The Northern Way


King Hruthung had two sons; one was called Agnar, and the other Geirröth. Agnar was ten winters old, and Geirröth eight. Once they both rowed in a boat with their fishing-gear to catch little fish; and the wind drove them out into the sea. In the darkness of the night they were wrecked on the shore; and going up, they found a poor peasant, with whom they stayed through the winter. The housewife took care of Agnar, and the peasant cared for Geirröth, and taught him wisdom. In the spring the peasant gave him a boat; and when the couple led them to the shore, the peasant spoke secretly with Geirröth. They had a fair wind, and came to their father’s landing-place, Geirröth was forward in the boat; he leaped up on land, but pushed out the boat and said, “Go thou now where evil may have thee!” The boat drifted out to sea. Geirröth, however, went up to the house, and was well received, but his father was dead. Then Geirröth was made king, and became a renowned man.

Othin and Frigg sat in Hlithskjolf and looked over all the worlds. Othin said: “Seest thou Agnar, thy fosterling, how he begets children with a giantess in the cave? But Geirröth, my fosterling, is a king, and now rules over his land.” Frigg said: “He is so miserly that he tortures his guests if he thinks that too many of them come to him.” Othin replied that this was the greatest of lies; and they made a wager about this matter. Frigg sent her maidservant, Fulla, to Geirröth. She bade the king beware lest a magician who was come thither to his land should bewitch him, and told this sign concerning him, that no dog was so fierce as to leap at him. Now it was a very great slander that King Geirröth was not hospitable; but nevertheless he had them take the man whom the dogs would not attack. He wore a dark-blue mantle and called himself Grimnir, but said no more about himself, though he was questioned. The king had him tortured to make him speak, and set him between two fires, and he sat there eight nights. King Geirröth had a son ten winters old, and called Agnar after his father’s brother. Agnar went to Grimnir, and gave him a full horn to drink from, and said that the king did ill in letting him be tormented without cause. Grimnir drank from the horn; the fire had come so near that the mantle burned on Grimnir’s back. He spake: (*)

1. Hot art thou, fire!        too fierce by far;
Get ye now gone, ye flames!
The mantle is burnt,        though I bear it aloft,
And the fire scorches the fur.

2. ‘Twixt the fires now        eight nights have I sat,
And no man brought meat to me,
Save Agnar alone,        and alone shall rule
Geirröth’s son o’er the Goths. (*)

3. Hail to thee, Agnar!         for hailed thou art
By the voice of Veratyr;
For a single drink        shalt thou never receive
A greater gift as reward. (*)

4. The land is holy        that lies hard by
The gods and the elves together;
And Thor shall ever        in Thrunthheim dwell,
Till the gods to destruction go. (*)

5. Ydalir call they        the place where Ull
A hall for himself hath set;
And Alfheim the gods                to Freyr once gave
As a tooth-gift in ancient times. (*)

6. A third home is there,                with silver thatched
By the hands of the gracious gods;
Valaskjolf is it,        in days of old
Set by a god himself. (*)

7. Sökkvabekk is the fourth,        where cool waves flow,
And amid their murmur it stands;
There daily do Othin        and Saga drink
In gladness from cups of gold. (*)

8. The fifth is Glathsheim,        and gold-bright there
Stands Valhall stretching wide;
And there does Othin        each day choose
The men who have fallen in fight. (*)

9. Easy is it to know        for him who to Othin
Comes and beholds the hall’
Its rafter are spears,        with shields is it roofed,
On its benches are breastplates strewn.

10. Easy is it to know        for him who to Othin
Comes and beholds the hall;
There hangs a wolf        by the western door,
And o’er it an eagle hovers.

11. The sixth is Thrymheim,         where Thjazi dwelt,
The giant of marvelous might;
Now Skathi abides,         the god’s fair bride,
In the home that her father had. (*)

12. The seventh is Breithablik;        Baldr has there
For himself a dwelling set,
In the land I know        that lies so fair,
And from evil fate is free. (*)

13. Himingbjorg is the eighth,        and Heimdall there
O’er men holds sway, it is said;
In his well-built house        does the warder of heaven
The good mead gladly drink. (*)

14. The ninth is Folkvang,        where Freya decrees
Who shall have seats in the hall;
The half of the dead        each day does she choose,
And half does Othin have. (*)

15. The tenth is Glitnir;        its pillars are gold,
And its roof with silver is set;
There most of his days        does Forseti dwell,
And sets all strife at end. (*)

16. The eleventh is Noatun;        there has Njorth
For himself a dwelling set;
The sinless ruler        of men there sits
In his temple timbered high. (*)

17. Filled with growing trees        and high-standing grass
Is Vithi, Vithar’s land;
But there did the son        from his steed leap down,
When his father he fain would avenge. (*)

18. In Eldhrimnir         Andhrimnir cooks
Sæhrimnir’s seething flesh,-
The best of food,        but few men know
On what fare the warriors feast. (*)

19. Freki and Geri                does Heerfather feed,
The far-famed fighter of old;
But on wine alone        does the weapon-decked god,
Othin, forever live. (*)

20. O’er Mithgarth Hugin         and Munin both
Each day set forth to fly;
For Hugin I fear        lest he come not home,
But for Munin my care is more. (*)

21. Loud roars Thund,         and Thjothvitnir’s fish
Joyously fares in the flood;
Hard does it seem        to the host of the slain
To wade the torrent wild. (*)

22. There Valgrind stands,        the sacred gate,
And behind are the holy doors;
Old is the gate,        but few there are
Who can tell how it tightly is locked. (*)

23. Five hundred doors        and forty there are,
I ween, in Valhall’s walls;
Eight hundred fighters        through one door fare
When to war with the wolf they go. (*)

24. Five hundred rooms        and forty there are
I ween, in Bilskirnir built;
Of all the homes        whose roofs I beheld,
My son’s the greatest meseemed. (*)

25. Heithrun is the goat        who stands by Heerfather’s hall,
And the branches of Lærath he bites;
From his horns a stream        into Hvergelmir drops,
Thence all the rivers run. (*)

26. Sith and Vith,        Sækin and Ækin,
Svol and Fimbulthul,                Gunnthro and Fjorm,
Rin and Rinnandi (*)

27. Gipul and Gopul,        Gomul and Geirvimul,
That flow through the fields of the gods;
Thyn and Vin,                Thol and Hol,
Groth and Gunnthorin. (*)

28. Vino is one,        Vegsvin another,
And Thjothnuma a third;
Nyt and Not,         Non and Hron,
Slith and Hrith,        Sylg and Ylg,
Vith and Von,                Vond and Strond,
Gjol and Leipt,        that go among men,
And hence they fall to Hel. (*)

29. Kormt and Ormt        and the Kerlaugs twain
Shall Thor each day wade through,
(When dooms to give                he forth shall go
To the ash-tree Yggdrasil;)
For heaven’s bridge        burns all in flame,
And the sacred waters seethe. (*)

30. Glath and Gyllir,        Gler and Skeithbrimir,
Silfrintopp and Sinir,
Gisl and Falhofnir,        Golltopp and Lettfeti,
On these steeds the gods shall go
When dooms to give        each day they ride
To the ash-tree Yggdrasil. (*)

31. Three roots there are                that three ways run
‘Neath the ash-tree Yggdrasil;
‘Neath the first lives Hel,        ‘neath the second the frost-giants,
‘Neath the last are the lands of men. (*)

32. Ratatosk is the squirrel        who there shall run
On the ash-tree Yggdrasil;
From above the words        of the eagle he bears,
And tells them to Nithhogg beneath. (*)

33. Four harts there are,                that the highest twigs
Nibble with necks bent back;
Dain and Dvalin,        -lacuna-
Duneyr and Dyrathror. (*)

34. More serpents there are        beneath the ash
Than an unwise ape would think;
Goin and Moin,         Grafvitnir’s sons,
Grabak and Grafvolluth,
Ofnir and Svafnir        shall ever, methinks,
Gnaw at the twigs of the tree. (*)

35. Yggdrasil’s ash        great evil suffers,
Far more than men do know;
The hart bites its top,                its trunk is rotting,
And Nithhogg gnaws beneath.

36. Hrist and Mist                bring the horn at my will,
Skeggjold and Skogul;
Hild and Truth,        Hlok and Herfjotur,
Gol and Geironul,
Randgrith and Rathgrith        and Reginleif
Beer to the warriors bring. (*)

37. Arvak and Alsvith        up shall drag
Weary the weight of the sun;
But an iron cool        have the kindly gods
Of yore set under their yokes. (*)

38. In front of the sun        does Svalin stand,
The shield for the shining god;
Mountains and sea        would be set in flames
If it fell from before the sun. (*)

39. Skoll is the wolf        that to Ironwood
Follows the glittering god,
And the son of Hrothvitnir,         Hati, awaits
The burning bride of heaven. (*)

40. Out of Ymir’s flesh        was fashioned the earth,
And the ocean out of his blood;
Of his bones the hills,                of his hair the trees,
Of his skull the heavens high. (*)

41. Mithgarth the gods        from his eyebrows made,
And set for the sons of men;
And out of his brain        the baleful clouds
They made to move on high.

42. His the favour of Ull        and of all the gods
Who first in the flames will reach;
For the house can be seen        by the sons of the gods
If the kettle aside were cast.

43. In days of old                did Ivaldi’s sons
Skithblathnir fashion fair,
The best of ships        for the bright god Freyr,
The noble son of Njorth. (*)

44. The best of trees        must Yggdrasil be,
Skithblathnir best of boats;
Of all the gods        is Othin the greatest,
And Sleipnir the best of steeds;
Bilrost of bridges,        Bragi of skalds,
Hobrok of hawks,        and Garm of hounds. (*)

45. To the race of gods         my face have I raised,
And the wished-for aid have I waked;
For to all the gods        has the message gone
That sit in Ægir’s seats,
That drink within Ægir’s doors.

46. Grim is my name,        Gangleri am I,
Hergan and Hjalmberi,
Thekk and Thrithi,        Thuth and Uth,
Helblind and Hor; (*)

47. Sath and Svipal         and Sanngetal,
Herteit and Hnikar,
Bileyg, Baleyg,        Bolverk, Fjolnir,
Grim and Grimnir,        Glapsvith, Fjolsvith. (*)

48. Sithhott, Sithskegg,        Sigfather, Hnikuth,
Allfather, Valfather,        Atrith, Farmatyr;
A single name                have I never had
Since first among men I fared. (*)

49. Grimnir they call me        in Geirröth’s hall,
With Asmund Jalk am I;
Kjalar I was         when I went in a sledge,
At the council Thror am I called,
As Vithur I fare to the fight,
Oski, Biflindi,                Jafnhor and Omi,
Gondlir and Harbarth midst the gods. (*)

50. I deceived the giant        Sokkmimir old
As Svithur and Svithrir of yore;
Of Mithvitnir’s son        the slayer I was
When the famed one found his doom. (*)

51. Drunk art thou, Geirröth,        too much didst thou drink,
-lacuna- And greatly by me art beguiled
Much hast thou lost,        for help no more
From me or my heroes thou hast. (*)

52. Small heed didst thou take        to all that I told,
And false were the words of thy friends;
For now the sword        of my friend I see,
That waits all wet with blood.

53. They sword-pierced body        shall Ygg have soon,
for thy life is ended at last;
The maids are hostile;                now Othin behold!
Now come to me if thou canst! (*)

54. Now am I Othin,         Ygg was I once,
Ere that did they call me Thundr;
Vak and Skilfing,        Vofuth and Hroptatyr,
Gaut and Jalk midst the gods;
Ofnir and Svafnir,        and all, methinks,
Are names for none but me. (*)

      King Geirröth sat and had his sword on his knee, half drawn from its sheath. But when he heard that Othin was come thither, then he rose up and sought to take Othin from the fire. The sword slipped from his hand, and fell with the hilt down. The king stumbled and fell forward, and the sword pierced him through, and slew him. Then Othin vanished, but Agnar long ruled there as king.

Grimnismol Notes:

Prose section:

This text is found both in Regius and the Arnamagnaean Codex. The story line differs a bit in minor details. Hrauthung is mentioned nowhere else. Geirroth's name is spelled differently in each codex. Hlithskjolf - 'Gate Shelf'. Grimnir - 'Hooded One'. Back

2. The word 'Goths' was applied indiscriminantly to any South Germanic people, including the Burgundians. Back

3. Veratyr - 'Lord of Men'. Back

4. Thruthheim - 'Place of Might', where Thorr has his hall Bilskirnir. Back

5. Ydalir - 'Yew Dales', home of Ull, Sif's son by an earlier husband. Tooth-gift is common practice. Back

6. Valaskjolf - 'Shelf of the Slain', where Hlithskjolf is located. Back

7. Sokkvabekk - 'Sinking Stream'. Back

8. Glathsheim - 'Place of Joy', known as the most beautiful hall in the worlds. Back

11. Thrymheim - 'Home of Clamour', a mountain where Thjazi built his home. Njorth married Thjazi's daughter, Skathi. Back

12. Breithablik - 'Wide-Shining', Baldr's lands and hall. Back

13. Himinbjorg - 'Heaven's Cliffs', Heimdall's dwelling. Back

14. Folkvang - 'Field of the Folk', Freya's hall, Sessrymnir - 'Rich in Seats' is located here. Back

15. Glitnir - 'The Shining', home of Forseti. Snorri says of him, "Forseti is the son of Baldr and Nanna, daughter of Nep. All those who come to him with hard cases to settle go away satisfied; he is the best judge among gods and men." Back

16. Noatun - 'Ship's Haven', home of Njorth. Back

17. Vithi, home of Vithar, known as the forest where this silent son of Othin dwells. Back

18. Eldhrimnir - 'Sooty with Fire', kettle of Valhall, Andhrimnir - 'Sooty-Faced', the cook who prepares the boar Saehrimnir - 'The Blackened'. Back

19. Freki - 'Greedy' and Geri - 'Ravenous'. Heerfather - Othin. Back

20. Mithgarth - 'Middle home'. Hugin - 'Thought', Munin - 'Memory'. Back

21. Thund - 'The Swollen' or 'Roaring', river surrounding Valhall. Thjothvitnir's fish, Sol, pursued by the wolf Skoll. Thjothvitnir - 'Mighty Wolf'. Back

22. Valgrind - 'Death-Gate', outer gate of Valhall. Back

23. These lines are in reversed order in the Regius. Back

24. These lines are considered to be an interpolation, as Bilskirnir is Thor's hall. Back

25. Heithrun, the she goat that lives off the branches of Laerath, by some considered to be the same as Yggdrasil. Back

26. Eikthyrnir - 'Oak Thorned', in other words, having antlers. Hvergelmir - 'Cauldron-Roaring', a spring in Niflheim, beneath the third root of Yggdrasil. Back

27 - 35. These verses are very confused. Back

28. Slith, an ice-cold river flowing from Niflheim to Jotunheimr. Leipt, a river upon which oaths were sworn. Back

29. This stanza looks to be thrown in. Back

30. Glath - 'Joyous', a name for Skinfaxi, Day's horse. Gyllir - 'Golden', Gler - 'Shining', Skeithbrimir - 'Swift-Going', Silfrintopp - 'Silver-Topped', Sinir - 'Sinewy', Gisl - 'Gleaming', Falhofnir - 'Hollow-Hoofed', Golltopp - 'Gold-Topped' (Heimdall's Horse), Lettfeti - 'Light-Feet'. Back

31. It is possible that the lore of the third root is lost. Snorri says of this, "An eagle sits in the branches of the ash-tree, and he is very wise; and between his eyes sits the hawk who is called Vethfolnir." Back

32. Ratatosk - 'Swift-Tusked'. Back

33. Manuscript in bad shape. 'Highest twigs' is a guess. Back

34. Grafvitnir - 'Gnawing Wolf', Grabak - 'Gray Back', Grafvolluth - 'Field-gnawer', Ofnir - 'Bewilderer', Svafnir - 'Sleep-bringer'. These last two are also names for Othin. Back

36. Hrist - 'Shaker', Mist - 'Mist', Skeggjold - 'Ax Time', Skogul - 'Raging', Hild - 'Warrior', Thruth - 'Might', Hlok - 'Shrieking', Herfjotur - 'Host-Fetter', Gol - 'Screaming', Geironul - 'Spear-Bearer', Randgrith - 'Sheild-Bearer', Rathgrith - 'Plan Destroyer', Reginleif - 'Gods' Kin'. Manuscripts vary slightly in spelling hence meaning. Back

37. Arvak - 'Early Waker', Alsvith - 'All-Swift'. Back

38. Svalin - 'The Cooling'. Back

39. Skoll and Hati are the wolves that pursue the sun and moon. Hati is the son of Hrothvitnir - 'Mighty Wolf' (Fenrir). 'Ironwood' is guessed here, the phrase is obscure. Back

40- 41. These are quoted by Snorri but seem to have come from a different source, possibly an older version of the Vafthruthnismol. Back

43-44. These two stanzas are most likely interpolations for they have little to do with the context. Ivaldi - 'Mighty', father of the craftsman dwarves, who made the golden hair for Sif, and Othin's spear Gungnir. Skithblathnir - 'Wooden-Bladed', a ship that could be folded and carried easily. Back

44. One manuscript has a fifth half-line after: "Brimir of swords, -" Bilrost - another version of Bifrost. Hobrok - 'Short Breeches'. Back

46. Most of these lines are changed and rearranged in various manuscripts. Grim - 'Hooded', Gangleri - 'Wanderer', Herjan - 'Ruler', Hjalmberi - 'Helmet-Bearer', Thekk - 'Much-Loved', Thrithi - 'The Third', Helblindi - 'Hel-Binder', in some manuscripts this is Herblindi - 'Host-Blinder', Har/Hor - 'High One'. Back

47. Sath - 'Truthful', Svipal - 'Changing', Sanngetal - 'Truth-Teller', Herteit - 'Glad of the Host', Hnikar - 'The Overthrower', Bileyg - 'Shifty-Eyed', Baleyg - 'Flaming-Eyed', Bolverkr - 'Doer of Ill', Fjolnir - 'Many-Shaped', Grimnir - 'Hooded', Glapsvith - 'Swift in Deceit', Fjolsvith - 'Wide of Wisdom'. Back

48. Sithhott - 'With Broad Hat', Sithskegg - 'Long-Bearded', Sigfather - 'Father of Victory', Hnikuth - 'Overthrower', Valfather - 'Father of the Slain', Atrith - 'The Rider', Farmatyr - 'Helper of Cargoes' (god of sailors). Back

49. Kjalar - 'Ruler of Keels', Oski - 'God of Wishes', Jafnhor - 'Equally High', Omi - 'Shouting', Gondlir - 'Wand-Bearer', Harbarth - 'Grey Beard'. Back

50. Sokkmimir is presumed to be Mithvitnir's son. Back

51. Manuscripts show no lacuna, but some editor's add the line: "Greatly by me are beguiled," Back

53. Ygg - 'The Terrible'. Back

54. Thund - 'Thunderer', Vak - 'Wakeful', Skilfing - 'The Shaker', Vofuth - 'The Wanderer', Hroptatyr - 'Crier of the Gods', Gaut - 'Father'. Back

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