The Northern Way

Gróttasöngr

The Lay of Grótti, or The Mill_Song.

King Fródi succeeded to the kingdom of Denmark at the time when the emperor Augustus had proclaimed peace over all the world; and as Fródi was the most powerful king in the North, the peace was attributed to him and called Fródi's peace, where_ever the Danish tongue was spoken. When on a visit to king Fiölnir in Sweden, he bought two female slaves, whose names were Fenia and Menia, both of great strength and stature. At this time two mill_stones were found in Denmark so large that no one could drag them. These stones possessed the property of grinding whatever the grinder wished. Fródi set the two slaves to work at the quern, or mill, which was named Grótti and commanded them to grind gold, peace, and prosperity to Fródi; but he allowed them not a moment's rest nor even sleep longer than while the cuckoo was silent, or a song might be sung. They then sang the song called Gróttasöngr, and ceased not before they had ground an army against Fródi, so that in the night a sea_king, named Mýsing, came, slew Fródi, and carried off great booty. Such was the end of Fródi's peace. Mýsing took Grótti, together with Fenia and Menia, and caused white salt to be ground in his ships, until they sank in Pentland Firth. There is ever since a vortex where the sea falls into Grótti's eye; there the sea roars as it (Grótti) roars, and then it was that the sea first became salt. Skalda, edit. Rask, p. 146.


1. Now are come
to the king's house
two prescient damsels,
Fenia and Menia;
they are with Fródi,
Fridleif's son,
the powerful maidens,
in thraldom held.

2. To the mill
they both were led,
and the grey stone
to set a going ordered;
he to both forbade
rest and solace,
before he heard
the maidens' voice.

3. They made resound
the clattering quern,
with their arms
swung the light stones.
The maidens he commanded
yet more to grind.

4. They sung and swung
the whirling stone,
until Fródi's thralls
nearly all slept.
Then said Menia
_ to the meal 'twas come _

5. "Riches we grind for Fródi,
all happiness we grind,
wealth in abundance,
in gladness' mill.
On riches may he sit,
on down may he sleep,
to joy may he wake:
then 'tis well ground!

6. Here shall not one
another harm,
evil machinate,
nor occasion death,
nor yet strike
with the biting sword,
although a brother's slayer
he find bound."

7. He had not yet said
one word before:
"Sleep ye not longer
than the gowks round the house,
or than while
one song I sing."

8. "Thou was not, Fródi!
for thyself over_wise,
or a friend of men,
when thralls thou boughtest;
for strength thou chosest them,
and for their looks,
but of their race
didst not inquire.

9. Stout was Hrúngnir,
and his father,
yet was Thiassi
stronger than they;
Idi and Örnir
our relations are,
brothers of the mountain_giants
from whom we are born.

10. Grótti had not come
from the grey fell,
nor yet the hard
stone from the earth;
nor so had ground
the giant maid,
if her race had
aught of her known.

11. Nine winters we
playmates were,
strong and nurtured
beneath the earth.
We maidens stood
at mighty works;
ourselves we moved
the fast rock from its place.

12. We rolled the stone
o'er the giants' house,
so that earth thereby
shrank trembling;
so hurled we
the whirling rock,
that men could take it.

13. But afterwards, in Sweden,
we prescient two
among people went,
chased the bear,
and shattered shields;
went against
a grey_sarked host,
aided one prince,
another overthrew,
afforded the good
Guthrom help.
Quiet I sat not
ere we warriors felled.
14. Thus we went on
all those winters,
so that in conflicts
we were known;
there we carved,
with our sharp spears,
blood from wounds,
and reddened brands.

15. Now are we come
to a king's house,
unpitied both,
and in thraldom held;
gravel gnaws our feet,
and above 'tis cold;
a foe's host we drew.
Sad 'tis at Fródi's!

16. Hands must rest,
the stone shall stand still;
for me I have
my portion ground.
To hands will not
rest be given,
until Fródi thinks
enough is ground.

17. Hands shall hold
falchions hard,
the weapon slaughter_gory.
Wake thou, Fródi!
wake thou, Fródi!
if thou wilt listen
to our songs
and sagas old.

18. Fire I see burning
east of the burgh;
tidings of war are rife:
that should be a token;
a host will forthwith
hither come,
and the town burn
over the king.

19. Thou wilt not hold
the throne of Lethra,
rings of red gold,
or mighty mill_stone.
Let us ply the winch,
girl! yet more rapidly;
are we not grown up
in deadly slaughter?

20. My father's daughter
has stoutly ground,
because the fate
of many men she saw.
Huge fragments
spring from the mill_stone
into the Örnefiörd.
Let us grind on!

21. Let us grind on!
Yrsa's son,
Hálfdan's kinsman,
will avenge Fródi:
he will of her
be called
son and brother:
we both know that."

22. The maidens ground,
their might applied;
the damsels were
in Jötun_mood,
the axes trembled;

 

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