day was my age decreed, and my whole life determined.
14. What is that sound of sounds, which I now sounding hear within
our dwelling? The earth is shaken, and with it all the house of Gymir
15. A man is here without, dismounted from his horse’s back: he lets
his steed browse on the grass.
16. Bid him enter into our hall, and drink of the bright mead;
although I fear it is my brother’s slayer who waits without.
17. Who is this of the Alfar’s, or of the Æsir’s sons, or of the
wise Vanir’s? Why art thou come alone, through the hostile fire, our
halls to visit?
18. I am not of the Alfar’s, nor of the Æsir’s sons, nor of the wise
Vanir’s; yet I am come alone, through the hostile fire, your halls to
19. Apples all-golden I have here eleven: these I will give thee,
Gerd, thy love to gain, that thou mayest say that Frev to thee lives
20. The apples eleven I never will accept for any mortal’s pleasure;
nor will I and Frey, while our lives last, live both together.
21. The ring too I will give thee, which was burnt with the young
son of Odin. Eight of equal weight will from it drop, every ninth
22. The ring I will not accept, burnt though it may [Pg 75]have been with
the young son of Odin. I have no lack of gold in Gymir’s courts; for
my father’s wealth I share.
23. Seest thou this sword, young maiden! thin, glittering-bright,
which I have here in hand? I thy head will sever from thy neck, if
thou speakst not favourably to me.
24. Suffer compulsion will I never, to please any man; yet this I
foresee, if thou and Gymir meet, ye will eagerly engage in fight.
25. Seest thou this sword, young maiden! thin, glittering-bright,
which I have here in hand? Beneath its edge shall the old Jotun fall:
thy sire is death-doomed.
26. With a taming-wand I smite thee, and I will tame thee, maiden!
to my will. Thou shalt go thither, where the sons of men shall never
more behold thee.
27. On an eagle’s mount thou shalt early sit, looking and turned
towards Hel. Food shall to thee more loathsome be than is to any one
the glistening serpent among men.
28. As a prodigy thou shalt be, when thou goest forth; Hrimnir shall
at thee gaze, all beings at thee stare; more wide-known thou shalt
become than the watch among the gods, if thou from thy gratings
29. Solitude and disgust, bonds and impatience, shall thy tears with
grief augment. Set thee down, and I will tell thee of a whelming flood
of care, and a double grief.[Pg 76]
30. Terrors shall bow thee down the livelong day, in the Jotuns’
courts. To the Hrimthursar’s halls, thou shalt each day crawl
exhausted, joyless crawl; wail for pastime shalt thou have, and tears
31. With a three-headed Thurs thou shalt be ever bound, or be
without a mate. Thy mind shall tear thee from morn to morn: as the
thistle thou shalt be which has thrust itself on the house-top.
32. To the wold I have been, and to the humid grove, a magic wand to
get. A magic wand I got.
33. Wroth with thee is Odin, wroth with thee is the Æsir’s prince;
Frey shall loathe thee, even ere thou, wicked maid! shalt have felt
the gods’ dire vengeance.
34. Hear ye, Jotuns! hear ye, Hrimthursar! sons of Suttung! also ye,
Æsir’s friends! how I forbid, how I prohibit man’s joy unto the
damsel, man’s converse to the damsel.
35. Hrimgrimnir the Thurs is named, that shall possess thee, in the
grating of the dead beneath; there shall wretched thralls, from the
tree’s roots, goats’ water give thee. Other drink shalt thou, maiden!
never get, either for thy pleasure, or for my pleasure.
36. Thurs I cut for thee, and three letters mere: ergi, and
oedi, and othola. So will I cut them out, as I have cut them, in, if
there need shall be.
37. Hail rather to thee, youth! and accept an icy cup, filled with
old mead; although I thought not that I ever should love one of Vanir
38. All my errand will I know, ere I hence ride home. When wilt thou
converse hold with the powerful son of Niord?
39. Barri the grove is named, which we both know, the grove of
tranquil paths. Nine nights hence, there to Niord’s son Gerd will
Skimir then rode home. Frey was standing without, and spoke to him,
40. Tell me, Skirnir! ere thou thy steed unsaddlest, and a foot
hence thou goest, what thou hast accomplished in Jotunheim, for my
pleasure or thine?
41. Barri the grove is named, which we both know, the grove of
tranquil paths. Nine nights hence, there to Niord’s son Gerd will
42. Long is one night, yet longer two will be; how shall I three
endure. Often a month to me less has seemed than half a night of
THE LAY OF RIG.
In ancient Sagas it is related that one of the Æsir named Heimdall,
being on a journey to a certain sea-shore, came to a village, where he
called himself Rig. In accordance with this Saga is the following:
1. In ancient days, they say, along the green ways went the powerful
and upright sagacious As, the strong and active Rig, his onward course
2. Forward he went on the mid-way, and to a dwelling came. The door
stood ajar, he went in, fire was on the floor. The man and wife sat
there, hoary-haired, by the hearth, Ai and Edda, in old guise clad.
3. Rig would counsel give to them both, and himself seated in the
middle seat, having on either side the domestic pair.
4. Then Edda from the ashes took a loaf, heavy and thick, and with
bran mixed; more besides she laid on the middle of the board; there in
a bowl was broth on the table set, there was a calf boiled, of cates
5. Then rose he up, prepared to sleep: Rig would counsel give to
them both; laid him down in the middle of the bed; the domestic pair
lay one on either side.
6. There he continued three nights together, then departed on the
mid-way. Nine months then passed way.
7. Edda a child brought forth: they with water sprinkled its swarthy
skin, and named it Thræl.[Pg 79]
8. It grew up, and well it throve; of its hands the skin was
shriveled, the knuckles knotty, * * * and the fingers thick; a hideous
countenance it had, a curved back, and protruding heels.
9. He then began his strength to prove, bast to bind, make of it
loads; then faggots carried home, the livelong day.
10. Then to the dwelling came a woman walking, scarred were her
foot-soles, her arms sunburnt, her nose compressed, her name was Thy.
11. In the middle seat herself she placed; by her sat the house’s
son. They spoke and whispered, prepared a bed, Thræl and Thy, and days
12. Children they begat, and lived content: Their names, I think,
were Hreimr and Fiosnir, Klur and Kleggi, Kefsir, Fulnir, Drumb,
Digraldi, Drott and Hosvir, Lut and Leggialdi. Fences they erected,
fields manured, tended swine, kept goats, dug turf.
13. The daughters were Drumba and Kumba, Okkvinkalfa, and Arinnefia,
Ysia and Ambatt, Eikintiasna, Totrughypia, and Tronubeina, whence are
sprung the race of thralls.
14. Rig then went on, in a direct course, and came to a house; the
door stood ajar: he went in; fire was on the floor, man and wife sat
there engaged at work.
15. The man was planing wood for a weaver’s beam; his beard was
trimmed, a lock was on his forehead, his shirt close; his chest stood
on the floor.
16. His wife sat by, plied her rock, with outstretched arms,
prepared for clothing. A hood was on her head, [Pg 80]a loose sark over her
breast, a kerchief round her neck, studs on her shoulders. Afi and
Amma owned the house.
17. Rig would counsel give to them both; rose from the table,
prepared to sleep; laid him down in the middle of the bed, the
domestic pair lay one on either side.
18. There he continued three nights together. Nine months then
passed away. Amma a child brought forth, they with water sprinkled it,
and called it Karl. The mother in linen swathed the ruddy redhead: its
19. It grew up, and well throve; learned to tame oxen, make a
plough, houses build, and barns construct, make carts, and the plough
20. Then they home conveyed a lass with pendent keys, and goatskin
kirtle; married her to Karl. Snor was her name, under a veil she sat.
The couple dwelt together, rings exchanged, spread couches, and a
21. Children they begat, and lived content. Hal and Dreng, these
were named, Held, Thegn, Smith, Breidr-bondi, Bundinskegg, Bui and
Boddi, Brattskegg and Segg.
22. But [the daughters] were thus called, by other names: Snot,
Brud, Svanni, Svarri, Sprakki, Fliod, Sprund, and Vif, Feima, Ristil;
whence are sprung the races of churls.
23. Rig then went thence, in a direct course, and came to a hall:
the entrance looked southward, the door was half closed, a ring was on
the door-post.[Pg 81]
24. He went in; the floor was strewed, a couple sat facing each
other, Fadir and Modir, with fingers playing.
25. The husband sat, and twisted string, bent his bow, and
arrow-shafts prepared; but the housewife looked on her arms, smoothed
her veil, and her sleeves fastened;
26. Her head-gear adjusted. A clasp was on her breast; ample her
robe, her sark was blue; brighter was her brow, her breast fairer, her
neck whiter than driven snow.
27. Rig would counsel give to them both, and himself seated on the
middle seat, having on either side the domestic pair.
28. Then took Modir a figured cloth of white linen, and the table
decked. She then took thin cakes of snow-white wheat, and on the table
29. She set forth salvers full, adorned with silver, on the table
game and pork, and roasted birds. In a can was wine; the cups were
ornamented. They drank and talked; the day was fast departing, Rig
would counsel give to them both.
30. Rig then rose, the bed prepared; there he then remained three
nights together, then departed on the mid-way. Nine months after that
31. Modir then brought forth a boy: in silk they wrapped him, with
water sprinkled him, and named him Jarl. Light was his hair, bright
his cheeks, his eyes piercing as a young serpent’s.
32. There at home Jarl grew up, learned the shield to shake, to fix
the string, the bow to bend, arrows to [Pg 82]shaft, javelins to hurl,
spears to brandish, horses to ride, dogs to let slip, swords to draw,
swimming to practise.
33. Thither from the forest came Rig walking, Rig walking: runes he
taught him, his own name gave him, and his own son declared him, whom
he bade possess his alodial fields, his alodial fields, his ancient
34. Jarl then rode thence, through a murky way, over humid fells,
till to a hall he came. His spear he brandished, his shield he shook,
made his horse curvet, and his falchion drew, strife began to raise,
the field to redden, carnage to make; and conquer lands.
35. Then he ruled alone over eight vills, riches distributed, gave
to all treasures and precious things; lank-sided horses, rings he
dispersed, and collars cut in pieces.
36. The nobles drove through humid ways, came to a hall, where
Hersir dwelt; there they found a slender maiden, fair and elegant,
Erna her name.
37. They demanded her, and conveyed her home, to Jarl espoused her;
she under the linen went. They together lived, and well throve,
had offspring, and old age enjoyed.
38. Bur was their eldest, Barn the second, Jod and Adal, Arfi, Mog,
Nid and Nidjung. They learned games; Son and Svein swam and at tables
played. One was named Kund, Kon was youngest.
39. There grew up Jarl’s progeny; horses they broke, curved shields,
cut arrows, brandished spears.
40. But the young Kon understood runes, æfin-runes, [Pg 83]and aldr-runes;
he moreover knew men to preserve, edges to deaden, the sea to calm.
41. He knew the voice of birds, how fires to mitigate, assuage and
quench; sorrows to allay. He of eight men had the strength and energy.
42. He with Rig Jarl in runes contended, artifices practised, and
superior proved; then acquired Rig to be called, and skilled in runes.
43. The young Kon rode through swamps and forests, hurled forth
darts, and tamed birds.
44. Then sang the crow, sitting lonely on a bough! “Why wilt thou,
young Kon: tame the birds? rather shouldst thou, young Kon! on horses
ride * * * and armies overcome.
45. Nor Dan nor Danp halls more costly had, nobler paternal seats,
than ye had. They well knew how the keel to ride, the edge to prove,
wounds to inflict.
The rest is wanting.
OEGIR’S COMPOTATION, OR LOKI’S ALTERCATION.
Oegir, who is also named Gymir, had brewed beer for the Æsir, after he
had got the great kettle, as has been already related. To the
entertainment came Odin and his wife Frigg. Thor did not come, being
in the East, but his wife Sif was there, also Bragi and his wife Idun,
and Ty, who was one-handed, Fenrisulf having bitten off his hand while
being bound. Besides these there were Niord and his wife Skadi, Frey
and Freyia, and Odin’s son Vidar. Loki too was there, and Frey’s
attendants, Byggvir and Beyla. Many other Æsir and Alfar were also
Oegir had two servants, Fimafeng and Eldir. Bright gold was there used
instead of fire-light. The beer served itself to the guests. The place
was a great sanctuary. The guests greatly praised the excellence of
Oegir’s servants. This Loki could not hear with patience, and so slew
Fimafeng; whereupon the Æsir shook their shields, exclaimed against
Loki, chased him into the forest, and then returned to drink. Loki
came again, and found Eldir standing without, whom he thus addressed:
1. Tell me, Eldir! ere thou thy foot settest one step forward, on
what converse the sons of the triumphant gods at their potation?
2. Of their arms converse, and of their martial fame, the sons of
the triumphant gods. Of the Æsir and the Alfar that are here within
not one has a friendly word for thee.
3. I will go into Oegir’s halls, to see the compotation. Strife and
hate to the Æsir’s sons I bear, and will mix their mead with bale.
4. Knowest thou not that if thou goest into Oegir’s halls to see the
compotation, but contumely and clamour pourest forth on the kindly
powers, they will wipe it all off on thee?
5. Knowest thou not, Eldir, that if we two with bitter words
contend, I shall be rich in answers, if thou sayest too much?
Loki then went into the hall, but when those present saw who was come
in, they all sat silent.
6. I Lopt am come thirsty into this hall, from a long journey, to
beseech the Æsir one draught to give me of the bright mead.
7. Why gods! are ye so silent, so reserved, that ye cannot speak? A
seat and place choose for me at your board, or bid me hie me hence.
8. A seat and place will the Æsir never choose for [Pg 86]thee at their
board; for well the Æsir know for whom they ought to hold a joyous
9. Odin! dost thou remember when we in early days blended our blood
together? When to taste beer thou didst constantly refuse, unless to
both ’twas offered?
10. Rise up, Vidar! and let the wolf’s sire sit at our compotation;
that Loki may not utter words of contumely in Oegir’s hall.
Vidar then rising, presented Loki with drink, who before drinking thus
addressed the Æsir:
11. Hail, Æsir! Hail, Asyniur! And ye, all-holy gods! all, save that
one As, who sits within there, Bragi, on yonder bench.
12. A horse and falchion I from my stores will give thee, and also
with a ring reward thee, if thou the Æsir wilt not requite with
malice. Provoke not the gods against thee.
13. Of horse and rings wilt thou ever, Bragi! be in want. Of the
Æsir and the Alfar, that are here present, in conflict thou art the
most backward, and in the play of darts most timid.
14. I know that were I without, as I am now within, the hall of
Oegir, I thy head would bear in my hand, and so for lying punish thee.
15. Valiant on thy seat art thou, Bragi! but so thou shouldst not
be, Bragi, the bench’s pride! Go and fight, if thou art angry; a brave
man sits not considering.
16. I pray thee, Bragi! let avail the bond of children, and of all
adopted sons, and to Loki speak not in reproachful words, in Oegir’s
17. Be silent, Idun! of all women I declare thee most fond of men,
since thou thy arms, carefully washed, didst twine round thy brother’s
18. Loki I address not with opprobrious words, in Oegir’s hall.
Bragi I soothe, by beer excited. I desire not that angry ye fight.
19. Why will ye, Æsir twain, here within, strive with reproachful
words? Lopt perceives not that he is deluded, and is urged on by fate.
20. Be silent, Gefion! I will now just mention, how that fair youth
thy mind corrupted, who thee a necklace gave, and around whom thou thy
limbs didst twine?
21. Thou art raving, Loki! and hast lost thy wits, in calling
Gefion’s anger on thee; for all men’s destinies, I ween, she knows as
thoroughly as I do.
22. Be silent, Odin! Thou never couldst allot conflicts between men:
oft hast thou given to those to whom thou oughtest not—victory to
23. Knowest thou that I gave to those I ought not—victory to
cowards? Thou wast eight winters on the earth below, a milch cow and a
woman, and didst there bear children. Now that, methinks, betokens a
24. But, it is said, thou wentest with tottering steps in Samso, and
knocked at houses as a Vala. In likeness of a fortune teller, thou
wentest among people. Now that, methinks, betokens a base nature.
25. Your doings ye should never publish among men, what ye, Æsir
twain, did in days of yore. Ever forgotten be men’s former deeds!
26. Be thou silent, Frigg! Thou art Fiorgyn’s daughter, and ever
hast been fond of men, since Ve and Vili, it is said, thou, Vidrir’s
wife, didst both to thy bosom take.
27. Know thou that if I had, in Oegir’s halls, a son like Baldr, out
thou shouldst not go from the Æsir’s sons: thou should’st have been
28. But wilt thou, Frigg! that of my wickedness I more recount? I am
the cause that thou seest not Baldr riding to the halls.
29. Mad art thou, Loki! in recounting thy foul misdeeds. Frigg, I
believe, knows all that happens, although she says it not.
30. Be thou silent, Freyia! I know thee full well; thou art not free
from vices: of the Æsir and the Alfar, that are herein, each has been
31. False is thy tongue. Henceforth it will, I think, prate no good
to thee. Wroth with thee are the Æsir, and the Asyniur. Sad shalt thou
32. Be silent, Freyia! Thou art a sorceress, and with much evil
blended; since against thy brother thou the gentle powers excited. And
then, Freyia! what didst thou do?
33. It is no great wonder, if silk-clad dames get themselves
husbands, lovers; but ’tis a wonder that a wretched As, that has borne
children, should herein enter.
34. Be silent, Niord! Thou wast sent eastward [Pg 90]hence, a hostage from
the gods. Hymir’s daughters had thee for an utensil, and flowed into
thy mouth. Niord.
35. ‘Tis to me a solace, as I a long way hence was sent, a hostage
from the gods, that I had a son, whom no one hates, and accounted is a
chief among the Æsir.
36. Cease now, Niord! in bounds contain thyself; I will no longer
keep it secret: it was with thy sister thou hadst such a son; hardly
worse than thyself.
37. Frey is best of all the exalted gods in the Æsir’s courts: no
maid he makes to weep, no wife of man, and from bonds looses all.
38. Be silent, Ty! Thou couldst never settle a strife ‘twixt two; of
thy right hand also I must mention make, which Fenrir from thee tore.
39. I of a hand am wanting, but thou of honest fame; sad is the lack
of either. Nor is the wolf at ease: he in bonds must bide, until the
40. Be silent, Ty; to thy wife it happened to have a son by me. Nor
rag nor penny ever hadst thou, poor wretch! for this injury.
41. I the wolf see lying at the river’s mouth, until the powers are
swept away. So shalt thou be bound, if thou art not silent, thou
framer of evil.
42. With gold thou boughtest Gymir’s daughter, and so gavest away
thy sword: but when Muspell’s sons through the dark forest ride, thou,
unhappy, wilt not have wherewith to fight.
43. Know that were I of noble race, like Ingun’s Frey, and had so
fair a dwelling, than marrow softer I would bray that ill-boding crow,
and crush him limb by limb.
44. What little thing is that I see wagging its tail, and snapping
eagerly? At the ears of Frey thou shouldst ever be, and clatter under
45. Byggvir I am named, and am thought alert, by all gods and men;
therefore am I joyful here, that all the sons of Hropt drink beer
46. Be silent, Byggvir! Thou couldst never dole out food to men,
when, lying in thy truckle bed, thou wast not to be found, while men
47. Loki, thou art drunk, and hast lost thy wits. [Pg 92]Why dost thou not
leave off, Loki? But drunkenness so rules every man, that he knows not
of his garrulity.
48. Be silent, Heimdall! For thee in early days was that hateful
life decreed: with a wet back thou must ever be, and keep watch as
guardian of the gods.
49. Thou art merry, Loki! Not long wilt thou frisk with an unbound
tail; for thee, on a rock’s point, with the entrails of thy ice-cold
son, the gods will bind.
50. Know, if on a rock’s point, with the entrails of my ice-cold
son, the gods will bind me, that first and foremost I was at the
slaying, when we assailed Thiassi.
51. Know, if first and foremost thou wast at the slaying, when ye
assailed Thiassi, that from my dwellings and fields shall to thee ever
cold counsels come.
52. Milder wast thou of speech to Laufey’s son, when to thy bed thou
didst invite me. Such matters must be mentioned, if we accurately must
recount our vices.
Then came Sif forth, and poured out mead for Loki in an icy cup,
53. Hail to thee, Loki! and this cool cup receive, full of old mead:
at least me alone, among the blameless Æsir race, leave stainless.
He took the horn, drank, and said:[Pg 93]
54. So alone shouldst thou be, hadst thou strict and prudent been
towards thy mate; but one I know, and, I think, know him well, a
favoured rival of Hlorridi, and that is the wily Loki.
55. The fells all tremble: I think Hlorridi is from home journeying.
He will bid be quiet him who here insults all gods and men.
56. Be silent, Beyla! Thou art Byggvir’s wife, and with much evil
mingled: never came a greater monster among the Æsir’s sons. Thou art
a dirty strumpet.
Thor then came in and said:
57. Silence, thou impure being! My mighty hammer, Miollnir, shall
stop thy prating. I will thy head from thy neck strike; then will thy
life be ended.
58. Now the son of earth is hither come. Why dost thou chafe so,
Thor? Thou wilt not dare do so, when with the wolf thou hast to fight,
and he the all-powerful father swallows whole.
59. Silence, thou impure being! My mighty hammer, Miollnir, shall
stop thy prating. Up I will hurl thee to the east region, and none
shall see thee after.
60. Of thy eastern travels thou shouldest never to people speak,
since in a glove-thumb thou, Einheri! wast doubled up, and hardly
thoughtest thou wast Thor.
61. Silence, thou impure being! My mighty hammer, Miollnir, shall
stop thy prating: with this right hand I, Hrungnir’s bane, will smite
thee, so that thy every bone be broken.
62. ‘Tis my intention a long life to live, though with thy hammer
thou dost threaten me. Skrymir’s thongs seemed to thee hard, when at
the food thou couldst not get, when, in full health, of hunger dying.
63. Silence, thou impure being! My mighty hammer, Miollnir, shall
stop thy prating. Hrungnir’s bane shall cast thee down to Hel, beneath
the gratings of the dead.
64. I have said before the Æsir, I have said before the Æsir’s sons,
that which my mind suggested: but for thee alone will I go out;
because I know that thou wilt fight.
65. Oegir! thou hast brewed beer; but thou never shalt henceforth a
compotation hold. All thy possessions, which are herein, flame shall
play over, and on thy back shall burn thee.
After this Loki, in the likeness of a salmon, cast himself into the
waterfall of Franangr, where the Æsir caught him, and bound him with
the entrails of his son Nari; but his other son, Narfi, was changed
into a wolf. Skadi took a venomous serpent, and fastened it up over
[Pg 95]Loki’s face. The venom trickled down from it. Sigyn, Loki’s wife, sat
by, and held a basin under the venom; and when the basin was full,
carried the venom out. Meanwhile the venom dropped on Loki, who shrank
from it so violently that the whole earth trembled. This causes what
are now called earthquakes.
 The events related in this strophe are probably a mere
perversion, by the poet, of what we know of Niord’s history.
THE LAY OF FIOLSVITH.
1. From the outward wall he saw one ascending to the seat of the
Along the humid ways haste thee back hence, here, wretch! is no place
2. What monster is it before the fore-court standing, and hovering
round the perilous flame? Whom dost thou seek? Of what art thou in
quest? Or what, friendless being! desirest thou to know?
3. What monster is that, before the fore-court standing, who to the
wayfarer offers not hospitality? Void of honest fame, prattler! hast
thou lived: but hence hie thee home.
4. Fiolsvith is my name; wise I am of mind, though of food not
prodigal. Within these courts thou shalt never come: so now, wretch!
take thyself off.
5. From the eye’s delight few are disposed to hurry, where there is
something pleasant to be seen. These walls, methinks, shine around
golden halls. Here I could live contented with my lot.
6. Tell me, youth; of whom thou art born, or of what race hast
7. Vindkald I am called, Varkald was my father named, his sire was
8. Tell me, Fiolsvith! that which I will ask thee, and I desire to
know: who here holds sway, and has power over these lands and costly
9. Menglod is her name, her mother her begat with Svaf, Thorin’s
son. She here holds sway, and has power over these lands and costly
10. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., what the grate is called, than which
among the gods mortals never saw a greater artifice?
11. Thrymgioll it is called, and Solblindi’s three sons constructed
it: a fetter fastens, every wayfarer, who lifts it from its opening.
12. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., what that structure is [Pg 97]called, than
which among the gods mortals never saw a greater artifice?
13. Gastropnir it is called, and I constructed it of Leirbrimir’s
limbs. I have so supported it, that it will ever stand while the world
14. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., what those dogs are called, that chase
away the giantesses, and safety to the fields restore?
15. Gifr the one is called, the other Geri, if thou that wouldst
know. Eleven watches they will keep, until the powers perish.
16. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., whether any man can enter while those
fierce assailants sleep?
17. Alternate sleep was strictly to them enjoined, since to the
watch they were appointed. One sleeps by night, by day the other, so
that no wight can enter if he comes.
18. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., whether there is any food that men can
get, such that they can run in while they eat?
19. Two repasts lie in Vidofnir’s wings, if thou that [Pg 98]wouldst know:
that is alone such food as men can give them and run in while they
20. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., what that tree is called that with its
branches spreads itself over every land?
21. Mimameidir it is called; but few men know from what roots it
springs: it by that will fall which fewest know. Nor fire nor iron
will harm it.
22. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., to what the virtue is of that famed
tree applied, which nor fire nor iron will harm?
23. Its fruit shall on the fire be laid, for labouring women; out
then will pass what would in remain: so is it a creator of mankind.
24. Tell me, Fioisvith! etc., what the cock is called that sits in
that lofty tree, and all-glittering is with gold?
25. Vidofnir he is called; in the clear air he stands, in the boughs
of Mima’s tree: afflictions only brings, together indissoluble, the
swart bird at his lonely meal.
26. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., whether there be any weapon, before
which Vidofnir may fall to Hel’s abode?
27. Hævatein the twig is named, and Lopt plucked it, down by the
gate of Death. In an iron chest it lies with Sinmoera, and is with
nine strong locks secured.
28. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., whether he will alive return, who
seeks after, and will take, that rod?
29. He will return who seeks after, and will take, the rod, if he
bears that which few possess to the dame of the glassy clay.
30. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., whether there is any treasure, that
mortals can obtain, at which the pale giantess will rejoice?
31. The bright sickle that lies in Vidofnir’s wings, thou in a bag
shalt bear, and to Sinmoera give, before she will think fit to lend an
arm for conflict.
32. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., what this hall is called, which is
girt round with a curious flickering flame?
33. Hyr it is called, and it will long tremble as on a lance’s
point. This sumptuous house shall, for ages hence, be but from hearsay
34. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., which of the Æsir’s sons has that
constructed, which within the court I saw?
35. Uni and Iri, Bari and Ori, Var and Vegdrasil, Dorri and Uri,
Delling and Atvard, Lidskialf, Loki.
36. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., what that mount is called, on which I
see a splendid maiden stand?
37. Hyfiaberg ’tis called, and long has it a solace been to the
bowed-down and sorrowful: each woman becomes healthy, although a
year’s disease she have, if she can but ascend it.
38. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., how those maids are called, who sit at
Menglod’s knees in harmony together?
39. Hlif the first is called, the second is Hlifthursa, the third
Thiodvarta, Biort and Blid, Blidr, Frid, Eir and Orboda.
40. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., whether they protect those who offer
to them, if it should, be needful?
41. Every summer in which men offer to them, at the holy place, no
pestilence so great shall come to the sons of men, but they will free
each from peril.
42. Tell me, Fiolsvith! etc., whether there is any man that may in
Menglod’s soft arms sleep?
43. There is no man who may in Menglod’s soft arms sleep, save only
Svipdag; to him the sun-bright maid is for wife betrothed.
44. Set the doors open! Let the gate stand wide; here thou mayest
Svipdag see; but yet go learn if Menglod will accept my love.
45. Hear, Menglod! A man is hither come: go and behold the stranger;
the dogs rejoice; the house has itself opened. I think it must be
46. Fierce ravens shall, on the high gallows, tear out thy eyes, if
thou art lying, that hither from afar is come the youth unto my halls.
47. Whence art thou come? Whence hast thou journeyed? How do thy
kindred call thee? Of thy race and name I must have a token, if I was
betrothed to thee.
48. Svipdag I am named, Solbiart was my father named; thence the
winds on the cold ways drove me. Urd’s decree may no one gainsay,
however lightly uttered.
49. Welcome thou art: my will I have obtained; greeting a kiss shall
follow. A sight unlooked-for gladdens most persons, when one the other
50. Long have I sat on my loved hill, day and night expecting thee.
Now that is come to pass which I have hoped, that thou, dear youth,
again to my halls art come.
51. Longing I have undergone for thy love; and thou, for my
affection. Now it is certain, that we shall pass our lives together.
THE LAY OF HYNDLA.
Freyia rides with her favourite Ottar to Hyndla, a Vala, for the
purpose of obtaining information respecting Ottar’s genealogy, such
information being required by him in a legal dispute with Angantyr.
Having obtained this, Freyia further requests Hyndla to give Ottar a
potion (minnisol) that will enable him to remember all that has been
told him. This she refuses, but is forced to comply by Freyia having
encircled her cave with flames. She gives him the potion, but
accompanied by a malediction, which is by Freyia turned to a blessing.
1. Wake, maid of maids! Wake, my friend! Hyndla! Sister! who in the
cavern dwellest. Now [Pg 103]there is dark of darks; we will both to Valhall
ride, and to the holy fane.
2. Let us Heriafather pray into our minds to enter, he gives and
grants gold to the deserving. He gave to Hermod a helm and corslet,
and from him Sigmund a sword received.
3. Victory to his sons he gives, but to some riches; eloquence to
the great, and to men, wit; fair wind he gives to traders, but poesy
to skallds; valour he gives to many a warrior.
4. She to Thor will offer, she to him will pray, that to thee he may
be well disposed; although he bears ill will to Jotun females.
5. Now of thy wolves take one from out the stall; let him run with
runic rein. Hyndla.
6. Sluggish is thy hog the god’s way to tread:
7. I will my noble palfrey saddle.
8. False are thou, Freyia! who temptest me: by thy eyes thou showest
it, so fixed upon us; while thou thy man hast on the dead-road,
the young Ottar, Innstein’s son.
9. Dull art thou, Hyndla! methinks thou dreamest, since thou sayest
that my man is on the dead-road with me; there where my hog sparkles
with its golden bristles, hight Hildisvini, which for me made the two
skilful [Pg 104]dwarfs, Dain and Nabbi. From the saddle we will talk: let us
sit, and of princely families discourse, of those chieftains who from
the gods descend. They have contested for the dead’s gold, Ottar the
young and Angantyr.
10. A duty ’tis to act so that the young prince his paternal
heritage may have, after his kindred.
11. An offer-stead to me he raised, with stones constructed; now is
that stone as glass become. With the blood of oxen he newly sprinkled
it. Ottar ever trusted in the Asyniur.
12. Now let us reckon up the ancient families, and the races of
exalted men. Who are the Skioldungs? Who are the Skilfings? Who the
Odlings? Who the Ylfings? Who the hold-born? Who the hers-born? The
choicest race of men under heaven?
13. Thou, Ottar! art of Innstein born, but Innstein was from Alf the
Old, Alf was from Ulf, Ulf from Sæfari, but Sæfari from Svan the Red.
14. Thy father had a mother, for her necklaces famed, she, I think,
was named Hledis the priestess; Frodi her father was, and her mother
Friant: all that stock is reckoned among chieftains.
15. Ali was of old of men the strongest, Halfdan before him, the
highest of the Skioldungs; (Famed were the wars by those chieftains
led) his deeds seemed to soar to the skirts of heaven.
16. By Eimund aided, chief of men, he Sigtrygg slew [Pg 105]with the cold
steel. He Almveig had to wife, first of women. They begat and had
17. From them the Skioldungs, from them the Skilfings, from them the
Odlings, from them the Ynglings, from them the hold-born, from them
the hers-born, the choicest race of men under heaven. All that race is
thine, Ottar Heimski!
18. Hildegun her mother was, of Svafa born and a sea-king. All that
race is thine, Ottar Heimski! Carest thou this to know? Wishest thou a
19. Dag wedded Thora, mother of warriors: of that race were born the
noble champions, Fradmar, Gyrd, and the Frekis both, Am, Josur, Mar,
Alf the Old. Carest thou this to know? Wishest thou a longer
20. Ketil their friend was named, heir of Klyp; he was maternal
grandsire of thy mother. Then was Frodi yet before Kari, but the
eldest born was Alf.
21. Nanna was next, Nokkvi’s daughter; her son was thy father’s
kinsman, ancient is that kinship. I knew both Brodd and Horfi. All
that race is thine, Ottar Heimski!
22. Isolf, Asolf, Olmod’s sons and Skurhild’s Skekkil’s daughter;
thou shalt yet count chieftains many. All that race is thine, Ottar
23. Gunnar, Balk, Grim, Ardskafi, Jarnskiold, Thorir, Ulf, Ginandi,
Bui and Brami, Barri and Reifnir, Tind and Hyrfing, the two Haddingis.
All that race is thine, Ottar Heimski!
24. To toil and tumult were the sons of Arngrim born, and of Eyfura:
ferocious berserkir, calamity of [Pg 106]every kind, by land and sea, like
fire they carried. All that race is thine, Ottar Heimski!
25. I knew both Brodd and Horfi, they were in the court of Hrolf the
Old; all descended from Jormunrek, son-in-law of Sigurd. (Listen to my
story) the dread of nations, him who Fafnir slew.
26. He was a king, from Volsung sprung, and Hiordis from Hrodung;
but Eylimi from the Odlings. All that race is thine, Ottar Heimski!
27. Gunnar and Hogni, sons of Giuki; and Gudrun likewise, their
sister. Guttorm; was not of Giuki’s race, although he brother was of
them both. All that race is thine, Ottar Heimski!
28. Harald Hildetonn, born of Hrærekir Slongvanbaugi; he was a son
of Aud, Aud the rich was Ivar’s daughter; but Radbard was Randver’s
father. They were heroes to the gods devoted. All that race is thine,
29. There were eleven Æsir reckoned, when Baldr on the pile was
laid; him Vali showed himself worthy to avenge, his own brother: he
the slayer slew. All that race is thine, Ottar Heimski!
30. Baldr’s father was son of Bur: Frey to wife had Gerd, she was
Gymir’s daughter, from Jotuns sprung and Aurboda; Thiassi also was
their relation, that haughty Jotun; Skadi was his daughter.
31. We tell thee much, and remember more: I admonish thee thus much
to know. Wishest thou yet a longer narrative?
32. Haki was not the worst of Hvedna’s sons, and [Pg 107]Hiorvard was
Hvedna’s father; Heid and Hrossthiof were of Hrimnir’s race.
33. All the Valas are from Vidolf; all the soothsayers from
Vilmeidr, all the sorcerers from Svarthofdi; all the Jotuns come from
34. We tell thee much, and more remember, I admonish thee thus much
to know. Wishest thou yet a longer narrative?
35. There was one born, in times of old, with wondrous might
endowed, of origin divine: nine Jotun maids gave birth to the gracious
god, at the world’s margin.
36. Gialp gave him birth, Greip gave him birth, Eistla gave him
birth, and Angeia; Ulfrun gave him birth, and Eyrgiafa, Imd and Atla,
37. The boy was nourished with the strength of earth, with the
ice-cold sea, and with Son’s blood. We tell thee much, and more
remember. I admonish thee thus much to know. Wishest thou a yet longer
38. Loki begat the wolf with Angrboda, but Sleipnir he begat with
Svadilfari: one monster seemed of all most deadly, which from
Byleist’s brother sprang.
39. Loki, scorched up in his heart’s affections, had found a
half-burnt woman’s heart. Loki became guileful from that wicked woman;
thence in the world are all giantesses come.
40. Ocean towers with storms to heaven itself, flows o’er the land;
the air is rent: thence come snows and rapid winds; then it is decreed
that the rain should cease.
41. There was one born greater than all, the boy was [Pg 108]nourished with
the strength of earth; he was declared a ruler, mightiest and richest,
allied by kinship to all princes.
42. Then shall another come, yet mightier, although I dare not his
name declare. Few may see further forth than when Odin meets the wolf.
43. Bear thou the memory-cup to my guest, so that he may all the
words repeat of this, discourse, on the third morn, when he and
Angantyr reckon up races.
44. Go thou quickly hence, I long to sleep; more of my wondrous
power thou gettest not from me. Thou runnest, my hot friend, out at
nights, as among he-goats the she-goat goes.
45. Thou hast run thyself mad, ever longing; many a one has stolen
under thy girdle. Thou runnest, my hot friend, out at nights, as among
he-goats, the she-goat goes.
46. Fire I strike over thee, dweller of the wood! so that thou goest
not ever away from hence.
47. Fire I see burning, and the earth blazing; many will have their
lives to save. Bear thou the cup to Ottar’s hand, the mead with venom
mingled, in an evil hour!
48. Thy malediction shall be powerless; although thou, Jotun-maid!
dost evil threaten. He shall drink delicious draughts. All the gods I
pray to favour Ottar.
THE INCANTATION OF GROA.
1. Wake up, Groa! wake up, good woman! at the gates of death I wake
thee! if thou rememberest, that thou thy son badest to thy grave-mound
2. What now troubles my only son? With what affliction art thou
burthened, that thou thy mother callest, who to dust is come, and from
human homes departed?
3. A hateful game thou, crafty woman, didst set before me, whom my
has father in his bosom cherished, when thou badest me go no one knows
whither, Menglod to meet.
4. Long is the journey, long are the ways, long are men’s desires.
If it so fall out, that thou thy will obtainest, the event must then
be as it may.
5. Sing to me songs which are good. Mother! protect thy son. Dead on
my way I fear to be. I seem too young in years.
6. I will sing to thee first one that is thought most [Pg 110]useful, which
Rind sang to Ran; that from thy shoulders thou shouldst cast what to
thee seems irksome: let thyself thyself direct.
7. A second I will sing to thee, as thou hast to wander joyless on
thy ways. May Urd’s protection hold thee on every side, where thou
8. A third I will sing to thee. If the mighty rivers to thy life’s
peril fall, Horn and Rud, may they flow down to Hel, and for thee ever
9. A fourth I will sing to thee. If foes assail thee ready on the
dangerous road, their hearts shall fail them, and to thee be power,
and their minds to peace be turned.
10. A fifth I will sing to thee. If bonds be cast on thy limbs,
friendly spells I will let on thy joints be sung, and the lock from
thy arms shall start, [and from thy feet the fetter].
11. A sixth I will sing to thee. If on the sea thou comest, more
stormy than men have known it, air and water shall in a bag attend
thee, and a tranquil course afford thee.
12. A seventh I will sing to thee. If on a mountain high frost
should assail thee, deadly cold shall not thy carcase injure, nor draw
thy body to thy limbs.
13. An eighth I will sing to thee. If night overtake thee, when out
on the misty way, that the dead Christian woman no power may have to
do thee harm.
14. A ninth I will sing to thee. If with a far-famed spear-armed
Jotun thou words exchangest, of words and wit to thy mindful heart
abundance shall be given.
15. Go now ever where calamity may be, and no [Pg 111]harm shall obstruct
thy wishes. On a stone fast in the earth I have stood within the door,
while songs I sang to thee.
16. My son! bear hence thy mother’s words, and in thy breast let
them dwell; for happiness abundant shalt thou have in life, while of
my words thou art mindful.
THE SONG OF THE SUN.
This singular poem, the authorship of which is, in some manuscripts,
assigned to Sæmund himself, may be termed a Voice from the Dead, given
under the form of a dream, in which a deceased father is supposed to
address his son from another world. The first 7 strophes seem hardly
connected with the following ones, which, as far as the 32nd consist
chiefly in aphorisms with examples, some closely resembling those in
the Havamal. In the remaining portion is given the recital of the last
illness of the supposed speaker, his death, and the scenes his soul
passed through on the way to its final home.
The composition exhibits a strange mixture of Christianity and
Heathenism, whence it would seem that the poet’s own religion was in a
transition state. Of the allusions to Heathenism it is, however, to be
observed that they are chiefly to persons and actions of which there
is no trace in the Odinic mythology, as known to us, and are possibly
the fruits of the poet’s own imagination. [Pg 112]The title of the poem is no
doubt derived from the allusion to the Sun at the beginning of
For an elaborate and learned commentary, with an interlinear version
of “the Song of the Sun,” the reader may consult “Les Chants de Sol,”
by Professor Bergmann, Strasbourg & Paris, 1858.
1. Of life and property a fierce freebooter despoiled mankind; over
the ways beset by him might no one living pass.
2. Alone he ate most frequently, no one invited he to his repast;
until weary, and with failing strength, a wandering guest came from
3. In need of drink that way-worn man, and hungry feigned to be:
with trembling heart he seemed to trust him who had been so
4. Meat and drink to the weary one he gave, all with upright heart;
on God he thought, the traveller’s wants supplied; for he felt he was
5. Up stood the guest, he evil meditated, he had not been kindly
treated; his sin within him swelled, he while sleeping murdered his
wary cautious host.
6. The God of heaven he prayed for help, when being struck he woke;
but he was doomed the sins of him on himself to take, whom sackless he
7. Holy angels came from heaven above, and took to them his soul: in
a life of purity it shall ever live with the almighty God.
8. Riches and health no one may command, though all go smoothly with
him. To many that befalls which they least expect. No one may command
his tranquillity.[Pg 113]
9. Unnar and Sævaldi never imagined that happiness would fall from
them, yet naked they became, and of all bereft, and, like wolves, ran
to the forest.
10. The force of pleasure has many a one bewailed. Cares are often
caused by women; pernicious they become, although the mighty God them
11. United were Svafud and Skarthedin, neither might without the
other be, until to frenzy they were driven for a woman: she was
destined for their perdition.
12. On account of that fair maid, neither of them cared for games or
joyous days; no other thing could they in memory bear than that bright
13. Sad to them were the gloomy nights, no sweet sleep might they
enjoy: but from that anguish rose hate intense between the faithful
14. Hostile deeds are in most places fiercely avenged. To the holm
they went, for that fair woman, and each one found his death.
15. Arrogance should no one entertain: I indeed have seen that those
who follow her, for the most part, turn from God.
16. Rich were both, Radey and Vebogi, and thought only of their
well-being; now they sit and turn their sores to various hearths.
17. They in themselves confided, and thought themselves alone to be
above all people; but their lot Almighty God was pleased otherwise to
18. A life of luxury they led, in many ways, and had [Pg 114]gold for
sport. Now they are requited, so that they must walk between frost and
19. To thy enemies trust thou never, although they speak thee fair:
promise them good: ’tis good to have another’s injury as a warning.
20. So it befell Sorli the upright, when he placed himself in
Vigolf’s power; he confidently trusted him, his brother’s murderer,
but he proved false.
21. Peace to them he granted, with heart sincere; they in return
promised him gold, feigned themselves friends, while they together
drank; but then came forth their guile.
22. Then afterwards, on the second day, when they in Rygiardal rode,
they with swords wounded him who sackless was, and let his life go
23. His corpse they dragged (on a lonely way, and cut up piecemeal)
into a well, and would it hide; but the holy Lord beheld from heaven.
24. His soul summoned home the true God into his joy to come; but
the evil doers will, I wean, late be from torments called.
25. Do thou pray the Disir of the Lord’s words to be kind to thee in
spirit: for a week after, all shall then go happily, according to thy
26. For a deed of ire that thou hast perpetrated, never atone with
evil: the weeping thou shalt soothe with benefits: that is salutary to
27. On God a man shall for good things call, on him who has mankind
created. Greatly sinful is every man who late finds the Father.[Pg 115]
28. To be solicited, we opine, is with all earnestness for that
which is lacking: of all things may be destitute he who for nothing
asks: few heed the wants of the silent.
29. Late I came, though called betimes, to the supreme Judge’s door;
thitherward I yearn; for it was promised me, he who craves it shall of
the feast partake.
30. Sins are the cause that sorrowing we depart from this world: no
one stands in dread, if he does no evil: good it is to be blameless.
31. Like unto wolves all those seem who have a faithless mind: so he
will prove who has to go through ways strewed with gleeds.
32. Friendly counsels, and wisely composed, seven I have imparted to
thee: consider thou them well, and forget them never: they are all
useful to learn.
33. Of that I will speak, how happy I was in the world, and
secondly, how the sons of men reluctantly become corpses.
34. Pleasure and pride deceive the sons of men who after money
crave; shining riches at last become a sorrow: many have riches driven
35. Steeped in joys I seemed to men; for little did I see before me:
our worldly sojourn has the Lord created in delights abounding.
36. Bowed down I sat, long I tottered, of life was most desirous;
but He prevailed who was all-powerful: onward are the ways of the
37. The cords of Hel were tightly bound round my sides; I would rend
them, but they were strong. ‘Tis easy free to go.[Pg 116]
38. I alone knew, how on all sides my pains increased. The maids of
Hel each eve with horror bade me to their home.
39. The sun I saw, true star of day, sink in its roaring home; but
Hel’s grated doors on the other side I heard heavily creaking.
40. The sun I saw with blood-red beams beset: (fast was I then from
this world declining) mightier she appeared, in many ways, than she
41. The sun I saw, and it seemed to me as if I saw a glorious god: I
bowed before her, for the last time, in the world of men.
42. The sun I saw: she beamed forth so that I seemed nothing to
know; but Gioll’s streams roared from the other side mingled much with
43. The sun I saw, with quivering eyes, appalled and shrinking; for
my heart in great measure was dissolved in languor.
44. The sun I saw seldom sadder; I had then almost from the world
declined: my tongue was as wood become, and all was cold without me.
45. The sun I saw never after, since that gloomy day; for the
mountain-waters closed over me, and I went called from torments.
46. The star of hope, when I was born, fled from my breast away;
high it flew, settled nowhere, so that it might find rest.
47. Longer than all was that one night, when stiff on my straw I
lay; then becomes manifest the divine word: “Man is the same as
48. The Creator God can it estimate and know, (He who made heaven
and earth) how forsaken many go hence, although from kindred parted.
49. Of his works each has the reward: happy is he who does good. Of
my wealth bereft, to me was destined a bed strewed with sand.
50. Bodily desires men oftentimes seduce, of them has many a one too
much: water of baths was of all things to me most loathsome.
51. In the Norns’ seat nine days I sat, thence I was mounted on a
horse: there the giantess’s sun shone grimly through the dripping
clouds of heaven.
52. Without and within, I seemed to traverse all the seven nether
worlds: up and down, I sought an easier way, where I might have the
53. Of that is to be told, which I first saw, when I to the worlds
of torment came:—scorched birds, which were souls, flew numerous as
54. From the west I saw Von’s dragons fly, and Glæval’s paths
obscure: their wings they shook; wide around me seemed the earth and
heaven to burst.
55. The sun’s hart I saw from the south coming, he was by two
together led: his feet stood on the earth, but his horns reached up to
56. From the north riding I saw the sons of Nidi, they were seven in
all: from full horns, the pure mead they drank from the heaven-god’s
57. The wind was silent, the waters stopped their course; then I
heard a doleful sound: for their husbands false-faced women ground
earth for food.[Pg 118]
58. Gory stones those dark women turned sorrowfully; bleeding hearts
hung out of their breasts, faint with much affliction.
59. Many a man I saw wounded go on those gleed-strewed paths; their
faces seemed to me all reddened with reeking blood.
60. Many men I saw to earth gone down, who holy service might not
have; heathen stars stood above their heads, painted with deadly
61. I saw those men who much envy harbour at another’s fortune;
bloody runes were on their breasts graved painfully.
62. I there saw men many not joyful; they were all wandering wild:
this he earns, who by this world’s vices is infatuated.
63. I saw those men who had in various ways acquired other’s
property: in shoals they went to Castle-covetous, and burthens bore of
64. I saw those men who many had of life and property bereft:
through the breasts of those men passed strong venomous serpents.
65. I saw those men who the holy days would not observe: their hands
were on hot stones firmly nailed.
66. I saw those men who from pride valued themselves too highly;
their garments ludicrously were in fire enveloped.
67. I saw those men who had many false words of others uttered:
Hel’s ravens from their heads their eyes miserably tore.
68. All the horrors thou wilt not get to know which [Pg 119]Hel’s inmates
suffer. Pleasant sins end in painful penalties: pains ever follow
69. I saw those men who had much given for God’s laws; pure lights
were above their heads brightly burning.
70. I saw those men who from exalted mind helped the poor to aid:
angels, read holy books above their heads.
71. I saw those men who with much fasting had their bodies wasted:
God’s angels bowed before them: that is the highest joy.
72. I saw those men who had put food into their mothers’ mouth:
their couches were on the rays of heaven pleasantly placed.
73. Holy virgins had cleanly washed the souls from sin of those men,
who for a long time had themselves tormented.
74. Lofty cars I saw towards heaven going; they were on the way to
God: men guided them who had been murdered wholly without crime.
75. Almighty Father! greatest Son! holy Spirit of heaven! Thee I
pray, who hast us all created; free us all from miseries.
76. Biugvor and Iyistvor sit at Herdir’s doors, on resounding seat;
iron gore falls from their nostrils, which kindles hate among men.
77. Odin’s wife rows in earth’s ship, eager after pleasures; her
sails are reefed late, which on the ropes of desire are hung.
78. Son! I thy father and Solkatla’s sons have alone [Pg 120]obtained for
thee that horn of hart, which from the grave-mound bore the wise
79. Here are runes which have engraven Niord’s daughters nine,
Radvor the eldest, and the youngest Kreppvor, and their seven sisters.
80. How much violence have they perpetrated Svaf and Svaflogi!
bloodshed they have excited, and wounds have sucked, after an evil
81. This lay, which I have taught thee, thou shalt before the living
sing, the Sun-Song, which will appear in many parts no fiction.
82. Here we part, but again shall meet on the day of men’s
rejoicing. Oh Lord! unto the dead grant peace, and to the living
83. Wondrous lore has in dream to thee been sung, but thou hast seen
the truth: no man has been so wise created that has before heard the
 That is, they engaged in single combat; the spot for
such encounters being called a holm, consisting of a circular space
marked out by stones.
THE LAY OF VOLUND.
There was a king in Sweden named Nidud: he had two sons and a
daughter, whose name was Bodvild. There were three brothers, sons of a
king of the Finns, one was called Slagfid, the second Egil, the third
Volund. They went on snow-shoes and hunted wild-beasts. They came to
Ulfdal, and there made themselves a house, where there is a water
called Ulfsiar. Early one morning they found on the border of the lake
three females sitting and spinning flax. Near them lay their
swan-plumages: they were Valkyriur. Two of them, Hladgud-Svanhvit and
Hervor-Alvit, were daughters of King Hlodver; the third was Olrun, a
daughter of Kiar of Valland. They took them home with them to their
dwelling. Egil had Olrun, Slagfid Svanhvit, and Volund Alvit. They
lived there seven years, when they flew away seeking conflicts, and
did not return. Egil then went on snow-shoes in search of Olrun, and
Slagfid in search of Svanhvit, but Volund remained in Ulfdal. He was a
most skilful man, as we learn from old traditions. King Nidud ordered
him to be seized, so as it is here related.
1. Maids flew from the south, through the murky wood, Alvit the
young, fate to fulfil. On the lake’s margin they sat to repose, the
southern damsels; precious flax they spun.[Pg 122]
2. One of them, of maidens fairest, to his comely breast Egil
clasped. Svanhvit was the second, she a swan’s plumage bore; but the
third, their sister, the white neck clasped of Volund.
3. There they stayed seven winters through; but all the eighth were
with longing seized; and in the ninth fate parted them. The maidens
yearned for the murky wood, the young Alvit, fate to fulfil.
4. From the chase came the ardent hunters, Slagfid and Egil, found
their house deserted, went out and in, and looked around. Egil went
east after Olrun, and Slagfid west after Svanhvit;
5. But Volund alone remained in Ulfdal. He the red gold set with the
hard gem, well fastened all the rings on linden bast, and so awaited
his bright consort, if to him she would return.
6. It was told to Nidud, the Niarars’ lord, that Volund alone
remained in Ulfdal. In the night went men, in studded corslets, their
shields glistened in the waning moon.
7. From their saddles they alighted at the house’s gable, thence
went in through the house. On the bast they saw the rings all drawn,
seven hundred, which the warrior owned.
8. And they took them off, and they put them on, all save one, which
they bore away. Came then from the chase the ardent hunter, Volund,
gliding on the long way.
9. To the fire he went, bear’s flesh to roast. Soon [Pg 123]blazed the
brushwood, and the arid fir, the wind-dried wood, before Volund.
10. On the bearskin sat, his rings counted, the Alfar’s companion:
one was missing. He thought that Hlodver’s daughter had it, the young
Alvit, and that she was returned.
11. So long he sat until he slept; and he awoke of joy bereft: on
his hands he felt heavy constraints, and round his feet fetters
12. “Who are the men that on the rings’ possessor have laid bonds?
and me have bound?”
13. Then cried Nidud, the Niarars’ lord: “Whence gottest thou,
Volund! Alfars’ chief! our gold, in Ulfdal?”
14. “No gold was here in Grani’s path, far I thought our land from
the hills of Rhine. I mind me that we more treasures possessed, when,
a whole family, we were at home.
15. Hladgud and Hervor were of Hlodver born; known was Olrun, Kiar’s
daughter, she entered into the house, stood on the floor, her voice
moderated: Now is he not mirthful, who from the forest comes.”
King Nidud gave to his daughter Bodvild the ring which had been taken
from the bast in Volund’s house; but he himself bore the sword that
had belonged to Volund. The queen said:
16. His teeth he shows, when the sword he sees, and [Pg 124]Bodvild’s ring
he recognizes: threatening are his eyes as a glistening serpent’s: let
be severed his sinews’ strength; and set him then in Sævarstad.
This was done; he was hamstrung, and then set on a certain small
island near the shore, called Sævarstad. He there forged for the king
all kinds of jewellery work. No one was allowed to go to him, except
the king. Volund said:
17. “The sword shines in Nidud’s belt, which I whetted as I could
most skilfully, and tempered, as seemed to me most cunningly. That
bright blade forever is taken from me: never shall I see it borne into
18. Now Bodvild wears my consort’s red-gold rings: for this I have
no indemnity.” He sat and never slept, and his hammer plied; but much
more speedy vengeance devised on Nidud.
19. The two young sons of Nidud ran in at the door to look, in
Sævarstad. To the chest they came, for the keys asked; manifest was
their grudge, when therein they looked.
20. Many necklaces were there, which to those youths appeared of the
red gold to be, and treasures. “Come ye two alone, to-morrow come;
that gold shall be given to you.
21. Tell it not to the maidens, nor to the household folk, nor to
any one, that ye have been with me.” Early called one the other,
brother, brother: “Let us go see the rings.”
22. To the chest they came, for the keys asked; mani[Pg 125]fest was their
grudge, when therein they looked. Of those children he the heads cut
off, and under the prison’s mixen laid their bodies.
23. But their skulls beneath the hair he in silver set, and to Nidud
gave; and of their eyes precious stones he formed, which to Nidud’s
wily wife he sent.
24. But of the teeth of the two breast-ornaments he made, and to
Bodvild sent. Then did Bodvild praise the ring: to Volund brought it,
when she had broken it: “I dare to no tell it, save alone to thee.”
25. “I will so repair the fractured gold, that to thy father it
shall fairer seem, and to thy mother much more beautiful, and to
thyself, in the same degree.”
26. He then brought her beer, that he might succeed the better, as
on her seat she fell asleep. “Now have I my wrongs avenged, all save
one in the wood perpetrated.”
27. “I wish,” said Volund, “that on my feet I were, of the use of
which Nidud’s men have deprived me.” Laughing Volund rose in air:
Bodvild weeping from the isle departed. She mourned her lover’s
absence, and for her father’s wrath.
28. Stood without Nidud’s wily wife; then she went in through the
hall; but he on the enclosure sat down to rest. “Art thou awake
29. “Ever am I awake, joyless I lie to rest, when I call to mind my
children’s death: my head is chilled, cold [Pg 126]are to me thy counsels.
Now with Volund I desire to speak.”
30. “Tell me, Volund, Alfars’ chief! of my brave boys what is
31. “Oaths shalt thou first to me swear, by board of ship, by rim of
shield, by shoulder of steed, by edge of sword, that thou wilt not
slay the wife of Volund, nor of my bride cause the death; although a
wife I have whom ye know, or offspring within thy court.
32. To the smithy go, which thou hast made, there wilt thou the
bellows find with blood besprinkled. The heads I severed of thy boys,
and under the prison’s mixen laid their bodies.
33. But their skulls beneath the hair I in silver set, and to Nidud
gave; and of their eyes precious stones I formed, which to Nidud’s
wily wife I sent.
34. Of the teeth of the two, breast-ornaments I made, and to Bodvild
sent. Now Bodvild goes big with child, the only daughter of you both.”
35. “Word didst thou never speak that more afflicted me, or for
which I would more severely punish thee. There is no man so tall that
he from thy horse can take thee, or so skilful that he can shoot thee
down, thence where thou floatest up in the sky.”
36. Laughing Volund rose in air, but Nidud sad remained sitting.
37. “Rise up Thakrad, my best of thralls! bid Bodvild, my
fair-browed daughter, in bright attire come, with her sire to speak.[Pg 127]
38. Is it, Bodvild! true what has been told to me, that thou and
Volund in the isle together sat?”
39. “True it is, Nidud! what has been told to thee, that Volund and
I in the isle together sat, in an unlucky hour: would it had never
been! I could not against him strive, I might not against him
 On snow-shoes.
 The designation of Alfars’ chief, or prince, applied to
Volund, who, as we learn from the prose introduction, was a son of a
king of the Finns, may perhaps be accounted for by the circumstance
that the poem itself hardly belongs to the Odinic Mythology, and was
probably composed when that system was in its decline and giving place
to the heroic or romantic.
 The translation of this line is founded solely on a
conjectural emendation of the text. The wrong alluded to may be the
THE LAY OF HELGI HIORVARD’S SON.
There was a king named Hiorvard, who had four wives, one of whom was
named Alfhild, their son was named Hedin; the second was named Særeid,
their son was Humlung; the third was named Sinriod, their son was
Hymling. King Hiorvard made a vow that he would have to wife the most
beautiful woman he knew of, and was told that King Svafnir had a
daughter of incomparable beauty, named Sigrlinn. He had a jarl named
Idmund, whose son Atli was sent to demand the hand of Sigrlinn for the
king. He stayed throughout the winter with King Svafnir. There was a
jarl there named Franmar, who was the foster-father of Sigrlinn, and
had a daughter named Alof. This jarl advised that the maiden should be
refused, and Atli returned home. One day when the jarl’s son Atli was
standing in a grove, there was a bird sitting in the boughs above him,
which had heard that his men called the wives which King Hiorvard had
the most beautiful. The bird talked, and Atli listened to what it
said. The bird said:[Pg 128]
1. Hast thou seen Sigrlinn, Svafnir’s daughter, of maidens fairest,
in her pleasant home? though fair the wives of Hiorvard seem to men in
2. With Atli, Idmund’s son, sagacious bird! wilt thou further speak?
I will if the prince will offer to me, and I may choose what I will
from the king’s court.
3. Choose not Hiorvard nor his sons, nor the fair daughters of that
prince, nor the wives which the king has. Let us together bargain;
that is the part of friends.
4. A fane I will chose, offer steads many, gold-horned cows from the
chief’s land, if Sigrlinn sleep in his arms, and unconstrained with
that prince shall live.
This took place before Atli’s journey; but after his return, when the
king asked his tidings, he said:
5. Labour we have had, but errand none performed; our horses failed
us in the vast fell; we had afterwards a swampy lake to ford; then was
denied us Svafnir’s daughter with rings adorned, whom we would obtain.
The king commanded them to go a second time, and also went himself.
But when they had ascended a fell, and saw in Svavaland the country on
fire, and a great reek from the horses of cavalry, the king rode down
the fell into the country, and took up his night-quarters by a river.
Atli kept watch, and crossed the river, and came [Pg 129]to a house, on which
sat a great bird to guard it, but was asleep. Atli shot the bird dead
with an arrow. In the house he found the king’s daughter Sigrlinn, and
Alof daughter of Franmar, and brought them both away with him. The
jarl Franmar had taken the form of an eagle, and protected them from a
hostile army by sorcery. There was a king named Hrodmar, a wooer of
Sigrlinn: he had slain the king of Svavaland, and ravaged and burnt
the country. Hiorvard obtained Sigrlinn, and Atli Alof. Hiorvard and
Sigrlinn had a son tall and comely: he was taciturn and had no fixed
name. As he was sitting on a mound he saw nine Valkyriur, one of whom
was of most noble aspect. She said:
6. Late wilt thou, Helgi! rings possess, a potent warrior, or
Rodulsvellir,—so at morn the eagle sang—if thou art ever silent;
although thou, prince! a fierce mood mayest show.
7. What wilt thou let accompany the name of Helgi, maid of aspect
bright! since that thou art pleased to give me? Think well over what
thou art saying. I will not accept it, unless I have thee also.
8. Swords I know lying in Sigarsholm, fewer by four than five times
ten: one of them is of all the best, of shields the bale, with gold
9. A ring is on the hilt, courage in the midst, in the point terror
for his use who owns it: along the edge a blood-stained serpent lies,
and on the guard the serpent casts its tail.
[Pg 130]There was a king named Eylimi; Svava was his daughter; she was a
Valkyria and rode through air and water. It was she who gave Helgi
that name, and afterwards often protected him in battle. Helgi said:
10. Hiorvard! thou art not a king of wholesome counsel, leader of
people! renowned though thou mayest be. Thou hast let fire devour the
homes of princes, though harm to thee they none have done.
11. But Hrodmar shall of the rings dispose, which our relations have
possessed. That chief recks little of his life; he thinks only to
obtain the heritage of the dead.
Hiorvard answers, that he will supply Helgi with an army, if he will
avenge his mother’s father. Helgi thereupon seeks the sword that Svava
had indicated to him. Afterwards he and Atli went and slew Hrodmar,
and performed many deeds of valour. He killed the Jotun Hati, as he
sat on a crag. Helgi and Atli lay with their ships in Hatafiord. Atli
kept watch in the first part of the night. Hrimgerd, Hati’s daughter,
12. Who are the chieftains in Hatafiord? With shields are your ships
bedecked; boldly ye bear yourselves, few things ye fear, I ween: tell
me how your king is named.
13. Helgi is his name; but thou nowhere canst to the chief do harm;
iron forts are around the prince’s fleet; giantesses may not assail
14. How art thou named? most powerful champion! [Pg 131]How do men call
thee? Thy king confides in thee, since in the ship’s fair prow he
grants thee place.
15. Atli I am named, fierce I shall prove to thee; towards
giantesses I am most hostile. The humid prow I have oft occupied, and
the night-riders slain.
16. How art thou called? corpse-greedy giantess! hag! name thy
father. Nine rasts shouldst thou be underground, and a forest grow on
17. Hrimgerd I am called, Hati was my father called, whom I knew the
mightiest Jotun. He many women had from their dwellings taken, until
him Helgi slew.
18. Thou wast, hag! before the prince’s ships, and layest before
them in the fiord’s mouth. The chieftain’s warriors thou wouldst to
Ran consign, had a bar not crossed thee.
19. Now, Atli! thou art wrong, methinks thou art dreaming; thy brows
thou lettest over thy eyelids fall. My mother lay before the prince’s
ships; I Hlodvard’s sons drowned in the ocean.
20. Thou wouldst neigh, Atli! if thou wert not a gelding. See!
Hrimgerd cocks her tail. Thy heart, methinks, Atli! is in thy hinder
part, although thy voice is clear.
21. I think I shall the stronger prove, if thou desirest [Pg 132]to try;
and I can step from the port to land. Thou shalt be soundly cudgeled,
if I heartily begin, and let thy tail fall, Hrimgerd!
22. Just come on shore, Atli! if in thy strength thou trustest, and
let us meet in Varinsvik. A rib-roasting thou shalt get, brave boy! if
in my claws thou comest.
23. I will not come before the men awake, and o’er the king hold
watch. It would not surprise me, if from beneath our ship some hag
24. Keep watch, Atli! and to Hrimgerd pay the blood-fine for Hati’s
death. If one night she may sleep with the prince, she for the slain
will be indemnified.
25. Lodin is named he who shall thee possess, thou to mankind art
loathsome. In Tholley dwells that Thurs, that dog-wise Jotun, of all
rock-dwellers the worst: he is a fitting man for thee.
26. Helgi would rather have her who last night guarded the port and
men, the gold-bright maiden. She methought had strength, she stept
from port to land, and so secured your fleet. She was alone the cause
that I could not the king’s men slay.
27. Hear now, Hrimgerd! If I may indemnify thee, [Pg 133]say fully to the
king: was it one being only, that saved the prince’s ships, or went
28. Three troops of maidens; though one maid foremost rode, bright,
with helmed head. Their horses shook themselves, and from their manes
there sprang dew into the deep dales, hail on the lofty trees, whence
comes fruitfulness to man. To me all that I saw was hateful.
29. Look eastward now, Hrimgerd! whether Helgi has not stricken thee
with death-bearing words. By land and water the king’s fleet is safe,
and the chief’s men also.
30. It is now day, Hrimgerd! and Atli has thee detained to thy loss
of life. A ludicrous haven-mark ’twill, indeed, be, where thou a
King Helgi was a renowned warrior. He came to King Eylimi and demanded
his daughter Svava. Helgi and Svava were united, and loved each other
ardently. Svava remained at home with her father, but Helgi was
engaged in warfare. Svava was a Valkyria as before. Hedin was at home
with his father, King Hiorvard in Norway. Returning home alone from
the forest on a Yule-eve, Hedin met a troll-wife riding on a wolf,
with serpents for reins, who offered to attend him, but he declined
her offer; whereupon she said: “Thou shalt pay for this at the
Bragi-cup.” In the evening solemn vows were made, and the son-hog was
led forth, on which the guests laid their hands, and then made solemn
vows at [Pg 134]the Bragi-cup. Hedin bound himself by a vow to possess
Svava, the beloved of his brother Helgi; but repented it so bitterly
that he left home and wandered through wild paths to the southern
lands, and there found his brother Helgi. Helgi said:
31. Welcome art thou, Hedin! What new tidings canst thou give from
Norway? Why art thou, prince! from the land driven, and alone art come
to find us?
32. Of a much greater crime I am guilty. I have chosen a royal
daughter, thy bride, at the Bragi-cup.
33. Accuse not thyself; true will prove words at drinking uttered by
us both. Me a chieftain has to the strand summoned; within three
nights I must be there. ‘Tis to me doubtful whether I return; then may
well such befall, if it so must be.
34. Thou saidst, Helgi! that Hedin well deserved of thee, and great
gifts: It would beseem thee better thy sword to redden, than to grant
peace to thy foes.
Helgi so spoke, for he had a foreboding that his death was at hand,
and that his fylgiur (attendant spirit) had [Pg 135]accosted Hedin, when he
saw the woman riding on a wolf. There was a king named Alf, a son of
Hrodmar, who had appointed a place of combat with Helgi in Sigar’s
plain within three days. Then said Helgi:
35. On a wolf rode, at evening twilight, a woman who him offered to
attend. She well knew, that the son of Sigrlinn would be slain, on
There was a great conflict, in which Helgi got his death-wound.
36. Helgi sent Sigar riding, after Eylimi’s only daughter: he bade
her quickly be in readiness, if she would find the king alive.
37. Helgi has me hither sent, with thee, Svava! thyself to speak.
Thee, said the king, he fain would see, ere the noble-born breathes
forth his last.
38. What has befallen Helgi, Hiorvard’s son? I am sorely by
afflictions stricken. Has the sea him deluded, or the sword wounded?
On that man I will harm inflict.
39. This morning fell, at Frekastein, the king who beneath the sun
was of all the best. Alf has complete victory, though this time it
should not have been!
40. Hail to thee, Svava! Thy love thou must divide: this in this
world, methinks, is our last meeting. They say the chieftain’s wounds
are bleeding. The sword came too near my heart.[Pg 136]
41. I pray thee, Svava!—weep not, my wife!—if thou wilt my voice
obey, that for Hedin thou a couch prepare, and the young prince in thy
42. I had said, in our pleasant home, when for me Helgi rings
selected, that I would not gladly, after my king’s departure, an
unknown prince clasp in my arms.
43. Kiss me, Svava! I will not return, Rogheim to behold, nor
Rodulsfioll, before I have avenged Hiorvard’s son, who was of kings
under the sun the best.
Helgi and Svava were, it is said, born again.
 At guilds the Bragi-cup (Bragafull) was drunk. It was
the custom at the funeral feast of kings and jarls, that the heir
should sit on a lower seat, until the Bragafull was brought in, that
he should then rise to receive it, make a vow, and drink the contents
of the cup (full). He was then led to his father’s high seat. At an
offering guild, the chief signed with the figure of Thor’s hammer both
the cup and the meat. First was drunk Odin’s cup, for victory and
power to the king; then Niord’s cup, and Frey’s, for a good year and
peace; after which it was the custom with many to drink a Bragafull.
The peculiarity of this cup was, that it was a cup of vows, that on
drinking it a vow was made to perform some great and arduous deed,
that might be made a subject for the song of the skalld.
THE FIRST LAY OF HELGI HUNDINGCIDE.
1. It was in times of yore, when the eagles screamed, holy waters
fell from the heavenly hills; then to Helgi, the great of soul,
Borghild gave birth in Bralund.
2. In the mansion it was night: the Norns came, who should the
prince’s life determine. They him decreed a prince most famed to be,
and of leaders accounted best.
3. With all their might they span the fatal threads, when that [he]
burghs should overthrow in Bralund. They stretched out the golden
cord, and beneath the middle of the moon’s mansion fixed it.
4. East and west they hid the ends, where the prince had lands
between; towards the north Neri’s sister cast a chain, which she bade
last for ever.
5. One thing disquieted the Ylfing’s offspring, and the woman who
had the child brought forth. Sitting on a lofty tree, on prey intent,
a raven to a raven said: “I know something.
6. Stands cased in mail Sigmund’s son, one day old: now is our day
come. His eyes are piercing as a warrior’s; the wolf’s friend is he:
we shall rejoice!”
7. He to the folk appeared a noble chief to be; among men ’twas said
that happy times were come; went the king himself from the din of war,
noble garlic to bring to the young prince;
8. Gave him the name of Helgi, and Hringstadir, [Pg 138]Solfioll, Snæfioll,
and Sigarsvellir, Hringstad, Hatun, and Himinvangar, a sword ornate,
to Sinfiotli’s brother.
9. Then grew up, in his friends’ bosom, the high-born youth, in
joyous splendour. He paid and gave gold for deserts; nor spared the
chief the blood-stained sword.
10. A short time only the leader let warfare cease. When the prince
was fifteen winters old, he caused the fierce Hunding to fall, who
long had ruled over lands and people.
11. The sons of Hunding afterwards demanded from Sigmund’s son
treasure and rings; because they had on the prince to avenge their
great loss of wealth, and their father’s death.
12. The prince would neither the blood-fine pay, nor for the slain
indemnity would give. They might expect, he said, a terrific storm of
grey arrows, and Odin’s ire.
13. The warriors went to the trysting place of swords, which they
had appointed at Logafioll. Broken was Frodi’s peace between the foes:
Vidrir’s hounds went about the isle slaughter-greedy.
14. The leader sat under the Arastein, after he had slain Alf and
Eyiolf, Hiorvard and Havard, sons of Hunding: he had destroyed all
15. Then gleamed a ray from Logafioll, and from that ray lightnings
issued; then appeared, in the field of air, a helmed band of
Valkyriur: their corslets were with blood besprinkled, and from their
spears shone beams of light.
16. Forthwith inquired the chieftain bold, from the wolf-congress of
the southern Disir, whether they would, [Pg 139]with the warriors, that night
go home?—then was a clash of arms!
17. One from her horse, Hogni’s daughter, stilled the crash of
shields, and to the leader said: “We have, I ween, other objects than
with princely warriors to drink beer.
18. My father has his daughter promised to the fierce son of
Granmar; but I have, Helgi! declared Hodbrodd, the proud prince, like
to a cat’s son.
19. That chief will come in a few days, unless thou him call to a
hostile meeting; or the maiden take from the prince.”
20. Fear thou not Isung’s slayer; there shall be first a clash of
foes, unless I am dead.
21. Thence sent messengers the potent prince through air and over
water, succours to demand, and abundance of ocean’s gleam to men to
offer, and to their sons.
22. “Bid them speedily to the ships to go, and those from Brandey to
hold them ready.” There the king abode, until thither came warriors in
hundreds from Hedinsey.
23. From the strands also, and from Stafnsnes, a naval force went
out, with gold adorned. Helgi then of Hiorleif asked: “Hast thou
mustered the valiant people?”
24. But the young king the other answered: “Slowly” said he “are
counted from Tronuey the long-beaked ships, under the seafarers, which
sail without in the Oresund,—
25. Twelve hundred faithful men; though in Hatun [Pg 140]there is more than
half of the king’s host—We are to war inured.”
26. Then the steersman threw the ship’s tents aside, that the
princes’ people might awake, and the noble chiefs the dawn might see;
and the warriors hauled the sails up to the mast in Varinsfiord.
27. There was a dash of oars, and clash of iron, shield against
shield resounded: the vikings rowed; roaring went, under the
chieftains the royal fleet far from the land.
28. So might be heard, when together came the tempest’s sister
and the long keels, as when rock and surge on each other break.
29. Higher still bade Helgi the deep sail be hauled. No port gave
shelter to the crews; when Oegir’s terrific daughter the chieftains’
vessels would o’erwhelm,
30. But from above Sigrun intrepid, saved them and their fleet also;
from the hand of Ran powerfully was wrested the royal ship at
31. At eve they halted in Unavagar; the splendid ships might into
port have floated, but the crews, from Svarinshaug, in hostile mood,
espied the host.
32. Then demanded the god-born Gudmund: “Who is the chieftain that
commands the fleet, and that formidable force brings to our land?”
33. Sinfiotli said, slinging up on the yard a red-hued shield with
golden rim;—He at the strait kept watch, and able was to answer, and
with nobles words exchange—
34. “Tell it at eve, when you feed your pigs, and your [Pg 141]dogs lead to
their food, that the Ylfings from the east are come, ready to fight at
35. Hodbrodd will Helgi find in the fleet’s midst, a king hard to
make flee, who has oft the eagles sated, while thou wast at the mills,
kissing the thrall-wenches.
36. Little dost thou remember of ancient saws, when of the noble
thou falsehoods utterest. Thou hast been eating wolves’ dainties, and
of thy brother wast the slayer; wounds hast thou often sucked with
cold mouth; every where loathed, thou hast crawled in caverns.
37. Thou wast a Valacrone in Varinsey, cunning as a fox, a spreader
of lies. Thou saidst thou no man wouldst ever marry, no corsleted
warrior, save Sinfiotli.
38. A mischievous crone wast thou, a giantess, a Valkyria, insolent,
monstrous, in Alfather’s hall. All the Einheriar fought with each
other, deceitful woman! for thy sake. Nine wolves we begat in Sagunes;
I alone was father of them all.
39. Father thou wast not of Fenriswolves, older than all, as far as
I remember; since by Gnipalund, the Thurs-maidens thee emasculated
40. Thou wast Siggeir’s stepson, at home under the benches layest,
accustomed to the wolf’s howl out in the forests: calamity of every
kind came over thee, when thou didst lacerate thy brother’s breast.
Notorious thou mad’st thyself by thy atrocious works.
41. Thou wast Grani’s bride at Bravollr, hadst a golden bit, ready
for the course. Many a time have I ridden thee tired, hungry and
saddled, through the fells, thou hag!
42. A graceless lad thou wast thought to be, when Gulnir’s goats
thou didst milk. Another time thou wast a giantess’s daughter, a
tattered wretch. Wilt thou a longer chat?
43. I rather would at Frekastein the ravens cram with thy carcase,
than thy dogs lead to their meat, or thy hogs feed. May the fiend deal
44. “Much more seemly, Sinfiotli! would it be for you both in battle
to engage, and the eagles gladden, than with useless words to contend,
however princes may foster hate.
45. Not good to me appear Granmar’s sons, yet ’tis right that
princes should speak the truth: they have shown, at Moinsheimar, that
they have courage to draw the sword.”—
46. Rapidly they their horses made to run, Svipud and Svegiud, to
Solheimar, over dewy dales, dark mountain-sides; trembled the sea of
mist, where the men went.
47. The king they met at the burgh’s gate, to the prince announced
the hostile advent. Without stood [Pg 143]Hodbrodd with helmet decked: he the
speed noticed of his kinsmen. “Why have ye Hniflungs such wrathful
48. “Hither to the shore are come rapid keels, towering masts, and
long yards, shields many, and smooth-shaven oars, a king’s noble host,
49. Fifteen bands are come to land; but there are out at sea, before
Gnipalund, seven thousand blue-black ocean-beasts with gold adorned;
there is by far their greatest multitude. Now will Helgi not delay the
50. “Let a bridled steed to the chief assembly run, but Sporvitnir
to Sparinsheid; Melnir and Mylnir to Myrkvid; let no man stay behind
of those who swords can brandish.
51. Summon to you Hogni, and the sons of Hring, Atli and Yngvi, Alf
the old; they will gladly engage in conflict. We will let the Volsungs
52. It was a whirlwind, when together came the fallow blades at
Frekastein: ever was Helgi Hundingsbani foremost in the host, where
men together fought: ardent for battle, disdaining flight; the
chieftain had a valiant heart.
53. Then came a maid from heaven, helmed, from above—the clash of
arms increased—for the king’s protection. Then said Sigrun—well
skilled to fly to the host of heroes from Hugin’s grove—
54. “Unscathed shalt thou, prince! possess thy people, [Pg 144]pillar of
Yngvi’s race! and life enjoy; thou hast laid low the slow of flight,
the chief who caused the dread warrior’s death. And thee, O king! well
beseem both red-gold rings and a powerful maid: unscathed shalt thou,
prince! both enjoy, Hogni’s daughter, and Hringstadir, victory and
lands: then is conflict ended.”
 That is, when they came to spin that period of his
 Kolga Systir. Kolga was one of the daughters of Oeglr
and Ran; they were the waves.
 Literally ring-breakers, or-dispensers.
 It would appear that their swords were of bronze.
 Hugin’s grove. The raven’s grove, i.e., the battlefield,
strewed with corpses, the raven’s food.
THE SECOND LAY OF HELGI HUNDINGCIDE.
King Sigmund, son of Volsung, had to wife Borghild of Bralund. They
named their son Helgi, after Helgi Hiorvard’s son. Helgi was fostered
by Hagal. There was a powerful king named Hunding, after whom the land
was called Hundland. He was a great warrior, and had many sons, who
were engaged in warfare. There was enmity, both open and concealed,
between King Hunding and King Sigmund, and they slew each other’s
kinsmen. King Sigmund and his kindred were called Volsungs, and
Ylfings. Helgi went forth and secretly explored the court of King
Hunding. Heming, Hunding’s son, was at home. On departing Helgi met a
herdsman, and said:
1. “Say thou to Heming, that Helgi bears in mind who the mailed
warrior was, whom the men laid low, when the grey wolf ye had within,
and King Hunding thought it was Hamal.”
[Pg 145]Hamal was the son of Hagal. King Hunding sent men to Hagal in search
of Helgi, and Helgi had no other way to save himself than by taking
the clothes of a female slave and going to grind. They sought but did
not find him. Then said Blind the Baleful:
2. Sharp are the eyes of Hagal’s thrall-wench; of no churlish race
is she who at the mill stands. The millstones are split, the receiver
flies asunder. Now a hard fate has befallen the warrior, when a prince
must barley grind: much more fitting to that hand is the falchion’s
hilt than a mill-handle.
3. No wonder ’tis that the receiver rattles, when a royal damsel the
handle turns. She hovered higher than the clouds, and, like the
vikings, dared to fight, until Helgi made her captive. She is a sister
of Sigar and Hogni; therefore has fierce eyes the Ylfing maid.
Helgi escaped and went on board a ship of war. He slew King Hunding,
and was afterwards named Helgi Hundingsbani. He lay with his force in
Brunavagar, and carried on “strand-hogg” and ate raw flesh. There
was a king named Hogni, whose daughter was Sigrun: she was a Valkyria,
and rode through the air and over the sea. She was Svava regenerated.
Sigrun rode to Helgi, and said:—
4. What men cause a ship along the coasts to float? where do ye
warriors a home possess? what await ye in Brunavagar? whither desire
ye to explore a way?
5. Hamal causes a ship along the coasts to float; we have home in
Hlesey; a fair wind we await in Brunavagar; eastward we desire to
explore a way.
6. Where, O prince! hast thou wakened war, or fed the birds of
conflict’s sisters? Why is thy corslet sprinkled with blood? Why
beneath the helm eat ye raw flesh?
7. It was the Ylfings’ son’s last achievement,—if thou desirest to
know—west of the ocean, that I took bears in Bragalund, and the
eagles’ race with our weapons sated. Now, maiden! I have said what the
reasons were, why at sea we little cooked meat ate.
8. To a battle thou alludest. Before Helgi has King Hunding been
doomed to fall. In conflict ye have engaged, when your kindred ye
avenged, and stained with blood the falchion’s edge.
9. Why dost thou suppose, sagacious maiden! that it was they, who
their kin avenged? Many a warrior’s bold sons there are, and hostile
to our kindred.
10. I was not far, leader of people! eager, at many a [Pg 147]chieftain’s
end: yet crafty I account Sigmund’s son, when in val-runes the
slaughter he announces.
11. A while ago I saw thee commanding the warships, when thou hadst
station on the bloody prow, and the cold sea waves were playing. Now,
prince! thou wilt from me conceal it, but Hogni’s daughter recognizes
Granmar was the name of a powerful prince who dwelt at Svarinshaug. He
had many sons: one was called Hodbrodd, the second Gudmund, the third
Starkadr. Hodbrodd was at the assembly of kings, and there betrothed
himself to Sigrun, the daughter of Hogni. But when she was informed of
it, she rode with the Valkyriur through the air and over the sea in
quest of Helgi. Helgi was at that time at Logafioll, warring against
the sons of Hunding, where he slew Alf and Eyiolf, Hiorvard and
Hervard. Being over-fatigued with the conflict, he was sitting under
the Arastein, where Sigrun found him, and running to him, threw her
arms around his neck, and, kissing him, told him her errand so as it
related in the first Volsungakvida.
12. Sigrun sought the joyous prince, Helgi’s hand she forthwith
grasped, kissed and addressed the helm-decked king.
13. Then was the chieftain’s mind to the lady turned. She declared
that she had loved, with her whole heart, Sigmund’s son, before she
had seen him.
14. “To Hodbrodd I was in th’ assembly betrothed, but I another
prince would have: yet, chieftain! I foresee my kindred’s wrath: I
have my father’s promise broken.”[Pg 148]
15. Hogni’s daughter spoke not at variance with her heart: she said
that Helgi’s affection she must possess.
16. Care thou not for Hogni’s wrath, nor for the evil mind of thy
kin. Thou shalt, young maiden! live with me: of a good race thou art,
as I perceive.
Helgi then collected a large fleet and proceeded to Frekastein, and at
sea experienced a perilous storm. Lightnings came over them, and the
flashes entered the ships. They saw that nine Valkyriur were riding in
the air, and recognized Sigrun among them. The storm then abated and
they reached land in safety. The sons of Granmar were sitting on a
hill as the ships were sailing towards the land. Gudmund leapt on a
horse, and rode to explore on the hill by the haven. The Volsungs then
lowered their sails, and Gudmund spoke as is before written in the
“Who is the leader that commands the fleet, and an appalling host
leads to our land?”
This said Gudmund, Granmar’s son:
17. Who is the warrior that commands the ships, and lets his golden
banner wave o’er his prow? No peace seems to me in that ship’s front;
it casts a warlike glow around the vikings.
Sinfiotli, Sigmund’s son, answered:
18. Here may Hodbrodd Helgi learn to know, the hard of flight, in
the fleet’s midst: he the possession holds of thy race; he the fishes’
heritage has to him subjected.
19. Therefore ought we first, at Frekastein, to settle together, and
decide our quarrels! Hodbrodd! ’tis time vengeance to take, if an
inferior lot we long have borne.
20. Rather shalt thou, Gudmund! tend goats, and steep mountain-tops
shalt climb, have in thy hand a hazel staff, that will better please
thee than judgments of the sword.
Gudmund rode home with intelligence of the hostile armament; whereupon
the sons of Granmar collected a host, and many kings came thither.
Among them were Hogni, the father of Sigrun, with his sons, Bragi and
Dag. There was a great battle, and all the sons of Hogni, and all
their chiefs were slain, except Dag, who obtained peace, and swore
oaths to the Volsungs. Sigrun, going among the slain, found Hodbrodd
at the point of death. She said:
23. Not will Sigrun of Sefafioll, King Hodbrodd! sink in thy arms:
thy life is departed. Oft the axe’s blade the head approaches of
She then met Helgi, and was overjoyed. He said:
24. Not to thee, all-wise maiden! are all things granted, though, I
say, in somewhat are the Norns to blame. This morn have fallen at
Frekastein Bragi and Hogni: I was their slayer.
25. But at Styrkleifar King Starkadr, and at Hlebiorg the son of
Hrollaug. That prince I saw of all most fierce, whose trunk yet fought
when the head was far.[Pg 150]
26. On the earth lie the greater number of thy kinsmen, to corpses
turned. Thou hast not fought the battle, yet ’twas decreed, that thou,
potent maiden! shouldst cause the strife.
27. Sigrun! console thyself; a Hild thou hast been to us. Kings
cannot conquer fate: gladly would I have them living who are departed,
if I might clasp thee to my breast.
Helgi obtained Sigrun, and they had sons. Helgi lived not to be old.
Dag, the son of Hogni, sacrificed to Odin, for vengeance for his
father. Odin lent Dag his spear. Dag met with his relation Helgi in a
place called Fioturlund, and pierced him through with his spear. Helgi
fell there, but Dag rode to the mountains and told Sigrun what had
28. Loath am I, sister! sad news to tell thee; for unwillingly I
have my sister caused to weep. This morning fell, in Fioturlund, the
prince who was on earth the best, and on the necks of warriors stood.
29. Thee shall the oaths all gnaw, which to Helgi thou didst swear,
at the limpid Leiptr’s water, and at the cold dank wave-washed rock.
30. May the ship not move forward, which under thee should move,
although the wished-for wind behind thee blow. May the horse not run,
which under thee should run, although from enemies thou hast to flee!
31. May the sword not bite which thou drawest, unless it sing round
thy own head. Then would Helgi’s [Pg 151]death be on thee avenged, if a wolf
thou wert, out in the woods, of all good bereft, and every joy, have
no sustenance, unless on corpses thou shouldst spring.
32. Sister! thou ravest, and hast lost thy wits, when on thy brother
thou callest down such miseries. Odin alone is cause of all the evil;
for between relatives he brought the runes of strife.
33. Thy brother offers thee rings of red gold, all Vandilsve and
Vigdalir: have half the land, thy grief to compensate, woman
ring-adorned! thou and thy sons.
34. So happy I shall not sit at Sefafioll, neither at morn nor
night, as to feel joy in life, if o’er the people plays not the
prince’s beam of light; if his war-steed runs not under the chieftain
hither, to the gold bit accustomed; if in the king I cannot rejoice.
35. So had Helgi struck with fear all his foes and their kindred, as
before the wolf the goats run frantic from the fell, of terror full.
36. So himself Helgi among warriors bore, as the towering ash is
among thorns, or as the fawn, moistened with dew, that more proudly
stalks than all the other beasts, and its horns glisten against the
A mound was raised for Helgi; but when he came to Valhall, Odin
offered him the rule over all jointly with himself. Helgi said:
37. Thou, Hunding! shalt for every man a foot-bath [Pg 152]get, and fire
kindle; shalt bind the dogs, to the horses look, to the swine give
wash, ere to sleep thou goest.
A female slave passing at evening by Helgi’s mound, saw him riding
towards it with many men:
38. Is it a delusion which methinks I see, or the powers’
dissolution, that ye, dead men, ride, and your horses with spurs urge
on, or to warriors is a home journey granted?
39. ‘Tis no delusion which thou thinkst to see, nor of mankind the
end, although thou seest us, although our horses we with spurs urge
on, nor to warriors is a home-journey granted.
The slave went home and said to Sigrun:
40. Sigrun! go forth from Sefafioll, if the people’s chief thou
desirest to meet. The mound is opened, Helgi is come, his wounds still
bleed; the prince prayed thee that thou wouldst still the trickling
Sigrun entered the mound to Helgi and said:
41. Now am I as glad, at our meeting, as the voracious hawks of
Odin, when they of slaughter know; of warm prey, or, dewy-feathered,
see the peep of day.
43. I will kiss my lifeless king, ere thou thy bloody corslet layest
aside. Thy hair is, Helgi! tumid with sweat of death; my prince is all
bathed in slaughter-dew; cold, clammy are the hands of Hogni’s son.
How shall I, prince! for this make thee amends?
43. Thou art alone the cause, Sigrun of Sefafioll! that Helgi is
with sorrow’s dew suffused. Thou weepest, gold-adorned! cruel tears,
sun-bright daughter of the south! ere to sleep thou goest; each one
falls bloody on the prince’s breast, wet, cold, and piercing, with
44. We shall surely drink delicious draughts, though we have lost
life and lands. No one shall a song of mourning sing, though on my
breast he wounds behold. Now are women in the mound enclosed,
daughters of kings, with us the dead.
Sigrun prepares a bed in the mound.
35. Here, Helgi! have I for thee a peaceful couch prepared, for the
Ylfings’ son. On thy breast I will, chieftain! repose, as in my hero’s
lifetime I was wont.
46. Nothing I now declare unlooked for, at Sefafioll, late or early,
since in a corpse’s arms thou sleepest, Hogni’s fair daughter! in a
mound, and thou art living, daughter of kings!
47. Time ’tis for me to ride on the reddening ways: let the pale
horse tread the aerial path. I towards the [Pg 154]west must go over
Vindhialm’s bridge, ere Salgofnir awakens heroes.
Helgi and his attendants rode their way, but Sigrun and hers proceeded
to their habitation. The following evening Sigrun ordered her
serving-maid to hold watch at the mound; but at nightfall, when Sigrun
came thither, she said:
48. Now would he come, if he to come intended, Sigmund’s son, from
Odin’s halls. I think the hope lessens of the king’s coming, since on
the ash’s boughs the eagles sit, and all the folk to the dreams’ tryst
49. Be not so rash alone to go, daughter of heroes! to the house of
draugs: more powerful are, in the night-season, all dead warriors,
than in the light of day.
Sigrun’s life was shortened by grief and mourning. It was a belief in
ancient times that men were regenerated, but that is now regarded as
an old crone’s fancy. Helgi and Sigrun are said to have been
regenerated. He was then called Helgi Haddingiaskadi, and she Kara
Halfdan’s daughter, as it is said in the songs of Kara; and she also
was a Valkyria.
 Slaughtering and carrying off the cattle on the
 The Valkyriur.
 Dark words of deadly import.
 The superstition commemorated In this strophe is, no
doubt, the origin of some very beautiful ballads in the later
literature of Scandinavia and Germany referring to this superstition:
And easy in thy mind,
The coffin where I slumber
Is all with roses lined.
But oft as thou’rt in sorrow,
And bow’d with grief so sore,
Is all the while my coffin
Brim full of blood and gore.”
 Probably house of draffs; place of swine, swill, lees.
Sigmund Volsung’s son was a king in Frankland. Sinfiotli was the
eldest of his sons, the second was Helgi, the third Hamund. Borghild,
Sigmund’s wife, had a brother named Gunnar; but Sinfiotli her stepson
and Gunnar both courted one woman, on which account Sinfiotli slew
Gunnar. When he came home, Borghild bade him go away, but Sigmund
offered the blood-fine, which it was incumbent on her to accept. At
the funeral feast Borghild presented the beer: she took a large horn
full of poison, and offered it to Sinfiotli; who, when he looked into
the horn, and saw that there was poison in it, said to Sigmund: “the
drink ferments!” Sigmund took the horn and drank up the contents. It
is said that Sigmund was so strong that no poison could hurt him,
either outwardly or inwardly; but that all his sons could endure
poison outwardly. Borghild bore another horn to Sinfiotli, and prayed
him to drink, when all took place as before. Yet a third time she
offered him the horn, using reproachful words on his refusing to
drink. He said as before to Sigmund, but the latter answered: “Let it
pass through thy lips, my son.” Sinfiotli drank and instantly died.
Sigmund bore him a long way in his arms, and came to a long and narrow
firth, where there was a little vessel and one man in it. He offered
Sigmund to convey him over the firth; but when Sigmund had borne [Pg 156]the
corpse into the vessel, the boat was full-laden. The man then said
that Sigmund should go before through the firth. He then pushed off
his boat and instantly departed.
King Sigmund sojourned long in Denmark, in Borghild’s kingdom, after
having espoused her. He then went south to Frankland, to the kingdom
he there possessed. There he married Hiordis, the daughter of Eylimi.
Sigurd was their son. King Sigmund fell in a battle with the sons of
Hunding. Hiordis was afterwards married to Alf, son of King Hialprek,
with whom Sigurd grew up in childhood. Sigmund and his sons exceeded
all other men in strength, and stature, and courage, and all
accomplishments, though Sigurd was foremost of all; and in old
traditions he is mentioned as excelling all men, and as the most
renowned of warlike kings.
SIEGFRIED AWAKENS BRYNHILD.
(after the painting of R. Bung.)
The story of Siegfried and Brynhild constitutes the greatest epic in
Teutonic Gothic literature. Its origin is hard to trace, but parts of
the legends carry the investigator back to Iranian sources. Its
greatest development, however, may justly be credited to Icelandic
sagas, in which the mythology of the Norse people has a prominent
place. In both the Gothic and Teutonic versions, while considerable
variation of incident is noticeable, the awakening of Brynhild, a
valkyrie maiden, and daughter of Wotan, is represented as having been
accomplished by Siegfried, who rides through a wall of flames which
surrounds her, and thus breaks the spell which binds her to sleep
until a warrior fearless enough to brave fire shall come to claim her
for a bride.
THE FIRST LAY OF SIGURD FAFNICIDE, OR GRIPIR’S PROPHECY.
Gripir was the name of the son of Eylimi, the brother of Hiordis. He
ruled over lands, and was of all men wisest and prescient of the
future. Sigurd rode alone, and came to Gripir’s dwelling. Sigurd was
of a distinguished figure. He found a man to address outside the hall,
whose name was Geitir. Sigurd applied to him, and asked:
1. Who here inhabits, in these towers? what nation’s king do people
Gripir is named the chief of men, he who rules a firm realm and
2. Is the wise king of the land at home? Will the chief with me come
and converse? With him needs speech an unknown man: I desire speedily
Gripir to see.
3. The glad king will of Geitir ask, who the man is that demands
speech of Gripir.
Sigurd I am named, born of Sigmund, and Hiordis is the chieftain’s
4. Then went Geitir, Gripir to inform: “Here is a man without, a
stranger, come; of aspect he is most distinguished. He desires, king!
with thee to speak.”
5. Goes from the hall the lord of men, and the stranger prince
kindly greets: “Welcome, Sigurd! better had it been earlier: but do
thou, Geitir! take charge of Grani.”
6. They began to talk, and much to tell, when the sagacious men
together met. “Tell me, if thou knowest, my mother’s brother! how will
Sigurd’s life fall out?”
7. Thou wilt foremost be of men beneath the sun, exalted high above
every king; liberal of gold, but of flight sparing, of aspect comely,
and wise of words.
8. Say thou, sage king! more than I ask, thou wise one, to Sigurd,
if thou thinkst to see it: what will first happen for my advancement,
when from thy dwelling I shall have departed?
9. First wilt thou, prince! avenge thy father, and for the wrongs of
Eylimi wilt retaliate; thou wilt the cruel sons of Hunding boldly lay
low; thou wilt have victory.
10. Say, noble king! kinsman mine! with all forethought, as we hold
friendly converse; seest thou of Sigurd those bold achievements, that
will highest soar under heaven’s regions?”
11. Thou alone wilt slay that glistening serpent, which greedy lies
on Gnitaheid; thou shalt of both the slayer be, Regin and Fafnir.
Gripir tells truly.
12. Riches will abound, if I so bring conflict among men, as thou
for certain sayest. Apply thy mind, and at length say what will yet my
13. Thou wilt find Fafnir’s lair, and thence wilt take splendid
riches, with gold wilt load Grani’s back. Thou wilt to Giuki ride, the
14. Yet must thou, prince! in friendly speech, foresighted king!
more relate. I shall be Giuki’s guest, and I shall thence depart: what
will next my life befall?
15. A king’s daughter will on a mountain sleep, fair, in corslet
cased, after Helgi’s death. Thou wilt strike with a keen sword, wilt
the corslet sever with Fafnir’s bane.
16. The corslet is ript open, the maid begins to speak. When
awakened from her sleep, on what will she chiefly with Sigurd converse
hold, which to the prince’s benefit may tend?
17. She to thee, powerful one! runes will teach, all [Pg 160]those which
men ought to know; and in every man’s tongue to speak, and medicines
for healing. May good await thee, king!
18. Now that is past, the knowledge is acquired, and I am ready
thence away to ride. Apply thy mind, and at length say what more will
my life befall.
19. Thou wilt find Heimir’s dwellings, and the glad guest wilt be of
that great king. Vanished is, Sigurd! that which I foresaw; no further
mayest thou Gripir question.
20. Now bring me grief the words thou speakest; for thou foreseest,
king! much further; thou knowest of too great calamity to Sigurd;
therefore thou, Gripir! wilt not utter it.
21. Of thy life the early portion lay before me clearest to
contemplate. I am not truly accounted sage, nor of the future
prescient: that which I knew is gone.
22. No man I know on the earth’s surface, who greater prescience has
than thou, Gripir! Thou mayest not conceal it, unhappy though it be,
or if ill betide my life.
23. Not with vices will thy life be sullied; let that, [Pg 161]noble
prince! in thy mind be borne; for while mankind exists, thy name,
director of the spear-storm! will be supreme.
24. The worst seems to me, that Sigurd is compelled from the king to
part in such uncertainty. Show me the way—all is decreed
before—great chieftain! if thou wilt, my mother’s brother!
25. To Sigurd I will now openly tell, since the chieftain me thereto
compels: thou wilt surely find that I lie not. A certain day is for
thy death decreed.
26. I would not importune the mighty prince, but rather Gripir’s
good counsel have. Now I fain would know, though grateful it may not
be, what prospect Sigurd has lying before him.
27. There is with Heimir a maiden fair of form, she is by men
Brynhild named, daughter of Budli; but the dear king Heimir nurtures
the hard-souled damsel.
28. What is it to me, although the maiden be of aspect fair?
nurtured with Heimir? That thou, Gripir! must fully declare; for thou
foreseest my whole destiny.
29. She will thee bereave of almost every joy, the fair-faced
foster-child of Heimir. Thou wilt not sleep, [Pg 162]nor of affairs
discourse, nor men regard; only this maiden thou wilt see.
30. What remedy for Sigurd will be applied; tell me that, Gripir! if
it seem good to thee. Shall I obtain the damsel? with dowry purchase
the lovely royal daughter?
31. Ye will each swear unnumbered oaths, solemnly binding, but few
will keep. Hast thou been Giuki’s guest one night, thou wilt have
forgotten the fair ward of Heimir.
32. How is that, Gripir! explain it to me: seest thou such
fickleness in the king’s mind, that with that maiden I shall my
engagement break, whom with my whole heart I thought to love?
33. Prince! thou wilt be snared in another’s wiles, thou wilt pay
the penalty of Grimhild’s craft; the bright-haired maiden, her
daughter, she to thee will offer. This snare for the king she lays.
34. Shall I then with Gunnar form relationship, and with Gudrun join
in wedlock? Well wived then the king would be, if the pangs of perjury
caused me no pain.
35. Thee will Grimhild wholly beguile; she will implore thee
Brynhild to demand for the hand of Gunnar, [Pg 163]king of Goths: the journey
thou wilt forthwith promise to the king’s mother.
36. Evils are at hand, I can that perceive; Sigurd’s wits will have
wholly perished, if I shall demand for another’s hand, a noble maiden
whom I well love.
37. All of you will swear mutual oaths, Gunnar, and Hogni, and thou
the third; and ye will forms exchange, when on the way ye are, Gunnar
and thou: Gripir lies not.
38. To what end is that? why shall we exchange forms and manners,
when on the way we are? Another fraud will surely follow this,
altogether horrible. But say on, Gripir!
39. Thou wilt have Gunnar’s semblance, and his manners, thy own
eloquence, and great sagacity: there thou wilt betroth the high-minded
ward of Heimir: no one can that prevent.
40. To me that seems worst, that among men I shall be a false
traitor called, if such take place. I would not deception practise on
a royal maid the most excellent I know.
41. Thou wilt repose, leader of hosts! pure with the maiden, as she
thy mother were; therefore exalted, lord of men! while the world
endures thy name will be.[Pg 164]
42. The nuptials will of both be solemnized, of Sigurd and of
Gunnar, in Giuki’s halls; then will ye forms exchange, when ye home
return; yet to himself will have each his own senses.
43. Will then Gunnar, chief among men, the noble woman wed? Tell me
that, Gripir! although three nights by me the chieftain’s bride glad
of heart has slept? The like has no example.
44. How for happiness shall hereafter be this affinity? Tell me
that, Gripir! Will the alliance for Gunnar’s solace henceforth prove,
or even for mine?
45. Thou wilt the oaths remember, and must silence keep, and let
Gudrun enjoy a happy union. Brynhild nathless will herself think an
ill-married woman. She will wiles devise to avenge herself.
46. What atonement will that woman take, for the frauds we shall
have practised on her? From me the maiden has oaths sworn, but never
kept, and but little joy.
47. She to Gunnar will plainly declare, that thou didst not well the
oaths observe, when the noble king, Giuki’s heir, with his whole soul,
in thee confided.
48. What will then follow? let me know that. Will [Pg 165]that tale appear
as true, or that the noble woman falsely accuses me, and herself also.
Tell me that, Gripir!
49. From spite towards thee, and from o’erwhelming grief, the
powerful dame will not most wisely act. To the noble woman do thou no
further harm, though thou the royal bride with guiles hast
50. Will the prudent Gunnar, Guthorm, and Hogni, at her instigation,
then proceed? Will Giuki’s sons on their relative redden their swords?
Tell me further, Gripir!
51. Then will Gudrun be furious at heart, when her brothers shall on
thy death resolve. In nothing then will that wise woman take delight.
Such is Grimhild’s work.
52. In this thou shalt find comfort, leader of hosts! This fortune
is allotted to the hero’s life: a more renowned man on earth shall
never be, under the sun’s abode, than thou wilt be accounted.
53. Now part we, now farewell! Fate may not be withstood. Now hast
thou, Gripir! done as I prayed thee: thou wouldst have fain a happier
end foretold me of my life’s days, hadst thou been able.
THE SECOND LAY OF SIGURD FAFNICIDE.
Sigurd went to Hialprek’s stud and chose himself a horse, which was
afterwards named Grani. Regin, Hreidmar’s son, was then come to
Hialprek; he was the most skilful of men, and a dwarf in stature; he
was wise, cruel, and versed in magic. Regin undertook the rearing and
instruction of Sigurd, and bore him great affection. He informed
Sigurd of his parentage, and how it befell that Odin, and Hoenir, and
Loki came to Andvarafors (the waterfall of Andvari). In the fall there
was an abundance of fish. There was a dwarf named Andvari, who had
long lived in the fall in the likeness of a pike, and in which he
supplied himself with food. “Our brother,” continued Regin, “was named
Otr, who often went into the fall in the likeness of an otter. He had
caught a salmon, and was sitting on the bank of the river with his
eyes shut eating it, when Loki killed him with a stone. The Æsir
thought themselves very lucky, and stripped off the otter’s skin. That
same evening they sought entertainment with Hreidmar, and showed their
prize. Thereupon we laid hands on them, and imposed on them, as the
redemption of their lives, that they should fill the otter’s skin with
gold, and cover it over with red gold. They thereupon sent Loki to
procure gold. He went to Ran, and obtained her net, and thence
proceeded to Andvarafors, and cast the net before a pike, which leapt
into the net. Whereupon Loki said:[Pg 167]
1. What fish is this, that in the river swims, and cannot from harm
itself protect? Redeem thy life from Hel, and find me the water’s
flame. The Pike.
2. Andvari I am named, Oin was my father named; many a cataract have
I passed. A luckless Norn in times of old decreed, that in the water I
3. Tell me, Andvari! if thou wilt enjoy life in the halls of men,
what retribution get the sons of mortals, if with foul words they
assail each other.
4. Cruel retribution get the sons of mortals, who in Vadgelmir wade:
for the false words they have against others uttered, the punishments
too long endure.
Loki viewed all the gold that Andvari owned; but when he had produced
the gold, he retained a single ring, which Loki also took from him.
The dwarf went into his stone and said:
5. That gold which the dwarf possessed, shall to two brothers be
cause of death, and to eight princes, of dissension. From my wealth no
one shall good derive.
The Æsir produced the gold to Hreidmar, and with it crammed the
otter’s skin full, and set it up on the feet. They then had to heap up
the gold and cover it; but when that was done, Hreidmar, stepping
forward, observed a whisker, and required it to be covered; whereupon
Odin [Pg 168]drew forth the ring “Andvaranaut,” and covered the hair. Loki
6. There is gold for thee, and thou hast a great redemption for my
life. For thy son no blessing is decreed; of both it shall prove the
7. Gifts thou hast given, friendly gifts thou hast given not; with a
kind heart thou hast not given. Of your lives ye should have been
deprived, had I foreknown that peril.
8. But that is worse, what I seem to know,—a strife of kinsmen for
a woman. Princes yet unborn I think them to be, for whose hate that
gold is destined.
9. The red gold, I trust, I shall possess while I am living: of thy
threats I entertain no fear; so take yourselves hence home.
Fafnir and Regin demanded of Hreidmar their share of the blood-fine
for their slain brother Otr, which he refused, and Fafnir stabbed his
father with a sword while sleeping. Hreidmar called out to his
10. Lyngheid and Lofnheid! Know my life is departing. To many things
need compels. Lyngheid.
Few sisters will, although they lose a father, avenge a brother’s
11. Then bring forth a daughter, wolf-hearted fury! [Pg 169]If by a chief
thou have not a son. Get for the maid a spouse, in thy great need;
then will her son thy wrong avenge.
Hreidmar then died, and Fafnir took all the gold. Regin then requested
to have his share of the patrimony, but met with a refusal from
Fafnir. Regin thereupon sought counsel of his sister Lyngheid, how he
might obtain his patrimony. She said:
12. Thou of thy brother shalt mildly demand thy patrimony and a
better spirit. It is not seemly, that with the sword thou shouldst
demand thy property of Fafnir.
The foregoing is what Regin related to Sigurd. One day, when he came
to Regin’s dwelling, he was kindly received, and Regin said:
13. Hither is come the son of Sigmund to our Hall, that man of
energy: courage he has greater than I aged man: now of a conflict have
I hope from the fierce wolf.
14. I will nurture the bold-hearted prince: now Yngvi’s kinsman is
to us come; he will be a king under the sun most powerful; over all
lands will his destinies resound.
Sigurd was thence forward constantly with Regin, who related to him
how Fafnir lay on Gnitaheid in the likeness of a serpent. He had an
“Oegis-helm,” at which all living beings were terror-stricken.
Regin forged a sword for Sigurd, that was named Gram, and was so sharp
that immersing it in the Rhine, he let a piece of wool down the
stream, when it clove the fleece asunder as water. [Pg 170]With that sword
Sigurd clove in two Regin’s anvil. After that Regin instigated Sigurd
to slay Fafnir. He said:
15. Loud will laugh Hunding’s sons, they who Eylimi of life
deprived, if the prince is more desirous to seek red rings, than to
avenge his father.
King Hialprek collected a fleet to enable Sigurd to avenge his father.
They encountered a great storm, and were driven past a certain
promontory. A man was standing on the cliff who said:
16. Who ride yonder, on Rævils horses, the towering billows, the
roaring main: the sail-steeds are with sweat bedewed, the
wave-coursers will not the wind withstand.
17. Here am I and Sigurd in sea-trees; a fair wind is given us for
death itself: higher than our prows the steep waves dash, the rolling
horses plunge. Who is it that inquires?
18. They called me Hnikar, when I Hugin gladdened, young Volsung!
and battles fought. Now they mayest call me the ancient of the rock,
Feng, or Fiolnir.—I desire a passage.
They turn to the land, the old man goes on board, and the storm
abates. Sigurd said:
19. Tell me, Hnikar! since thou knowest the omens both of gods and
men, which omens are the best—if to fight ’tis needful—at the swing
20. Good omens there are many, if men but knew them, at the swing of
glaves, a faithful fellowship, I think, is the dark raven’s, with the
21. The second is, if, when thou art gone out, and about to depart,
thou seest two renown-seeking men standing in the fore-court.
22. The third omen is, if wolves thou hearest howl under the
ash-boughs, it will victory to thee announce over helmed warriors, if
thou seest them go before thee.
23. No man should fight against the moon’s late-shining sister. They
have victory, who can see keenly at the play of swords, or to form the
24. Most perilous it is, if with thy foot thou strikest, when thou
to battle goest. Wily Disir stand on either side of thee, and wish to
see thee wounded.
25. Combed and washed let every brave man be, and at morning fed;
for ’tis uncertain whither he at eve may come. ‘Tis bad to succumb to
Sigurd fought a great battle with Lyngvi, Hunding’s son, and his
brothers, in which Lyngvi and his three brothers fell. After the
battle Regin said:
26. Now is the bloody eagle, with the trenchant blade, graven on the
back of Sigmund’s slayer. No son of king, who the earth reddens, and
the raven gladdens, is more excellent.
Sigurd returned home to Hialprek, when Regin instigated him to slay
 One of many periphrases for gold.
 To wit, to avenge my death on your brothers.
 A terrific helm or headpiece.
THE LAY OF FAFNIR.
Sigurd and Regin went up to Gnitaheid, and there found Fafnir’s slot,
or track, along which he crawled to the water. There on the way Sigurd
made a large pit, and went down into it. When Fafnir crawled from the
gold he blew forth venom, but it flew over Sigurd’s head. When Fafnir
crept over the pit, Sigurd with his sword pierced him to the heart.
Fafnir shook himself, and beat with his head and tail. Sigurd leapt
from the pit, and each looked at the other. Fafnir said:
1. Young fellow! young fellow! by what fellow art thou begot? of
what people are thou the son? that thou in Fafnir reddenst thy
glittering falchion? Thy sword has pierced my heart.
Sigurd concealed his name, because it was the belief in those times,
that the words of dying persons were of great power, if they cursed an
enemy by his name.
2. Gofugt-dyr I am called, but I have wandered a motherless child;
nor have I a father like the sons of men: alone I wander.
3. If thou hast no father like the sons of men, by what wonder art
4. My race, I tell thee, is to thee unknown, and my[Pg 173]self also.
Sigmund was my father named, my name is Sigurd, who with weapon have
5. Who has incited thee? why hast thou suffered thyself to be
incited to take my life? youth of the sparkling eyes! Thou hadst a
cruel father— * * * *
6. My heart incited me, my hands gave me aid, and my keen sword.
Rarely a man is bold, when of mature age, if in childhood he was
7. I know if thou hadst chanced to grow in the lap of friends, they
would have seen thee fierce in fight. Now thou art a captive, taken in
war, and, ’tis said, slaves ever tremble.
8. Why Fafnir! dost thou upbraid me that I am far from my paternal
home? I am not a captive, although in war I was taken: thou hast found
that I am free.
9. Thou wilt account only as angry words all I to thee shall say,
but I will say the truth. The jingling gold, and the gleed-red
treasure, those rings, shall be thy bane.
10. Treasure at command every one desires, ever till that one day;
for at some time each mortal shall hence to Hel depart.
11. The Norns’ decree thou wilt hold in contempt as from a witless
wight: In water thou shalt be drowned, if in wind thou rowest. All
things bring peril to the fated.
12. Tell me, Fafnir! as thou art wise declared, and many things to
know: who those Norns are, who help in need, and from babes loose the
13. Very diversely born I take those Norns to be: they have no
common race. Some are of Æsir-race, some of Alfar-race, some are
14. Tell me, Fafnir! as thou art wise declared, and many things to
know, how that holm is called, where Surt and the Æsir will
sword-liquor together mingle?
15. Oskopnir it is called; there shall the gods with lances play;
Bifrost shall be broken, when they go forth, and their steeds in the
16. An Oegis-helm I bore among the sons of men, while I o’er the
treasures lay; stronger than all I thought myself to be; stronger I
found not many!
17. An Oegis-helm is no protection, where men impelled by anger
fight: soon he finds, who among many comes, that no one is alone the
18. Venom I blew forth, when on my father’s great heritage I lay.
19. Thou, glistening serpent! didst a great belching make, and wast
so hard of heart. Fierceness so much the greater have the sons of men,
when they possess that helm.
20. Sigurd! I now counsel thee, do thou take my counsel; and hence
ride home. The jingling gold, and the gleed-red treasure, those rings,
shall be thy bane.
21. Counsel regarding thee is taken, and I to the gold will ride, on
the heath that lies. But lie thou, Fafnir! in the pangs of death,
until Hel have thee!
22. Regin betrayed me, he will thee betray, he of us both will be
the bane. Fafnir must, I trow, let forth his life: thine was the
Regin had gone away while Sigurd slew Fafnir, but came back as Sigurd
was wiping the blood from his sword. He said:
23. Hail to thee now, Sigurd! Now hast thou victory won and Fafnir
slain: of all the men who tread the earth, thou art, I say, the
24. Uncertain ’tis to know, when we all come to[Pg 176]gether, sons of
victorious heroes, which is the bravest born. Many a one is bold, who
sword has never broken in another’s breast.
25. Glad are thou now, Sigurd! and in thy gain rejoicing, while
Gram, in the grass thou driest. My brother thou to death hast wounded,
yet in some degree was I the cause.
26. Thou didst me counsel, that I should ride o’er high fells
hither. Treasure and life had still possess’d that glistening serpent,
hadst thou my anger not excited.
Regin then approached Fafnir and cut out his heart with a sword named
Ridill, and afterwards drank blood from his wound. He said:
27. Sit now, Sigurd!—but I must go to sleep—and Fafnir’s heart
hold to the fire. Of this refection I would fain partake, after that
drink of blood.
28. Thou wentst far off, while I in Fafnir my keen sword reddened.
With my strength I strove against the serpent’s might, while in the
ling thou layest.
29. Long hadst thou allowed in the ling to lie that Jotun old, hadst
thou the sword not used that I forged for thee, thy keen-edged glave.
30. Valour is better than might of sword, when foes [Pg 177]embittered
fight; for a brave man I have ever seen gain victory with a dull
31. For the brave ’tis better than for the timid to join in the game
of war; for the joyous it is better than for the sad, let come
Sigurd took Fafnir’s heart and roasted it on a stick. When he thought
it roasted enough, and the blood frothed from it, he touched it with
his finger, to try whether it were quite done. He burnt his finger and
put it in his mouth; and when Fafnir’s heart’s blood touched his
tongue he understood the language of birds. He heard the eagles
chattering among the branches. One eagle said:
38. There sits Sigurd sprinkled with blood; Fafnir’s heart at the
fire he roasts. Wise methinks were the ring-dispenser, if he the
glistening life-pulp ate.
33. There lies Regin communing with himself; he will beguile the
youth, who in him trusts: in rage he brings malicious words together,
the framer of evil will avenge his brother.
34. By the head shorter, let him the hoary babbler send hence to
Hel; then can he all the gold possess alone, the mass that under
35. He would, methinks, be prudent, if he could have your friendly
counsel, my sisters! If he would bethink [Pg 178]himself, and Hugin gladden.
There I expect the wolf, where his ears I see.
36. Not so prudent is that tree of battle, as I that martial leader
had supposed, if he one brother lets depart, now he the other has of
37. He is most simple, if he longer spares that people’s pest. There
lies Regin, who has betrayed him.—He cannot guard against it.
38. By the head shorter let him make the ice-cold Jotun, and of his
rings deprive him; then of that treasure thou, which Fafnir owned,
sole lord wilt be!
39. Fate shall not so resistless be, that Regin shall my death-word
bear; for the brothers both shall speedily go hence to Hel.
Sigurd cut off the head of Regin, and then ate Fafnir’s heart, and
drank the blood of both Regin and Fafnir. He then heard the eagles
40. Bind thou, Sigurd! the red-gold rings. It is not kingly many
things to fear. I a maid know by far the fairest, with gold adorned.
Couldst thou but her obtain!
41. To Giuki lead all-verdant ways; the fates point [Pg 179]out to
wayfarers where the good king a born daughter has; her wilt thou,
Sigurd! purchase with bridal gifts.
42. There stands a hall on the high Hindarfiall, without ’tis all
with fire surrounded; sagacious men have it constructed of the
resplendent radiance of the flood.
43. On the fell I know a warrior maid to sleep, over her waves the
linden’s bane. Ygg whilom stuck a sleep-thorn in the robe of the
maid who would heroes choose.
44. Thou, youth! mayest see the helmed maiden, her whom Vingskornir
from battle bore. May not Sigrdrifa’s slumber break the son of
warriors, against the Norns’ decrees.
Sigurd rode along Fafnir’s track to his lair, which he found open. The
doors and door-posts were of iron; of iron also were all the beams in
the house; but the treasure was buried in the earth. Sigurd found
there a great quantity of gold, and filled two chests with it. He took
thence the Oegis-helm, a golden corslet, the sword named Hrotti, and
many precious things, all which he laid on Grani; but the horse would
not proceed until Sigurd had mounted on his back.
 I.e., Sigurd; a transition from the 3d person to the
 Another periphrasis for gold.
 A periphrasis for fire.
 Of Skioldungs.
THE LAY OF SIGRDRIFA.
Sigurd rode up the Hindarfiall, and directed his course southwards
towards Frankland. In the fell he saw a great light, as if a fire were
burning, which blazed up to the sky. On approaching it, there stood a
“skialdborg,” and over it a banner. Sigurd went into the skialdborg,
and saw a warrior lying within it asleep, completely armed. He first
took the helmet off the warrior’s head, and saw that it was a woman.
Her corslet was as fast as if it had grown to her body. With his sword
Gram he ripped the corslet from the upper opening downwards, and then
through both sleeves. He then took the corslet off from her, when she
awoke, sat up and, on seeing Sigurd, said:
1. What has my corslet cut? why from sleep have I started? who has
cast from me the fallow bands?
Sigmund’s son has just now ript the raven’s perch, with Sigurd’s
2. Long have I slept, long been with sleep oppressed, long are
mortals’ sufferings! Odin is the cause that I have been unable to cast
[Pg 181]Sigurd sat down and asked her name. She then took a horn filled with
mead, and gave him the minnis-cup.
3. Hail to Day! Hail to the sons of Day! To Night and her daughter
hail! With placid eyes behold us here, and here sitting give us
4. Hail to the Æsir! Hail to the Asyniur! Hail to the bounteous
earth! Words and wisdom give to us noble twain, and healing hands
while we live.
She was named Sigrdrifa, and was a Valkyria. She said that two kings
had made war on each other, one of whom was named Hialmgunnar; he was
old and a great warrior, and Odin had promised him victory. The other
was Agnar, a brother of Hoda, whom no divinity would patronize.
Sigrdrifa overcame Hialmgunnar in battle; in revenge for which Odin
pricked her with a sleep-thorn, and declared that henceforth she
should never have victory in battle, and should be given in marriage.
“But I said to him, that I had bound myself by a vow not to espouse
any man who could be made to fear.” Sigurd answers, and implores her
to teach him wisdom, as she had intelligence from all regions:
5. Beer I bear to thee, column of battle! with might mingled,
and with bright glory: ’tis full of song, and salutary saws, of potent
incantations, and joyous discourses.[Pg 182]
6. Sig-runes thou must know, if victory (sigr) thou wilt have, and
on thy sword’s hilt grave them; some on the chapes, some on the guard,
and twice name the name of Ty.
7. Ol- (beer-) runes thou must know, if thou wilt not that another’s
wife thy trust betray, if thou in her confide. On the horn must they
be graven, and on the hand’s back, and Naud on the nail be scored.
8. A cup must be blessed, and against peril guarded, and garlick in
the liquor cast: then I know thou wilt never have mead with treachery
9. Biarg- (help-) runes thou must know, if thou wilt help, and loose
the child from women. In the palm they must be graven, and round the
joints be clasped, and the Disir prayed for aid.
10. Brim- (sea-) runes thou must know, if thou wilt have secure
afloat thy sailing steeds. On the prow they must be graven, and on the
helm-blade, and with fire to the oar applied. No surge shall be so
towering, nor waves so dark, but from the ocean thou safe shalt come.
11. Lim- (branch-) runes thou must know, if thou a leech wouldst be,
and wounds know how to heal. On the bark they must be graven, and on
the leaves of trees, of those whose boughs bent eastward.
12. Mal- (speech-) runes thou must know, if thou wilt that no one
for injury with hate requite thee. Those thou must wind, those thou
must wrap round, those thou must altogether place in the assembly,
where people have into full court to go.[Pg 183]
13. Hug- (thought-) runes thou must know, if thou a wiser man wilt
be than every other. Those interpreted, those graved, those devised
Hropt, from the fluid, which had leaked from Heiddraupnir’s head, and
from Hoddropnir’s horn.
14. On a rock he stood, with edged sword, a helm on his head he
bore. Then spake Mim’s head its first wise word, and true sayings
15. They are, it said, on the shield graven, which stands before the
shining god, on Arvakr’s ear, and on Alsvid’s hoof, on the wheel which
rolls under Rognir’s car, on Sleipnir’s teeth, and on the sledge’s
16. On the bear’s paw, and on Bragi’s tongue, on the wolf’s claws,
and the eagle’s beak, on bloody wings, and on the bridge’s end, on the
releasing hand, and on healing’s track.
17. On glass and on gold, on amulets of men, in wine and in wort,
and in the welcome seat, on Gungnir’s point, and on Grani’s breast, on
the Norn’s nail, and the owl’s neb.
18. All were erased that were inscribed, and mingled with the sacred
mead, and sent on distant ways: they are with the Æsir, they are with
the Alfar, some with the wise Vanir, some human beings have.
19. Those are bok-runes, those are biarg-runes, and all
ol- (beer-) runes, and precious megin- (power-) runes, for those who
can, without confusion or corruption, turn [Pg 184]them to his welfare. Use,
if thou hast understood them, until the powers perish.
20. Now thou shalt choose, since a choice is offered thee, keen
armed warrior! my speech, or silence: think over it in thy mind. All
evils have their measure.
21. I will not flee, though thou shouldst know me doomed. I am not
born a craven. Thy friendly counsels all I will receive, as long as
life is in me.
22. This I thee counsel first: that towards thy kin thou bear thee
blameless. Take not hasty vengeance, although they raise up strife:
that, it is said, benefits the dead.
23. This I thee counsel secondly: that no oath thou swear, if it be
not true. Cruel bonds follow broken faith: accursed is the
24. This I thee counsel thirdly: that in the assembly thou contend
not with a fool; for an unwise man oft utters words worse than he
25. All is vain, if thou holdest silence; then wilt thou seem a
craven born, or else truly accused. Doubtful is a servant’s testimony,
unless a good one thou gettest. On the next day let his life go forth,
and so men’s lies reward.
26. This I counsel thee fourthly: if a wicked sorceress dwells by
the way, to go on is better than there to lodge, though night may
27. Of searching eyes the sons of men have need, [Pg 185]when fiercely they
have to fight: oft pernicious women by the way-side sit, who swords
and valour deaden.
28. This I thee counsel fifthly: although thou see fair women on the
benches sitting, let not their kindred’s silver over thy sleep have
power. To kiss thee entice no woman.
29. This I thee counsel sixthly: although among men pass offensive
tipsy talk, never while drunken quarrel with men of war: wine steals
the wits of many.
30. Brawls and drink to many men have been a heartfelt sorrow; to
some their death, to some calamity: many are the griefs of men!
31. This I thee counsel seventhly: if thou hast disputes with a
daring man, better it is for men to fight than to be burnt within
32. This I thee counsel eighthly: that thou guard thee against evil,
and eschew deceit. Entice no maiden, nor wife of man, nor to
33. This I thee counsel ninthly: that thou corpses bury, wherever on
the earth thou findest them, whether from sickness they have died, or
from the sea, or are from weapons dead.
34. Let a mound be raised for those departed; let their hands and
head be washed, combed, and wiped dry, ere in the coffin they are
laid: and pray for their happy sleep.
35. This I thee counsel tenthly: that thou never trust a foe’s
kinsman’s promises, whose brother thou hast slain, or sire laid low.
there is a wolf in a young son, though he with gold be gladdened.[Pg 186]
36. Strifes and fierce enmities think not to be lulled, no more than
deadly injury. Wisdom and fame in arms a prince not easily acquires,
who shall of men be foremost.
37. This I counsel thee eleventhly: that thou at evil look, what
course it may take. A long life, it seems to me the prince may [not]
enjoy;—fierce disputes will arise.
Sigurd said: “A wiser mortal exists not, and I swear that I will
possess thee, for thou art after my heart.” She answered: “Thee I will
have before all others, though I have to choose among all men.” And
this they confirmed with oaths to each other.
 The original words, hrafns hrælundir, the raven’s
corpse-trees. So Grimm understands the line; because that bird hops
about upon the armour as upon a tree.
 The superstition of the healing hand is not yet
extinct in Iceland. Dr. Maurer relates a story of a man in Reykjavik
to whom it would seem to have been communicated by an elfin, in a
 Literally apple-tree.
 The name of a rune.
 Literally beech- (book-) runes, from being used for book
writing or graving on thin leaves of beech (bok), whence our book.
Bok also signifies acupictile, vel acupictum (velum, auloeum).
 An allusion to Sigurd’s unhappy end.
FRAGMENTS OF THE LAY OF SIGURD AND BRYNHILD.
[Sigurd then rides away from Hindarfiall, and journeys on till he
comes to the habitation of Heimir, who was married to Beckhild,
Brynhild’s sister. Alsvid, Heimir’s son, who was at play when Sigurd
arrived at the mansion, received him kindly, and requested him to stay
with him. Sigurd consented, and remained there a short time. Brynhild
was at that time with Heimir, and was weaving within a gold border the
great exploits of Sigurd.
[Pg 187]One day, when Sigurd was come from the forest, his hawk flew to the
window at which Brynhild sat employed on weaving. Sigurd ran after it,
saw the lady, and appeared struck with her handiwork and beauty. On
the following day Sigurd went to her apartment, and Alsvid stood
outside the door shafting arrows. Sigurd said: “Hail to thee, lady!”
or “How fares it with thee?” She answered: “We are well, my kindred
and friends are living, but it is uncertain what any one’s lot may be
till their last day.” He sat down by her. Brynhild said: “This seat
will be allowed to few, unless my father comes.” Sigurd answered: “Now
is that come to pass which thou didst promise me.” She said: “Here
shalt thou be welcome.” She then arose, and her four maidens with her,
and, approaching him with a golden cup, bade him drink. He reached
towards her and took hold of her hand together with the cup, and
placed her by him, clasped her round the neck, kissed her, and said:
“A fairer than thou was never born.” She said: “It is not wise to
place faith in women, for they so often break their promise.” He said:
“Better days will come upon us, so that we may enjoy happiness,”
Brynhild said: “It is not ordained that we shall live together, for I
am a shield-maiden (skjaldmær).” Sigurd said: “Then will our happiness
be best promoted, if we live together; for harder to endure is the
pain which herein lies than from a keen weapon.” Brynhild said: “I
shall be called to the aid of warriors, but thou wilt espouse Gudrun,
Giuki’s daughter.” Sigurd said: “No king’s daughter shall ensnare me,
therefore have not two thoughts on that sub[Pg 188]ject; and I swear by the
gods that I will possess thee and no other woman.” She answered to the
same effect. Sigurd thanked her for what she had said to him, and gave
her a gold ring. He remained there a short time in great favour.
Sigurd now rode from Heimir’s dwelling with much gold, until he came
to the palace of King Giuki, whose wife was named Grimhild. They had
three sons, Gunnar, Hogni, and Guthorm. Gudrun was the name of their
daughter. King Giuki entreated Sigurd to stay there, and there he
remained a while. All appeared low by the side of Sigurd. One evening
the sorceress Grimhild rose and presented a horn to Sigurd, saying:
“Joyful for us is thy presence, and we desire that all good may befall
thee. Take this horn and drink.” He took it and drank, and with that
drink forgot both his love and his vows to Brynhild. After that,
Grimhild so fascinated him that he was induced to espouse Gudrun, and
all pledged their faith to Sigurd, and confirmed it by oaths. Sigurd
gave Gudrun to eat of Fafnir’s heart, and she became afterwards far
more austere than before. Their son was named Sigmund.
Grimhild now counselled her son Gunnar to woo Brynhild, and consulted
with Sigurd, in consequence of this design. Brynhild had vowed to wed
that man only who should ride over the blazing fire that was laid
around her hall. They found the hall and the fire burning around it.
Gunnar rode Goti, and Hogni Holknir. Gunnar turns his horse towards
the fire, but it shrinks back. Sigurd said: “Why dost thou shrink
back, Gunnar?” [Pg 189]Gunnar answers: “My horse will not leap this fire,”
and prays Sigurd to lend him Grani. “He is at thy service,” said
Sigurd. Gunnar now rides again towards the fire, but Grani will not go
over. They then changed forms. Sigurd rides, having in his hand the
sword Gram, and golden spurs on his heels. Grani runs forward to the
fire when he feels the spur. There was now a great noise, as it is
1. The fire began to rage, and the earth to tremble, high rose the
flame to heaven itself: there ventured few chiefs of people through
that fire to ride, or to leap over.
2. Sigurd Grani with his word urged, the fire was quenched before
the prince, the flame allayed before the glory-seeker with the bright
saddle that Rok had owned.
Brynhild was sitting in a chair as Sigurd entered. She asks who he is,
and he calls himself Gunnar Giuki’s son. “And thou art destined to be
my wife with thy father’s consent. I have ridden through the
flickering flame (vafrlogi) at thy requisition.” She said: “I know not
well how I shall answer this.” Sigurd stood erect on the floor resting
on the hilt of his sword. She rose embarrassed from her seat, like a
swan on the waves, having a sword in her hand, a helmet on her head,
and wearing a corslet. “Gunnar,” said she, “speak not so to me, unless
thou art the foremost of men; and then thou must slay him who has
sought me, if thou hast so much trust in thyself.” Sigurd said:
“Remember now thy promise, that thou wouldst go with that man who
should ride through the flickering flame.” She acknowledged the [Pg 190]truth
of his words, stood up, and gave him a glad welcome. He tarried there
three nights, and they prepared one bed. He took the sword Gram and
laid it between them. She inquired why he did so. He said that it was
enjoined him so to act towards his bride on their marriage, or he
would receive his death. He then took from her the ring called
Andvaranaut, and gave her another that had belonged to Fafnir. After
this he rode away through the same fire to his companions, when Gunnar
and he again changed forms, and they then rode home.
Brynhild related this in confidence to her foster-father Heimir, and
said: “A king named Gunnar has ridden through the flickering flame,
and is come to speak with me; but I told him that Sigurd alone might
so do, to whom I gave my vow at Hindarfiall, and that he only was the
man.” Heimir said that what had happened must remain as it was.
Brynhild said: “Our daughter Aslaug thou shalt rear up here with
thee.” Brynhild then went to her father, King Budli, and he with his
daughter Brynhild went to King Giuki’s palace. A great feasting was
afterwards held, when Sigurd remembered all his oaths to Brynhild, and
yet kept silence. Brynhild and Gunnar sat at the drinking and drank
One day Brynhild and Gudrun went to the river Rhine, and Brynhild went
farther out into the water. Gudrun asked why she did so? Brynhild
answered: “Why shall I go on along with thee in this more than in
anything else?” “I presume that my father was more potent than thine,
and my husband has performed more valorous [Pg 191]deeds, and ridden through
the blazing fire. Thy husband was King Hialprek’s thrall.” Gudrun
answered angrily: “Thou shouldst be wiser than to venture to vilify my
husband, as it is the talk of all that no one like to him in every
respect has ever come into the world; nor does it become thee to
vilify him, as he was thy former husband, and slew Fafnir, and rode
through the fire, whom thou thoughtest was King Gunnar; and he lay
with thee, and took from thee the ring Andvaranaut, and here mayest
thou recognize it.” Brynhild then looking at the ring, recognized it,
and turned pale as though she were dead. Brynhild was very taciturn
that evening, and Gudrun asked Sigurd why Brynhild was so taciturn. He
dissuaded her much from making this inquiry, and said that at all
events it would soon be known.
On the morrow, when sitting in their apartment, Gudrun said: “Be
cheerful, Brynhild! What is it that prevents thy mirth?” Brynhild
answered: “Malice drives thee to this; for thou hast a cruel heart.”
“Judge not so,” said Gudrun. Brynhild continued: “Ask about that only
which is better for thee to know; that is more befitting women of high
degree. It is good, too, for thee to be content, as all goes according
to thy wishes.” Gudrun said: “It is premature to glory in that: this
forebodes something; but what instigates thee against us?” Brynhild
answered: “Thou shalt be requited for having espoused Sigurd; for I
grudge thee the possession of him.” Gudrun said: “We knew not of your
secret.” Brynhild answered: “We have had no secret, though we have
sworn oaths of fidelity; and thou knowest that I [Pg 192]have been deceived,
and I will avenge it.” Gudrun said: “Thou art better married than thou
deservest to be, and thy violence must be cooled.” “Content should I
be,” said Brynhild, “didst thou not possess a more renowned husband
than I.” Gudrun answered: “Thou hast as renowned a husband; for it is
doubtful which is the greater king.” Brynhild said: “Sigurd overcame
Fafnir, and that is worth more than all Gunnar’s kingdom, as it is
“Sigurd the serpent slew, and that henceforth shall be by none
forgotten, while mankind lives: but thy brother neither dared through
the fire to ride, nor over it to leap.”
Gudrun said: “Grani would not run through the fire under King Gunnar:
but he [Gunnar] dared to ride.” Brynhild said: “Let us not contend: I
bear no good will to Grimhild.” Gudrun said: “Blame her not; for she
is towards thee as to her own daughter.” Brynhild said: “She is the
cause of all the evil which gnaws me. She presented to Sigurd the
pernicious drink, so that he no more remembered me.” Gudrun said:
“Many an unjust word thou utterest, and this is a great falsehood.”
Brynhild said: “So enjoy Sigurd as thou hast not deceived me, and may
it go with thee as I imagine.” Gudrun said: “Better shall I enjoy him
than thou wilt wish; and no one has said he has had too much good with
me at any time.” Brynhild said: “Thou sayest ill and wilt repent of
it. Let us cease from angry words, and not indulge in useless prattle.
Long have I borne in silence the grief that dwells in my breast: I
have also felt regard [Pg 193]for thy brother. But let us talk of other
things.” Gudrun said: “Your imagination looks far forward.”
Brynhild then lay in bed, and King Gunnar came to talk with her, and
begged her to rise and give vent to her sorrow; but she would not
listen to him. They then brought Sigurd to visit her and learn whether
her grief might not be alleviated. They called to memory their oaths,
and how they had been deceived, and at length Sigurd offered to marry
her and put away Gudrun; but she would not hear of it. Sigurd left the
apartment, but was so greatly affected by her sorrow that the rings of
his corslet burst asunder from his sides, as is said in the
“Out went Sigurd from that interview into the hall of kings, writhing
with anguish; so that began to start the ardent warrior’s iron-woven
sark off from his sides.”
Brynhild afterwards instigated Gunnar to murder Sigurd, saying that he
had deceived them both and broken his oath. Gunnar consulted with
Hogni, and revealed to him this conversation. Hogni earnestly strove
to dissuade him from such a deed, on account of their oaths. Gunnar
removed the difficulty, saying: “Let us instigate our brother Guthorm;
he is young and of little judgment, and is, moreover, free of all
oaths; and so avenge the mortal injury of his having seduced
Brynhild.” They then took a serpent and the flesh of a wolf, and had
them cooked, and gave them to him to eat, and offered him gold and a
large realm, to do the deed, as is said:
“The forest-fish they roasted, and the wolf’s carcase [Pg 194]took, while
some to Guthorm dealt out gold; gave him Geri’s flesh with his
drink, and many other things steeped therein.”
With this food he became so furious, that he would instantly
perpetrate the deed. On this it is related as in the Sigurdarkvida,
when Gunnar and Brynhild conversed together.]
 These fragments from the Volsunga-Saga, which are
inserted in some paper manuscripts of the Edda, and containing matter
probably derived from the lost poems relative to Sigurd and Brynhild,
are printed in the Stockholm edition of the Edda. They are also given
by Afzelius in his Swedish version, and partially in Danish by Finn
Magnusen in his edition. A complete translation into Danish of the
entire Saga has since been given, by Prof. Rafn at Copenhagen.
 The name of one of Odin’s wolves; here used poetically
for wolf in general.
THE THIRD LAY OF SIGURD FAFNICIDE.
1. It was of old that Sigurd, the young Volsung, Giuki sought, after
his conflict, received the pledge of friendship from the two brothers;
oaths exchanged the bold of deed.
2. A maid they offered him, and treasures many, Gudrun, Giuki’s
youthful daughter. Drank and conversed, many days together, Sigurd the
young and Giuki’s sons.
3. Until they went to woo Brynhild, and with them Sigurd, the
youthful Volsung, rode in company, who knew the way. He would have
possessed her, if her possess he might.
4. Sigurd the southern laid a naked sword, a glittering falchion,
between them; nor the damsel did he kiss, nor did the Hunnish king to
his arm lift her. He the blooming maid to Giuki’s son delivered.
5. She to herself of body was of no sin conscious, nor [Pg 195]at her
death-day, of any crime, that could be a stain, or thought to be:
intervened therein the grisly fates.
6. Alone she sat without, at eve of day, began aloud with herself to
speak: “Sigurd must be mine; I must die, or that blooming youth clasp
in my arms.”
7. “Of the words I have uttered I now repent; he is Gudrun’s
consort, and I am Gunnar’s. The hateful Norns long suffering have
8. Oftentimes she wandered, filled with evil thoughts, o’er ice and
icebergs, every eve, when he and Gudrun had to their couch withdrawn,
and Sigurd her in the coverings wrapt, the Hunnish king his wife
9. “Devoid I go of spouse and pleasure; I will beguile myself with
10. By those fits of fury she was impelled to murder. “Thou, Gunnar!
shalt wholly lose my land, and myself also. Never shall I be happy,
king! with thee.
11. I will return thither from whence I came, to my near kindred, my
relations; there will I remain, and slumber life away, unless thou
Sigurd cause to be slain, and a king become than the other greater.
12. Let the son go together with the father, the young wolf may not
longer be fostered. For whom will vengeance be the easier to appease,
if the son lives?”
13. Wroth was Gunnar, and with grief borne down; in his mind
revolved, sat the whole day; he knew not well, nor could devise, what
were most desirable for him to do, or were most fitting to be done,
when he should find himself of the Volsung bereft, and in Sigurd a
great loss sustain.[Pg 196]
14. Much he thought, and also long, that it did not often happen,
that from their royal state women withdrew. Hogni he then to counsel
summoned, in whom he placed the fullest trust.
15. “Of all to me Brynhild, Budli’s daughter, is the dearest; she is
the chief of women: rather will I my life lay down than that fair
one’s treasures lose.
16. “Wilt thou the prince for his wealth circumvent? good ’tis to
command the ore of Rhine, and at ease over riches rule, and in
tranquillity happiness enjoy.”
17. This alone Hogni for answer gave: “It beseems us not so to do,
by the sword to break sworn oaths, oaths sworn, and plighted faith.
18. “We know not on earth men more fortunate, while we four over the
people rule, and the Hun lives, that warlike chief; nor on earth, a
race more excellent, if we five sons long shall foster, and the good
progeny can increase.
19. I know full well whence the causes spring: Brynhild’s
importunity is over-great.
20. We will Guthorm, our younger brother, and not over-wise, for the
deed prepare: he is free from sworn oaths, sworn oaths, and plighted
21. Easy it was to instigate the ferocious spirit: in the heart of
Sigurd stood his sword.
22. On vengeance bent, the warrior in his chamber hurled his brand
after the fierce assassin; to Guthorm flew dartlike Gram’s gleaming
steel from the king’s hand.
23. Fell the murderer in two parts, arms and head flew far away, but
his feet’s part fell backwards on the place.[Pg 197]
24. Sunk in sleep was Gudrun, in her bed, void of cares, by Sigurd’s
side: but she awoke of joys bereft, when in the blood of Frey’s friend
25. So violently struck she her hands together, that the stout of
heart rose in his bed. “Weep not, Gudrun! so cruelly, my blooming
bride! thy brothers live.
26. An heir I have, alas! too young; he cannot flee from the hostile
house; among themselves they recently have dark and evil counsels
27. Never henceforth, although seven thou bear, will such a son to
the trysting with them ride. Full well I know how this has befallen:
Brynhild the sole cause is of all the evil.
28. Me the maiden loved more than any man; but towards Gunnar I
sinned not; affinity I held sacred, and sworn oaths; thence forward I
was called his consort’s friend.”
29. The woman gave forth sighs, and the king his life. So violently
she struck her hands together, that the beakers on the wall responsive
rang, and in the court the geese loudly screamed.
30. Laughed then Brynhild, Budli’s daughter, once only, from her
whole soul, when in her bed she listened to the loud lament of Giuki’s
31. Then said Gunnar, the hawk-bearing prince: “Laugh not thereat,
thou barbarous woman! glad on thy couch, as if good awaited thee. Why
hast thou lost that beauteous colour? authoress of crime! Methinks to
death thou art doomed.
32. Well dost thou deserve, above all women, that [Pg 198]before thy eyes,
we should lay Atli low, that thou shouldst see thy brother’s
blood-streaming sore, his gory wounds shouldst have to bind.”
33. Then said Brynhild, Budli’s daughter: “No one provokes thee,
Gunnar! complete is thy work of death. Little does Atli thy hatred
fear; his life will outlast thine, and his might be ever greater.
34. Gunnar! will tell thee, though thou well knowest it, how early
we resolved on crimes. I was o’er-young and unrestrained, with wealth
endowed, in my brother’s house.
35. Nor did I desire to marry any man, before ye Giukungs rode to
our dwelling, three on horseback, powerful kings: would that journey
had never been!
36. Then myself I promised to the great king, who with gold sat on
Grani’s back. In eyes he did not you resemble, nor was at all in
aspect like: yet ye thought yourselves mighty kings.
37. And to me apart Atli said, that he would not have our heritage
divided, nor gold nor lands, unless I let myself be married, nor grant
me any part of the acquired gold, which he to me a girl had given to
possess, and to me a child in moneys counted.
38. Then distracted was my mind thereon, whether I should engage in
conflict, and death dispense, valiant in arms, for my brother’s
quarrel. That would then be world-widely known, and to many a one
bring heartfelt anguish.
39. Our reconciliation we let follow: to me it had been more
pleasing the treasures to accept, the red-gold [Pg 199]rings of Sigmund’s
son: nor did I another’s gold desire; him alone I loved, none other.
Menskogul had not a changing mind.
40. All this will Atli hereafter find, when he shall hear of my
funeral rites completed; for never shall the heavy-hearted woman with
another’s husband pass her life. Then will my wrongs be all avenged.”
41. Up rose Gunnar, prince of warriors, and round his consort’s neck
laid his hands; all drew nigh, yet each one singly, through honest
feeling, to dissuade her.
42. She from her neck those about her cast; she let no one stay her
from her long journey.
43. He then called Hogni to consultation. “I will that all our folk
to the hall be summoned, thine with, mine—now ’tis most needful—to
see if we can hinder my consort’s fatal course, till from our speech a
hindrance may come: then let us leave necessity to rule.”
44. To him Hogni answer gave: “Let no one hinder her from the long
journey, whence may she never born again return. Unblest she came on
her mother’s lap, born in the world for ceaseless misery, for many a
man’s heartfelt sorrow.”
45. Downcast he from the meeting turned to where the lady treasures
distributed. She was viewing all she owned: hungry female thralls and
chamber-women. She put on her golden corslet—no good meditated—ere
herself she pierced, with the sword’s point.
46. On the pillow she turned to the other side, and, wounded with
the glave, on her last counsels thought.[Pg 200]
47. “Now let come those who desire gold, and aught less precious, to
receive from me. To every one I give a gilded necklace,
needle-work and coverlets, splendid weeds.”
48. All were silent, thought on what to do, and all together answer
gave: “Too many are there dead: we will yet live, still be hungry
hall-servants, to do what fitting is.”
49. At length after reflection, the lady linen-clad, young in years,
words in answer uttered: “I desire that none, dead to entreaty, should
by force, for our sake, lose their life.
50. Yet o’er your bones will burn fewer ornaments, Menia’s good
meal, when ye go hence me to seek.
51. Gunnar! sit down, I will tell to thee, that of life now hopeless
is thy bright consort. Thy vessel will not be always afloat, though I
shall have my life resigned.
52. With Gudrun thou wilt be reconciled, sooner than thou thinkest:
that wise woman has by the king sad memorials, after her consort’s
53. There is born a maid, which her mother rears; brighter far than
the clear day, than the sun’s beam, will Svanhild be.
54. Gudrun thou wilt give to an illustrious one, a warrior, the bane
of many men: not to her wish will she be married; Atli will come her
to espouse, Budli’s son, my brother.[Pg 201]
55. Much have I in memory how I was treated, when ye me so cruelly
had deceived: robbed I was of happiness, while my life lasted.
56. Thou wilt desire Oddrun to possess, but Atli will permit it not;
in secret ye will each other meet. She will love thee, as I had done,
if us a better fate had been allotted.
57. Thee will Atli barbarously treat; in the narrow serpent-den wilt
thou be cast.
58. It will too come to pass, not long after, that Atli will his
soul resign, his prosperity, and cease to live; for Gudrun in her
vengeance him in his bed will slay, through bitterness of spirit, with
the sword’s sharp edge.
59. More seemly would appear our sister Gudrun, had she in death her
first consort followed, had but good counsel been to her given, or she
a soul possessed resembling mine—
60. Faintly I now speak—but for our sake she will not lose her
life. She will be borne on towering billows to King Jonakr’s paternal
soil. Doubts will be in the resolves of Jonakr’s sons.
61. She will Svanhild send from the land, her daughter, and
Sigurd’s. Her will destroy Bikki’s counsel; for Jormunrek for evil
lives. Then will have passed away all Sigurd’s race, and Gudrun’s
tears will be the more.
62. One prayer I have to thee yet to make, in this world ’twill be
my last request: Let in the plain be raised a pile so spacious, that
for us all like room may be, for those who shall have died with
63. Bedeck the pile about with shields and hangings, [Pg 202]a variegated
corpse-cloth, and multitude of slain. Let them burn the Hun on the
one side of me;
64. Let them with the Hun burn on the other side, my household
slaves, with collars splendid, two at our heads, and two hawks; then
will all be equally distributed.
65. Let also lie between us both the sword with rings adorned, the
keen-edged iron, so again be placed, as when we both one couch
ascended, and were then called by the name of consorts.
66. Then will not clang against his heel the hall’s bright gates,
with splendid ring, if my train him hence shall follow. Then will our
procession appear not mean.
67. For him will follow five female thralls, eight male slaves of
gentle birth, fostered with me, and with my patrimony, which to his,
daughter Budli gave.
68. Much I have said, and more would say, if the sword would grant
me power of speech. My voice fails, my wounds swell: truth only I have
uttered; so I will cease.”
 That is, Skogul with the necklace; Brynhild applies this
name to herself, which is a compound of men, necklace, monile, and
Skogul, the name of a Valkyria.
 Necklaces usually consisted in gold and silver chains or
laces with ornaments attached to them; if these resembled the sun or
moon they were called Sigli, suns (such were those here spoken of);
and such was the necklace worn by Freyia, the bright goddess of the
 Menia’s meal, or flour, is gold.
A FEAST IN VALHALLA.
(From a painting by Jno. Kellar.)
An admirable description of a feast of the gods, in Valhalla, will be
found on pages 293-94-95 of this volume. It was a strong belief among
the Goths, prior to the introduction of Christianity among them, that
the bodies of all warriors who met their deaths in battle were
transported directly to Valhalla by Valkyrie maidens on the backs of
winged horses. Upon reaching this mythological heaven the dead were
revived and ever thereafter enjoyed drinking mead, eating swine flesh,
and in fighting their battles over again every day.
FRAGMENTS OF THE LAY OF BRYNHILD.
1. “Why art thou, Brynhild! Budli’s daughter! absorbed in evil and
murderous thoughts? What injury has Sigurd done thee, that thou the
hero wilt of life bereave?”
2. “Sigurd to me oaths has sworn, oaths sworn, all falsehoods. He at
a time deceived me when he should have been of all oaths most
3. “Thee Brynhild has in anger instigated evil to perpetrate, harm
to execute. She grudges Gudrun her happy marriage, and thee,
possession of herself.” * * *
4. Some a wolf roasted, some a snake cut up, some to Guthorm served
the wolf, before they might, eager for crime, on the mighty man lay
5. Without stood Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter, and these words first of
all uttered: “Where is now Sigurd, lord of warriors, seeing that my
kinsmen foremost ride?”
6. Hogni alone to her answer gave: “Asunder have we Sigurd hewed
with our swords; his grey steed bends o’er the dead chief.”
7. Then said Brynhild, Budli’s daughter: “Well shall ye now enjoy
arms and lands. Sigurd would alone over all have ruled, had he a
little longer life retained.[Pg 204]
8. Unseemly it had been that he should so have ruled over Giuki’s
heritage and the Goths’ people, when he five sons, for the fall of
hosts, eager for warfare, had begotten.”
9. Then laughed Brynhild—the whole burgh resounded—once only from
her whole heart: “Well shall ye enjoy lands and subjects, now the
daring king ye have caused to fall.”
10. Then said Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter: “Much thou speakest, things
most atrocious: may fiends have Gunnar, Sigurd’s murderer! Souls
malevolent vengeance awaits.”
11. Sigurd had fallen south of Rhine: loud from a tree a raven
screamed: “With your blood will Atli his sword’s edges redden; the
oaths ye have sworn your slaughter shall dissolve.”
12. Evening was advanced, much was drunken, then did pleasant talk
of all kinds pass: all sank in sleep, when to rest they went. Gunnar
alone was wakeful longer than all:
13. He began his foot to move, and much with himself to speak; the
warlike chief in his mind pondered, what during the conflict the raven
and the eagle were ever saying, as they rode home.
14. Brynhild awoke, Budli’s daughter, daughter of Skioldungs, a
little ere day: “Urge me or stay me—the mischief is perpetrated—my
sorrow to pour forth, or to suppress it.”
15. All were silent at these words; few understood [Pg 205]the lady’s
conduct, that weeping she should begin to speak of what she laughing
16. “In my dream, Gunnar! all seemed so horrid, in the chamber all
was dead; my bed was cold; and thou, king! wast riding of joy bereft,
with fetters loaded, to a hostile host. So will ye all, race of
Niflungs! be of power deprived, perjurers as ye are!
17. Ill Gunnar! didst thou remember, when blood ye in your footsteps
both let flow; now hast thou him ill for all that requited, because he
would prove himself foremost.
18. Then was it proved, when the hero had ridden to see me, to woo
me, how the warlike chief whilom held sacred his oath towards the
19. Laid his sword, with gold adorned, the illustrious king between
us both: outward its edges were with fire wrought, but with venom
drops tempered within.”
From this lay, in which the death of Sigurd is related, it appears
that he was slain without doors, while some relate that he was slain
sleeping in his bed: but the Germans say he was slain out in the
forest; and it is told in the “Gudrunarkvida hin Forna,” that Sigurd
and the sons of Giuki had ridden to the public assembly (thing) when
he was slain. But it is said by all, without exception, that they
broke faith with him, and attacked him while lying down and
THE FIRST LAY OF GUDRUN.
Gudrun sat over Sigurd dead; she wept not as other women, although
ready to burst with sorrow. Both men and women, came to console her,
but that was not easy. It is said by some that Gudrun had eaten of
Fafnir’s heart, and therefore understood the talk of birds. This is
also sung of Gudrun:
1. Of old it was that Gudrun prepared to die, when she sorrowing
over Sigurd sat. No sigh she uttered, nor with her hands beat, nor
wailed, as other women.
2. Jarls came forward of great sagacity, from her sad state of mind
to divert her. Gudrun could not shed a tear, such was her affliction;
ready she was to burst.
3. Sat there noble wives of jarls, adorned with gold, before Gudrun;
each of them told her sorrows, the bitterest she had known.
4. Then said Giaflaug, Giuki’s sister: “I know myself to be on earth
most joyless: of five consorts I the loss have suffered; of two
daughters, sisters three, and brothers eight; I alone live.”
5. Gudrun could not shed a tear, such was her affliction for her
dead consort, and her soul’s anguish for the king’s fall.
6. Then said Herborg, Hunaland’s queen: “I a more cruel grief have
to recount: my seven sons, in the south land, my spouse the eighth, in
conflict fell.[Pg 207]
7. My father and my mother, my brothers four, on the sea the wind
deluded; the waves struck on the ship’s timbers.
8. Their last honours ’twas mine to pay, ’twas mine to see them
tombed, their funeral rites to prepare was mine. All this I underwent
in one half-year, and to me no one consolation offered.
9. Then I became a captive, taken in war, at the close of the same
half-year. Then had I to adorn, and tie the shoes, of the Hersir’s
wife, each morn.
10. From jealousy she threatened me, and with hard blows drove me:
nowhere master found I a better, but mistress no where a worse.”
11. Gudrun could not shed a tear, such was her affliction for her
dead consort, and her soul’s anguish for the king’s fall.
12. Then said Gullrond, Giuki’s daughter: “Little canst thou, my
fosterer, wise as thou art, with a young wife fittingly talk.” The
king’s body she forbade to be longer hidden.
13. She snatched the sheet from Sigurd’s corpse, and turned his cheek
towards his wife’s knees: “Behold thy loved one, lay thy mouth to his
lip, as if thou wouldst embrace the living prince.”
14. Gudrun upon him cast one look: she saw the prince’s locks
dripping with blood, the chief’s sparkling eyes closed in death, his
kingly breast cleft by the sword.
15. Then sank down Gudrun back on her pillow, her head-gear was
loosed, her cheeks grew red, and a flood of tears fell to her knees.[Pg 208]
16. Then wept Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter, so that the tears
spontaneously flowed, and at the same time screamed the geese in the
court, the noble birds, which the lady owned.
17. Then spake Gullrond, Giuki’s daughter: “Your loves I know were
the most ardent among living beings upon earth: thou hadst delight
nowhere, sister mine! save with Sigurd.”
18. Then said Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter: “Such was my Sigurd among
Giuki’s sons, as is the garlick out from the grass which grows, or a
bright stone on a thread drawn, a precious gem on kings.
19. I also seemed to the prince’s warriors higher than any of
Herian’s Disir; now I am as little as the leaf oft is in the
storm-winds, after the chieftain’s death.
20. Sitting I miss, and in my bed, my dearest friend. Giuki’s sons
have caused, Giuki’s sons have caused my affliction, and their
sister’s tears of anguish.
21. So ye desolate the people’s land, as ye have kept your sworn
oaths. Gunnar! thou wilt not the gold enjoy; those rings will be thy
bane, for the oaths thou to Sigurd gavest.
22. Oft in the mansion was the greater mirth, when my Sigurd Grani
saddled, and Brynhild they went to woo, that which accursed, in an
23. Then said Brynhild, Budli’s daughter: “May the hag lack spouse
and children, who thee, Gudrun! has caused to weep, and this morning
given thee runes of speech!”
[Pg 209]24. Then said Gullrond, Giuki’s daughter: “Cease, thou loathed of
all! from those words. The evil destiny of princes thou hast ever
been; thee every billow drives of an evil nature; thou sore affliction
of seven kings, the greatest bane of friendship among women!”
25. Then said Brynhild, Budli’s daughter: “Atli my brother, Budli’s
offspring, is the sole cause of all the evil;
26. When in the hall of the Hunnish folk, with the king we beheld
the fire of the serpent’s bed. Of that journey, I have paid the
penalty, that sight I have ever rued.”
27. She by a column stood, the wood violently clasped. From the eyes
of Brynhild, Budli’s daughter, fire gleamed forth; venom she snorted,
when she beheld the wounds of Sigurd.
Gudrun then went away to the forest and deserts, and travelled to
Denmark, where she stayed seven half-years with Thora, Hakon’s
daughter. Brynhild would not outlive Sigurd. She caused her eight
thralls and five female slaves to be killed, and then slew herself
with a sword, as it is related in the “Sigurdarkvida in Skemma” (the
Short Lay of Sigurd).
After Brynhild’s death two piles were made, one for Sigurd, which was
the first burnt; but Brynhild was burnt afterwards, and she was in a
chariot, which was hung with precious tapestry; so that it was said
that Brynhild drove in a chariot on the way to Hel, and passed through
a place in which a giantess dwelt. The giantess said:
1. “Thou shalt not pass through my stone-supported dwelling place.
Better had it beseemed thee to work broidery, than to seek after
2. Why dost thou, vagrant woman! from Valland, my dwelling visit?
Thou hast, golden dame! if thou desirest to know, gentle one! from thy
hands washed human blood.”
3. “Upbraid me not, woman of the rock! although I have in warfare
been. Of us, I trow, I shall the better seem, wherever men our
4. “Thou, Brynhild! Budli’s daughter! wast in evil hour born in the
world; thou hast been the bane of Giuki’s children, and their happy
5. “From my chariot I will truly tell thee, thou wit[Pg 211]less crone! if
thou desirest to know, how Giuki’s heirs made me both lovelorn and
6. The bold-hearted king caused the garbs of us eight sisters
under an oak to be borne. Twelve years old was I, if thou desirest to
know, when to the youthful king oaths I gave.
7. By all in Hlymdalir I was called Hild with the helm, by all who
8. Then caused I next, in the Gothic realm, the old Hialmgunnar to
Hel to journey: I gave victory to the youthful brother of Oda, whereat
Odin became hostile to me.
9. He with shields encompassed me, red and white, in Skatalund;
their surfaces enclosed me; him he ordained my sleep to break, who in
no place could be made to fear.
10. He made around my hall, towards the south, towering burn the
destroyer of all wood: then bade that man only over it to ride, who me
the gold should bring, that under Fafnir lay.
11. On Grani rode the chief, the gold-disperser, to where my
foster-father ruled o’er the dwellings. He alone seemed there to all
superior, the Danish warrior, of the court.
12. We slept and were content in the same bed, as if he had my born
brother been; neither of us might on the other, for eight nights, lay
13. Reproached me Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter, that I had slept in
Sigurd’s arms; then was I made aware of [Pg 212]what I fain would not,—that
they had deceived me, when a mate I took.
14. To calamities all too lasting men and women, ever will be while
living born. We two shall now, Sigurd and I pass our life together.
Sink thou of giant-kind!”
 By depriving them of the swan-plumage, for they were
Valkyriur like the wives of Volund and his brothers, Agnar reduced
them under his subjection.
THE SLAUGHTER OF THE NIFLUNGS.
Gunnar and Hogni then took all the gold, Fafnir’s heritage. Dissension
prevailed afterwards between the Giukungs and Atli. He charged them
with being the cause of Brynhild’s death. By way of reconciliation, it
was agreed that they should give him Gudrun in marriage, to whom they
administered an oblivious potion, before she would consent to espouse
Atli. Atli had two sons, Erp and Eitil, but Svanhild was the daughter
of Sigurd and Gudrun. King Atli invited Gunnar and Hogni to his
residence, and sent to them Vingi, or Knefrod. Gudrun was aware of
treachery, and sent them word in runes not to come; and to Hogni, as a
token, she sent the ring Andvaranaut, in which she had tied some
wolf’s hair. Gunnar had sought the hand of Oddrun, Atli’s sister, but
did not obtain it. He then married Glaumvor, and Hogni took Kostbera
to wife. Their sons were Solar, Snævar, and Giuki. When the Giukungs
came to Atli, Gudrun besought his sons to intercede for their lives,
but they would not. The heart of [Pg 213]Hogni was cut out, and Gunnar was
cast into a pen of serpents. He struck his harp and lulled the
serpents, but an adder stung him to the liver.
THE SECOND LAY OF GUDRUN.
King Theodric was with Atli, and had there lost the greater number of
his men. Theodric and Gudrun mutually bewailed their afflictions. She
related to him and said:
1. A maid above all maids I was; my mother reared me bright in her
bower; my brothers I much loved, until me Giuki, with gold adorned,
with gold adorned, to Sigurd gave.
2. Such was Sigurd above Giuki’s sons, as the green leek is,
springing from the grass, or the high-limbed hart above the savage
beasts, or gleed-red gold above grey silver.
3. Until my brothers the possession grudged me of a consort to all
superior. They could not sleep, nor on affairs deliberate, before they
Sigurd had caused to die.
4. Grani to the assembly ran, his tramp was to be heard; but Sigurd
then himself came not. All the saddle-beasts were splashed with blood,
and with sweating faint, from the murderers.
5. Weeping I went to talk to Grani, with humid cheeks, I prayed the
steed to tell: then Grani shuddered, [Pg 214]in the grass bowed down his
head. The steed knew that his master was no more.
6. Long I wandered, long was my mind distracted, ere of the people’s
guardian I inquired for my king.
7. Gunnar hung his head, but Hogni told me of Sigurd’s cruel death.
“Beyond the river slaughtered lies Guthorm’s murderer, and to the
8. Yonder behold Sigurd, towards the south, there thou wilt hear the
ravens croak, the eagles scream, in their feast exulting; the wolves
howling round thy consort.”
9. “Why wilt thou, Hogni! to a joyless being such miseries recount?
May thy heart by ravens be torn and scattered over the wide world,
rather than thou shouldst walk with men.”
10. Hogni answered, for once cast down, from his cheerful mood by
intense trouble: “Gudrun! thou wouldst have greater cause to weep, if
the ravens should tear my heart.”
11. Alone I turned from that interview to the wolves’ scattered
leavings. No sigh I uttered, nor with my hands beat, nor wailed, as
other women, when I heartbroken sat by Sigurd.
12. Night seemed to me of blackest darkness, when I sorrowing sat by
Sigurd. Better by far it seemed to me had the wolves taken my life, or
I had been burnt as a birchen tree.
13. From the fell I journeyed five long days and nights, until the
lofty hall of Half I recognized. Seven [Pg 215]half-years I with Thora
stayed, Hakon’s daughter, in Denmark.
14. She for my solace wrought in gold southern halls, and Danish
15. We had in pictures the game of warriors, and in handiworks a
prince’s nobles; red shields, Hunnish heroes, a sworded host, a helmed
host, a prince’s following.
16. Sigmund’s ships from the land sailing, with gilded heads, and
carved prows. We on our canvas wrought how Sigar and Siggeir both
contended southward in Fyen.
17. When Grimhild, the Gothic woman, heard how greatly I was
afflicted, she cast aside her needle-work, and her sons called oft and
earnestly, that she might know, who for her son would their sister
compensate, or for her consort slain the blood-fine pay?
18. Gunnar was ready gold to offer, for the injuries to atone, and
Hogni also. * * * She then inquired who would go the steeds to saddle,
the chariot to drive, on horseback ride, the hawk let fly, arrows
shoot from the yew bow?
19. Valdar and the Danes with Jarizleif, Eymod the third with
Jarizkar, then entered, to princes like. Red mantles had the
Langbard’s men, corslets ornamented, towering helms; girded they were
with falchions, brown were their locks.
20. For me each one would choose precious gifts, precious gifts, and
to my heart would speak, if for my many woes they might gain my
confidence, and I would in them trust.[Pg 216]
21. Grimhild to me brought a potion to drink cold and bitter, that I
my injuries might forget; it was mingled with Urd’s power, with cold
sea-water, and with Son’s blood.
22. In that horn were characters of every kind graven and red-hued;
nor could I comprehend them: the long lyng-fish of the Haddings’
land, an uncut ear of corn: the wild-beasts’ entrance.
23. In that potion were many ills together, a herb from every wood,
and the acorn, the fire-stead’s dew, entrails of offerings,
swine’s liver seethed; for that deadens strife.
24. And then I forgot, when I had taken it, all the king’s words in
the hall spoken. There to my feet three kings came, before she herself
sought to speak with me.
25. “Gudrun! I will give thee gold to possess, of all the riches
much of thy dead father; rings of red gold, Hlodver’s halls, all the
hangings left by the fallen king.
26. Hunnish maids, those who weave tapestry, and in bright gold
work, so that it may delight thee. Over Budli’s wealth thou alone
shalt rule, adorned with gold, and given to Atli.”
27. “I will not have any man, nor Brynhild’s brother marry: it
beseems me not with Budli’s son to increase a race, or life enjoy.”
28. “Take care not to pay the chiefs with hate; for ’tis we who have
been the aggressors: so shouldst thou act as if yet lived Sigurd and
Sigmund, if sons thou bearest.”[Pg 217]
29. “Grimhild! I cannot in mirth indulge, nor, for my hero’s sake,
cherish a hope, since the bloodthirsty [wolf and] raven have together
cruelly drunk my Sigurd’s heart’s blood.”
30. “Him of all I have found to be a king of noblest race, and
in much most excellent: him shalt thou have until age lays thee low,
or mateless be, if him thou wilt not take.”
31. “Cease to offer that cup of ills so pertinaciously, that race to
me: he will Gunnar’s destruction perpetrate, and will cut out Hogni’s
heart. I will not cease until the exulting strife-exciter’s life I
shall have taken.”
32. Weeping Grimhild caught the words, by which to her sons Gudrun
foreboded evil, and to her kindred dire misfortunes. “Lands I will
also give thee, people and followers, Vinbiorg and Valbiorg, if thou
wilt accept them; for life possess them, and be happy, daughter!”
33. “Him then I will choose among the kings, and from my relatives
reluctantly receive him. Never will he be to me a welcome consort, nor
my brothers’ bale a protection to our sons.”
34. Forthwith on horseback was each warrior to be seen; but the
Walish women were in chariots placed. For seven days o’er a cold land
we rode; but the second seven, we beat the waves; and the third seven,
we reached dry land.
35. There the gate-wards of the lofty burgh the latticed entrance
opened, ere the court we entered.[Pg 218]
36. Atli waked me, but I seemed to be full of evil thoughts, for my
37. “So me just now have the Norns waked,—a grateful
interpretation I fain would have. Methought that thou, Gudrun! Giuki’s
daughter! with a treacherous sword didst pierce me through.”
38. “Fire it forebodes, when one of iron dreams, arrogance and
pleasure, a woman’s anger. Against evil I will go burn thee, cure and
medicate thee, although to me thou art hateful.”
39. “Seemed to me here in the garden that young shoots had
fallen, which I wished to let grow: torn up with their roots, reddened
with blood, to table they were brought, and offered me to eat.
40. “Seemed to me that hawks flew from my hand, lacking their
quarry, to the house of woes; seemed to me I ate their hearts with
honey swollen with blood, with sorrowing mind.
41. “Seemed to me from my hand whelps I let slip; lacking cause of
joy, both of them howled: seemed to me their bodies became dead
carcases: of the carrion I was compelled to eat.”
42. “There will warriors round thy couch converse, and of the
white-locked ones take off the head; death-doomed they are within a
few nights, a little ere day: thy court will eat of them.”
43. “Lie down I would not, nor sleep after, obstinate in my
fate—That I will execute!”
 That is the long fish of the heath, or Ung, a snake or
 Atli: Grimhild speaks.
 Atli speaks.
 Gudrun answers.
 Atli speaks.
 Gudrun answers.
 Atll speaks.
THE THIRD LAY OF GUDRUN.
Atli had a serving-woman named Herkia, who had been his concubine.
She informed Atli that she had seen Thiodrek and Gudrun together;
whereat Atli was much afflicted. Then Gudrun said:
1. What ails thee ever, Atli! Budli’s son! Hast thou sorrow in thy
heart? Why never laughest thou? To thy jarls it would seem more
desirable, that thou with men wouldst talk, and on me wouldst look.
2. It grieves me, Gudrun! Giuki’s daughter! that in my palace here,
Herkia has said, that thou and Thiodrek have under one covering slept,
and wantonly been in the linen wrapt.
3. For all this charge I will give my oaths by the white sacred
stone, that with me and Thiodrek nothing has passed, which to man and
wife only belongs;
4. Save that I embraced the prince of armies, the honoured king, a
single time. Other were our cogitations, when sorrowful we two sat to
5. Hither came Thiodrek, with thirty warriors; now there lives not
one of those thirty men. Surround me with thy brothers, and with
mailed warriors; surround me with all thy noblest kinsmen.
6. Send to Saxi the Southmen’s prince; he can hallow the boiling
7. Seven hundred men entered the hall, ere in the cauldron the queen
dipt her hand.
8. “Now Gunnar comes not, nor call I Hogni: I shall not see again my
loved brothers: with his sword would Hogni such wrong avenge: now I
must myself purify from crime.”
9. She to the bottom, plunged her snow-white hand, and up she drew
the precious stones. “See now, ye men! I am proved guiltless in
holy wise, boil the vessel as it may.”
10. Laughed then Atli’s heart within his breast, when he unscathed
beheld the hand of Gudrun. “Now must Herkia to the cauldron go, she
who Gudrun had hoped to injure.” No one has misery seen who saw not
that, how the hand there of Herkia was burnt. They then the woman led
to a foul slough. So were Gudrun’s wrongs avenged.
 Herkia, the Erka or Helche of the German tradition, who
here appears as a slave or servant, is, according to that tradition,
the queen of Etzel or Atli, who did not marry Kreimhilt (Gudrun) until
after her death. The falsification of the story, the pitiful
subordinate part acted by Thiodrek, the perfect silence of all the
other poems on this event, and the ordeal of the cauldron,
sufficiently show that the poem is a later composition. P.E. Muller
(II., p. 319) ascribes it to Sæmund himself.
 The iarknastein of the original was a milk-white opal.
 This punishment was known to the old Germans.
There was a king named Heidrek, who had a daughter named Borgny. Her
lover was named Vilmund. She could not give birth to a child until
Oddrun, Atli’s sister, came. She had been the beloved of Gunnar,
Giuki’s son. Of this story it is here sung:
1. I have heard tell, in ancient stories how a damsel came to the
eastern land: no one was able, on the face of earth, help to afford to
2. When Oddrun, Atli’s sister, heard that the damsel had great
pains, from the stall she led her well-bridled steed, and on the swart
one the saddle laid.
3. She the horse made run on the smooth, dusty way, until she came
to where a high hall stood. She the saddle snatched from the hungry
steed, and in she went along the court, and these words first of all
4. “What is most noteworthy in this country? or what most desirable
in the Hunnish land?”
5. Here lies Borgny with pains overwhelmed, thy friend, Oddrun! See
if thou canst help her.
6. What chieftain has on thee brought this dishonour? Why so acute
are Borgny’s pains?
7. Vilmund is named the falcon-bearer’s friend: he the damsel wrapt
in a warm coverlet five whole winters, so that from her father she was
8. They, I ween, spoke not more than this: kindly she went to sit at
the damsel’s knee. Vehemently sang Oddrun, fervently sang Oddrun songs
of power over Borgny.
9. A girl and boy might then tread the mould-way, gentle babes, born
of Hogni’s bane. Then began to speak the death-sick damsel, who before
had no word uttered.
10. “So may thee help the benignant genii, Frigg and Freyia, and
other gods besides, as thou hast from me peril removed!”
11. “I was not inclined to give thee help, because thou never wast
of succour worthy: I vowed, and have performed what I then said—when
the princes the heritage divided, that I would ever help afford.”
12. Mad art thou, Oddrun! and hast lost thy wits, when in hostile
spirit most of thy words thou utterest; for I have been thy companion
upon the earth, as if from brothers we both were born.
13. I remember yet what thou one evening saidst, when I for Gunnar,
a compotation made. Such a case, saidst thou, would not thenceforth
happen, to any maiden, save to me alone.”[Pg 223]
14. Then sat down the sorrowing lady to tell her woes, from her
15. “I was nurtured in the kingly hall, I was the joy of many in the
council of men. Life I enjoyed, and my father’s wealth, five winters
only, while my father lived.
16. These last words the noble-hearted king strove to utter, ere he
17. He bade me be endowed with ruddy gold, and in the south be given
to Grimhild’s son. He said no maiden could more excellent in the world
be born, if fate willed it not otherwise.
18. Brynhild in her bower was occupied in broidery: she had people
and lands around her. Earth slumbered, and the heavens above, when
Fafnir’s bane her burgh first saw.
19. Then was conflict waged with the Walish sword, and the burgh
taken which Brynhild owned. It was not long—which was not
surprising—ere she discovered all those frauds.
20. These she caused cruelly to be avenged, so that we all have
great afflictions. Known it will be through every land of men, that
she caused herself to die with Sigurd.
21. But I for Gunnar, rings’ dispenser, love conceived, such as
Brynhild should. But he Brynhild bade a helmet take, said she a
Valkyria should become.
22. They forthwith offered ruddy rings to my brother, and
indemnity not small. He besides offered [Pg 224]for me fifteen vills, and
the load of Grani’s sides, if he would accept them.
23. But Atli said he never would a marriage-gift receive from
Giuki’s son. Still we could not our loves withstand, but I my head
must lay upon the ring-breaker.
24. Many things said my relations; declared they had surprised us
both together; but Atli said, that I would not crime commit, nor
scandal perpetrate. But such should no one for another ever deny, when
love has part.
25. Atli sent his emissaries about the Murkwood, that he might prove
me; and they came to where they ought not to have come, to where we
had one couch prepared.
26. To the men we offered red-gold rings, that they it might not to
Atli tell; but they forthwith hastened home, and it quickly to Atli
27. But they from Gudrun carefully concealed it, yet rather by half
she should have known it.
28. A sound was heard of gold-shod hoofs, when into the court rode
Giuki’s heirs. * * * Of Hogni they the heart cut out, and into a
serpent-pen the other cast.
29. I had gone yet once again to Geirmund, to prepare a banquet. * *
* The brave king began the harp to sound; for the prince of noble
race hoped that I to his aid might come.
30. I it heard from Hlesey, how of trouble there the harp-strings
31. I my thralls bade all be ready: I the prince’s life [Pg 225]would save.
The vessel we let float past the forest, until I saw all Atli’s
32. Then came Atli’s miserable mother crawling forth:—may she
perish!—she Gunnar pierced to the heart; so that the hero I could not
33. Oftentimes I wonder, woman gold-adorned! how I after can
life retain; for I seemed the formidable sword-dispenser as myself to
34. Thou sitst and listenest, while I recount to thee many an evil
fate, my own and theirs.” Each one lives as he best may. Now is ended
 For Brynhild’s death.
 From here the narrative appears to be very fragmentary.
 Gunnar while in the serpent-pen.
 For “lund” (forest, wood), which is the reading of the
MSS., the Copenhagen editor favors the correction to sund (a sound
or strait, the Sound)?
THE LAY OF ATLI.
Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter, avenged her brothers, as is well known. She
first killed Atli’s sons, and afterwards Atli himself, and burnt the
palace with all the household. On these events was this lay composed.
1. Atli sent riding a messenger to Gunnar, a crafty man, Knefrud was
his name. To Giuki’s courts he came, and to Gunnar’s hall, to the
seats of state, and the glad potation:
2. There drank the courtiers wine in their Valhall—but the guileful
ones silence kept—the Huns’ wrath they feared. Then said
Knefrud, with chilling voice:—the southern warrior on a high bench
3. “Atli has sent me hither on his errand riding on a bit-griping
steed, through the unknown Murkwood, to pray you, Gunnar! that to his
bench ye come, with helms of state, Atli’s home to visit.
4. “Shields ye there can choose, and smooth-shaven spears, gold-red
helms, and of Huns a multitude, silver-gilt saddle-cloths, sarks
gory-red, the dart’s obstruction, and bit-griping steeds.
5. “The plain he will also give you, the broad Gnita[Pg 227]heid, whistling
javelins, and gilded prows, vast treasures, and Danp’s towns, with
that famed forest, which men the Murkwood call.”
6. Gunnar his head then turned, and to Hogni said: “What counselest
thou, bold warrior? now suchlike we hear? Of no gold I knew on Gnita’s
heath, to which we possess not other equal.
7. “Seven halls have we filled with swords, of each of which the
hilt is gold. My horse I know the best, and my sword the keenest; my
bow adorns my seat, my corslets are of gold, my helm and shield the
brightest, brought from the hall of Kiar: mine alone are better than
all the Hunnish ones.
8. “What thinkest thou the woman means, by sending us a ring in
a wolf’s clothing wrapt? I think that she caution enjoins. Wolf’s hair
I found twined in the red-gold ring: wolfish is the way we on our
9. No sons persuaded Gunnar, nor other kinsman, interpreters nor
counsellors, nor those who potent were. Then spake Gunnar, as beseemed
a king, great in his mead-hall, from his large soul:
10. “Rise now up, Fiornir! let along the benches pass the golden
cups of heroes, from the attendants’ hands.
11. “The wolf shall rule the Niflungs’ heritage, O bearded sages! if
Gunnar perish; black-coated bears earth’s fruit tear with their teeth,
to the dogs’ delight, if Gunnar come not back.”
12. Honoured men, weeping led the land’s ruler from [Pg 228]the Huns’
court. Then said Hogni’s youthful heir: “Go now, prudent and
prosperous, whither your wishes lead.”
13. The warriors made their bit-griping steeds over the mountains
fly, through the unknown Murkwood. The whole Hunnish forest trembled
where’er the warriors rode; over the shrubless, all-green plains they
14. Atli’s land they saw, and the high watch-towers; Bikki’s people
stood on that lofty fortress; the south people’s hall was round with
benches set, with well-bound bucklers, and white shields, the
javelin’s obstruction. There Atli drank wine in his Valhall: his
guards sat without, Gunnar and his men to watch, lest they there
should come with yelling dart, to excite their prince to conflict.
15. Their sister forthwith saw, when the hall they had entered, her
brothers both—beer had she little drunken—”Betrayed art thou now,
Gunnar! though strong, how wilt thou contend with the Huns’ deadly
wiles? Go quickly from this hall!
16. “Better hadst thou, Gunnar! in corslet come, than with helm of
state, to see the home of Atli; thou in the saddle wouldst have sat
whole sun-bright days, and o’er the pallid dead let the Norns weep,
the Hunnish shield-maids misery suffer; but Atli himself thou shouldst
into the serpent-pen have cast; but now the serpent-pen is for you two
17. “Sister! ’tis now too late the Niflungs to assemble, long ’tis
to seek the aid of men, of valiant heroes, over the rugged fells of
18. Then the Burgundians’ friends Gunnar seized, in fetters
laid, and him fast bound.
19. Hogni hewed down seven, with the keen sword, but the eighth he
thrust into the raging fire. So should a valiant man defend himself
20. Hogni had Gunnar’s hands protected. The bold chief they
asked, if the Goths’ lord would with gold his life redeem?
21. “Hogni’s heart in my hand shall lie, cut bloody from the breast
of the valiant chief, the king’s son, with a dull-edged knife.” * * *
They the heart cut out from Hialli’s breast; on a dish bleeding laid
it, and it to Gunnar bare.
23. Then said Gunnar, lord of men: “Here have I the heart of the
timid Hialli, unlike the heart of the bold Hogni; for much it trembles
as in the dish it lies: it trembled more by half, while in his breast
24. Hogni laughed, when to his heart they cut the living
crest-crasher; no lament uttered he. All bleeding on a dish they laid
it, and it to Gunnar bare.
25. Calmly said Gunnar, the warrior Niflung: “Here have I the heart
of the bold Hogni, unlike the heart of the timid Hialli; for it little
trembles, as in the dish it lies: it trembled less, while in his
breast it lay.
26. “So far shalt thou, Atli! be from the eyes of men as thou wilt
from the treasures be. In my power alone is all the hidden Niflungs’
gold, now that Hogni lives not.
27. “Ever was I wavering, while we both lived; now [Pg 230]am I so no
longer, as I alone survive. Rhine shall possess men’s baleful metal,
the mighty stream, the As-known Niflungs’ heritage. In the rolling
water the choice rings shall glitter, rather than on the hands of the
Huns’ children shine.
28. “Drive your wheel-chariots, the captive is now in bonds.”
29. Atli the mighty, their sister’s husband, rode with resounding
steeds, with strife-thorns surrounded. Gudrun perceived the
heroes’ peril, she from tears refrained, on entering the hall of
30. “So be it with thee, Atli! as towards Gunnar thou hast held the
oft-sworn oaths, formerly taken—by the southward verging sun, and by
Sigty’s hill, the secluded bed of rest, and by Ullr’s ring.” Yet
thence the more did the bit-shaker the treasure’s guardian, the
warrior chief, drag to death.
31. The living prince then did a host of men into a pen cast down,
which was within with serpents over-crawled. But Gunnar there alone a
harp in wrathful mood with his hand struck: the strings resounded. So
should a daring chief, a ring-dispenser, gold from men withhold.
32. Atli turned his brass-shod steed, his home to revisit, back
from the murder. Din was in the court with horses thronged, men’s
weapon-song, from the heath they were come.
33. Out then went Gudrun, Atli to meet, with a golden cup to do her
duty to the king. “Thou canst, O [Pg 231]King! joyful in thy hall receive
from Gudrun the arms of the departed.”
34. The drinking-cups of Atli groaned with wine heavy, when in the
hall together the Huns were counted. Long-bearded, bold, the warriors
35. Hastened the bright-faced dame to bear their potions to them,
the wondrous lady to the chiefs; and reluctantly to the pallid Atli
the festal dainties offered, and uttered words of hate.
36. “Thou, swords’ dispenser! hast thy two sons’ hearts,
slaughter-gory, with honey eaten. I resolved that thou, bold chief!
shouldst of a human dish eat at thy feasting, and to the place of
honour send it. Henceforth thou wilt not to thy knees call Erp and
Eitil, joyous with beer the two: thou wilt not henceforth, see them
from thy middle seat, gold-dispersing, javelins shafting, manes
clipping, or horses urging.”
38. Uproar was on the benches, portentous the cry of men, noise
beneath the costly hangings. The children of the Huns wept, all wept
save Gudrun, who never wept, or for her bear-fierce brothers, or her
dear sons, young, simple, whom she had borne to Atli.
39. Gold scattered the swan-fair dame; with ruddy rings the
household gifted. Fate she let ripen, but the bright gold flow. The
woman spared not the treasure-houses.
40. Atli incautious had himself drunk weary; weapon he had none, nor
was ‘gainst Gudrun guarded. Oft had their sport been better, when they
lovingly embraced each other before the nobles.[Pg 232]
41. With the sword’s point she gave the bed of blood to drink with
death-bent hand, and the dogs loosed, out at the hall-door drove them,
and the lady wakened the household with burning brand. That vengeance
she for her brothers took.
42. To fire she then gave all that were therein, and from her
brothers’ murder were from the dark den returned. The old
structures fell, the treasure-houses smoked, the Budlungs’ dwelling.
Burnt too were the shield-maids within, their lives cut short; in the
raging fire they sank.
43. Of this enough is said. No such woman will henceforth arms again
bear, to avenge her brothers. That bright woman had to three kings of
men the death-doom borne, before she died.
Yet more clearly is this told in “Atlamalum inum Groenlenzkum” (the
Groenland lay of Atli).
 The epithet aringreypr is applied both to benches and
helmets (see Strophes 3 and 16). Its meaning is doubtful: it has been
rendered iron-bound, brass-bound, hearth-encircling, curved
like an eagle’s beak, etc. Benches and helmets of ceremony are
evidently intended, probably ornamented with brass-work or figures of
eagles. But to whichever substantive applied, I take its meaning to be
 The messengers of Atli.
 The Giukungs.
 Gudrun: she had sent, by Atli’s messengers, a ring to
her brothers, as a warning, in which a wolf’s hair was entwined,
together with a note in runes, which were falsified by Vingi.
 Atli’s men.
 That is Gunnar himself.
 The horse.
 The original word is eyrskan, a word of doubtful
 The serpent-pen.
THE DEATH OF ATLI.
(From a painting by S. Goldberg.)
Atli has been identified as Attila, called in history “the Scourge of
God,” a king of the Huns who twice defeated the Romans under
Theodosius, and plundered the eternal city itself. He was guilty of
many excesses and is reported to have died of a hemorrhage on the day
following his marriage with Ildico (453). In the story of Seigfried
and Brynhild, however, he is represented as having married Gudran,
daughter of Grimhild and King Giuki, who it will be recalled by
readers of the other volumes of this series, beguiled Siegfried by
means of a magic potion, into marriage with her. Her feelings revolted
against an alliance with Atli, but she accepted him for a husband in
order thereby to obtain the power to gratify her vengeance against
Hogni (Hagan), who had assassinated Siegfried.
THE GROENLAND LAY OF ATLI.
1. Of those misdeeds men have heard tell, when warriors of old a
compact made, which by pledges they confirmed, a secret consultation
held: terrible it was to them after, and to Giuki’s sons likewise, who
2. The warriors’ fate ripened, they were death-doomed: ill advised
was Atli, though he possessed sagacity: he felled a mighty column,
strove hardly against himself; with speed he messengers despatched,
that his wife’s brothers should come quickly.
3. Wise was the house-dame, prudently she thought; the words in
order she had heard, that in secret they had said: the sage lady was
at a loss: fain would she help them; they o’er the sea must sail,
but she herself could not go.
4. Runes she graved, Vingi them falsified, before he gave them from
him; of ill he was the bearer. Then departed Atli’s messengers,
through the branched firth, for where the bold warriors dwelt.
5. They with beer were cheered, and fires they kindled, naught
thought they of guile, when they were come; they the gifts accepted,
which the prince sent them, on a column hung them, and of no evil
6. Then came Kostbera, she was Hogni’s wife, a woman greatly
cautious, and them both greeted. Glad [Pg 234]was also Glaumvor, Gunnar’s
consort, the prudent dame her duty forgot not, she to the guests’ need
7. Hogni they home invited, if he would be pleased to go. Treachery
was manifest, had they but reflected! Gunnar then promised, if only
Hogni would, but Hogni refused what the other proposed.
8. The noble dames bore mead, of many things there was abundance,
many horns passed round, until it seemed they had full drunken.
9. The household prepared their couches, as to them seemed best.
Cunning was Kostbera, she could runes interpret; she the letters read
by the bright fire;—her tongue she had to guard between both her
gums—so perverted were they, it was difficult to understand them.
10. To their bed they went, she and Hogni. The gentle lady dreamed,
and concealed it not, to the prince wisely said it as soon as she
11. “From home thou art going, Hogni! give ear to counsel; few are
fully prudent: go another time.
12. I have the runes interpreted, which thy sister graved: that fair
dame has not this time invited thee. At one thing I wonder most, I
cannot even conceive, why so wise a woman so confusedly should grave;
for it is so set down as if it intimated death to you both, if you
should straightway come. Either she has left out a letter, or others
are the cause.”
13. “They are,” said Hogni, “all suspicious; I have no knowledge of
them, nor will I into it inquire, unless [Pg 235]we have to make requital.
The king will gift us with gleed-red gold. I never fear, though we may
hear of terror.”
14. “Tottering ye will go, if thitherward ye tend. No kind
entertainment there will ye at this time find. Hogni! I have dreamed,
I will not conceal it: in an evil hour ye will go, or so at least I
15. “Methought thy coverlet was with fire consumed; that the
towering flame rushed through my dwelling.”
16. “Here lie linen cloths, which thou hadst little noticed: these
will quickly burn where thou the coverlet sawest.”
17. “Methought a bear came in, and broke down the columns; and so
his talons shook, that we were terror-stricken; by his mouth held many
of us, so that we were helpless: there, too, was a din far from
18. “A tempest there will be furious and sudden: the white bear thou
sawest will be a storm from the east.”
19. “Methought an eagle flew herein, all through the house: that
will largely concern us. He sprinkled all with blood: from his threats
I thought it to be the ‘ham’ of Atli.”
20. “We often slaughter largely, and then red we see: often are oxen
meant, when we of eagles dream. Sound is the heart of Atli, dream thou
as thou mayest.” With this they ended: all speeches have an end.
21. The high-born awoke, there the like befell: Glaumvor had
perceived that her dreams were ill-boding, adverse to Gunnar’s going
to and fro.
22. “Methought a gallows was for thee erected, thou wentest to
be hanged, that serpents ate thee, that I inter’d thee living, that
the Powers’ dissolution came—Divine thou what that portends.
23. “Methought a bloody glave from thy sark was drawn—ill ’tis such
a dream to a consort to recount—methought a lance was thrust through
thy middle: wolves howled on every side.”
24. “Where dogs run they are wont to bark: oft bodes the bay of dogs
the flight of javelins.”
25. “Methought a river ran herein, through the whole house, that it
roared violently, rushed o’er the benches, brake the feet of you
brothers twain; nothing the water spared: something will that portend!
26. “Methought dead women in the night came hither; not ill-clad
were they: they would choose thee, forthwith invited thee to their
seats. I ween thy Disir have forsaken thee.”
27. “Too late it is to speak, it is now so resolved; from the
journey we shall not shrink, as it is decreed to go: very probable it
seems that our lives will be short.”
28. When colours were discernible, those on journey bent all rose
up: the others fain would stay them. The five journeyed together, of
“hus-carls” there were present twice that number—it was ill
devised—Snævar and Solar, they were Hogni’s sons; Orkning he was
named, who them accompanied, a gentle shield-bearer was he, the
brother of Hogni’s wife.
29. They went fair-appointed, until the firth them parted: ever
would their wives have stayed them, they would not be stayed.
30. Glaumvor then spake, Gunnar’s consort, Vingi she addressed, as
to her seemed fitting: “I know not whether ye will requite us as we
would: with treachery came the guest, if aught of ill betide.”
31. Then Vingi swore, little spared he himself: “May him the Jotuns
have, if towards you he lies! the gallows hold him, if aught against
peace he meditates!”
32. Bera took up the word, she of gentle soul: “Sail ye prosperous,
and may success attend you: may it be as I pray, and if nothing
33. Hogni answered—he to his kin meant well—”Be of good cheer, ye
prudent! whatever may befall. Many say the same, though with great
difference; for many little care how they depart from home.”
34. On each other then they looked before they parted: then, I ween,
their fates were severed, and their ways divided.[Pg 238]
35. Vigorously they rowed, their bark was well nigh riven; backward
bending the waves they beat, ardently plied: their oar-bands were
broken, the rowlocks shattered. They made not the vessel fast before
they quitted it.
36. A little after—I will the end relate—they saw the mansion
stand that Budli had possessed. Loud creaked the latticed gates, when
37. Then said Vingi, what he had better not, “Go far from the house,
’tis perilous to enter; I quickly enticed you to perdition; ye shall
forthwith be slain. With fair words I prayed your coming, though guile
was under them. But just bide here, while a gallows I prepare.”
38. Hogni answered—little thought he of yielding, or of aught
fearful that was to be proved:—”Think not to frighten us: try that
seldom. If one word thou addest, thou wilt thy harm prolong.”
39. They rushed on Vingi, and struck him dead, laid on their axes,
while life within him throbbed.
40. Atli his men assembled, in their byrnies they issued forth, went
prepared so that a fence was between them. Words they bandied, all
with rage boiling: “Already had we resolved to take your lives away.”
41. “It looks but ill, if ye before have counselled: e’en now ye are
unprepared, and we one have felled, smitten to death: one of your host
was he.”[Pg 239]
42. Furious they became, when those words they heard; their fingers
they stretched forth, and their bowstrings seized; sharply shot, and
with shields themselves protected.
43. In then came the tale of what without was passing; loud before
the hall they a thrall heard speak.
44. Then incensed was Gudrun, when the sad news she heard: adorned
with necklaces, she tore them all asunder; so hurled the silver, that
the rings in shivers flew.
45. Then she went out, not gently moved the doors; went forth, void
of fear, and the comers hailed, turned to the Niflungs: that was her
last greeting, truth attended it; more words she said:
46. “I sought by symbols to prevent your leaving home,—fate may no
one resist—and yet must you come hither.” Wisely she asked: might
they not be appeased? No one consented, all answered no.
47. Saw then the high-born lady that a hard game they played; a
deadly deed she meditated, and her robe dashed aside, a naked falchion
seized, and her kinsmen’s lives defended: skilful she was in warfare,
where her hand she applied.
48. Giuki’s daughter caused two warriors to fall; Atli’s brother she
struck down,—he must henceforth be borne—so she the conflict
managed, that she his foot struck off. Another too she smote, so that
he never rose, to Hel she sent him: her hand trembled not.
49. A conflict then ensued, which was widely famed, but that
excelled all else which Giuki’s sons performed. [Pg 240]So ’tis said the
Niflungs, while yet they lived, with swords maintained the fight,
corslets rent, helmets hewed, as their hearts prompted.
50. At morning most they fought, until mid-day had passed; all early
morn, and the forenoon, ere the fight was ended, the field flowed with
blood, until eighteen had fallen: Bera’s two sons, and her brother,
had them overcome.
51. Then the fierce Atli spoke, wroth though he was: “‘Tis ill to
look around; this is long of you. We were thirty warlike thanes,
eleven survive: the chasm is too great. We were five brothers, when
Budli died; now has Hel the half, two lie slain.
52. “A great affinity I obtained, that I cannot deny, pernicious
woman! of which I have no benefit: peace we have seldom had, since
thou among us camest. Of kinsmen ye have bereft me, of riches often
wronged. To Hel my sister ye have sent; that is to me most bitter.”
53. “This thou callest to mind, Atli! but thou so first didst act:
my mother thou didst take, and for her treasures murder; my gifted
niece with hunger thou didst cause to perish. Laughable to me it
seems, when thou sorrows dost recount. The gods are to be thanked,
that it goes ill with thee.”
54. Jarls! I exhort you the sorrow to augment of that presumptuous
woman: I would fain see it. Strive so to do, that Gudrun may lament.
Might I but see that in her lot she joys not![Pg 241]
55. Take ye Hogni, and with a knife hack him: cut out his heart:
this ye shall do. Gunnar the fierce of soul to a gallows fasten; do
the work thoroughly, lure up the serpents.
56. Do as thou listest, glad I will await it; stout I shall prove
myself: I have ere now things much harder proved. Ye had a hindrance
while unscathed we were: now are we so wounded that our fate thou
57. Beiti spake,—he was Atli’s steward—Take we Hialli, but Hogni
let us save. Let us do half the work; he is death-worthy. As long as
he lives a slug he will ever be.
58. Terrified was the kettle-watcher, the place no longer held him:
he could be a whiner, he clomb into every nook: their conflict was his
bane, as he the penalty must pay; and the day sad, when he must from
the swine die, from all good things, which he had enjoyed.
59. Budli’s cook they took, and the knife brought towards him.
Howled the wretched thrall, ere the point he felt; declared that he
had time the gardens to manure, the vilest offices to do, if from
death he might escape. Joyful indeed was Hialli, could he but save his
60. Hogni all this observed—few so act, as for a slave to
intercede, that he may escape!—”Less ’tis, I say, for me to play this
game myself. Why shall we here desire to listen to that screaming?”
61. Hands on the good prince they laid. Then was no option for the
bold warriors, the sentence longer to [Pg 242]delay. Then laughed Hogni;
heard the sons of day how he could hold out: torment he well endured!
62. A harp Gunnar took, with his foot-branches touched it. He could
so strike it, that women wept, and the men sobbed, who best could hear
it. He the noble queen counselled: the rafters burst asunder.
63. There died the noble, as the dawn of day; at the last they
caused their deeds to live.
64. Atli thought himself great: over them both he strode, to the
sagacious woman told the evil, and bitterly reproached her. “It is now
morning, Gudrun! thy loved ones thou hast lost; partly thou art the
cause that it has so befallen.”
65. Joyful art thou, Atli! slaughter to announce: repentance shall
await thee, when thou hast all proved. That heritage shall be left
thee—that I can tell thee—that ill shall never from thee go, unless
I also die.
66. That I can prevent; another course I see, easier by half: the
good we oft reject. With slaves I will console thee, with things most
precious, with snow-white silver, as thou thyself mayest desire.
67. Of that there is no hope; I will all reject; atonement I have
spurned for smaller injuries. Hard I was ever thought, now will that
be aggravated. I every grudge concealed, while Hogni lived.
68. We were both nurtured in one house; many a [Pg 243]play we played, and
in the wood grew up; Grimhild us adorned with gold and necklaces; for
my brothers’ death never wilt thou indemnify me, nor ever do what
shall to me seem good.
69. Men’s too great power women’s lot oppresses; on the knee the
hand sinks, if the arms wither; the tree inclines, if its root-fibres
are severed. Now, Atli! thou mayest alone over all here command.
70. Most unwise it was, when to this the prince gave credit: the
guile was manifest, had he been on his guard. Dissembling then was
Gudrun, against her heart she could speak, made herself gay appear,
with two shields she played.
71. A banquet she would prepare, her brothers’ funeral feast; the
same would Atli also for his own do.
72. With this they ended; the banquet was prepared; the feasting was
too luxurious. The woman great of heart was stern, she warred on
Budli’s race; on her spouse she would cruel vengeance wreak.
73. The young ones she enticed, and on a block laid them, the fierce
babes were terrified, and wept not, to their mother’s bosom crept,
asked what she was going to do.
74. “Ask no questions, both I intend to kill; long have I desired to
cut short your days.”
75. “Slay as thou wilt thy children, no one hinders it; thy rage
will have short peace, if thou destroyest us in our blooming years,
thou desperate woman!” It fell out accordingly: she cut the throats of
76. Atli oft inquired whither his boys were gone to play, as he
nowhere saw them?
77. Over I am resolved to go, and to Atli tell it. Grimhild’s
daughter will not conceal it from thee. Little glad, Atli! wilt thou
be, when all thou learnest; great woe didst thou raise up, when thou
my brother slewest.
78. Very seldom have I slept since they fell. Bitterly I threatened
thee: now I have reminded thee. “It is now morning,” saidst thou: I
yet it well remember; and it now is eve, when thou the like shalt
79. Thou thy sons hast lost, as thou least shouldest; know that
their skulls thou hast had for beer-cups; thy drink I prepared, I
their red blood have shed.
80. I their hearts took, and on a spit staked them, then to thee
gave them. I said they were of calves,—it was long of thee
alone—thou didst leave none, voraciously didst devour, well didst ply
81. Thy children’s fate thou knowest, few a worse awaits. I have my
part performed, though in it glory not.
82. Cruel wast thou, Gudrun! who couldst so act, with thy children’s
blood my drink to mingle. Thou hast destroyed thy offspring, as thou
least shouldest; and to myself thou leavest a short interval from ill.
83. I could still desire thyself to slay; rarely too ill it fares
with such a prince. Thou hast already perpe[Pg 245]trated crimes unexampled
among men of frantic cruelty, in this world: now thou hast added what
we have just witnessed. A great misdeed hast thou committed, thy
death-feast thou hast prepared.
84. On the pile thou shalt be burnt, but first be stoned; then wilt
thou have earned what thou hast ever sought.
85. Tell to thyself such griefs early to-morrow: by a fairer death I
will pass to another light.
86. In the same hall they sat, exchanged hostile thoughts, bandied
words of hate: each was ill at ease.
87. Hate waxed in a Hniflung, a great deed he meditated; to Gudrun
he declared that he was Atli’s deadly foe.
88. Into her mind came Hogni’s treatment; happy she him accounted,
if he vengeance wreaked. Then was Atli slain, within a little space;
Hogni’s son him slew, and Gudrun herself.
89. The bold king spake, roused up from sleep; quickly he felt the
wounds, said he no binding needed. “Tell me most truly who has slain
Budli’s son. I am hardly treated: of life I have no hope.”
90. I, Grimhild’s daughter, will not from thee hide, that I am the
cause that thy life passes away; but partly Hogni’s son, that thy
wounds make thee faint.
91. To the slaughter thou hast rushed, although it ill [Pg 246]beseemed
thee; ’tis bad to circumvent a friend, who well confided in thee.
Besought I went from home, to woo thee, Gudrun!
92. A widow thou was left, fierce thou wast accounted, which was no
falsehood, as we have proved. Hither home thou earnest, us a host of
men attended; all was splendid on our journey.
93. Pomp of all kinds was there, of illustrious men, beeves in
abundance: largely we enjoyed them. Of all things there was plenty
partaken of by many.
94. A marriage gift to my bride I gave, treasures for her
acceptance, thralls thrice ten, seven fair female slaves: in such
things was honour; silver there was yet more.
95. All seemed to thee as it were naught, while the lands untouched
lay, which Budli had left me. So didst thou undermine, dist allow me
nothing to receive. Thou didst my mother let often sit weeping: with
heart content I found not one of my household after.
96. Now, Atli! thou liest, though of that I little reck. Gentle I
seldom was, yet didst thou greatly aggravate it. Young brothers ye
fought together, among yourselves contended; to Hel went the half from
thy house: all went to ruin that should be for benefit.
97. Brothers and sisters we were three, we thought ourselves
invincible: from the land we departed, we followed Sigurd. We roved
about, each steered a ship; seeking luck we went, till to the east we
98. The chief king we slew, there a land obtained, [Pg 247]the “hersar”
yielded to us; that manifested fear. We from the forest freed him whom
we wished harmless, raised him to prosperity who nothing had
99. The Hun king died, then suddenly my fortune changed: great
was the young wife’s grief, the widow’s lot was hers. A torment to me
it seemed to come living to the house of Atli. A hero had possessed
me: sad was that loss!
100. Thou didst never from a contest come, as we had heard, where
thou didst gain thy cause, or others overcome; ever wouldst thou give
way, and never stand, lettest all pass off quietly, as ill beseemed a
101. Gudrun! now thou liest. Little will be bettered the lot of
either: we have all suffered. Now act thou, Gudrun! of thy goodness,
and for our honour, when I forth am borne.
102. I a ship will buy, and a painted cist; will the
winding-sheet well wax, to enwrap thy corpse; will think of every
requisite, as if we had each other loved.
103. Atli was now a corpse, lament from his kin arose: the
illustrious woman did all she had promised. The wise woman would go to
destroy herself; her days were lengthened: she died another time.
104. Happy is every one hereafter who shall give birth to such a
daughter famed for deeds, as Giuki begat: [Pg 248]ever will live, in every
land, their oft-told tale, wherever people shall give ear.
 The messengers.
 It would seem that the original runes, as graved by
Gudrun, had not been so completely erased as to leave no traces of
them; but that they were still sufficiently legible to enable Kostbera
to ascertain the real purport of the communication.
 Ham (hamr. fem. hamingia) a guardian angel, an
 Here a gallows in our sense of the word, but usually a
stake on a scaffold, to which the condemned to a death of torture was
bound hand and foot.
 So great was their haste to land.
 She played a double game.
 The ancient usage of laying the body in a ship and
sending it adrift, seems inconsistent with the later custom of
depositing it in a cist or coffin.
Having slain Atli, Gudrun went to the sea-shore. She went out into the
sea, and would destroy herself, but could not sink. She was borne
across the firth to the land of King Jonakr, who married her. Their
sons were Sorli, Erp, and Hamdir. There was reared up Svanhild, the
daughter of Sigurd. She was given in marriage to Jormunrek the
Powerful. With him lived Bikki, who counselled Randver, the king’s
son, to take her. Bikki told that to the king, who caused Randver to
be hanged, and Svanhild trodden under horses’ feet. When Gudrun heard
of this she said to her sons:—
1. Then heard I tell of quarrels dire, hard sayings uttered from
great affliction, when her sons the fierce-hearted Gudrun, in deadly
words, to slaughter instigated.
2. “Why sit ye here? why sleep life away? why does it pain you not
joyous words to speak, now Jormunrek your sister young in years has
with horses trodden, white and black, in the public way, with grey and
way-wont Gothic steeds?
3. Ye are not like to Gunnar and the others, nor of soul so valiant
as Hogni was. Her ye should seek to [Pg 249]avenge, if ye had the courage of
my brothers, or the fierce spirit of the Hunnish kings.”
4. Then said Hamdir, the great of heart: “Little didst thou care
Hogni’s deed to praise, when Sigurd he from sleep awaked. Thy
blue-white bed-clothes were red with thy husband’s gore, with
5. “For thy brothers thou didst o’er-hasty vengeance take, dire and
bitter, when thou thy sons didst murder. We young ones could on
Jormunrek, acting all together, have avenged our sister.
6. “Bring forth the arms of the Hunnish kings: thou hast us
stimulated to a sword-mote.”
7. Laughing Gudrun to the storehouse turned, the kings’ crested
helms from the coffers drew, their ample corslets, and to her sons
them bore. The young heroes loaded their horses’ shoulders.
8. Then said Hamdir, the great of heart: “So will no more come his
mother to see, the warrior felled in the Gothic land, so that thou the
funeral-beer after us all may drink, after Svanhild and thy sons.”
9. Weeping Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter, sorrowing went, to sit in the
fore-court, and to recount, with tear-worn cheeks, sad of soul, her
calamities, in many ways.
10. “Three fires I have known, three hearths I have known, of three
consorts I have been borne to the house. Sigurd alone to me was better
than all, of whom my brothers were the murderers.
11. “Of my painful wounds I might not complain; [Pg 250]yet they even more
seemed to afflict me, when those chieftains to Atli gave me.
12. “My bright boys I called to speak with me; for my injuries I
could not get revenge, ere I had severed the Hniflungs’ heads.
13. “To the sea-shore I went, against the Norns I was embittered; I
would cast off their persecution; bore, and submerged me not the
towering billows; up on land I rose, because I was to live.
14. “To the nuptial couch I went—as I thought better for me,—for
the third time, with a mighty king. I brought forth offspring,
guardians of the heritage, guardians of the heritage, Jonakr’s sons.
15. “But around Svanhild bond-maidens sat; of all my children her I
loved the best. Svanhild was, in my hall, as was the sun-beam, fair to
16. “I with gold adorned her, and with fine raiment, before I gave
her to the Gothic people. That is to me the hardest of all my woes,
that Svanhild’s beauteous locks should in the mire be trodden under
17. “But that was yet more painful, when my Sigurd they ingloriously
slew in his bed; though of all most cruel, when of Gunnar the
glistening serpents to the vitals crawled; but the most agonizing,
which to my heart flew, when the brave king’s heart they while quick
18. “Many griefs I call to memory, many ills I call to memory.
Guide, Sigurd! thy black steed, thy swift courser, hither let it run.
Here sits no son’s wife, no daughter, who to Gudrun precious things
may give.[Pg 251]
19. “Remember, Sigurd! what we together said, when on our bed we
both were sitting, that thou, brave one, wouldst come to me from Hel’s
abode, but I from the world to thee.
20. “Raise, ye Jarls! an oaken pile; let it under heaven the highest
be. May it burn a breast full of woes! the fire round my heart its
21. May all men’s lot be bettered, all women’s sorrow lessened, to
whom this tale of woes shall be recounted.
 Themselves and the two sons of Atli.
THE LAY OF HAMDIR.
1. In that court arose woeful deeds, at the Alfar’s doleful
lament; at early morn, men’s afflictions, troubles of various
kinds; sorrows were quickened.
2. It was not now, nor yesterday, a long time since has passed
away,—few things are more ancient, it was by much earlier—when
Gudrun, Giuki’s daughter, her young sons instigated Svanhild to
3. “She was your sister, her name Svanhild, she whom Jormunrek with
horses trod to death, white and black, on the public way, with grey
and way-wont Gothic steeds.
4. “Thenceforth all is sad to you, kings of people! Ye alone
5. “Branches of my race. Lonely I am become, as the asp-tree in the
forest, of kindred bereft, as the fir of branches; of joy deprived, as
is the tree of foliage, when the branch-spoiler comes in the warm
6. Then spake Hamdir, the great of soul, “Little, Gudrun! didst thou
care Hogni’s deed to praise, when Sigurd they from sleep awaked on the
bed thou satst, and the murderers laughed.
7. “Thy bed-clothes, blue and white, woven by cunning hands, swam in
thy husband’s gore. When Sigurd perished, o’er the dead thou satst,
caredst not for mirth—so Gunnar willed it.
8. “Atli thou wouldst afflict by Erp’s murder, and by Eitil’s life’s
destruction: that proved for thyself the worse: therefore should every
one so against others use, for life’s destruction, a sharp-biting
sword, that he harm not himself.”
9. Then said Sorli—he had a prudent mind—”I with my mother will
not speeches exchange: though words to each of you to me seem wanting.
What, Gudrun! dost thou desire, which for tears thou canst not utter?
10. “For thy brothers weep, and thy dear sons, thy nearest kin,
drawn to the strife: for us both shalt thou, Gudrun! also have to
weep, who here sit fated on our steeds, far away to die.”
11. From the court they went, for conflict ready. The young men
journeyed over humid fells, on Hunnish steeds, murder to avenge.
12. Then said Erp, all at once—the noble youth was joking on his
horse’s back—”Ill ’tis to a timid man to [Pg 253]point out the ways.” They
said the bastard was over bold.
13. On their way they had found the wily jester. “How will the
swarthy dwarf afford us aid?”
14. He of another mother answered: so he said aid he would to his
kin afford, as one foot to the other [or, grown to the body, one
hand the other].
15. “What can a foot to a foot give; or, grown to the body, one hand
16. From the sheath they drew the iron blade, the falchion’s edges,
for Hel’s delight. They their strength diminished by a third part,
they their young kinsman caused to earth to sink.
17. Their mantles then they shook, their weapons grasped; the
high-born were clad in sumptuous raiment.
18. Forward lay the ways, a woeful path they found, and their
sister’s son wounded on a gibbet, wind-cold outlaw-trees, on the
town’s west. Ever vibrated the ravens’ whet: there to tarry was not
19. Uproar was in the hall, men were with drink excited, so that the
horses’ tramp no one heard, until a mindful man winded his horn.
20. To announce they went to Jormunrek that were seen helm-decked
warriors. “Take ye counsel, potent ones are come; before mighty men ye
have on a damsel trampled.”
21. Then laughed Jormunrek, with his hand stroked [Pg 254]his beard, asked
not for his corslet; with wine he struggled, shook his dark locks, on
his white shield looked, and in his hand swung the golden cup.
22. “Happy should I seem, if I could see Hamdir and Sorli within my
hall. I would them then with bowstrings bind, the good sons of Giuki
on the gallows hang.”
23. Then said Hrodrglod, on the high steps standing; “Prince” said
she to her son—for that was threatened which ought not to
happen—”shall two men alone bind or slay ten hundred Goths in this
24. Tumult was in the mansion, the beer-cups flew in shivers, men
lay in blood from the Goths’ breasts flowing.
25. Then said Hamdir, the great of heart: “Jormunrek! thou didst
desire our coming, brothers of one mother, into thy burgh: now
seest thou thy feet, seest thy hands Jormunrek! cast into the glowing
26. Then roared forth a godlike mail-clad warrior, as a bear
roars: “On the men hurl stones, since spears bite not, nor edge of
sword, nor point, the sons of Jonakr.”
27. Then said Hamdir, the great of heart: “Harm didst thou, brother!
when thou that mouth didst ope. Oft from that mouth bad counsel
28. “Courage hast thou, Hamdir! if only thou hadst sense: that man
lacks much who wisdom lacks.
29. “Off would the head now be, had but Erp lived, [Pg 255]our brother bold
in fight, whom on the way we slew, that warrior brave—me the Disir
instigated—that man sacred to us, whom we resolved to slay.
30. “I ween not that ours should be the wolves’ example, that with
ourselves we should contend, like the Norns’ dogs, that voracious are
in the desert nurtured.”
31. “Well have we fought, on slaughtered Goths we stand, on those
fallen by the sword, like eagles on a branch. Great glory we have
gained, though now or to-morrow we shall die. No one lives till eve
against the Norns’ decree.”
33. There fell Sorli, at the mansion’s front; but Hamdir sank at the
This is called the Old Lay of Hamdir.
 See Str. 10, and Ghv. 9, and. Luning, Glossar.
 “The Alfar’s Lament” is the early dawn, and is in
apposition to “early morn,” in the following line. The swart Alfar are
meant, who were turned to stone if they did not flee from the light of
day. This is the best interpretation I can offer of this obscure
 In this and the four following strophes the person
alluded to is their half-brother Erp, of whose story nothing more is
known. He, it appears, had preceded or outridden the others.
 Malmesbury relates a similar story of King Æthelstan
and his cupbearer.
 Lit. wolf-trees; a fugitive criminal being called vargr
 According to the Skalda it would appear that they cut
off his hands and feet while he was asleep. Erp, had they not murdered
him, was to have cut off his head.
 Odin, as in the battle of Bravalla.
THE YOUNGER EDDAS OF STURLESON.
THE DELUDING OF GYLFI.
1. King Gylfi ruled over the land which is now called Svithiod
(Sweden). It is related of him that he once gave a wayfaring woman, as
a recompense for her having diverted him, as much land in his realm as
she could plough with four oxen in a day and a night. This woman was,
however, of the race of the Æsir, and was called Gefjon. She took four
oxen from the north, out of Jotunheim (but they were the sons she had
had with a giant), and set them before a plough. Now the plough made
such deep furrows that it tore up the land, which the oxen drew
westward out to sea until they came to a sound. There Gefjon fixed the
land, and called it Sælund. And the place where the land had stood
became water, and formed a lake which is now called “The Water”
(Laugur), and the inlets of this lake correspond exactly with the
headlands of Sealund. As Skald Bragi the Old saith:—
Rich in stored up treasure,
The land she joined to Denmark.
Four heads and eight eyes bearing,
While hot sweat trickled down them,
The oxen dragged the reft mass
That formed this winsome island.”
GYLFI’S JOURNEY TO ASGARD.
2. King Gylfi was renowned for his wisdom and skill in magic. He
beheld with astonishment that whatever the Æsir willed took place; and
was at a loss whether to attribute their success to the superiority of
their natural abilities, or to a power imparted to them by the mighty
gods whom they worshipped. To be satisfied in this particular, he
resolved to go to Asgard, and, taking upon himself the likeness of an
old man, set out on his journey. But the Æsir, being too well skilled
in divination not to foresee his design, prepared to receive him with
various illusions. On entering the city Gylfi saw a very lofty
mansion, the roof of which, as far as his eye could reach, was covered
with golden shields. Thiodolf of Hvina thus alludes to Valhalla being
roofed with shields.
(Stones had poured upon them),
On their backs let glisten
Valhalla’s golden shingles.”
At the entrance of the mansion Gylfi saw a man who amused himself by
tossing seven small-swords in the air, and catching them as they fell,
one after the other. This person having asked his name, Gylfi said
that he was called Gangler, and that he came from a long journey, and
begged for a night’s lodging. He asked, in his turn, to whom this
mansion belonged. The other told him that [Pg 258]it belonged to their king,
and added, “But I will lead thee to him, and thou shalt thyself ask
him his name.” So saying he entered the hall, and as Gylfi followed
the door banged to behind him. He there saw many stately rooms crowded
with people, some playing, some drinking, and others fighting with
various weapons. Gangler, seeing a multitude of things, the meaning of
which he could not comprehend, softly pronounced the following verse
(from the Havamal, st. i.):—
Ere thou go on,
With greatest caution;
Where foes are sitting
In this fair mansion.”
He afterwards beheld three thrones raised one above another, with a
man sitting on each of them. Upon his asking what the names of these
lords might be, his guide answered: “He who sitteth on the lowest
throne is a king; his name is Har (the High or Lofty One); the second
is Jafnhar (i.e. equal to the High); but he who sitteth on the
highest throne is called Thridi (the Third).” Har, perceiving the
stranger, asked him what his errand was, adding that he should be
welcome to eat and drink without cost, as were all those who remained
in Hava Hall. Gangler said he desired first to ascertain whether there
was any person present renowned for his wisdom.
“If thou art not the most knowing,” replied Har, “I fear thou wilt
hardly return safe. But go, stand there below, and propose thy
questions, here sits one who will be able to answer them.”
OF THE SUPREME DEITY.
3. Gangler thus began his discourse:—”‘Who is the first, or eldest
of the gods?”
“In our language,” replied Har, “he is called Alfadir (All-Father, or
the Father of all); but in the old Asgard he had twelve names.”
“Where is this God?” said Gangler; “what is his power? and what hath
he done to display his glory?”
“He liveth,” replied Har, “from all ages, he governeth all realms and
swayeth all things great and small.”
“He hath formed,” added Jafnhar, “heaven and earth, and the air, and
all things thereunto belonging.”
“And what is more,” continued Thridi, “he hath made man, and given him
a soul which shall live and never perish though the body shall have
mouldered away, or have been burnt to ashes. And all that are
righteous shall dwell with him in the place called Gimli, or Vingolf;
but the wicked shall go to Hel, and thence to Niflhel, which is below,
in the ninth world.”
“And where did this god remain before he made heaven and earth?”
“He was then,” replied Har, “with the Hrimthursar.”
OF THE PRIMORDIAL STATE OF THE UNIVERSE.
4. “But with what did he begin, or what was the beginning of
things?” demanded Gangler.
“Hear,” replied Har, “what is said in the Voluspa.”
“‘Twas time’s first dawn,
When nought yet was,
Nor sand nor sea,
Nor cooling wave;
Earth was not there,
Nought save a void
And yawning gulf.
But verdure none.'”
“Many ages before the earth was made,” added Jafnhar, “was Niflheim
formed, in the middle of which lies the spring called Hvergelmir, from
which flow twelve rivers, Gjoll being the nearest to the gate of the
abode of death.”
“But, first of all,” continued Thridi, “there was in the southern
region (sphere) the world called Muspell. It is a world too luminous
and glowing to be entered by those who are not indigenous there.
He who sitteth on its borders (or the land’s-end) to guard it is named
Surtur. In his hand he beareth a flaming falchion, and at the end of
the world shall issue forth to combat, and shall vanquish all the
gods, and consume the universe with fire.”
ORIGIN OF THE HRIMTHURSAR, OR FROST-GIANTS.
5. “Tell me,” said Gangler, “what was the state of things ere the
races mingled, and nations came into being.”
“When the rivers that are called Elivagar had flowed far from their
sources,” replied Har, “the venom which they rolled along hardened, as
does dross that runs from a furnace, and became ice. When the rivers
flowed no longer, and the ice stood still, the vapour arising from the
venom gathered over it, and froze to rime, and in this [Pg 261]manner were
formed, in Ginnungagap, many layers of congealed vapour, piled one
over the other.”
“That part of Ginnungagap,” added Jafnhar, “that lies towards the
north was thus filled with heavy masses of gelid vapour and ice,
whilst everywhere within were whirlwinds and fleeting mists. But the
southern part of Ginnungagap was lighted by the sparks and flakes that
flew into it from Muspellheim.”
“Thus,” continued Thridi, “whilst freezing cold and gathering gloom
proceeded from Niflheim, that part of Ginnungagap looking towards
Muspellheim was filled with glowing radiancy, the intervening space
remaining calm and light as wind-still air. And when the heated blast
met the gelid vapour it melted it into drops, and, by the might of him
who sent the heat, these drops quickened into life, and took a human
semblance. The being thus formed was named Ymir, but the Frost-giants
call him Orgelmir. From him descend the race of the Frost-giants
(Hrimthursar), as it is said in the Voluspa, ‘From Vidolf come all
witches; from Vilmeith all wizards; from Svarthofdi all
poison-seethers; and all giants from Ymir.’ And the giant Vafthrûdnir,
when Gangrad asked, ‘Whence came Orgelmir the first of the sons of
giants?’ answered, ‘The Elivagar cast out drops of venom that
quickened into a giant. From him spring all our race, and hence are we
so strong and mighty.'”
“How did the race of Ymir spread itself?” asked Gangler; “or dost thou
believe that this giant was a god?”
“We are far from believing him to have been a god,” [Pg 262]replied Har, “for
he was wicked as are all of his race, whom we call Frost-giants. And
it is said that, when Ymir slept, he fell into a sweat, and from the
pit of his left arm was born a man and a woman, and one of his feet
engendered with the other a son, from whom descend the Frost-giants,
and we therefore call Ymir the old Frost-giant.”
OF THE COW AUDHUMLA, AND THE BIRTH OF ODIN.
6. “Where dwelt Ymir, and on what did he live?” asked Gangler.
“Immediately after the gelid vapours had been resolved into drops,”
replied Kar, “there was formed out of them the cow named Audhumla.
Four streams of milk ran from her teats, and thus fed she Ymir.”
“But on what did the cow feed?” questioned Gangler.
“The cow,” answered Har, “supported herself by licking the stones that
were covered with salt and hoar frost. The first day that she licked
these stones there sprang from them, towards evening, the hairs of a
man, the second day a head, and on the third an entire man, who was
endowed with beauty, agility and power. He was called Bur, and was the
father of Bor, who took for his wife Besla, the daughter of the giant
Bolthorn. And they had three sons, Odin, Vili, and Ve; and it is our
belief that this Odin, with his brothers, ruleth both heaven and
earth, and that Odin is his true name, and that he is the most mighty
of all the gods.”
HOW THE SONS OF BOR SLEW YMIR AND FROM HIS BODY MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH.
7. “Was there,” asked Gangler, “any kind of equality or any degree
of good understanding between these two races?”
“Far from it,” replied Har; “for the sons of Bor slew the giant Ymir,
and when he fell there ran so much blood from his wounds, that the
whole race of Frost-giants was drowned in it, except a single giant,
who saved himself with his household. He is called by the giants
Bergelmir. He escaped by going on board his bark, and with him went
his wife, and from them are descended the Frost-giants.”
8. “And what became of the sons of Bor, whom ye look upon as gods?”
“To relate this,” replied Har, “is no trivial matter. They dragged the
body of Ymir into the middle of Ginnungagap, and of it formed the
earth. From Ymir’s blood they made the seas and waters; from his flesh
the land; from his bones the mountains; and his teeth and jaws,
together with some bits of broken bones, served them to make the
stones and pebbles.”
“With the blood that ran from his wounds,” added Jafnhar, “they made
the vast ocean, in the midst of which they fixed the earth, the ocean
encircling it as a ring, and hardy will he be who attempts to pass
“From his skull,” continued Thridi, “they formed the heavens, which
they placed over the earth, and set a dwarf at the corner of each of
the four quarters. These dwarfs are called East, West, North, and
South. They after[Pg 264]wards took the wandering sparks and red hot flakes
that had been cast out of Muspellheim, and placed them in the heavens,
both above and below, to give light unto the world, and assigned to
every other errant coruscation a prescribed locality and motion. Hence
it is recorded in ancient lore that from this time were marked out the
days, and nights, and seasons.”
“Such are the events that took place ere the earth obtained the form
it now beareth.”
“Truly great were the deeds ye tell me of!” exclaimed Gangler; “and
wondrous in all its parts is the work thereby accomplished. But how is
the earth fashioned?”
“It is round without,” replied Har, “and encircled by the deep ocean,
the outward shores of which were assigned for a dwelling to the race
of giants. But within, round about the earth, they (the sons of Bor)
raised a bulwark against turbulent giants, employing for this
structure Ymir’s eyebrows. To this bulwark they gave the name of
Midgard They afterwards tossed Ymir’s brains into the air, and
they became the clouds, for thus we find it recorded.
“Of Ymir’s flesh was formed the earth; of his sweat (blood), the seas;
of his bones, the mountains; of his hair the trees; of his skull, the
heavens; but with his eyebrows the blithe gods built Midgard for the
sons of men, whilst from his brains the lowering clouds were
OF THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN.
9. “To make heaven and earth, to fix the sun and the moon in the
firmament, and mark out the days and seasons, were, indeed, important
labours,” said Gangler; “but whence came the men who at present dwell
in the world?”
“One day.” replied Har, “as the sons of Bor were walking along the
sea-beach they found two stems of wood, out of which they shaped a man
and a woman. The first (Odin) infused into them life and spirit; the
second (Vili) endowed them with reason and the power of motion; the
third (Ve) gave them speech and features, hearing and vision. The man
they called Ask, and the woman, Embla. From these two descend the
whole human race whose assigned dwelling was within Midgard. Then the
sons of Bor built in the middle of the universe the city called
Asgard, where dwell the gods and their kindred, and from that abode
work out so many wondrous things, both on the earth and in the heavens
above it. There is in that city a place called Hlidskjalf, and when
Odin is seated there on his lofty throne he sees over the whole world,
discerns all the actions of men, and comprehends whatever he
contemplates. His wife is Frigga, the daughter of Fjorgyn, and they
and their offspring form the race that we call Æsir, a race that
dwells in Asgard the old, and the regions around it, and that we know
to be entirely divine. Wherefore Odin may justly be called All-father,
for he is verily the father of all, of gods as well as of men, and to
his power all things owe their existence. Earth is his daughter and
his wife, and [Pg 266]with her he had his first-born son, Asa-Thor, who is
endowed with strength and valour, and therefore quelleth he everything
that hath life.”
OF NIGHT AND DAY.
10. “A giant called Njorvi,” continued Har, “who dwelt in Jotunheim,
had a daughter called Night (Nott) who, like all her race, was of a
dark and swarthy complexion. She was first wedded to a man called
Naglfari, and had by him a son named Aud, and afterwards to another
man called Annar, by whom she had a daughter called Earth (Jord). She
then espoused Delling, of the Æsir race, and their son was Day, (Dagr)
a child light and beauteous like his father. Then took All-father,
Night, and Day, her son, and gave them two horses and two cars, and
set them up in the heavens that they might drive successively one
after the other, each in twelve hours’ time, round the world. Night
rides first on her horse called Hrimfaxi, that every morn, as he ends
his course, bedews the earth with the foam that falls from his bit.
The horse made use of by Day is named Skinfaxi, from whose mane is
shed light over the earth and the heavens.”
OF THE SUN AND MOON.
11. “How doth All-father regulate the course of the sun and moon?”
“There was formerly a man,” replied Har, “named Mundilfari, who had
two children so lovely and graceful that he called the male, Mani
(moon), and the female, Sol (sun), who espoused the man named Glenur.
But [Pg 267]the gods being incensed at Mundilfari’s presumption, took his
children and placed them in the heavens, and let Sol drive the horses
that draw the car of the sun, which the gods had made to give light to
the world out of the sparks that flew from Muspellheim. These horses
are called Arvak and Alsvid, and under their withers the gods placed
two skins filled with air to cool and refresh them, or, according to
some ancient traditions, a refrigerant substance called
isarnkul. Mani was set to guide the moon in his course, and
regulate his increasing and waning aspect. One day he carried off from
the earth two children, named Bil and Hjuki, as they were returning
from the spring called Byrgir, carrying between them the bucket called
Saegr, on the pole Simul. Vidfinn was the father of these children,
who always follow Mani (the moon), as we may easily observe even from
OF THE WOLVES THAT PURSUE THE SUN AND MOON
12. “But the sun,” said Gangler, speeds at such a rate as if she
feared that some one was pursuing her for her destruction.”
“And well she may,” replied Har, “for he that seeks her is not far
behind, and she has no way to escape than to run before him.”
“But who is he,” asked Gangler, “that causes her this anxiety?”
“There are two wolves,” answered Har; “the one called Skoll pursues
the sun, and it is he that she fears, for he shall one day overtake
and devour her; the other, [Pg 268]called Hati, the son of Hrodvitnir, runs
before her, and as eagerly pursues the moon that will one day be
caught by him.”
“Whence come these wolves?” asked Gangler.
“A hag,” replied Har, “dwells in a wood, to the eastward of Midgard,
called Jarnvid, (the Iron Wood,) which is the abode of a race of
witches called Jarnvidjur. This old hag is the mother of many gigantic
sons, who are all of them shaped like wolves, two of whom are the
wolves thou askest about. There is one of that race, who is said to be
the most formidable of all, called Managarm: he will be filled with
the life-blood of men who draw near their end, and will swallow up the
moon, and stain the heavens and the earth with blood. Then shall the
sun grow dim, and the winds howl tumultuously to and fro.”
OF THE WAY THAT LEADS TO HEAVEN.
13. “I must now ask,” said Gangler, “which is the path leading from
earth to heaven?”
“That is a senseless question,” replied Har, with a smile of derision.
“Hast thou not been told that the gods made a bridge from earth to
heaven, and called it Bifrost? Thou must surely have seen it; but,
perhaps, thou callest it the rainbow. It is of three hues, and is
constructed with more art than any other work. But, strong though it
be, it will be broken to pieces when the sons of Muspell, after having
traversed great rivers, shall ride over it.”
“Methinks,” said Gangler, “the gods could not have [Pg 269]been in earnest to
erect a bridge so liable to be broken down, since it is in their power
to make whatever they please.”
“The gods,” replied Har, “are not to be blamed on that account;
Bifrost is of itself a very good bridge, but there is nothing in
nature that can hope to make resistance when the sons of Muspell sally
forth to the great combat.”
THE GOLDEN AGE.
14. “What did All-father do after Asgard was made?” demanded
“In the beginning,” answered Har, “he appointed rulers, and bade them
judge with him the fate of men, and regulate the government of the
celestial city. They met for this purpose in a place called Idavoll,
which is in the centre of the divine abode. Their first work was to
erect a court or hall wherein are twelve seats for themselves, besides
the throne which is occupied by All-father. This hall is the largest
and most magnificent in the universe, being resplendent on all sides,
both within and without, with the finest gold. Its name is Gladsheim.
They also erected another hall for the sanctuary of the goddesses. It
is a very fair structure, and called by men Vingolf. Lastly they built
a smithy, and furnished it with hammers, tongs, and anvils, and with
these made all the other requisite instruments, with which they worked
in metal, stone and wood, and composed so large a quantity of the
metal called gold that they made all their moveables of it. Hence that
age was named the Golden Age. This was the age that lasted until the
[Pg 270]arrival of the women out of Jotunheim, who corrupted it.”
ORIGIN OF THE DWARFS.
15. “Then the gods, seating themselves upon their thrones,
distributed justice, and bethought them how the dwarfs had been bred
in the mould of the earth, just as worms are in a dead body. It was,
in fact, in Ymir’s flesh that the dwarfs were engendered, and began to
move and live. At first they were only maggots, but by the will of the
gods they at length partook both of human shape and understanding,
although they always dwell in rocks and caverns.
“Modsognir and Durin are the principal ones. As it is said in the
All gods most holy,
To their seats aloft,
And counsel together took,
Who should of dwarfs
The race then fashion,
From the livid bones
And blood of the giant.
Of the dwarfish race,
And Durin too
Were then created.
And like to men
Dwarfs in the earth
Were formed in numbers
As Durin ordered.'”
OF THE ASH YGGDRASILL, MIMIR’S WELL., AND THE NORNS OR DESTINIES.
16. “Where,” asked Gangler, “is the chief or holiest seat of
“It is under the ash Yggdrasill,” replied Har, “where the gods
assemble every day in council.”
“What is there remarkable in regard to that place?” said Gangler.
“[Pg 271]That ash,” answered Jafnhar, “is the greatest and best of all trees.
Its branches spread over the whole world, and even reach above heaven.
It has three roots very wide asunder. One of them extends to the Æsir,
another to the Frost-giants in that very place where was formerly
Ginnungagap, and the third stands over Nifelheim, and under this root,
which is constantly gnawed by Nidhogg, is Hvergelmir. But under the
root that stretches out towards the Frost-giants there is Mimir’s
well, in which wisdom and wit lie hidden. The owner of this well is
called Mimir. He is full of wisdom, because he drinks the waters of
the well from the horn Gjoll every morning. One day All-father came
and begged a draught of this water, which he obtained, but was obliged
to leave one of his eyes as a pledge for it.
“The third root of the ash is in heaven, and under it is the holy
Urdar-fount. ‘Tis here that the gods sit in judgment. Every day they
ride up hither on horseback over Bifrost, which is called the Æsir
Bridge. These are the names of the horses of the Æsir. Sleipnir is the
best of them; he has eight legs, and belongs to Odin. The others are
Gladr, Gyllir, Glær, Skeidbrimir, Silfrintoppr, Synir, Gils,
Falhofnir, Gulltoppr, and Lettfeti. Baldur’s horse was burnt with his
master’s body. As for Thor, he goes on foot, and is obliged every day
to wade the rivers called Kormt and OErmt, and two others called
“Through these shall Thor wade every day, as he fares to the doomstead
under Yggdrasill’s ash, else the [Pg 272]Æsir Bridge would be in flames, and
boiling hot would become the holy waters.” “But tell me,” said
Gangler, “does fire burn over Bifrost?”
“That,” replied Har, “which thou seest red in the bow, is burning
fire; for the Frost-giants and the Mountain-giants would go up to
heaven by that bridge if it were easy for every one to walk over it.
There are in heaven many goodly homesteads, and none without a
celestial ward. Near the fountain, which is under the ash, stands a
very beauteous dwelling, out of which go three maidens, named Urd,
Verdandi, and Skuld. These maidens fix the lifetime of all men,
and are called Norns. But there are, indeed, many other Norns, for,
when a man is born, there is a Norn to determine his fate. Some are
known to be of heavenly origin, but others belong to the races of the
elves and dwarfs; as it is said—
“‘Methinks the Norns were born far asunder, for they are not of the
same race. Some belong to the Æsir, some to the Elves, and some are
“But if these Norns dispense the destinies of men,” said Gangler,
“they are, methinks, very unequal in their distribution; for some men
are fortunate and wealthy, others acquire neither riches nor honours,
some live to a good old age, while others are cut off in their prime.”
“The Norns,” replied Har, “who are of a good origin, are good
themselves, and dispense good destinies. But [Pg 273]those men to whom
misfortunes happen ought to ascribe them to the evil Norns.”
17. “What more wonders hast thou to tell me,” said Gangler,
“concerning the ash?”
“What I have further to say respecting it,” replied Har, “is, that
there is an eagle perched upon its branches who knows many things:
between his eyes sits the hawk called Vedurfolnir. The squirrel named
Ratatosk runs up and down the ash, and seeks to cause strife between
the eagle and Nidhogg. Four harts run across the branches of the tree,
and bite the buds. They are called Dainn, Divalinn, Duneyr, and
Durathror. But there are so many snakes with Nidhogg in Hvergelmir
that no tongue can recount them.”
“It is also said that the Norns who dwell by the Urdar-fount draw
every day water from the spring, and with it and the clay that lies
around the fount sprinkle the ash, in order that its branches may not
rot and wither away. This water is so holy that everything placed in
the spring becomes as white as the film, within an eggshell. As it is
said in the Voluspa—
A stately tree sprinkled
With water the purest;
That fall in the dales;
Ever blooming, it stands
O’er the Urdar-fountain.”‘
“The dew that falls thence on the earth men call honey-dew, and it is
the food of the bees. Two fowls are fed in the Urdar-fount; they are
called swans, and from them are descended all the birds of this
OF THE VARIOUS CELESTIAL REGIONS.
18. “Thou tellest me many wonderful things of heaven,” said Gangler,
“but what other homesteads are to be seen there?”
“There are many other fair homesteads there,” replied Har; “one of
them is named Elf-home (Alfheim), wherein dwell the beings called the
Elves of Light; but the Elves of Darkness live under the earth, and
differ from the others still more in their actions than in their
appearance. The Elves of Light are fairer than the sun, but the Elves
of Darkness blacker than pitch. There is also a mansion called
Breidablik, which is not inferior to any other in beauty; and another
named Glitnir, the wall, columns and beams of which are of ruddy gold,
and the roof of silver. There is also the stead called Himinbjorg,
that stands on the borders where Bifrost touches heaven, and the
stately mansion belonging to Odin, called Valaskjalf, which was built
by the gods, and roofed with pure silver, and in which is the throne
called Hlidskjalf. When All-father is seated on this throne, he can
see over the whole world. On the southern edge of heaven is the most
beautiful homestead of all, brighter than the sun itself. It is called
Gimli, and shall stand when both heaven and earth have passed away,
and good and righteous men shall dwell therein for everlasting ages.”
“But what will preserve this abode when Surtur’s fire consumes heaven
and earth?” asked Gangler.
“We are told,” replied Har, “that towards the south [Pg 275]there is another
heaven above this called Andlang, and again above this a third heaven
called Vidblain. In this last, we think Gimli must be seated, but we
deem that the Elves of Light abide in it now.”
OF THE WIND AND THE SEASONS.
19. “Tell me,” said Gangler, “whence comes the wind, which is so
strong that it moves the ocean and fans fire to flame, yet, strong
though it be, no mortal eye can discern it? wonderfully, therefore,
must it be shapen.”
“I can tell thee all about it,” answered Har; “thou must know that at
the northern extremity of the heavens sits a giant called Hræsvelgur,
clad with eagles’ plumes. When he spreads out his wings for flight,
the winds arise from under them.”
20. “Tell me further,” said Gangler, “why the summer should be hot,
and the winter cold.”
“A wise man would not ask such a question, which every one could
answer,” replied Har; “but, if thou hast been so dull as not to have
heard the reason, I will rather forgive thee for once asking a foolish
question than suffer thee to remain any longer in ignorance of what
ought to have been known to thee. The father of Summer is called
Svasuth, who is such a gentle and delicate being that what is mild is
from him called sweet. The father of Winter has two names, Vindloni
and Vindsval. He is the son of Vasad, and, like all his race, has an
icy breath, and is of a grim and gloomy aspect.”
21. “I must now ask thee,” said Gangler, “who are the gods that men
are bound to believe in?”
“There are twelve gods,” replied Har, “to whom divine honours ought to
“Nor are the goddesses,” added Jafnhar, “less divine and mighty.”
“The first and eldest of the Æsir,” continued Thridi, “is Odin. He
governs all things, and, although the other deities are powerful, they
all serve and obey him as children do their father. Frigga is his
wife. She foresees the destinies of men, but never reveals what is to
come. For thus it is said that Odin himself told Loki, ‘Senseless
Loki, why wilt thou pry into futurity, Frigga alone knoweth the
destinies of all, though she telleth them never?’
“Odin is named Alfadir (All-father), because he is the father of all
the gods, and also Valfadir (Choosing Father), because he chooses for
his sons all of those who fall in combat. For their abode he has
prepared Valhalla and Vingolf, where they are called Einherjar (Heroes
or Champions). Odin is also called Hangagud, Haptagud, and Farmagud,
and, besides these, was named in many ways when he went to King
Geirraudr,” forty-nine names in all.
“A great many names, indeed!” exclaimed Gangler; “surely that man must
be very wise who knows them all distinctly, and can tell on what
occasions they were given.”[Pg 277]
“It requires, no doubt,” replied Har, “a good memory to recollect
readily all these names, but I will tell thee in a few words what
principally contributed to confer them upon him. It was the great
variety of languages; for the various nations were obliged to
translate his name into their respective tongues, in order that they
might supplicate and worship him. Some of his names, however, have
been owing to adventures that happened to him on his journeys, and
which are related in old stories. Nor canst thou ever pass for a wise
man if thou are not able to give an account of these wonderful
22. “I now ask thee,” said Gangler, “what are the names of the other
gods. What are their functions, and what have they brought to pass?”
“The mightiest of them.” replied Har, “is Thor. He is called Asa-Thor
and Auku-Thor, and is the strongest of gods and men. His realm is
named Thrudvang, and his mansion Bilskirnir, in which are five hundred
and forty halls. It is the largest house ever built.”
“Thor has a car drawn by two goats called Tanngniost and Tanngrisnir.
From his driving about in this car he is called Auku-Thor
(Charioteer-Thor). He likewise possesses three very precious things.
The first is a mallet called Mjolnir, which both the Frost and
Mountain Giants know to their cost when they see it hurled against
them in the air; and no wonder, for it has split many a skull of their
fathers and kindred. The second rare thing he possesses is called the
belt of strength or [Pg 278]prowess (Megingjardir). When he girds it about
him his divine might is doubly augmented; the third, also very
precious, being his iron gauntlets, which he is obliged to put on
whenever he would lay hold of the handle of his mallet. There is no
one so wise as to be able to relate all Thor’s marvellous exploits,
yet I could tell thee so many myself that hours would be whiled away
ere all that I know had been recounted.”
23. “I would rather,” said Gangler, “hear something about the other
“The second son of Odin,” replied Har, “is Baldur, and it may be truly
said of him that he is the best, and that all mankind are loud in his
praise. So fair and dazzling is he in form and features, that rays of
light seem to issue from him; and thou mayst have some idea of the
beauty of his hair, when I tell thee that the whitest of all plants is
called Baldur’s brow. Baldur is the mildest, the wisest, and the most
eloquent of all the Æsir, yet such is his nature that the judgment he
has pronounced can never be altered. He dwells in the heavenly mansion
called Breidablik, in which nothing unclean can enter.”
24. “The third god,” continued Har, “is Njord, who dwells in the
heavenly region called Noatun. He rules over the winds, and checks the
fury of the sea and of fire, and is therefore invoked by sea-farers
and fisher[Pg 279]men. He is so wealthy that he can give possessions and
treasures to those who call on him for them. Yet Njord is not of the
lineage of the Æsir, for he was born and bred in Vanaheim. But the
Vanir gave him as hostage to the Æsir, receiving from them in his
stead Hoenir. By this means was peace re-established between the Æsir
and Vanir. Njord took to wife Skadi, the daughter of the giant
Thjassi. She preferred dwelling in the abode formerly belonging to her
father, which is situated among rocky mountains, in the region called
Thrymheim, but Njord loved to reside near the sea. They at last agreed
that they should pass together nine nights in Thrymheim, and then
three in Noatun. One day, when Njord came back from the mountains to
Noatun, he thus sang—
Not long was I there,
Not more than nine nights;
Methought sounded ill
To the song of the swan-bird.’
“To which Skadi sang in reply—
In my couch on the strand,
For the screams of the sea-fowl,
The mew as he comes
Every morn from the main
Is sure to awake me.’
“Skadi then returned to the rocky mountains, and abode in Thrymheim.
There, fastening on her snow-skates and taking her bow, she passes her
time in the chase of savage beasts, and is called the Ondur goddess,
or Ondurdis. As it is said—
“‘Thrymheim’s the land
Where Thjassi abode
That mightiest of giants.
But snow-skating Skadi
Now dwells there, I trow,
In her father’s old mansion.'”
OF THE GOD FREY, AND THE GODDESS FREYJA.
25. “Njord had afterwards, at his residence at Noatun, two children,
a son named Frey, and a daughter called Freyja, both of them beauteous
and mighty. Frey is one of the most celebrated of the gods. He
presides over rain and sunshine, and all the fruits of the earth, and
should be invoked in order to obtain good harvests, and also for
peace. He, moreover, dispenses wealth among men. Freyja is the most
propitious of the goddesses; her abode in heaven is called Folkvang.
To whatever field of battle she rides, she asserts her right to one
half of the slain, the other half belonging to Odin. As it is said—
Where Freyja hath right
To dispose of the hall seats
She chooseth the half,
And half leaves to Odin.’
“Her mansion, called Sessrumnir, is large and magnificent; thence she
sallies forth in a car drawn by two cats. She lends a very favourable
ear to those who sue to her for assistance. It is from her name that
women of birth and fortune are called in our language Freyjor. She is
very fond of love ditties, and all lovers would do well to invoke
26. “All the gods appear to me,” said Gangler, “to have great power,
and I am not at all surprised that ye are able to perform so many
great achievements, since ye are so well acquainted with the
attributes and functions of each god, and know what is befitting to
ask from each, in order to succeed. But are there any more of them
besides those you have already mentioned?”
“Ay,” answered Har, “there is Tyr, who is the most daring and intrepid
of all the gods. ‘Tis he who dispenses valour in war, hence warriors
do well to invoke him. It has become proverbial to say of a man who
surpasses all others in valour that he is Tyr-strong, or valiant as
Tyr. A man noted for his wisdom is also said to be ‘wise as Tyr.’ Let
me give thee a proof of his intrepidity. When the Æsir were trying to
persuade the wolf, Fenrir, to let himself be bound up with the chain,
Gleipnir, he, fearing that they would never afterwards unloose him,
only consented on the condition that while they were chaining him he
should keep Tyr’s right hand between his jaws. Tyr did not hesitate to
put his hand in the monster’s mouth, but when Fenrir perceived that
the Æsir had no intention to unchain him, he bit the hand off at that
point, which has ever since been called the wolf’s joint. From that
time Tyr has had but one hand. He is not regarded as a peacemaker
OF THE OTHER GODS.
27. “There is another god,” continued Har, “named Bragi, who is
celebrated for his wisdom, and more [Pg 282]especially for his eloquence and
correct forms of speech. He is not only eminently skilled in poetry,
but the art itself is called from his name Bragr, which epithet is
also applied to denote a distinguished poet or poetess. His wife is
named Iduna. She keeps in a box the apples which the gods, when they
feel old age approaching, have only to taste of to become young again.
It is in this manner that they will be kept in renovated youth until
“Methinks,” interrupted Gangler, “the gods have committed a great
treasure to the guardianship and good faith of Iduna.”
“And hence it happened,” replied Har, smiling, “that they once ran the
greatest risk imaginable, as I shall have occasion to tell thee when
thou hast heard the names of the other deities.
28. “One of them is Heimdall, called also the White God. He is the
son of nine virgins, who were sisters, and is a very sacred and
powerful deity. He also bears the appellation of the Gold-toothed, on
account of his teeth being of pure gold, and also that of
Hallinskithi. His horse is called Gulltopp, and he dwells in
Himinbjorg at the end of Bifrost. He is the warder of the gods, and is
therefore placed on the borders of heaven, to prevent the giants from
forcing their way over the bridge. He requires less sleep than a bird,
and sees by night, as well as by day, a hundred miles around him. So
acute is his ear that no sound escapes him, for he can even hear the
grass growing on the earth, and the wool on a sheep’s back. He has a
horn called the Gjallar-horn, [Pg 283]which is heard throughout the universe.
His sword is called Hofud (Head).
HODUR THE BLIND, ASSASSIN OF BALDUR
29. “Among the Æsir,” continued Har, “we also reckon Hodur, who is
blind, but extremely strong. Both gods and men would be very glad if
they never had occasion to pronounce his name, for they will long have
cause to remember the deed perpetrated by his hand.
30. “Another god is Vidar, surnamed the Silent, who wears very thick
shoes. He is almost as strong as Thor himself, and the gods place
great reliance on him in all critical conjunctures.
31. “Vali, another god, is the son of Odin and Rinda, he is bold in
war, and an excellent archer.
32. “Another is called Ullur, who is the son of Sif, and stepson of
Thor. He is so well skilled in the use of the bow, and can go so fast
on his snow-skates, that in these arts no one can contend with him. He
is also very handsome in his person, and possesses every quality of a
warrior, wherefore it is befitting to invoke him in single combats.
33. “The name of another god is Forseti, who is the son of Baldur
and Nanna, the daughter of Nef. He possesses the heavenly mansion
called Glitnir, and all disputants at law who bring their cases before
him go away perfectly reconciled.
“His tribunal is the best that is to be found among gods or men.
OF LOKI AND HIS PROGENY.
34. “There is another deity,” continued Har, “reckoned in the number
of the Æsir, whom some call the calumniator of the gods, the contriver
of all fraud and mischief, and the disgrace of gods and men. His name
is Loki or Loptur. He is the son of the giant Farbauti. His mother is
Laufey or Nal; his brothers are Byleist and Helblindi. Loki is
handsome and well made, but of a very fickle mood, and most evil
disposition. He surpasses all beings in those arts called Cunning and
Perfidy. Many a time has he exposed the gods to very great perils, and
often extricated them again by his artifices. His wife is called
Siguna, and their son Nari.
35. “Loki,” continued Har, “has likewise had three children by
Angurbodi, a giantess of Jotunheim. The first is the wolf Fenrir; the
second Jormungand, the Midgard serpent; the third Hela (Death). The
gods were not long ignorant that these monsters continued to be bred
up in Jotunheim, and, having had recourse to divination, became aware
of all the evils they would have to suffer from them; their being
sprung from such a mother was a bad presage, and from such a sire was
still worse. All-father therefore deemed it advisable to send one of
the gods to bring them to him. When they came he threw the serpent
into that deep ocean by which the earth is engirdled. But the monster
has grown to such an enormous size that, holding his tail in his
mouth, he encircles the whole earth. Hela he cast into Nifelheim, and
gave her power over nine worlds (regions), into which she [Pg 285]distributes
those who are sent to her, that is to say, all who die through
sickness or old age. Here she possesses a habitation protected by
exceedingly high walls and strongly barred gates. Her hall is called
Elvidnir; Hunger is her table; Starvation, her knife; Delay, her man;
Slowness, her maid; Precipice, her threshold; Care, her bed; and
Burning Anguish forms the hangings of her apartments. The one half of
her body is livid, the other half the colour of human flesh. She may
therefore easily be recognized; the more so, as she has a dreadfully
stern and grim countenance.
“The wolf Fenrir was bred up among the gods; but Tyr alone had the
daring to go and feed him. Nevertheless, when the gods perceived that
he every day increased prodigiously in size, and that the oracles
warned them that he would one day become fatal to them, they
determined to make a very strong iron fetter for him, which they
called Læding. Taking this fetter to the wolf, they bade him try his
strength on it. Fenrir, perceiving that the enterprise would not be
very difficult for him, let them do what they pleased, and then, by
great muscular exertion, burst the chain and set himself at liberty.
The gods, having seen this, made another fetter, half as strong again
as the former, which they called Dromi, and prevailed on the wolf to
put it on, assuring him that, by breaking this, he would give an
undeniable proof of his vigour.
“The wolf saw well enough that it would not be so easy to break this
fetter, but finding at the same time that his strength had increased
since he broke Læding, and [Pg 286]thinking that he could never become famous
without running some risk, voluntarily submitted to be chained. When
the gods told him that they had finished their task, Fenrir shook
himself violently, stretched his limbs, rolled on the ground, and at
last burst his chains, which flew in pieces all around him. He then
freed himself from Dromi, which gave rise to the proverb, ‘to get
loose out of Læding, or to dash out of Dromi,’ when anything is to be
accomplished by strong efforts.
BINDING THE WOLF FENIR
“After this, the gods despaired of ever being able to bind the wolf;
wherefore All-father sent Skirnir, the messenger of Frey, into the
country of the Dark Elves (Svartalfaheim) to engage certain dwarfs to
make the fetter called Gleipnir. It was fashioned out of six things;
to wit, the noise made by the footfall of a cat; the beards of women;
the roots of stones; the sinews of bears; the breath of fish; and the
spittle of birds. Though thou mayest not have heard of these things
before, thou mayest easily convince thyself that we have not been
telling thee lies. Thou must have seen that women have no beards, that
cats make no noise when they run, and that there are no roots under
stones. Now I know what has been told thee to be equally true,
although there may be some things thou art not able to furnish a proof
“I believe what thou hast told me to be true,” replied Gangler, “for
what thou hast adduced in corroboration of thy statement is
conceivable. But how was the fetter smithied?”
“This can I tell thee,” replied Har, “that the fetter was as smooth
and soft as a silken string, and yet, as [Pg 287]thou wilt presently hear, of
very great strength. When it was brought to the gods, they were
profuse in their thanks to the messenger for the trouble he had given
himself; and taking the wolf with them to the island called Lyngvi, in
the Lake Amsvartnir, they showed him the cord, and expressed their
wish that he would try to break it, assuring him at the same time that
it was somewhat stronger than its thinness would warrant a person in
supposing it to be. They took it themselves, one after another, in
their hands, and after attempting in vain to break it, said, ‘Thou
alone, Fenrir, art able to accomplish such a feat.’
“‘Methinks,’ replied the wolf, ‘that I shall acquire no fame in
breaking such a slender cord; but if any artifice has been employed in
making it, slender though it seems, it shall never come on my feet.’
“The gods assured him that he would easily break a limber silken cord,
since he had already burst asunder iron fetters of the most solid
construction. ‘But if thou shouldst not succeed in breaking it,’ they
added, ‘thou wilt show that thou art too weak to cause the gods any
fear, and we will not hesitate to set thee at liberty without delay.’
“‘I fear me much,’ replied he wolf, ‘that if ye once bind me so fast
that I shall be unable to free myself by my own efforts, ye will be in
no haste to unloose me. Loath am I, therefore, to have this cord wound
round me; but in order that ye may not doubt my courage, I will
consent, provided one of you put his hand into my mouth as a pledge
that ye intend me no deceit.’
“[Pg 288]The gods wistfully looked at each other, and found that they had
only the choice of two evils, until Tyr stepped forward and intrepidly
put his right hand between the monster’s jaws. Hereupon the gods,
having tied up the wolf, he forcibly stretched himself as he had
formerly done, and used all his might to disengage himself, but the
more efforts he made the tighter became the cord, until all the gods,
except Tyr, who lost his hand, burst into laughter at the sight.
“When the gods saw that the wolf was effectually bound, they took the
chain called Gelgja, which was fixed to the fetter, and drew it
through the middle of a large rock named Gjoll, which they sank very
deep into the earth; afterwards, to make it still more secure, they
fastened the end of the cord to a massive stone called Thviti, which
they sank still deeper. The wolf made in vain the most violent efforts
to break loose, and opening his tremendous jaws endeavoured to bite
them. The gods seeing this, thrust a sword into his mouth, which
pierced his under-jaw to the hilt, so that the point touched the
palate. He then began to howl horribly, and since that time the foam
flows continually from his mouth in such abundance that it forms the
river called Von. There will he remain until Ragnarok.”
“Verily,” said Gangler, “an evil progeny is that of Loki, yet most
mighty and powerful; but since the gods have so much to fear from the
wolf, why did they not slay him?”
“The gods have so much respect for the sanctity of their
peace-steads,” replied Har, “that they would not [Pg 289]stain them with the
blood of the wolf, although prophecy had intimated to them that he
must one day become the bane of Odin.”
OF THE GODDESSES.
36. “Tell me now,” said Gangler, “which are the goddesses?”
“The first,” replied Har, “is Frigga, who has a magnificent mansion
called Fensalir. The second is Saga, who dwells at Sokkvabekk, a very
large and stately abode. The third is Eir, the best of all in the
healing art. The fourth, named Gefjon, is a maid, and all those who
die maids become her hand-maidens. The fifth is Fulla, who is also a
maid, and goes about with her hair flowing over her shoulders, and her
head adorned with a gold ribbon. She is entrusted with the toilette
and slippers of Frigga, and admitted into the most important secrets
of that goddess. Freyja is ranked next to Frigga: she is wedded to a
person called Odur, and their daughter, named Hnossa, is so very
handsome that whatever is beautiful and precious is called by her name
(hnosir.) But Odur left his wife in order to travel into very remote
countries. Since that time Freyja continually weeps, and her tears are
drops of pure gold. She has a great variety of names, for having gone
over many countries in search of her husband, each people gave her a
different name. She is thus called Mardoll, Horn, Gefn, and Syr, and
also Vanadis. She possesses the necklace Brising. The seventh goddess
is Sjofna, who delights in turning men’s hearts and thoughts to [Pg 290]love;
hence a wooer is called, from her name, Sjafni. The eighth, called
Lofna, is so mild and gracious to those who invoke her, that by a
peculiar privilege which either All-Father himself or Frigga has given
her, she can remove every obstacle that may prevent the union of
lovers sincerely attached to each other. Hence her name is applied to
denote love, and whatever is beloved by men. Vora, the ninth goddess,
listens to the oaths that men take, and particularly to the troth
plighted between man and woman, and punishes those who keep not their
promises. She is wise and prudent, and so penetrating that nothing
remains hidden from her. Syn, the tenth, keeps the door in the hall,
and shuts it against those who ought not to enter. She presides at
trials when any thing is to be denied on oath, whence the proverb,
‘Syn (negation) is set against it,’ when ought is denied. Hlina, the
eleventh, has the care of those whom Frigga intends to deliver from
peril. Snotra, the twelfth, is wise and courteous, and men and women
who possess these qualities have her name applied to them. Gna, the
thirteenth, is the messenger that Frigga sends into the various worlds
on her errands. She has a horse that can run through air and water,
called Hofvarpnir. Once, as she drove out, certain Vanir saw her car
in the air, when one of them exclaimed,
What goeth there?
In the air aloft what glideth?’
“‘I fly not though I go,
And glide through the air
Whose sire’s Hamskerpir,
And dam Gardrofa.’
“Sol and Bil are also reckoned among the goddesses, but their nature
has already been explained to thee.
37. “There are besides these a great many other goddesses, whose
duty it is to serve in Valhalla; to bear in the drink and take care of
the drinking-horns and whatever belongs to the table. They are named
in Grimnismal, and are called Valkyrjor. Odin sends them to every
field of battle, to make choice of those who are to be slain, and to
sway the victory. Gudur, Rota, and the youngest of the Norns, Skuld,
also ride forth to choose the slain and turn the combat. Jord (earth),
the mother of Thor, and Rinda, the mother of Vali, are also reckoned
amongst the goddesses.”
OF FREY AND GERDA.
38. “There was a man,” continued Har, “named Gymir, who had for wife
Aurboda, of the race of the Mountain-giants. Their daughter is Gerda,
who is the most beautiful of all women. One day Frey having placed
himself in Hlidskjalf, to take a view of the whole universe,
perceived, as he looked towards the north, a large and stately mansion
which a woman was going to enter, and as she lifted up the latch of
the door so great a radiancy was thrown from her hand that the air and
waters, and all worlds were illuminated by it. At this sight, Frey, as
a just punishment for his audacity in [Pg 292]mounting on that sacred throne,
was struck with sudden sadness, insomuch so, that on his return home
he could neither speak, nor sleep, nor drink, nor did any one dare to
inquire the cause of his affliction; but Njord, at last, sent for
Skirnir, the messenger of Frey, and charged him to demand of his
master why he thus refused to speak to any one. Skirnir promised to do
this, though with great reluctance, fearing that all he had to expect
was a severe reprimand. He, however, went to Frey, and asked him
boldly why he was so sad and silent. Frey answered, that he had seen a
maiden of such surpassing beauty that if he could not possess her he
should not live much longer, and that this was what rendered him so
melancholy. ‘Go, therefore,’ he added, ‘and ask her hand for me, and
bring her here whether her father be willing or not, and I will amply
reward thee.’ Skirnir undertook to perform the task, provided he might
be previously put in possession of Frey’s sword, which was of such
excellent quality that it would of itself strew a field with carnage
whenever the owner ordered it. Frey, impatient of delay, immediately
made him a present of the sword, and Skirnir set out on his journey
and obtained the maiden’s promise, that within nine nights she would
come to a place called Barey, and there wed Frey. Skirnir having
reported the success of his message, Frey exclaimed,
Long are two nights,
But how shall I hold out three?
Shorter hath seemed
A month to me oft
Than of this longing-time the half.’
“[Pg 293]Frey having thus given away his sword, found himself without arms
when he fought with Beli, and hence it was that he slew him with a
“But it seems very astonishing,” interrupted Gangler, “that such a
brave hero as Frey should give away his sword without keeping another
equally good for himself. He must have been in a very bad plight when
he encountered Beli, and methinks must have mightily repented him of
“That combat,” replied Har, “was a trifling affair. Frey could have
killed Beli with a blow of his fist had he felt inclined: but the time
will come when the sons of Muspell shall issue forth to the fight, and
then, indeed, will Frey truly regret having parted with his falchion.”
OF THE JOYS OF VALHALLA.
39. “If it be as thou hast told me,” said Gangler, “that all men who
have fallen in fight since the beginning of the world are gone to
Odin, in Valhalla, what has he to give them to eat, for methinks there
must be a great crowd there?”
“What thou sayest is quite true,” replied Har, “the crowd there is
indeed great, but great though it be, it will still increase, and will
be thought too little when the wolf cometh. But however great the band
of men in Valhalla may be, the flesh of the boar Sæhrimnir will more
than suffice for their sustenance. For although this boar is sodden
every morning he becomes whole again every night. But there are few,
methinks, who are wise enough to give thee, in this respect, a
satisfactory answer to thy [Pg 294]question. The cook is called Andhrimnir,
and the kettle Eldhrimnir. As it is said,—’Andhrimnir cooks in
Eldhrimnir, Sæhrimnir.’ ‘Tis the best of flesh, though few know how
much is required for the Einherjar.”
“But has Odin,” said Gangler, “the same food as the heroes?”
“Odin,’ replied Har, ‘gives the meat that is set before him to two
wolves, called Geri and Freki, for he himself stands in no need of
food. Wine is for him both meat and drink.
“Two ravens sit on Odin’s shoulders and whisper in his ear the tidings
and events they have heard and witnessed. They are called Hugin and
Munin. He sends them out at dawn of day to fly over the whole
world, and they return at eve towards meal time. Hence it is that Odin
knows so many things, and is called the Raven’s God. As it is said,—
Each dawn take their flight
Earth’s fields over.
Lest he come not back,
But much more for Munin.'”
40. “What have the heroes to drink,” said Gangler, “in sufficient
quantity to correspond to their plentiful supply of meat: do they only
“A very silly question is that,” replied Har; “dost thou imagine that
All-Father would invite kings and jarls and other great men and give
them nothing to drink but water! In that case, methinks, many of those
who had endured the greatest hardships, and received deadly wounds in
order to obtain access to Valhalla, would find [Pg 295]that they had paid too
great a price for their water drink, and would indeed have reason to
complain were they there to meet with no better entertainment. But
thou wilt see that the case is quite otherwise. For the she-goat,
named Heidrun, stands above Valhalla, and feeds on the leaves of a
very famous tree called Lærath, and from her teats flows mead in such
great abundance that every day a stoop, large enough to hold more than
would suffice for all the heroes, is filled with it.”
“Verily,” said Gangler, “a mighty useful goat is this, and methinks
the tree she feeds on must have very singular virtues.”
“Still more wonderful,” replied Har, “is what is told of the stag
Eikthyrnir. This stag also stands over Valhalla and feeds upon the
leaves of the same tree, and whilst he is feeding so many drops fall
from his antlers down into Hvergelmir that they furnish sufficient
water for the rivers that issuing thence flow through the celestial
41. “Wondrous things are these which thou tellest me of,” said
Gangler, “and Valhalla must needs be an immense building, but methinks
there must often be a great press at the door among such a number of
people constantly thronging in and out?”
“Why dost thou not ask,” replied Har, “how many doors there are, and
what are their dimensions; then wouldst thou be able to judge whether
there is any difficulty in going in and out. Know, then, that there is
no lack of either seats or doors. As it is said in Grimnismal:—
“‘Five hundred doors
And forty more
Methinks are in Valhalla.
Eight hundred heroes through each door
Shall issue forth
Against the wolf to combat.'”
42. “A mighty band of men must be in Valhalla,” said Gangler, “and
methinks Odin must be a great chieftain to command such a numerous
host. But how do the heroes pass their time when they are not
“Every day,” replied Har, “as soon as they have dressed themselves
they ride out into the court (or field), and there fight until they
cut each other to pieces. This is their pastime, but when meal-time
approaches they remount their steeds and return to drink in Valhalla.
As it is said:—
On Odin’s plain
Hew daily each other,
While chosen the slain are.
From the fray they then ride,
And drink ale with the Æsir.’
“Thou hast thus reason to say that Odin is great and mighty, for there
are many proofs of this. As it is said in the very words of the
Is the first of trees,
As Skidbladnir of ships,
Odin of Æsir,
Sleipnir of steeds,
Bifrost of bridges,
Bragi of bards,
Habrok of hawks,
And Garm of hounds is.’
OF THE HORSE SLEIPNIR.
43. “Thou mad’st mention,” said Gangler, “of the horse Sleipnir. To
whom does he belong, and what is there to say respecting him?”
“[Pg 297]Thou seemest to know nothing either about Sleipnir or his origin,”
replied Har, “but thou wilt no doubt find what thou wilt hear worthy
of thy notice. Once on a time when the gods were constructing their
abodes, and had already finished Midgard and Valhalla, a certain
artificer came and offered to build them, in the space of three half
years, a residence so well fortified that they should be perfectly
safe from the incursion of the Frost-giants, and the giants of the
mountains, even although they should have penetrated within Midgard.
But he demanded for his reward the goddess Freyja, together with the
sun and moon. After long deliberation the Æsir agreed to his terms,
provided he would finish the whole work himself without any one’s
assistance, and all within the space of one winter, but if anything
remained unfinished on the first day of summer, he should forfeit the
recompense agreed on. On being told these terms, the artificer
stipulated that he should be allowed the use of his horse, called
Svadilfari, and this, by the advice of Loki, was granted to him. He
accordingly set to work on the first day of winter, and during the
night let his horse draw stone for the building. The enormous size of
the stones struck the Æsir with astonishment, and they saw clearly
that the horse did one half more of the toilsome work than his master.
Their bargain, however, had been concluded in the presence of
witnesses, and confirmed by solemn oaths, for without these
precautions a giant would not have thought himself safe among the
Æsir, especially when Thor returned [Pg 298]from an expedition he had then
undertaken towards the east against evil demons.
“As the winter drew to a close the building was far advanced, and the
bulwarks were sufficiently high and massive to render this residence
impregnable. In short, when it wanted but three days to summer the
only part that remained to be finished was the gateway. Then sat the
gods on their seats of justice and entered into consultation,
inquiring of one another who among them could have advised to give
Freyja away to Jotunheim, or to plunge the heavens in darkness by
permitting the giant to carry away the sun and moon. They all agreed
that no one but Loki, the son of Laufey, and the author of so many
evil deeds, could have given such bad counsel, and that he should be
put to a cruel death if he did not contrive some way or other to
prevent the artificer from completing his task and obtaining the
stipulated recompense. They immediately proceeded to lay hands on
Loki, who, in his fright, promised upon oath that let it cost him what
it would, he would so manage matters that the man should lose his
reward. That very night, when the artificer went with Svadilfari for
building stone, a mare suddenly ran out of a forest and began to
neigh. The horse being thus excited, broke loose and ran after the
mare into the forest, which obliged the man also to run after his
horse, and thus between one and the other the whole night was lost, so
that at dawn the work had not made the usual progress. The man seeing
that he had no other means of completing his task, resumed [Pg 299]his own
gigantic stature, and the gods now clearly perceived that it was in
reality a Mountain-giant who had come amongst them. No longer
regarding their oaths, they, therefore, called on Thor, who
immediately ran to their assistance, and lifting up his mallet Mjolnir
paid the workman his wages, not with the sun and moon, and not even by
sending him back to Jotunheim, for with the first blow he shattered
the giant’s skull to pieces, and hurled him headlong into Nifelhel.
But Loki had run such a race with Svadilfari that shortly after he
bore a grey foal with eight legs. This is the horse Sleipnir, which
excels all horses ever possessed by gods or men.”
OF THE SHIP SKIDBLADNIR.
44. “What hast thou to say,” demanded Gangler, “of Skidbladnir,
which thou toldst me was the best of ships? Is there no other ship as
good or as large?”
“Skidbladnir,” replied Har, “is without doubt the best and most
artfully constructed of any, but the ship Nagffar is of larger size.
They were dwarfs, the sons of Ivaldi, who built Skidbladnir, and made
a present of her to Frey. She is so large that all the Æsir with their
weapons and war stores find room on board her. As soon as the sails
are set a favourable breeze arises and carries her to her place of
destination, and she is made of so many pieces, and with so much
skill, that when she is not wanted for a voyage Frey may fold her
together like a piece of cloth, and put her in his pocket.”
“A good ship truly, is Skidbladnir,” said Gangler, “[Pg 300]and many cunning
contrivances and spells must, no doubt, have been used in her
THOR’S ADVENTURES ON HIS JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF THE GIANTS.
45. “But tell me,” he (Gangler) continued, “did it ever happen to
Thor in his expeditions to be overcome either by spells or by
“Few can take upon them to affirm this,” replied Har, “and yet it has
often fared hard enough with him; but had he in reality been worsted
in any rencounter there would be no need to make mention of it, since
all are bound to believe that nothing can resist his power.”
“It would, therefore, appear,” said Gangler, “that I have asked of you
things that none of you are able to tell me of.”
“There are, indeed, some such rumours current among us,” answered
Jafnhar, “but they are hardly credible; however, there is one sitting
here can impart them to thee, and thou shouldst the rather believe
him, for never having yet uttered an untruth, he will not now begin to
deceive thee with false stories.”
“Here then will I stand,” said Gangler, “and listen to what ye have to
say, but if ye cannot answer my question satisfactorily I shall look
upon you as vanquished.”
Then spake Thridi and said, “We can easily conceive that thou art
desirous of knowing these tidings, but it behooves thee to guard a
becoming silence respecting them. The story I have to relate is
46. “One day the God Thor set out in his car drawn [Pg 301]by two he-goats,
and accompanied by Loki, on a journey. Night coming on, they put up at
a peasant’s cottage, where Thor killed his goats, and after flaying
them, put them in the kettle. When the flesh was sodden, he sat down
with his fellow-traveller to supper, and invited the peasant and his
family to partake of his repast. The peasant’s son was named Thjalfi,
and his daughter Roska. Thor bade them throw all the bones into the
goats’ skins which were spread out near the fire-place, but young
Thjalfi broke one of the shank bones with his knife to come to the
marrow. Thor having passed the night in the cottage, rose at the dawn
of day, and when he was dressed took his mallet Mjolnir, and lifting
it up, consecrated the goats’ skins, which he had no sooner done than
the two goats re-assumed their wonted form, only that one of them now
limped on one of its hind legs. Thor perceiving this, said that the
peasant, or one of his family, had handled the shank bone of this goat
too roughly, for he saw clearly that it was broken. It may readily be
imagined how frightened the peasant was when he saw Thor knit his
brows, and grasp the handle of his mallet with such force that the
joints of his fingers became white from the exertion. Fearing to be
struck down by the very looks of the god, the peasant and his family
made joint suit for pardon, offering whatever they possessed as an
atonement for the offence committed. Thor, seeing their fear, desisted
from his wrath, and became more placable, and finally contented
himself by requiring the peasant’s children, Thjalfi and Roska, who
became his bond-servants, and have followed him ever since.
[Pg 302]‘Leaving his goats with the peasant, Thor proceeded eastward on the
road to Jotunheim, until he came to the shores of a vast and deep sea,
which having passed over he penetrated into a strange country along
with his companions, Loki, Thjalfi, and Roska. They had not gone far
before they saw before them an immense forest, through which they
wandered all day. Thjalfi was of all men the swiftest of foot. He bore
Thor’s wallet, but the forest was a bad place for finding anything
eatable to stow in it. When it became dark, they searched on all sides
for a place where they might pass the night, and at last came to a
very large hall with an entrance that took up the whole breadth of one
of the ends of the building. Here they chose them a place to sleep in;
but towards midnight were alarmed by an earthquake which shook the
whole edifice. Thor, rising up, called on his companions to seek with
him a place of safety. On the right they found an adjoining chamber,
into which they entered, but while the others, trembling with fear,
crept into the furthest corner of this retreat, Thor remained at the
doorway with his mallet in his hand, prepared to defend himself,
whatever might happen. A terrible groaning was heard during the night,
and at dawn of day, Thor went out and observed lying near him a man of
enormous bulk, who slept and snored pretty loudly. Thor could now
account for the noise they had heard over night, and girding on his
Belt of Prowess, increased that divine strength which he now stood in
need of. The giant awakening, rose up, and it is said that for once in
his life Thor was afraid to make use of his mallet, [Pg 303]and contented
himself by simply asking the giant his name.
“‘My name is Skrymir, said the other, ‘but I need not ask thy name,
for I know thou art the God Thor. But what hast thou done with my
glove?’ And stretching out his hand Skrymir picked up his glove, which
Thor then perceived was what they had taken over night for a hall, the
chamber where they had sought refuge being the thumb. Skrymir then
asked whether they would have his fellowship, and Thor consenting, the
giant opened his wallet and began to eat his breakfast. Thor and his
companions having also taken their morning repast, though in another
place, Skrymir proposed that they should lay their provisions
together, which Thor also assented to. The giant then put all the meat
into one wallet, which he slung on his back and went before them,
taking tremendous strides, the whole day, and at dusk sought out for
them a place where they might pass the night under a large oak tree.
Skrymir then told them that he would lie down to sleep. ‘But take ye
the wallet,’ he added, ‘and prepare your supper.’
“Skrymir soon fell asleep, and began to snore strongly, but incredible
though it may appear, it must nevertheless be told, that when Thor
came to open the wallet he could not untie a single knot, nor render a
single string looser than it was before. Seeing that his labour was in
vain, Thor became wroth, and grasping his mallet with both hands while
he advanced a step forward, launched it at the giant’s head. Skrymir,
awakening, merely asked whether a leaf had not fallen on his head, and
whether [Pg 304]they had supped and were ready to go to sleep. Thor answered
that they were just going to sleep, and so saying, went and laid
himself down under another oak tree. But sleep came not that night to
Thor, and when he remarked that Skrymir snored again so loud that the
forest re-echoed with the noise, he arose, and grasping his mallet,
launched it with such force that it sunk into the giant’s skull up to
the handle. Skrymir awakening, cried out—
“‘What’s the matter? did an acorn fall on my head? How fares it with
“But Thor went away hastily, saying that he had just then awoke, and
that as it was only midnight there was still time for sleep. He
however resolved that if he had an opportunity of striking a third
blow, it should settle all matters between them. A little before
daybreak he perceived that Skrymir was again fast asleep, and again
grasping his mallet, dashed it with such violence that it forced its
way into the giant’s cheek up to the handle. But Skrymir sat up, and
stroking his cheek, said—
“‘Are there any birds perched on this tree? Methought when I awoke
some moss from the branches fell on my head. What! Art thou awake,
Thor? Methinks it is time for us to get up and dress ourselves; but
you have not now a long way before you to the city called Utgard. I
have heard you whispering to one another that I am not a man of small
dimensions; but if you come into Utgard you will see there many men
much taller than myself. Wherefore I advise you, when you come there,
not to [Pg 305]make too much of yourselves, for the followers of Utgard-Loki
will not brook the boasting of such mannikins as ye are. The best
thing you could do would probably be to turn back again, but if you
persist in going on, take the road that leads eastward, for mine now
lies northward to those rocks which you may see in the distance.’
“Hereupon, he threw his wallet over his shoulders and turned away from
them, into the forest, and I could never hear that Thor wished to meet
with him a second time.
47. “Thor and his companions proceeded on their way, and towards
noon descried a city standing in the middle of a plain. It was so
lofty that they were obliged to bend their necks quite back on their
shoulders ere they could see to the top of it. On arriving at the
walls they found the gateway closed with a gate of bars strongly
locked and bolted. Thor, after trying in vain to open it, crept with
his companions through the bars, and thus succeeded in gaining
admission into the city. Seeing a large palace before them, with the
door wide open, they went in and found a number of men of prodigious
stature sitting on benches in the hall. Going further, they came
before the king, Utgard-Loki, whom they saluted with great respect.
Their salutations were however returned by a contemptuous look from
the king, who, after regarding them for some time, said with a
“‘It is tedious to ask for tidings of a long journey, yet if I do not
mistake me, that stripling there must be Aku-Thor. Perhaps,’ he added,
addressing himself to Thor, ‘thou mayst be taller than thou appearest
to be. [Pg 306]But what are the feats that thou and thy fellows deem
yourselves skilled in, for no one is permitted to remain here who does
not, in some feat or other, excel all other men.’
“‘The feat I know,’ replied Loki, ‘is to eat quicker than any one
else, and in this I am ready to give a proof against any one here who
may choose to compete with me.’
“‘That will indeed be a feat,’ said Utgard-Loki, ‘if thou performest
what thou promisest, and it shall be tried forthwith.’
“He then ordered one of his men, who was sitting at the further end of
the bench, and whose name was Logi, to come forward and try his
skill with Loki. A trough filled with flesh meat having been set on
the hall floor, Loki placed himself at one end, and Logi at the other,
and each of them, began to eat as fast as he could, until they met in
the middle of the trough. But it was found that Loki had only eaten
the flesh, whereas his adversary had devoured both flesh and bone, and
the trough to boot. All the company therefore adjudged that Loki was
“Utgard-Loki then asked what feat the young man who accompanied Thor
could perform. Thjalfi answered that he would run a race with any one
who might be matched against him. The king observed that skill in
running was something to boast of, but that if the youth would win the
match he must display great agility. He then arose and went with all
who were present to a plain [Pg 307]where there was a good ground for running
on, and calling a young man named Hugi, bade him run a match with
Thjalfi. In the first course Hugi so much outstripped his competitor
that he turned back and met him not far from the starting-place.
“‘Thou must ply thy legs better, Thjalfi,’ said Utgard-Loki, ‘if thou
wilt win the match, though I must needs say that there never came a
man here swifter of foot than thou art.’
“In the second course, Thjalfi was a full bow-shot from the goal when
Hugi arrived at it.
“‘Most bravely dost thou run, Thjalfi,’ said Utgard-Loki, ‘though thou
wilt not, methinks, win the match. But the third, course must decide.’
“They accordingly ran a third time, but Hugi had already reached the
goal before Thjalfi had got half way. All who were present then cried
out that there had been a sufficient trial of skill in this kind of
50. “Utgard-Loki then asked Thor in what feats he would choose to
give proofs of that dexterity for which he was so famous. Thor
replied, that he would begin a drinking match with any one.
Utgard-Loki consented, and entering the palace, bade his cupbearer
bring the large horn which his followers were obliged to drink out of
when they had trespassed in any way against established usage. The
cupbearer having presented it to Thor, Utgard-Loki said—
“‘Whoever is a good drinker will empty that horn at [Pg 308]a single draught,
though some men make two of it, but the most puny drinker of all can
do it at three.’
“Thor looked at the horn, which seemed of no extraordinary size,
though somewhat long; however, as he was very thirsty, he set it to
his lips, and without drawing breath pulled as long and as deeply as
he could, that he might not be obliged to make a second draught of it;
but when he set the horn down and looked in, he could scarcely
perceive that the liquor was diminished.
“”Tis well drunken,’ exclaimed Utgard-Loki, ‘though nothing much to
boast of; and I would not have believed had it been told me that
Asa-Thor could not have taken a greater draught, but thou no doubt
meanest to make amends at the second pull.’
“Thor, without answering, went to it again with all his might, but
when he took the horn from his mouth it seemed to him as if he had
drunk rather less than before, although the horn could now be carried
“‘How now, Thor,’ said Utgard-Loki; ‘thou must not spare thyself more
in performing a feat than befits thy skill; but if thou meanest to
drain the horn at the third draught thou must pull deeply; and I must
needs say that thou wilt not be called so mighty a man here as thou
art among the Æsir, if thou showest no greater prowess in other feats
than, methinks, will be shown in this.’
“Thor, full of wrath, again set the horn to his lips, and exerted
himself to the utmost to empty it entirely, but on looking in found
that the liquor was only a little lower, upon which he resolved to
make no further attempt, but gave back the horn to the cupbearer.[Pg 309]
51. “‘I now see plainly,’ said Utgard-Loki, ‘that thou are not quite
so stout as we thought thee, but wilt thou try any other feat, though,
methinks, thou art not likely to bear any prize away with thee hence.’
“‘I will try another feat,’ replied Thor, ‘and I am sure such draughts
as I have been drinking would not have been reckoned small among the
Æsir; but what new trial hast thou to propose?’
“‘We have a very, trifling game here,’ answered Ut-gard-Loki, ‘in
which we exercise none but children. It consists in merely lifting my
cat from the ground, nor should I have dared to mention such a feat to
Asa-Thor if I had not already observed that thou art by no means what
we took thee for.’
“As he finished speaking, a large grey cat sprung on the hall floor.
Thor advancing put his hand under the cat’s belly, and did his utmost
to raise him from the floor, but the cat bending his back had,
notwithstanding all Thor’s efforts, only one of his feet lifted up,
seeing which, Thor made no further attempt.
“‘This trial has turned out,’ said Utgard-Loki, ‘just as I imagined it
would; the cat is large, but Thor is little in comparison to our men.’
“‘Little as ye call me,’ answered Thor, ‘let me see who amongst you
will come hither now I am in wrath, and wrestle with me.’
“‘I see no one here,’ said Utgard-Loki, looking at the men sitting on
the benches, ‘who would not think it beneath him to wrestle with thee;
let somebody, however, call hither that old crone, my nurse Elli,
and let Thor [Pg 310]wrestle with her if he will. She has thrown to the
ground many a man not less strong and mighty than this Thor is.’
53. “A toothless old woman then entered the hall, and was told by
Utgard-Loki to take hold of Thor. The tale is shortly told. The more
Thor tightened his hold on the crone the firmer she stood. At length,
after a very violent struggle, Thor began to lose his footing, and was
finally brought down upon one knee. Utgard-Loki then told them to
desist, adding that Thor had now no occasion to ask any one else in
the hall to wrestle with him, and it was also getting late. He
therefore showed Thor and his companions to their seats, and they
passed the night there in good cheer.
54. “The next morning, at break of day, Thor and his companions
dressed themselves and prepared for their departure. Utgard-Loki then
came and ordered a table to be set for them, on which there was no
lack either of victuals or drink. After the repast Utgard-Loki led
them to the gate of the city, and, on parting, asked Thor how he
thought his journey had turned out, and whether he had met with any
men stronger than himself. Thor told him that he could not deny but
that he had brought great shame on himself. ‘And what grieves me
most,’ he added, ‘is that ye will call me a man of little worth.’
55. “‘Nay,’ said Utgard-Loki, ‘it behooves me to tell thee the truth
now thou are out of the city which so long as I live, and have my way,
thou shalt never re-enter. And by my troth, had I known beforehand
that thou hadst so much strength in thee, and wouldst have brought me
[Pg 311]so near to a great mishap, I would not have suffered thee to enter
this time. Know then that I have all along deceived thee by my
illusions; first, in the forest, where I arrived before thee, and
there thou wert not able to untie the wallet, because I had bound it
with iron wire, in such a manner that thou couldst not discover how
the knot ought to be loosened. After this, thou gavest me three blows
with thy mallet; the first, though the least, would have ended my days
had it fallen on me, but I brought a rocky mountain before me which
thou didst not perceive, and in this mountain thou wilt find three
glens, one of them remarkably deep. These are the dints made by thy
mallet. I have made use of similar illusions in the contests ye have
had with my followers. In the first, Loki, like hunger itself,
devoured all that was set before him, but Logi was, in reality,
nothing else than ardent fire, and therefore consumed not only the
meat but the trough which held it. Hugi, with whom Thjalfi contended
in running, was Thought, and it was impossible for Thjalfi to keep
pace with that. When thou, in thy turn, didst try to empty the horn,
thou didst perform, by my troth, a deed so marvellous, that had I not
seen it myself I should never have believed it. For one end of that
horn reached the sea, which thou wast not aware of, but when thou
comest to the shore thou wilt perceive how much the sea has sunk by
thy draughts, which have caused what is now called the ebb. Thou didst
perform a feat no less wonderful by lifting up the cat, and to tell
thee the truth, when we saw that one of his paws was off the floor, we
were all of us terror-stricken, for [Pg 312]what thou tookest for a cat was
in reality the great Midgard serpent that encompassed the whole earth,
and he was then barely long enough to inclose it between his head and
tail, so high had thy hand raised him up towards heaven. Thy wrestling
with Elli was also a most astonishing feat, for there was never yet a
man, nor ever shall be, whom Old Age, for such in fact was Elli, will
not sooner or later lay low if he abide her coming. But now as we are
going to part, let me tell thee that it will be better for both of us
if thou never come near me again, for shouldst thou do so, I shall
again defend myself by other illusions, so that thou wilt never
prevail against me.’
“On hearing these words, Thor, in a rage, laid hold of his mallet and
would have launched it at him, but Utgard-Loki had disappeared, and
when Thor would have returned to the city to-destroy it, he found
nothing around him but a verdant plain. Proceeding, therefore, on his
way, he returned without stopping to Thrudvang. But he had already
resolved to make that attack on the Midgard serpent which afterwards
took place. I trust,” concluded Thridi, “that thou wilt now
acknowledge that no one can tell thee truer tidings than those thou
hast heard respecting this journey of Thor to Jotunheim.”
HOW THOR WENT TO FISH FOR THE MIDGARD SERPENT.
56. “I find by your account,” said Gangler, “that Utgard-Loki
possesses great might in himself, though he has recourse to spells and
illusions; but his power may be seen by his followers, being in every
respect so skillful and dexterous. But tell me, did Thor ever avenge
“[Pg 313]It is not unknown,” replied Har, “though nobody has talked of it,
that Thor was determined to make amends for the journey just spoken
of, and he had not been long at home ere he set out again so hastily
that he had neither his car nor his goats, nor any followers with him.
He went out of Midgard under the semblance of a young man, and came at
dusk to the dwelling of a giant called Hymir. Here Thor passed the
night, but at break of day, when he perceived that Hymir was making
his boat ready for fishing, he arose and dressed himself, and begged
the giant would let him row out to sea with him. Hymir answered, that
a puny stripling like he was could be of no great use to him.
‘Besides,’ he added, ‘thou wilt catch thy death of cold if I go so far
out and remain so long as I am accustomed to do.’ Thor said, that for
all that, he would row as far from the land as Hymir had a mind, and
was not sure which of them would be the first who might wish to row
back again. At the same time he was so enraged that he felt sorely
inclined to let his mallet ring on the giant’s skull without further
delay, but intending to try his strength elsewhere, he stifled his
wrath, and asked Hymir what he meant to bait with. Hymir told him to
look out for a bait himself. Thor instantly went up to a herd of oxen
that belonged to the giant, and seizing the largest bull, that bore
the name of Himinbrjot, wrung off his head, and returning with it to
the boat, put out to sea with Hymir. Thor rowed aft with two oars, and
with such force that Hymir, who rowed at the prow, saw with surprise,
how swiftly the boat was driven forward. He [Pg 314]then observed that they
were come to the place where he was wont to angle for flat fish, but
Thor assured him that they had better go on a good way further. They
accordingly continued to ply their oars, until Hymir cried out that if
they did not stop they would be in danger from the great Midgard
serpent. Notwithstanding this, Thor persisted in rowing further, and
in spite of Hymir’s remonstrances was a great while before he would
lay down his oars. He then took out a fishing-line, extremely strong,
furnished with an equally strong hook, on which he fixed the bull’s
head, and cast his line into the sea. The bait soon reached the
bottom, and it may be truly said that Thor then deceived the Midgard
serpent not a whit less than Utgard-Loki had deceived Thor when he
obliged him to lift up the serpent in his hand: for the monster
greedily caught at the bait, and the hook stuck fast in his palate.
Stung with the pain, the serpent tugged at the hook so violently, that
Thor was obliged to hold fast with both hands by the pegs that bear
against the oars. But his wrath now waxed high, and assuming all his
divine power, he pulled so hard at the line that his feet forced their
way through the boat and went down to the bottom of the sea, whilst
with his hands he drew up the serpent to the side of the vessel. It is
impossible to express by words the dreadful scene that now took place.
Thor, on one hand, darting looks of ire on the serpent, whilst the
monster, rearing his head, spouted out floods of venom upon him. It is
said that when the giant Hymir beheld the serpent, he turned pale and
trembled with fright and seeing, more[Pg 315]over, that the water was
entering his boat on all sides, he took out his knife, just as Thor
raised his mallet aloft, and cut the line, on which the serpent sunk
again under the water. Thor, however, launched his mallet at him, and
there are some who say that it struck off the monster’s head at the
bottom of the sea, but one may assert with more certainty that he
still lives and lies in the ocean. Thor then struck Hymir such a blow
with his fist, nigh the ear, that the giant fell headlong into the
water, and Thor, wading with rapid strides, soon came to the land
THE DEATH OF BALDUR THE GOOD.
57. “Verily,” said Gangler, “it was a famous exploit which Thor
performed on that journey, but did any other such events take place
among the Æsir?”
“Ay,” replied Har, “I can tell thee of another event which the Æsir
deemed of much greater importance. Thou must know, therefore, that
Baldur the Good having been tormented with terrible dreams, indicating
that his life was in great peril, communicated them to the assembled
Æsir, who resolved to conjure all things to avert from him the
threatened danger. Then Frigga exacted an oath from fire and water,
from iron, and all other metals, as well as from stones, earths,
diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that none of
them would do any harm to Baldur. When this was done, it became a
favourite pastime of the Æsir, at their meetings, to get Baldur to
stand up and serve them as a mark, some hurling darts at him, some
stones, while [Pg 316]others hewed at him with their swords and battle-axes,
for do they what they would none of therm could harm him, and this was
regarded by all as a great honour shown to Baldur. But when Loki, the
son of Laufey, beheld the scene, he was sorely vexed that Baldur was
not hurt. Assuming, therefore, the shape of a woman, he went to
Fensalir, the mansion of Frigga. That goddess, when she saw the
pretended woman, inquired of her if she knew what the Æsir were doing
at their meetings. She replied, that they were throwing darts and
stones at Baldur without being able to hurt him.
“‘Ay,’ said Frigga, ‘neither metal nor wood can hurt Baldur, for I
have exacted an oath from all of them.’
“‘What!’ exclaimed the woman, ‘have all things sworn to spare Baldur?’
“‘All things,’ replied Frigga, ‘except one little shrub that grows on
the eastern side of Valhalla, and is called Mistletoe, and which I
thought too young and feeble to crave an oath from.’
“As soon as Loki heard this he went away, and, resuming his natural
shape, cut off the mistletoe, and repaired to the place where the gods
were assembled. There he found Hodur standing apart, without partaking
of the sports, on account of his blindness, and going up to him, said,
‘Why dost thou not also throw something at Baldur?”
“‘Because I am blind,’ answered Hodur, ‘and see not where Baldur is,
and have, moreover, nothing to throw with.’
“‘Come then,’ said Loki, ‘do like the rest, and show [Pg 317]honour to Baldur
by throwing this twig at him, and I will direct thy arm, toward the
place where he stands.’
58. “Hodur then took the mistletoe, and under the guidance of Loki,
darted it at Baldur, who, pierced through and through, fell down
lifeless. Surely never was there witnessed, either among gods or men,
a more atrocious deed than this! When Baldur fell the Æsir were struck
speechless with horror, and then they looked at each other, and all
were of one mind to lay hands on him who had done the deed, but they
were obliged to delay their vengeance out of respect for the sacred
place (Peace-stead) where they were assembled. They at length gave
vent to their grief by loud lamentations, though not one of them could
find words to express the poignancy of his feelings. Odin, especially,
was more sensible than the others of the loss they had suffered, for
he foresaw what a detriment Baldur’s death would be to the Æsir. When
the gods came to themselves, Frigga asked who among them wished to
gain all her love and good will; ‘For this,’ said she, ‘shall he have
who will ride to Hel and try to find Baldur, and offer Hela a ransom
if she will let him return to Asgard;’ whereupon Hermod, surnamed the
Nimble, the son of Odin, offered to undertake the journey. Odin’s
horse Sleipnir was then led forth, on which Hermod mounted, and
galloped away on his mission.
59. “The Æsir then took the dead body and bore it to the seashore,
where stood Baldur’s ship Hringhorn, which passed for the largest in
the world. But when they wanted to launch it in order to make Baldur’s
funeral [Pg 318]pile on it, they were unable to make it stir. In this
conjuncture they sent to Jotunheim for a certain giantess named
Hyrrokin, who came mounted on a wolf, having twisted serpents for a
bridle. As soon as she alighted, Odin ordered four Berserkir to hold
her steed fast, who were, however, obliged to throw the animal on the
ground ere they could effect their purpose. Hyrrokin then went to the
ship, and with a single push set it afloat, but the motion was so
violent that the fire sparkled from the rollers, and the earth shook
all around. Thor, enraged at the sight, grasped his mallet, and but
for the interference of the Æsir would have broken the woman’s skull.
Baldur’s body was then borne to the funeral pile on board the ship,
and this ceremony had such an effect on Nanna, the daughter of Nep,
that her heart broke with grief, and her body was burnt on the same
pile with her husband’s. Thor then stood up and hallowed the pile with
Mjolnir, and during the ceremony kicked a dwarf named Litur, who was
running before his feet, into the fire. There was a vast concourse of
various kinds of people at Baldur’s obsequies. First came Odin,
accompanied by Frigga, the Valkyrjor and his ravens; then Frey in his
car drawn by a boar named Gullinbursti or Slidrugtanni; Heimdall rode
his horse called Gulltopp, and Freyja drove in her chariot drawn by
cats. There were also a great many Frost-giants and giants of the
mountains present. Odin laid on the pile the gold ring called
Draupnir, which afterwards acquired the property of producing every
ninth night eight rings of equal weight. Baldur’s horse was led to the
pile fully capari[Pg 319]soned, and consumed in the same flames on the body
of his master.
BALDUR IN THE ABODE OF THE DEAD
60. “Meanwhile, Hermod was proceeding on his mission. For the space
of nine days, and as many nights, he rode through deep glens so dark
that he could not discern anything until he arrived at the river
Gjoll, which he passed over on a bridge covered with glittering gold.
Modgudur, the maiden who kept the bridge, asked him his name and
lineage, telling him that the day before five bands of dead persons
had ridden over the bridge, and did not shake it so much as he alone.
‘But,’ she added, ‘thou hast not death’s hue on thee, why then ridest
them here on the way to Hel?’
“‘I ride to Hel,’ answered Hermod, ‘to seek Baldur. Hast thou
perchance seen him pass this way?’
“‘Baldur,’ she replied, ‘hath ridden over Gjoll’s bridge, but there
below, towards the north, lies the way to the abodes of death.’
“Hermod then pursued his journey until he came to the barred gates of
Hel. Here he alighted, girthed his saddle tighter, and remounting,
clapped both spurs to his horse, who cleared the gate by a tremendous
leap without touching it. Hermod then rode on to the palace, where he
found his brother Baldur occupying the most distinguished seat in the
hall, and passed the night in his company. The next morning he
besought Hela (Death) to let Baldur ride home with him, assuring her
that nothing but lamentations were to be heard among the gods. Hela
answered that it should now be tried whether Baldur was so beloved as
he was said to be.
“[Pg 320]‘If therefore,’ she added, ‘all things in the world, both living and
lifeless, weep for him, then shall he return to the Æsir, but if any
one thing speak against him or refuse to weep, he shall be kept in
“Hermod then rose, and Baldur led him out of the hall and gave him the
ring Draupnir, to present as a keepsake to Odin. Nanna also sent
Frigga a linen cassock and other gifts, and to Fulla a gold
finger-ring. Hermod then rode back to Asgard, and gave an account of
all he had heard and witnessed.
“The gods upon this dispatched messengers throughout the world, to beg
everything to weep, in order that Baldur might be delivered from Hel.
All things very willingly complied with this request, both men and
every other living being, as well as earths and stones, and trees and
metals, just as thou must have seen these things weep when they are
brought from a cold place into a hot one. As the messengers were
returning with the conviction that their mission had been quite
successful, they found an old hag named Thaukt sitting in a cavern,
and begged her to weep Baldur out of Hel.
“It was strongly suspected that this hag was no other than Loki
himself who never ceased to work evil among the Æsir.”
THE FLIGHT AND PUNISHMENT OF LOKI.
61. “Evil are the deeds of Loki truly,” said Gangler; “first of all
in his having caused Baldur to be slain, and then preventing him from
being delivered out of Hel. But was he not punished for these crimes?”
“[Pg 321]Ay,” replied Har, “and in such a manner that he will long repent
having committed them. When he perceived how exasperated the gods
were, he fled and hid himself in the mountains. There he built him a
dwelling with four doors, so that he could see everything that passed
around him. Often in the daytime he assumed the likeness of a salmon,
and concealed himself under the waters of a cascade called
Franangursfors, where he employed himself in divining and
circumventing whatever stratagems the Æsir might have recourse to in
order to catch him. One day, as he sat in his dwelling, he took flax
and yarn, and worked them into meshes in the manner that nets have
since been made by fishermen. Odin, however, had descried his retreat
out of Hlidskjalf, and Loki becoming aware that the gods were
approaching, threw his net into the fire, and ran to conceal himself
in the river. When the gods entered the house, Kvasir, who was the
most distinguished among them all for his quickness and penetration,
traced out in the hot embers the vestiges of the net which had been
burnt, and told Odin that it must be an invention to catch fish.
Whereupon they set to work and wove a net after the model they saw
imprinted in the ashes. This net, when finished, they threw into the
river in which Loki had hidden himself. Thor held one end of the net,
and all the other gods laid hold of the other end, thus jointly
drawing it along the stream. Notwithstanding all their precautions the
net passed over Loki, who had crept between two stones, and the gods
only perceived that some living thing had touched the meshes. They
therefore cast their [Pg 322]net a second time, hanging so great a weight to
it that it everywhere raked the bed of the river. But Loki, perceiving
that he had but a short distance from the sea, swam onwards and leapt
over the net into the waterfall. The Æsir instantly followed him, and
divided themselves into two bands. Thor, wading along in mid-stream,
followed the net, whilst the others dragged it along towards the sea.
Loki then perceived that he had only two chances of escape, either to
swim out to sea, or to leap again over the net. He chose the latter,
but as he took a tremendous leap Thor caught him in his hand. Being,
however, extremely slippery, he would have escaped had not Thor held
him fast by the tail, and this is the reason why salmons have had
their tails ever since so fine and thin.
“The gods having thus captured Loki, dragged him without commiseration
into a cavern, wherein they placed three sharp-pointed rocks, boring a
hole through each of them. Having also seized Loki’s children, Vali
and Nari, they changed the former into a wolf, and in this likeness he
tore his brother to pieces and devoured him. The gods then made cords
of his intestines, with which they bound Loki on the points of the
rocks, one cord passing under his shoulders, another under his loins,
and a third under his hams, and afterwards transformed these cords
into thongs of iron. Skadi then suspended a serpent over him in such a
manner that the venom should fall on his face, drop by drop. But
Siguna, his wife, stands by him and receives the drops as they fall in
a cup, which she empties as often as it is filled. But while she is
[Pg 323]doing this, venom falls upon Loki, which makes him howl with horror,
and twist his body about so violently that the whole earth shakes, and
this produces what men call earthquakes. There will Loki lie until
OF RAGNAROK, OR THE TWILIGHT OE THE GODS, AND THE CONFLAGRATION OF THE
63. “I have not heard before of Ragnarok,” said Gangler; “what hast
thou to tell me about it?”
“There are many very notable circumstances concerning it,” replied
Har, “which I can inform thee of. In the first place will come the
winter, called Fimbul-winter, during which snow will fall from the
four corners of the world; the frosts will be very severe, the wind
piercing, the weather tempestuous, and the sun impart no gladness.
Three such winters shall pass away without being tempered by a single
summer. Three other similar winters follow, during which war and
discord will spread over the whole globe. Brethren for the sake of
mere gain shall kill each other, and no one shall spare either his
parents or his children.
64. “Then shall happen such things as may truly be accounted great
prodigies. The wolf shall devour the sun, and a severe loss will that
be for mankind. The other wolf will take the moon, and this too will
cause great mischief. Then the stars shall be hurled from the heavens,
and the earth so violently shaken that trees will be torn up by the
roots, the tottering mountains tumble headlong from their foundations,
and all bonds and fetters be shivered in pieces. Fenrir then breaks
loose, and [Pg 324]the sea rushes over the earth, on account of the Midgard
serpent turning with giant force, and gaining the land. On the waters
floats the ship Naglfar, which is constructed of the nails of dead
men. For which reason great care should be taken to die with pared
nails, for he who dies with his nails unpared, supplies materials for
the building of this vessel, which both gods and men wish may be
finished as late as possible. But in this flood shall Naglfar float,
and the giant Hrym be its steersman.
“The wolf Fenrir advancing, opens his enormous mouth; the lower jaw
reaches to the earth, and the upper one to heaven, and would in fact
reach still farther were there space to admit of it. Fire flashes from
his eyes and nostrils. The Midgard serpent, placing himself by the
side of the wolf, vomits forth floods of poison which overwhelm the
air and the waters. Amidst this devastation heaven is cleft in twain,
and the sons of Muspell ride through the breach. Surtur rides first,
and both before and behind him flames burning fire. His sword
outshines the sun itself. Bifrost, as they ride over it, breaks to
pieces. Then they direct their course to the battlefield called
Vigrid. Thither also repair the wolf Fenrir and the Midgard serpent,
and also Loki, with all the followers of Hel, and Hrym with all the
Hrimthursar. But the sons of Muspell keep their effulgent bands apart
on the field of battle, which is one hundred miles long on every side.
65. “Meanwhile Heimdall stands up, and with all his force sounds the
Gjallar-horn to arouse the gods, who [Pg 325]assemble without delay. Odin
then rides to Mimir’s well and consults Mimir how he and his warriors
ought to enter into action. The ash Yggdrasill begins to shake, nor is
there anything in heaven or earth exempt from fear at that terrible
hour. The Æsir and all the heroes of Valhalla arm themselves and speed
forth to the field, led on by Odin, with his golden helm and
resplendent cuirass, and his spear called Gungnir. Odin places himself
against the wolf Fenrir; Thor stands by his side, but can render him
no assistance, having himself to combat with the Midgard serpent. Frey
encounters Surtur, and terrible blows are exchanged ere Frey falls;
and he owes his defeat to his not having that trusty sword he gave to
Skirnir. That day the dog Garm, who had been chained in the Gnipa
cave, breaks loose. He is the most fearful monster of all, and attacks
Tyr, and they kill each other. Thor gains great renown for killing the
Midgard serpent, but at the same time, recoiling nine paces, falls
dead upon the spot suffocated by the floods of venom which the dying
serpent vomits forth upon him. The wolf swallows Odin, but at that
instant Vidar advances, and setting his foot on the monster’s lower
jaw, seizes the other with his hand, and thus tears and rends him till
he dies. Vidar is able to do this because he wears those shoes for
which stuff has been gathering in all ages, namely, the shreds of
leather which are cut off to form the toes and heels of shoes, and it
is on this account that those who would render a service to the Æsir
should take care to throw such shreds away. Loki and Heimdall fight,
and mutually kill each other.
“[Pg 326]After this, Surtur darts fire and flame over the earth, and the
whole universe is consumed.”
OF THE ABODES OF FUTURE BLISS AND MISERY.
66. “What will remain,” said Gangler, “after heaven and earth and
the whole universe shall be consumed, and after all the gods, and the
heroes of Valhalla, and all mankind shall have perished? For ye have
already told me that every one shall continue to exist in some world
or other, throughout eternity.”
“There will be many abodes,” replied Thridi, “some good, others bad.
The best place of all to be in will be Gimli, in heaven, and all who
delight in quaffing good drink will find a great store in the hall
called Brimir, which is also in heaven in the region Okolni. There is
also a fair hall of ruddy gold called Sindri, which stands on the
mountains of Nida, (Nidafjoll). In those halls righteous and
well-minded men shall abide. In Nastrond there is a vast and direful
structure with doors that face the north. It is formed entirely of the
backs of serpents, wattled together like wicker work. But the
serpents’ heads are turned towards the inside of the hall, and
continually vomit forth floods of venom, in which wade all those
who-commit murder, or who forswear themselves.”
THE RENOVATION OF THE UNIVERSE.
67. “Will any of the gods survive, and will there be any longer a
heaven and an earth?” demanded Gangler.
“There will arise out of the sea,” replied Har, “another [Pg 327]earth most
lovely and verdant, with pleasant fields where the grain shall grow
unsown. Vidar and Vali shall survive; neither the flood nor Surtur’s
fire shall harm them. They shall dwell on the plain of Ida, where
Asgard formerly stood. Thither shall come the sons of Thor, Modi and
Magni, bringing with them their father’s mallet Mjolnir. Baldur and
Hodur shall also repair thither from the abode of death (Hel). There
shall they sit and converse together, and call to mind their former
knowledge and the perils they underwent, and the fight of the wolf
Fenrir and the Midgard serpent. There too shall they find in the grass
those golden tablets (orbs) which the Æsir once possessed. As it is
In the gods’ holy seats,
When slaked Surtur’s fire is
But Modi and Magni
Will Mjolnir possess,
And strife put an end to.’
“Thou must know, moreover, that during the conflagration caused by
Surtur’s fire, a woman named Lif (Life), and a man named Lifthrasir,
lie concealed in Hodmimir’s forest. They shall feed on morning dew,
and their descendants shall soon spread over the whole earth.
“But what thou wilt deem more wonderful is, that the sun shall have
brought forth a daughter more lovely than herself, who shall go in the
same track formerly trodden by her mother.
“And now,” continued Thridi, “if thou hast any further questions to
ask, I know not who can answer thee, [Pg 328]for I never heard tell of any
one who could relate what will happen in the other ages of the world.
Make, therefore, the best use thou canst of what has been imparted to
Upon this Gangler heard a terrible noise all around him: he looked
everywhere, but could see neither palace nor city, nor anything save a
vast plain. He therefore set out on his return to his own kingdom,
where he related all that he had seen and heard, and ever since that
time these tidings have been handed down by oral tradition.
ÆGIR’S JOURNEY TO ASGARD.
68. Ægir, who was well skilled in magic, once went to Asgard, where
he met with a very good reception. Supper time being come, the twelve
mighty Æsir,—Odin, Thor, Njord, Frey, Tyr, Heimdall, Bragi, Vidar,
Vali, Ullur, Hoenir and Forseti, together with the Asynjor,—Frigga,
Freyja, Gefjon, Iduna, Gerda, Siguna, Fulla and Nanna, seated
themselves on their lofty doom seats, in a hall around which were
ranged swords of such surpassing brilliancy that no other light was
requisite. They continued long at table, drinking mead of a very
superior quality. While they were emptying their capacious drinking
horns, Ægir, who sat next to Bragi, requested him to relate something
concerning the Æsir. Bragi instantly complied with his request, by
informing him of what had happened to Iduna.
IDUNA AND HER APPLES.
69. “Once,” he said, “when Odin, Loki, and Hoenir went on a journey,
they came to a valley where a herd of oxen were grazing, and being
sadly in want of provisions did not scruple to kill one for their
supper. Vain, however, were their efforts to boil the flesh; they
found it, every time they took off the lid of the kettle, as raw as
when first put in. While they were endeavouring to account for this
singular circumstance a noise was heard above them, and on looking up
they beheld an enormous eagle perched on the branch of an oak tree.
‘If ye are willing to let me have my share of the flesh,’ said the
eagle, ‘it shall soon be boiled;’ and on their assenting to this
proposal, it flew down and snatched up a leg and two shoulders of the
ox—a proceeding which so incensed Loki, that he laid hold of a large
stock, and made it fall pretty heavily on the eagle’s back. It was,
however, not an eagle that Loki struck, but the renowned giant
Thjassi, clad in his eagle plumage. Loki soon found this out to his
cost, for while one end of the stock stuck fast to the eagle’s back,
he was unable to let go his hold of the other end, and was
consequently trailed by the eagle-clad giant over rocks and forests,
until he was almost torn to pieces. Loki in this predicament began to
sue for peace, but Thjassi told him that he should never be released
from his hold until he bound himself by a solemn oath to bring Iduna
and her apples out of Asgard. Loki very willingly gave his oath to
effect this object, and went back in a piteous plight to his
70. “On his return to Asgard, Loki told Iduna that, in a forest at a
short distance from the celestial residence, he had found apples
growing which he thought were of a much better quality than her own,
and that at all events it was worth while making a comparison between
them. Iduna, deceived by his words, took her apples, and went with him
into the forest, but they had no sooner entered it than Thjassi, clad
in his eagle-plumage, flew rapidly towards them, and catching up
Iduna, carried her treasure off with him to Jotunheim. The gods being
thus deprived of their renovating apples, soon became wrinkled and
grey; old age was creeping fast upon them, when they discovered that
Loki had been, as usual, the contriver of all the mischief that had
befallen them. They therefore threatened him with condign punishment
if he did not instantly hit upon some expedient for bringing back
Iduna and her apples to Asgard. Loki having borrowed from Freyja her
falcon-plumage, flew to Jotunheim, and finding that Thjassi was out at
sea fishing, lost no time in changing Iduna into a sparrow and flying
off with her; but when Thjassi returned and became aware of what had
happened, he donned his eagle-plumage, and flew after them. When the
Æsir saw Loki approaching, holding Iduna transformed into a sparrow
between his claws, and Thjassi with his outspread eagle wings ready to
overtake him, they placed on the walls of Asgard bundles of chips,
which they set fire to the instant that Loki had flown over them; and
as Thjassi could not stop his flight, the fire caught his plumage, and
he thus fell into the power of the Æsir, who slew [Pg 331]him within the
portals of the celestial residence. When these tidings came to
Thjassi’s daughter, Skadi, she put on her armour and went to Asgard,
fully determined to avenge her father’s death; but the Æsir having
declared their willingness to atone for the deed, an amicable
arrangement was entered into. Skadi was to choose a husband in Asgard,
and the Æsir were to make her laugh, a feat which she flattered
herself it would be impossible for any one to accomplish. Her choice
of a husband was to be determined by a mere inspection of the feet of
the gods, it being stipulated that the feet should be the only part of
their persons visible until she had made known her determination. In
inspecting the row of feet placed before her, Skadi took a fancy to a
pair which she flattered herself, from their fine proportions, must be
those of Baldur. They were however Njord’s, and Njord was accordingly
given her for a husband, and as Loki managed to make her laugh, by
playing some diverting antics with a goat, the atonement was fully
effected. It is even said that Odin did more than had been stipulated,
by taking out Thjassi’s eyes, and placing them to shine as stars in
THE ORIGIN OF POETRY.
71. Ægir having expressed a wish to know how poetry originated,
Bragi informed him that the Æsir and Vanir having met to put an end to
the war which had [Pg 332]long been carried on between them, a treaty of
peace was agreed to and ratified by each party spitting into a jar. As
a lasting sign of the amity which was thenceforward to subsist between
the contending parties, the gods formed out of this spittle a being to
whom they gave the name of Kvasir, and whom they endowed with such a
high degree of intelligence that no one could ask him a question that
he was unable to answer. Kvasir then traversed the whole world to
teach men wisdom, but was at length treacherously murdered by the
dwarfs, Fjalar and Galar, who, by mixing up his blood with honey,
composed a liquor of such surpassing excellence that whoever drinks of
it acquires the gift of song. When the Æsir inquired what had become
of Kvasir, the dwarfs told them that he had been suffocated with his
own wisdom, not being able to find any one who by proposing to him a
sufficient number of learned questions might relieve him of its
superabundance. Not long after this event, Fjalar and Galar managed to
drown the giant Gilling and murder his wife, deeds which were avenged
by their son Suttung taking the dwarfs out to sea, and placing them on
a shoal which was flooded at high water. In this critical position
they implored Suttung to spare their lives, and accept the
verse-inspiring beverage which they possessed as an atonement for
their having killed his parents. Suttung having agreed to these
conditions, released the dwarfs, and carrying the mead home with him,
committed it to the care of his daughter Gunnlauth. Hence poetry is
indifferently called Kvasir’s blood, Suttung’s mead, the dwarf’s
ODIN BEGUILES THE DAUGHTER OF BAUGI
72. Æsir then asked how the gods obtained possession of so valuable
a beverage, on which Bragi informed him that Odin being fully
determined to acquire it, set out for Jotunheim, and after journeying
for some time, came to a meadow in which nine thralls were mowing.
Entering into conversation with them, Odin, offered to whet their
scythes, an offer which they gladly accepted, and finding that the
whetstone he made use of had given the scythes an extraordinary
sharpness, asked him whether he was willing to dispose of it. Odin,
however, threw the whetstone in the air, and in attempting to catch it
as it fell, each thrall brought his scythe to bear on the neck of one
of his comrades, so that they were all killed in the scramble. Odin
took up his night’s lodging at the house of Suttung’s brother, Baugi,
who told him that he was sadly at a loss for labourers, his nine
thralls having slain each other. Odin, who went under the name of
Baulverk, said that for a draught of Suttung’s mead he would do the
work of nine men for him. The terms agreed on, Odin worked for Baugi
the whole summer, but Suttung was deaf to his brother’s entreaties,
and would not part with a drop of the precious liquor, which was
carefully preserved in a cavern under his daughter’s custody. Into
this cavern Odin was resolved to penetrate. He therefore persuaded
Baugi to bore a hole through the rock, which he had no sooner done
than Odin, transforming himself into a worm, crept through the
crevice, and resuming his natural shape, won the heart of Gunnlauth.
After passing three nights with the fair maiden, he had no great
difficulty in induc[Pg 334]ing her to let him take a draught out of each of
the three jars, called Odhroerir, Bodn, and Son, in which the mead was
kept. But wishing to make the most of his advantage, he pulled so deep
that not a drop was left in the vessels. Transforming himself into an
eagle, he then flew off as fast as his wings could carry him, but
Suttung becoming aware of the stratagem, also took upon himself an
eagle’s guise, and flew after him. The Æsir, on seeing him approach
Asgard, set out in the yard all the jars they could lay their hands
on, which Odin filled by discharging through his beak the
wonder-working liquor he had drunken. He was however, so near being
caught by Suttung, that some of the liquor escaped him by an impurer
vent, and as no care was taken of this it fell to the share of the
poetasters. But the liquor discharged in the jars was kept for the
gods, and for those men who have sufficient wit to make a right use of
it. Hence poetry is also called Odin’s booty, Odin’s gift, the
beverage of the gods, &c, &c.
 This chapter is probably the interpolation of an early
copyist, for it has evidently no connection with the following one,
and is not found in the Upsal MS. of the Prose Edda, which is supposed
to be the oldest extant. Gefjon’s ploughing is obviously a mythic way
of accounting for some convulsions of nature, perhaps the convulsion
that produced the Sound, and thus effected a junction between the
Baltic and the Northern Ocean.
 Rime Giants, or Giants of the Frost.
 Literally, “It is light and hot, insomuch so that it is
flaming and burning, and it is impervious to those who are outlandish
(foreign), and not indigenous there” (or who have no home or heritage
 More properly speaking, to the earth which it
 A ferreous or glacial refrigeration.
 i.e. If Thor drove over Bifrost with his thunder
 i.e. Present, Past, and Future.
 Namely, his having killed Baldur.
 Mind or Thought, and Memory.
 i.e. Devouring flame.
 i.e. Spirit or thought.
 i.e. Eld or Old Age.
 Finn Magnusen’s explanation of this myth is, that
Iduna—the ever-renovating Spring—being in the possession of
Thjassi—the desolating winter—all nature languishes until she is
delivered from her captivity. On this being effected, her presence
again diffuses joy and gladness, and all things revive; while her
pursuer, Winter, with his icy breath, dissolves in the solar rays
indicated by the fires lighted on the walls of Asgard.
ÆGIR or OEGIR, horror, terror.
ÆSIR, sing. AS; God, Gods. ASYNJA, ASYNJOR; Goddess, Goddesses.
AI, from a, a river.
ALFADIR, or ALFODUR, All-Father, or the Father of All.
ALTHJOFR, lit. All-thief, an accomplished rascal.
AMSVARTNIR, grief, black, gloomy, swart.
ANDHRIMNIR, soul, spirit, breath: from hrim, congealed vapour, rime.
ANDLANGR, from aund, spirit, breath; and langr, long.
ANDVARI, prob. from aund, spirit; cautious, timid.
ANGURBODI, Anguish-boding, announcing or presaging calamity.
ARVAKR, awakening early; ar, the dawn, Aurora.
ASGARD, prop. ASGARDR, lit. God’s-ward, or the abode of the gods.
ASKR, an ash-tree.
AUDHUMLA, void, vacuity, darkness, tenebrosity.
AUDR, rich, wealthy.
AURBODA, prop. AURBODA, snow, rain, storm; to announce whence; a
messenger; hence an ambassador.
AUSTRI, East, Oriental.
BALDUR, prop. BALDR or BALLDR, fire, flame, bold.
BALEYGR, Bale-eyed, i.e. endowed with a clear, piercing vision.
BAREY, the Frondiferous-isle; an island.
BAULVERKR, Evil-worker; producing evil, calamity.
BAUMBURR, prob. cog. with bumbr, belly, cavity.
BELI, prob. from belja, to bellow.
BERGELMIR, Mountain-old, i.e. the old man of the mountain.
BIFLINDI, the Inconstant: from bif, motion; and lyndi, disposition,
BIFROST, BIF-RAUST, the Tremulous-bridge of the Aerial-bridge,
signifying also aerial: a certain space, a mile, a rest.
BIL, a moment, an interval, an interstice.
BILEYGR, endowed with fulminating eyes, a tempest, especially a
fulminating tempest or thunder-storm.
BILSKIRNIR, sometimes stormy, and sometimes serene; which, as Thor’s
mansion prob. denotes the atmosphere, would be a very appropriate
term; or storm-stilling, i.e. imparting serenity to the tempest.[Pg 336]
BIVAURR, BIVORR, or BIFUR, the Tremulous.
BODN, originally signified an offer-table or altar; an oblation; also
one of the jars in which the dwarfs’ poetical beverage was kept.
BOLTHORN, lit. Calamitous or Evil-thorn.
BOR, prop. BORR, and BUR, prop. BURR or BURI, means born, to bear;
whence also the Old G. barn, and the Scotch, bairn, a child.
BRAGI, the name of the God of Poetry; from braga, to glisten, to
shine, or from bragga, to adorn; ph. cog. with G. pracht, splendour.
BREIDABLIK: lit. Broad-blink—wide-glancing, Expanded splendour, to
BRIMIR, prob. from brimi, flame.
BRISINGR, may prob. mean flaming.
BYLEISTR, a dwelling, a town; to destroy, to break to pieces.
BYRGIR, prob. from v. byrgja, to conceal; E. to bury, whence barrow,
DAINN, prob. the Soporiferous; from da, a swoon, or complete repose.
DELLINGR—a day-ling. with the dawn, daybreak.
DIS, pi. DISIR, it originally sig. a female, but was afterwards used
in the sense of Nymph and Goddess. It enters into the composition of
several female names, as Thordis, Freydis, Vegdis, &c.
DOLGTHRASIR: a dolgr, a warrior; contentious, obstinate, persisting,
from the v. thrasa, to litigate, to quarrel.
DRAUPNIR, from the v. drupa, to droop, or the v. drjupa, to drip.
DROMI, strongly binding.
DUNEYRR, a hollow sound, from the v. dynja, to sound, to resound.
DURATHROR. The first sylb. may be derived either from dur, a light
sleep, or from dyr, a door; and the last, either from the v. threyja,
to expect, to wait for; or from throa, to increase, to enlarge.
DURINN, prob. from dur, a light sleep, to fall asleep; whence prob.
the E. to doze, and ph. also dusk.
DVALJNN, from dvali, sleep.
EIKINSKJALDI, furnished with an oaken shield, scarlet oak.
EIKTHYRNIR. Eik is the ilex or scarlet oak; thyrnir, a thorn;
metaphorically for a stag’s antlers.
EINHERJAR, a hero; select, chosen heroes.
EIR, to befriend, to tranquilize.
ELDHRIMNIR: eldr, elementary flre: brim, congealed vapour, rime, also
soot; hence (a kettle) sooty from flre.
ELIVAGAR, stormy waves; a storm; the sea; an estuary; water; wave.
ELLI, old age.
ELVIDNIR, ph. from el, a storm; and vidr, wide.[Pg 337]
EMBLA. The etymologies of the name of the first woman given by the
E.E. are merely conjectural. Grimm says the word embla, emla,
signifies a busy woman, from amr, ambr, amil ambl, assiduous labour;
the same relation as Meshia and Meshiane, the ancient Persian names of
the first man and woman, who were also formed from trees.
FALHOFNIR, a nail, a lamina, hoof.
FARMAGUD, the God of Carriers and Sea-farers.
FENRIR, FENRIS-ULFR, may mean dweller in an abyss, or the monster
FENSALIR, lit. Fen-saloon, from fen, a fen, but which it would appear
may also be made to sig. the watery deep, or the sea; and salr, a
hall, mansion, saloon. See Valhalla.
FIMBUL. From fimbulfambi comes the E. provincialism, to
fimble-famble; and the D. famle, to stammer, to hesitate in
FIMBULTHUL. Thulr means an orator or reciter, to speechify.
FIMBULVETR: vetr, winter; according to Grimm’s explanation of fimbul,
the Great Winter.
FJALARR and FJOLNIR. Multiform: in composition fjol, many.
FJOLSVIDR or FJOLSVITHR, to scorch: or ph. from svithr, wise,
powerful, potent, strong.
FJORGYN. Grimm, we think, has satisfactorily shown that fjorg is the
G. berg, a mountain.
FOLKVANGR, lit. the folk’s field, or habitation.
FORSETI, lit. the Fore-seated, i.e. the Judge.
FRANANGURS-FORS, prob. from frann, glittering, and ongr, narrow.
FREKI, G. frech, froward: the word has also the sig. of voracious.
FREYR and FREYJA. The name of the deity who was the symbol of the
sun—to mean Seminator, the Fructifler, Freyja—the symbolical
representation of the moon—means the Seminated, the Fructified; the
original sig, is that of glad, joyful, imparting gladness, beautous,
FRIGGA, prop. FRIGG. Grimm has shown that the root of this word is, if
not strictly syn., at least very nearly allied with that of the word
Freyja, and explains it to mean the Free, the Beauteous, the Winsome.
FROSTI, the E. frosty.
FULLA, abundance; from fullr, full.
FUNDINN, found; from v. finna, to find.
GANDALFR. Alfr, an elf, prob. sig. a wolf, a serpent.
GANGLER, the tired wanderer; to debilitate, to tire.
GANGRAD, prop. GANGRADR, indicates a person directing his steps.
GARDROFA, Fence-breaker; to break, to break through.
GARMR, voracious; to gorge; gourmand.
GAUTR, ph. may sig. a keeper, to keep.[Pg 338]
GEFJON, the earth; also separation, disruption.
GEFN, from the v. gefa, to give.
GEIROLUL, lit. Spear-alimentrix: from the v. ala, to aliment, to
GEIRRAUDR, lit. spear-red; hence King Spear-rubifler.
GEIRVIMUL, a river rushing or vibrating like a spear or javelin.
GELGJA, from galgi, a gallows.
GERDA, prop. GERDUR, to gird. Both gerd and gard are common
terminations of female names, as Hildigard, Irminigard, Thorgerda, &c.
GERI. Geri may be derived from gerr, covetous, greedy.
GIMLI, had the same sig. as himill, heaven, the original sig. of which
may have been fire, but afterwards a gem, as in the N. word
gimsteinn; whence also our colloquial words, gim, gimmy (neat), and
GINNARR, Seducer; from v. ginna, to seduce.
GINNUNGA-GAP may be rendered the gap of gaps; a gaping abyss.
GJALLAR (horn); from the v. gjalla, to resound, to clang; to yell.
GJOIX, prob. from gjallr, sonorous, fulgid.
GLADR, glad; from v. gledja, to gladden.
GLADSHEIMR: lit. Glad’s-home; the abode of gladness or bliss.
GLÆR, from glær, clear, pellucid; cog. with E. glare.
GLEIPNIR, the Devouring; from the v. gleipa, to devour.
GLITNIR, the Glittering; from the v. glitra; to glitter, and to
GLOINN, the Glowing; from v. gloa, to glow.
GOD. The Old N. lang. has two words for God, viz. God and Gud; and
it would appear that the n. god was used for an idol, and the m. gud.
for a God. Both words are, however, frequently applied to denote a
celestial deity. The Scandinavian Pontiff-chieftains were called Godar
(in the sing. Godi).
GOMUL, prob. from gamall, old.
GRAFJOLLUDR, Gray-skin; the skin of an animal.
GRAFVITNIR, from the v. grafa, to dig, to delve; cog. with E. grave:
and the v. vita, to know; to wit, wist, wot.
GRIMAR, and GRIMNIR, a helmet, or any kind of a covering; used
poetically for night, the sun being then veiled or covered.
GULLTOPPR, Golden-mane; crest, the top of anything, hence mane.
GUNNTHRA. The first sylb. of this word is from gunnr, war, a combat;
to increase, to enlarge; thra sig. grief, calamity; and thro, a
cavity, a fosse. From gunnr is derived the N. gunn-fani, a
GYLLIR, from gull, gold.[Pg 339]
HABROK. The E.E. render this word by Altipes, from bar, high; and
brok, lit. breeches, brogues, but which they assume may also sig. a
HALLINSKITHI, to decline; hence it would be an appropriate term for
the post-meridian sun.
HAMSKEKPIR, prob. from hams, hide; and the v. skerpa, to sharpen, also
to dry, to indurate.
HAPTAGUD, ph. from haupt, a nexus, a tie, a band.
HAR, prop. HARR, may mean either high or hairy. As a designation
of Odin it has undoubtedly the former signification. As the name of a
dwarf, the latter sig. would be more appropriate.
HEIDRUN, serene, etherial; a heath.
HEIMDALLR: heimr, home, the world.
HELA, prop. HEL., gen. HELJAR, the Goddess of the Infernal Regions,
used instead of Helheimr for those regions themselves.
HELBLINDI: hel, see the preceding word; blindi, from blundr, slumber.
HEPTI, prob. means impeding, constraining; to seize, to take by force,
to adhere to.
HERFJOTUR, lit. Host’s-fetter, i.e. having the power to impede or
constrain an army at will: her, an army, a host, a multitude.
HERJANN, the leader of an army; from her.
HERMOD, prop. HERMODR: her from her, courage, (see Modgudur).
HERTEITR, gay amongst warriors, a jovial soldier; glad, joyful.
HILDUR (Hilda), war, a combat. Hence we find it in a number of
Teutonic prop, names both m. and f., as Hilderic, Childeric, Hildegrim
(the Helm of War), Brynhildr (Brunhilda), Clothild (Clothilda), &c.
HIMINBJORG, the Heavenly-Mountains, the Comprehending, the
HIMINBRJOTR, Heaven-breaking: from the v. brjota, to break.
HJUKI, to keep warm, to nourish, to cherish.
HLIDSKJALF, a slope, a declivity; also to waver, to tremble.
HLINA, prop. HLIN, the support on which a person leans, i.e. a
HLJODALFR, the Genius or Elf of Sound.
HLODYN, the name of Frigga, as the symbol of the earth; protectress
of the hearth—of the household. The Romans also worshipped a goddess
of the earth and of fire under the common name of Fornax, dea
fornacalis. Grimm mentions a stone found at Cleves with the remarkable
inscription—DEAE HLUDANAE SACRVM C. TIBERIVS VERVS, and remarks that
Hludana was neither a Roman nor a Celtic goddess, and could be no
other than Hlodyn, which shows the identity of the German and
Scandinavian Mythology.[Pg 340]
HLOKK, or HLAUKK, to exalt, to clang, to cry like an eagle.
HNIKARR, or NIKARR, victor, a conqueror; to move, to agitate; to
thrust forward, to take by violence; to repel, to impede. G. m. Nix,
fern. Nixe, an aquatic genius. We may remark that the monks having
transformed Odin into the devil, our designation of his Satanic
Majesty, as Old Nick appears to be a mere corruption of these
appellations of the Teutonic divinity.
HNOSSA, a ball of yarn, a clew of thread, a knot.
HODUR, prop. HODR. Grimm thinks that the original signification may
have been war, combat.
HOFVARPNIR, a horse that plies well its hoofs, a good goer.
HRÆSVELGUR, lit. Raw-swallower, i.e. swallowing raw flesh like an
HRAFNAGUD, the Ravens’ god; brafn; G. rabe; E. raven.
HRIMFAXI: brim, rime, or hoar frost; fax, a crest, a mane. The E.
prop, name Fairfax, means fair-haired.
HRIMTHURSAR, the Rim or Frost Giants: thurs, a giant.
HRINGHORN, lit. a ringed or annulated horn.
HRIST, from v. hrista, to shake, to agitate.
HRYM, HRYMUR, prob. from brim, rime—hoar frost.
HUGI, and HUGINN, from hugr, spirit, breath, thought, mind, reason.
HVERGELMIR, the roaring cauldron; a spring of hot water.
HYRROKIN, lit. Smoky-fire; utter darkness, also smoke.
IDAVOLLR: vollr, a field, a place; to flow together; to ramble, to
take a pleasant walk.
IDUNA, prop. IDUNN or ITHUNN. May mean one who loves either the
confluence of waters, or to work, or to take a pleasant ramble.
JAFNHAR. The Equally High; lit. even so high.
JORD, JORTH, the earth.
JORMUNGANDR. Gandr sig. serpent, and more prop, wolf: jormun is a word
of uncertain origin, but appears in all the anc. Teutonic lang. to
have expressed the idea of great, maximus, universal. The reader will
find much curious information on this subject in Grimm’s admirable
JOTUNHEIMR, lit. Giants’-home, the region of the Giants.
KERLAUG: ker, any kind of vessel, cup, bowl, &c; also used to denote
the bed of a river.
KJALARR, prob. from v. kjala, to transport, to convey; a ship, a
KVASIR. This word seems to be used in the sense of a drinking bout.
LAUFEY, lit. Frondiferous-isle; an island.
LETTFETI, Lightfoot: light.
LIFTHRASIR, vital energy, longevity, life; enduring a long time.
LITUR, colour, complexion, form, the face.[Pg 341]
LODURR, LODR, LOTHR, from the ob. N. lod, fire.
LOFNA, prop. LOFN, appears allegorlcally to denote perennial and
LOGI, Flame; a log of wood burnt or to be burnt.
LOKI, to shut; whence the E. to lock, to finish.
LOPTUR, the Aerial, the Sublime; the air; whence the E. lofty and
aloft, also a (hay) loft.
LYNGVI, from lyng or ling, the sweet broom, heath or ling.
MAGNI, the Potent, the Powerful; force, energy.
MANAGARMR, lit. the moon’s wolf; a monster wolf or dog, voracious.
MANI, the moon.
MARDOLL, Sea-nymph; mere, the sea; whence our word mere, as
Windermere, Buttermere, &c: doll, a nymph; poetically a woman.
MEGINGJARDIR, the Girdle of Might, the Belt of Prowess.
MIDGARD, middleweard, the middleward; see Asgard. Middling, mean.
MIMIR, or MIMER, to keep In memory; to be fanciful; mindful.
MJODVITNIR, lit. knowing in mead; wine; madja, palm-wine,
MJOLNIR, or MJOLLNIR, prob. from v. melja, to pound, or v. mala, to
grind; E. mill, and prob. with L. malleus, a mallet.
MODGUDUR, a valiant female warrior, animosa bellona: courage; mind;
E. mood; gracefulness, delectation.
MODSOGNIR, lit. sucking in courage or vigour.
MOINN, dwelling on a moor.
MUNINN, mind; memory, recollection; G. minne, love.
MUSPELLHEIMR, Muspell’s region or home; used in the sense of elemental
or empyreal fire.
NAGLFAR, a nail from nagl, a human nail; according to the Prose Edda,
“constructed of the nails of dead men”; a seafaring man.
NAL. G. nadel; A.S. nædl; E. a needle.
NANNA. Grimm derives this word from the v. nenna, to dare.
NAR, a corpse.
NASTROND, a corpse; The Strand of the Dead.
NAUDUR, necessity; need.
NAUT, ph. from the v. njota, to make use of.
NIDAFJOLL, a rock, a mountain.
NIDHOGG, a phrase used to indicate the new and the waning moon.
NIDI, from nidr, downwards.
NIFLHEIMR, lit. Nebulous-home—the shadowy region of death.
NIFLHEL, from nifi and hel. See the latter word.
NIFLUNGAR, the mythic-heroic ghosts of the shadowy realms of death.
NIPINGR, handsome; to contract, to curve.[Pg 342]
NJORD, prop. NJORDR, humid; Sk. nar, nir, water; a wave; and
Neriman, an aquatic man.
NOTT; D. nat; M.G. naht; G. nacht; A.S. niht; E. night.
NYI, these dwarfs were symbolical of the new and the waning moon.
ODIN. E. to wade through, consequently the Omnipotent Being that
permeates all things.
ODUR, the name of Freyja’s husband. Odur may, like Kvasir, be the
personification of poetry.
ODHROERIR, Mind-exciting; the name of a vessel or kettle.
OFNIR, E. to weave. The word would thus sig. the textile or creating
power of Odin.
OMI, from omr, a sound, a crash; a name given to Odin, when like, the
Brahmlnlc Indra, he rattles aloft during a battle, or at daybreak.
ONDURDIS, Snow skates; E. to wander; dis, a nymph, a goddess.
ORGELMIR, Primordial Giant; also to roar, to howl, to clang, to
ORI, delirious (with love), one of the Erotic Genii.
OSKI, hence one who listens to the wishes of mankind.
RADGRID, lit. seeking power with avidity; power, empire council.
RADSVITHR, wise, powerful.
RAGNAROKR. The n. ragin signified rath, council, the pl. of which,
regin, Is used in the Eddaic Poems for the gods; that is to say, the
consulting, deliberating deities. It answers in fact fully to the E.
word rack, Indicating atmospheric nebulosity; hence Ragnarok is very
approp. rendered by “The Twilight of the Gods.”
RAN, to plunder; her spoil being those who were drowned at sea.
RANDGRID: rand, from rond, a shield.
RATATOSKR, from the v. rata; to permeate; the last sylb. may be
derived from G. tasche, a pocket or pouch; hence the Permeating
REGIN, Is often used In the sense of vast, immense; the vast sea.
REGINLEIF, dear to the gods, see Regin.
RIGR, Rajah, a king.
RINDA, prop. RINDUR, sig. symbolically, the crust of the earth.
ROSKA, quick, lively, active.
SADR, SATHR, just, true, in sooth, verily.
SÆGR, a large vessel of any kind. The word was used by the Skalds
metaphorically for the sea.
SAGA. The personified saga or narration, from the v. segja, to say;
G. sage; E. a saying; L. Saga, a sorceress; sagax, saga-clous,
SANNGETALL, inquiring after; guessing at truth.
SESSRUMNIR, lit. Seat-roomy, i.e. having room for plenty of seats.[Pg 343]
SID, declining, hanging, tending downward.
SIDHOTTR, lit. Hanging-hat or hood.
SIDSKEGGR, lit. Hanging-beard; E. shag and shaggy.
SIF, signifying peace, friendship, relationship, a goddess, Sibja,
Sippia, and Sib.
SIGFADIR, or SIGFODUR, the Father of Victory; L. pater.
SILFRINTOPPR, Silver-mane; E. silver: toppr, see Gulltoppr.
SINDRI, either scintillating or producing dross.
SJOFNA. F. Mag. derives it from the v. sja, to see.
SKADI, the magpie received its name from this goddess.
SKAFIDR, shaving, scraping.
SKEGGOLD, lit. Old-beard; also denoted a particular kind of
SKEIDBRIMIR, any space of time that is elapsing.
SKIDBLADNIR, lath, shingle, billet of wood, a sheath; E. blade, a
blade or leaf of grass.
SKILFINGR, prob. to shake, to shatter.
SKINFAXI, Shining-mane: skin, splendour, light.
SKIRNIR, serene, pure, clear; E. sheer, which had formerly the same
SKOGUL, prob. from v. skaga, to jut out; whence skagi, a promontory.
SKOLL, to stick to, to adhere, to strike, to smite.
SLEIPNIR. E. slippery.
SLIDRUGTANNI, cruel, fierce, savage.
SNOTRA, to blow the nose; a person, even a goddess, being much more
tidy when the nostrils are thoroughly emunctated.
SOKKVABEKKR, lit. Sinking-brook; to sink; an estuary, a shore, a
SON, sound, song, sonus, cantus.
SURTUR, obscure, invisible; and invisible, unintelligible!! Surtur,
according to Fin Magnusen, the invisible, unintelligible being whom
the ancient Scandinavians regarded as “the great First Cause least
understood” of all things.
SVADILFARI, lubricity, also slippery ice.
SVAFNIR, prob. from v. svefa, to cast asleep; sleep, quiet, repose.
SVALINN, the Refrigerating; to cool, to refrigerate.
SVARTALFAHEIMR, lit. Black or Swart Elves’ home, region of the Elves
of Darkness in contradistincition to that of the Elves of Light.
SVARTHOFDI, Black-head; svartr, black, swart.
SVASUTHR, Sweet-south; blithe, jocund, dear.
SVIDR and SVIDRIR, from v. svida, to scorch; or wise, powerful.
SVIPALL, to hasten, to vibrate; to wave, to hover; also with E. v.
SYLGR, a draught or deglutition; to swallow; to swill; to guzzle, to
SYN, signifying equity; syn. defence, excuse, negation, impediment,
which has been personified into a judicial goddess.
SYNIR, having a fine appearance.
TANNGNIOSTR, Gnashing-teeth; to bruise, crack, grind, gnash.
THEKKR, to know; E. to think. The adj. thekkr means also amiable.
THODNUMA, men, people, nations.
THOR, contraction of Thonar, a word indicating a God who, like Thor,
presided over thunder and atmospherical phenomena.
THORINN, from thor, audacity; whence the v. thora; to dare.
THRAINN, the Pertinacious; from the v. thra, to desire vehemently.
THRIDI, The Third.
THROR, ph. from v. throa, to increase, to amplify.
THRUDUR. Thrudr is an obsolete N. word signifying fortitude,
firmness; but it appears to have originally had, in most of the
Teutonic languages the sig. of maiden, virgin; and was afterwards used
in the sense of witch, sorceress.
THRUDVANGR, the Abode or Region or Fortitude.
THRYM. F. Mag. says the word is undoubtedly derived from thruma,
THUNDR, can be derived from thund, a breastplate, a coat of mail.
THYN, to thunder, to make a thundering noise, as a rapid current does.
TYR, signifying God; as well as the L. Jupiter, for which he assumes
a nom. Ju or Jus, Jupiter.
URD, VERDANDI, and SKULD, the Present, Past, and Future. The names of
the Destinies of the Present and Past.
UTGARD, prop. UTGARDR, lit. Outer-ward. See Midgard.
VAFTHRUDNIR, from the v. vefa, to involve, prop, to weave.
VAFUDR, the Weaver, or the Constrainer.
VAKR, VAKUR, alert, lively, vigilant.
VALASKJALF, choice, election.
VALFADIR, or VALFODUR, lit. the Choosing Father.
VALHALLA, prop, VALHOLL, lit. the Hall of the Chosen: may also have
originally indicated a temple.
VALKYRJOR, or VALKYRJUR, sing. VALKYRJA, lit. Choosers of the Slain;
denoted the slain in battle; a poetical word for a field of battle.
VANADIS, prop, a Goddess of the Vanir. See that word, and Dis.
VANIR, beautiful; with the L. venustus and Venus, and ph. with the
VASADR, from vas, moisture, a word cog. with the E. wet and wash.
VE. Was used in the m. sing, to express a particular god; that in the
pi. it would be vear, gods, idols; a temple.[Pg 345]
VEDURFOLNIR might be rendered Storm-stilling; causing serenity.
VERATYR, lit. the Man-god.
VESTRI, west, occidental.
VIDAR, a tree; wood; and prob. also weed and withy.
VIDBLAINN, expanded azure (lit. Wide-blue).
VIDFINNR, wide, vast.
VIDOLFR, or VIDALFR, lit. Sylvan Elf.
VIDRIR, Moderator of the weather; to still the weather.
VIGRID, from vig, a battle; battle craft, the art of war.
VILI, Will. To will; to choose; to elect.
VILMEITHR, an old word for tree.
VIN, and VINA, a friend, to love, to favour; winsome.
VINDALFR, Wind Elf.
VINDSVALR; vindr, wind: and svalr, cold, glacial.
VINGOLF, lit. the Abode of Friends; golf means lit. a floor.
VOLUNDR. The word denotes a skilful artificer, in which sense it is
still used by the Icelanders; he is a famous workman—a Wayland—in
iron; and they very appropriately term a labyrinth a Wayland-house.
VOLUSPA, a sybil or prophetess.
YGGDRASILL, from Ygg, one of Odin’s names (see the following word) and
drasill, bearing; hence, according to F. Mag., it would sig. bearing
(producing) rain, or bearing Odin.
YGGR., to meditate, and also to fear; hence the word might be rendered
by either the Meditating or the Terrible.
YLG, the Howling; to howl.
YMIR, a confused noise, like the rustling of trees when shaken by the
wind; also the clang of metals.
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