The Northern Way


1. Of old the gods        made feast together
And drink they sought        ere sated they were;
Twigs they shook,         and blood they tried:
Rich fare in Ægir’s        hall they found.

2. The mountain-dweller        sat merry as boyhood,
But soon like a blinded         man he seemed;
The son of Ygg        gazed in his eyes:
“For the gods a feast        shalt thou forthwith get.”

3. The word-wielder toil        for the giant worked,
And so revenge        on the gods he sought;
He bade Sif’s mate        the kettle bring:
“Therein for ye all        much ale shall I brew.”

4. The far-famed ones        could find it not,
And the holy gods        could get it nowhere;
Till in truthful wise        did Tyr speak forth,
And helpful counsel        to Hlorrithi gave.

5. “There dwells to the east        of Elivagar
Hymir the wise        at the end of heaven;
A kettle my father        fierce doth own,
A mighty vessel        a mile in depth.”

Thor spake:
6. “May we win, dost thou think,        this whirler of water?”

Tyr spake:
7. “Aye, friend, we can,                if cunning we are.”

8. Forward that day        with speed they fared,
From Asgarth came they        to Egil’s home;
The goats with horns                bedecked he guarded;
Then they sped to the hall         where Hymir dwelt.

9. The youth found his grandam,         that greatly he loathed;
And full nine hundred         heads she had;
But the other fair        with gold came forth,
And the bright-bowered one        brought beer to her son.

10. “Kinsman of giants,                beneath the kettle
Will I set ye both,        ye heroes bold;
For many a time        my dear-loved mate
To guests is wrathful        and grim of mind.”

11. Late to his home        the misshapen Hymir,
The giant harsh,        from his hunting came;
The icicles rattled        as in he came,
For the fellow’s chin-forest        frozen was.

12. “Hail to thee, Hymir!        good thoughts mayst thou have;
Here has thy son        to thine hall now come;
(For him have we waited,        he way was long;)
And with him fares        the foeman of Hroth,
The friend of mankind,        and Veur they call him.

13. “See where under        the gable they sit!
Behind the beam        do they hide themselves.”
The beam at the glance        of the giant broke,
And the mighty pillars        in pieces fell.

14. Eight fell from the ledge,        and one alone,
The hard-hammered kettle,        of all was whole;
Forth came they then,                and his foes he sought,
The giant old,                and held with his eyes.

15. Much sorrow his heart        foretold when he saw
The gaintess’ foeman                come forth on the floor;
Then of the steers        did they bring in three;
Their flesh to boil        did the giant bid.

16. By a head was each        the shorter hewed,
And the beasts to the fire        straight they bore;
The husband of Sif,                 ere to sleep he went,
Alone two oxen        of Hymir ate.

17. To the comrade hoary                of Hrungnir then
Did Hlorrithi’s meal                full mighty seem;
“Next time at eve        we three must eat
The food we have        as the hunting’s spoil.”

18. -lacuna-
Fain to row on the sea        was Veur, he said,
If the giant bold        would give him bait.

Hymir spake:
19. “Go to the herd,         if thou hast it in mind,
Thou slayer of giants,                thy bait to seek;
For there thou soon                mayst find, methinks,
Bait from the oxen                easy to get.”

20. Swift to the wood        the hero went,
Till before him an ox                all black he found;
From the beast the slayer        of giants broke
The fortress high        of his double horns.

Hymir spake:
21. “Thy works, methinks,         are worse by far,
Thou steerer of ships,                than when still thou sittest.”

22. The lord of the goats                bade the ape-begotten
Farther to steer        the steed of the rollers;
But the giant said        that his will, forsooth,
Longer to row                was little enough.

23. Two whales on his hook        did the mighty Hymir
Soon pull up                on a single cast;
In the stern the kinsman        of Othin sat,
And Veur with cunning        his cast prepared.

24. The warder of men,        the worm’s destroyer,
Fixed on his hook        the head of the ox;
There gaped at the bait        the foe of the gods,
The girdler of all        the earth beneath.

25. The venomous serpent        swiftly up
To the boat did Thor,                the bold one, pull;
With his hammer the loathly        hill of the hair
Of the brother of Fenrir        he smote from above.

26. The monster roared,                and the rocks resounded,
And all the earth        so old was shaken;
Then sank the fish        in the sea forthwith.

27. -lacuna-
Joyless as back        they rowed was the giant;
Speechless did Hymir                sit at the oars,
With the rudder he sought        a second wind.

Hymir spake:
28. “The half of our toil                wilt thou have with me,
And now make fast                our goat of the flood;
Or home wilt thou bear        the whales to the house,
Across the gorge        of the wooded glen?”

29. Hlorrithi stood        and the stem he gripped,
And the sea-horse with water                awash he lifted;
Oars and bailer        and all he bore
With the surf-swine home        to the giant’s home.

30. His might the giant        again would match,
For stubborn he was,                 with the strength of Thor;
None truly strong,        though stoutly he rowed,
Would he call save one        who could break the cup.

31. Hlorrithi then,                when the cup he held,
Struck with the glass                the pillars of stone;
As he sat the posts        in pieces he shattered,
Yet the glass to Hymir        whole they brought.

32. But the loved on fair                of the giant found
A counsel true,        and told her thought:
“Smite the skull of Hymir,        heavy with food,
For harder it is         than ever was glass.”

33. The goats’ mighty ruler        then rose on his knee,
And with all the strength        of a god he struck;
Whole was the fellow’s        helmet-stem,
But shattered the wine-cup        rounded was.

Hymir spake:
34. “Fair is the treasure                that from me is gone,
Since now the cup        on my knees lies shattered;”
So spake the giant:        “No more can I say
In days to be,                 ‘Thou art brewed, mine ale.’

35. “Enough shall it be        if out ye can bring
Forth from our house                the kettle here.”
Tyr then twice        to move it tried,
But before him the kettle        twice stood fast.

36. The father of Mothi        the rim seized firm,
And before it stood        on the floor below;
Up on his head        Sif’s husband raised it,
And about his heels                the handles clattered.

37. Not long had they fared,        ere backwards looked
The son of Othin,        once more to see;
From their caves in the east                beheld he coming
With Hymir the throng        of the many-headed.

38. He stood and cast        from his back the kettle,
And Mjollnir, the lover        of murder, he wielded;
So all the whales        of the waste he slew.

39. Not long had they fared        ere one there lay
Of Hlorrithi’s goats                half-dead on the ground;
In his leg the pole-horse        there was lame;
The deed the evil        of Loki had done.

40. But ye all have heard,-        for of them who have
The tales of the gods,                who better can tell it? -
What prize he won        from the wilderness-dweller,
Who both his children        gave him to boot.

41. The mighty one came                to the council of gods,
And the kettle he had                that Hymir’s was;
So gladly their ale        the gods could drink
In Ægir’s hall                at the autumn-time.

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