The Northern Way


The Lay of Grimnir

Page 1

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 recieved; but his father was dead. Geirröd was then taken for king, and became a famous man.
        Odin and Frigg were sitting in Hlidskialf, 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 inhospitable that he tortures his guests, if he thinks 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 gaurd, 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 before it.

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 the 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.

4. Holy is the land,
which I see lying
to Æsir and Alfar near;
but in Thrundheim
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;
Valaskjalf ‘tis called,
which for himself acquired
the As in days of old.

7. Sökkvabekk the fourth is named
oe’r which
the gelid waves resound;
Odin and Saga there,
joyful each day,
from golden beakers quaff.

8. Gladsheim the fifth is named,
there the golden-bright
Valhall stands spacious,
there Hropt selects
each day those men
who die by weapons.

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 sheilds 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 hovers.

11. Thrymheim the sixth is named,
where Thiassi dwelt,
that all-powerful Jötun;
but Skadi now inhabits,
the bright bride of the 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. Himinbjörg is the eighth,
where Heimdall, it is said,
rules o’er the holy fanes:
there the gods’ watchman,-
in his tranquil home,
drinks joyful the good mead.

14. Folkvang is the ninth,
there Freyja 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 strife allays.

16. Noatun 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 Landvidi:
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
Einherjar 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 in Valhall.
Eight hundred Einherjar
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 greatest.

25. Heidrun the goat is called,
that stands o’er Odin’s hall,
and bits from Lærad’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 bits from Lærad’s branches;
from his horns fall
drops into Hvergelmir,
whence all waters rise:-

27. Sid and Vid,
Soekin and Eikin,
Svöl and Gunntro,
Fiörm and Fimbulthul,
Rin and Rennandi,
Gipul and Göpul,
Gömul and Geirvimul:
they round the gods’ dwellings wind.
Thyn and Vin,
Thöll and Höll,
Grad and Gunnthorin.

28. Vina one is called,
a second Vegsvin,
a third Thiodnuma;
Nyt and Nöt,
Nön and Hrön,
Slid and Hrid,
Sylg and Ylg,
Vid and Van,
Vönd and Strönd,
Giöll and Leipt;
these (two) fall near to men,
but fall hence to Hel,

29. Körmt and Örmt,
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.