The Northern Way

VafÞrúðnismál

The lay of Vafthrúdnir.

Odin visits the Giant (Jötun) Vafthrudnir, for the purpose of proving his knowledge. They propose questions relative to the Cosmogony of the Northern creed, on the condition that the baffled party forfeit his head. The Jötun incurs the penalty.


Odin
1. Counsel thou me now, Frigg!
as I long to go
Vafthrudnir to visit;
great desire, I say,
I have, in ancient lore
with athat all-wise Jötun to contend.

Frigg
2. At home to bide
Hærfather I would counsel,
in the gods´dwellings;
because no Jötun
is, I believe, so mighty
as is Vafthrudnir.

Odin
3. Much have I journeyed,
much experienced,
mighty ones many proved;
but this I fain would know,
how in Vafthrudnir’s
halls it is.

Frigg
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 Jötun.
To the hall he came
which Im´s father owned.
Ygg went forthwith in.

Odin
6. Hail to thee, Vafthrudnir!
to thy hall I am now come,
theyself to see;
for I fain would know,
whether thou art a cunning
and all-wise Jötun.

Vafthrudnir
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.

Odin
8. Gagnrad 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!

Vafthrudnir
9. Why then, Gagnrad!
speakest thou from the floor?
Take in the hall a seat;
then shall be proved
which knows most,
the guest or the ancient talker.

Gagnrad
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.

Vafthrudnir
11. Tell me, Gagnrad!
since on the floor thou wilt
prove thy proficiency,
how the horse is called
that draws each day
forth over human kind?

Gagnrad
12. Skinfaxi he is named,
that the bright day draws
forth over human kind.
Of coursers he is best acounted
among the Reid-goths.
Ever sheds light that horse’s mane.

Vafthrudnir
13. Tell me now, Gagnrad!
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?

Gagnrad
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.

Vafthrudnir
15. Tell me, Gagnrad!
since on the floor thou wilt
prove thy proficiency,
how the stream is called,
which earth divides between
the Jötuns and the Gods?

Gagnrad
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.

Vafthrudnir
17. Tell me, Gagnrad!
since on the floor thou wilt
prove thy proficiency,
how that plain is called,
where in fight shall meet
Surt and the gentle Gods?

Gagnrad
18. Vigrid the plain is called,
where in fight shall meet
Surt and the gentle Gods;
a hundred rasts it is
on every side.
That plain is to them decreed.

Vafthrudnir
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 wise utterance.

************************

Gagnrad
20. Tell me first,
if thy wit suffices,
and thou, Vafthrudnir! knowest,
whence first came the earth,
and the high heaven,
thou, sagacious Jötun?

Vafthrudnir
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.

Gagnrad
22. Tell me secondly,
if thy wit suffices,
and thou, Vafthrudnir! knowest,
whence came the moon,
which over mankind passes,
and the sun likewise?

Vafthrudnir
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 men.

Gagnrad
24. Tell me thirdly,
since thou art called wise,
and if thou, Vafthrudnir! knowest,
whence came the day,
which over people passes,
and night with waning moons?

Vafthrudnir
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.

Gagnrad
26. Tell me fourthly,
since they pronounce thee sage,
and if thou, Vafthrudnir! knowest,
whence winter came,
and warm summer
first among the wise gods?

Vafthrudnir
27. Vindsval hight he,
who winter’s father is,
and Svasud summer’s;
yearly they both
shall ever journey,
until the powers perish.

Gagnrad
28. Tell me fifthly,
since they pronounce thee sage,
and if thou, Vafthrudnir! knowest,
which of the Æsir earliest,
or of Ymir´s sons
in days of old existed?

Vafthrudnir
29. Countless winters,
ere earth was formed,
was Bergelmir born;
Thrudgelmir
was his sire,
his grandsire Arugelmir.

Gagnrad
30. Tell me sixthly,
since thou art called wise,
and if thou, Vafthrudnir! knowest,
whence first came Aurgelmir,
amongh the Jötun´s sons,
thou sagacious Jötun?

Vafthrudnir
31. From Elivagar
sprang venom drops,
which grew till they became a Jötun;
but sparks flew
from the south-world:
to the ice the fire gave life.
Gagnrad

32. Tell me seventhly,
since thou art called wise,
and if thou knowest, Vafthrudnir!
how he children begat,
the bold Jötun,
as he had no giantess’s company?

Vafthrudnir
33. Under the armpit grew,
‘tis said, of the Hrimthurs,
a girl and boy together;
foot with foot begat,
of that wise Jötun,
a six-headed son.

Gagnrad
34. Tell me eighthly,
since thou art called wise,
and if thou knowest, Vafthrudnir!
what thou doest first remember,
or earliest knowest?
Thou art an all-wise Jötun.

Vafthrudnir
35. Countless winters,
ere earth was formed,
Bergelmir was born.
That I first remember,
when that wise Jötun
in an ark was laid.

Gagnrad
36. Tell me ninthly,
since thou art called wise,
and if thou knowest, Vafthrudnir!
whence the wind comes,
that over ocean passes,
itself invisible to man?

Vafthrudnir
37. Hræsvelg 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.

Gagnrad
38. Tell me tenthly,
since thou all the origin
of the gods knowest, Vafthrudnir!
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.

Vafthrudnir
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.

Gagnrad
40. Tell me eleventhly,
since all the condition
of the gods thou knowest, Vafthrudnir!
what the Einherjar do
in Hærfather´s halls,
until the powers perish?

Vafthrudnir
41. All the Einherjar
in Odin’s halls
each day together fight;
the fallen they choose,
and from the conflict ride;
beer with the Æsir drink,
of Sæhrimnir eat their fill,
then sit in harmony together.

Gagnrad
42. Tell me twelfthly,
as thou all the condition
of the gods knowest, Vafthrudnir!
of the Jötuns’ secrets,
and of all the gods’,
say what truest is,
thou all-knowing Jötun!

Vafthrudnir
43. Of the secrets of the Jötuns
and of all the gods,
I can truly tell;
for I have over
each world travelled;
to nine worlds I came,
to Niflhel beneath:
here die men from Hel.

Gagnrad
44. Much have I journeyed,
much experienced,
mighty ones many proved.
What mortals will live,
when the great ‘Fimbulwinter’
shall from men have passed?

Vafthrudnir
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 be born.

Gagnrad
46. Much have I journeyed,
much experienced,
mighty ones many proved.
Whence will come the sun
in that fair heaven,
when Fenrir has this devoured?

Vafthrudnir
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.

Gagnrad
48. Much have I journeyed,(etc.)
who are the maidens
that o’er the ocean travel,
wise of spirit, journey?

Vafthrudnir
49. O’er people’s dwellings three descend
of Mögthrasir’s maidens,
the sole Hamingiur
who are in the world,
although with Jötuns nurtured.

Gagnrad
50. Much have I journeyed,(etc.)
Which of the Æsir will rule o’er the gods’ possession,
when Surt’s fire shall be quenched?

Vafthrudnir
51. Vidar and Vali
will the gods’ holy fanes inhabit,
when Surt’s fire shall be quenched.
Modi and Magni will
Mjöllnir possess,
and warfare strive to end.

Gagnrad
52. Much have I journeyed, (etc.)
What of Odin will
the life’s end be,
when the powers perish?

Vafthrudnir
53. The wolf will
the father of men devour;
him Vidar will avenge:
he his cold jaws will cleave,
in conflict with the wolf.

Gagnrad
54. Much have I journeyed, (etc.)
What said Odin
in his son’s ear,
ere he on the pile was laid?

Vaftthrudnir
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!

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