About this Edition
- Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur
The Poesy of Skalds
I. A certain man was named Ægir, or Hlér. He dwelt on the island which is now called Hlér’s Isle, and was deeply versed in black magic. He took his way to Ásgard, but the Æsir had foreknowledge of his journey; he was received with good cheer, and yet many things were done by deceit, with eye-illusions. And at evening, when it was time for drinking, Odin had swords brought into the hall, so bright that light radiated from them: and other illumination was not used while they sat at drinking. The n the Æsir came in to their banquet, and in the high-seats sat them down those twelve Æsir who were appointed to be judges; these were their names: Thor, Njördr, Freyr, Týr, Heimdallr, Bragi, Vídarr, Váli, Ullr, Hœnir, Forseti, Loki; and in like manner the Ásynjur: Frigg, Freyja, Gefjun, Idunn, Gerdr, Sigyn, Fulla, Nanna. It seemed glorious to Ægir to look about him in the hall: the wainscottings there were all hung with fair shields; there was also stinging mead, copiously quaffed. The man seated next to Ægir was Bragi, and they took part together in drinking and in converse: Bragi told Ægir of many things which had come to pass among the Æsir.
He began the story at the point where three of the Æsir, Odin and Loki and Hœnir, departed from home and were wandering over mountains and wastes, and food was hard to find. But when they came down into a certain dale, they saw a herd of oxen, took one ox, and set about cooking it. Now when they thought that it must be cooked, they broke up the fire, and it was not cooked. After a while had passed, they having scattered the fire a second time, and it was not cooked, they took counsel together, asking each other what it might mean. Then they heard a voice speaking in the oak up above them, declaring that he who sat there confessed he had caused the lack of virtue in the fire. They looked thither, and there sat an eagle; and it was no small one. Then the eagle said: “If ye are willing to give me my fill of the ox, then it will cook in the fire.” They assented to this. Then he let himself float down from the tree and alighted by the fire, and forthwith at the very first took unto himself the two hams of the ox, and both shoulders. Then Loki was angered, snatched up a great pole, brandished it with all his strength, and drove it at the eagle’s body. The eagle plunged violently at the blow and flew up, so that the pole was fast to the eagle’s back, and Loki’s hands to the other end of the pole. The eagle flew at such a height that Loki’s feet down below knocked against stones and rock-heaps and trees, and he thought his arms would be torn from his shoulders. He cried aloud, entreating the eagle urgently for peace; but the eagle declared that Loki should never be loosed, unless he would give him his oath to induce Idunn to come out of Ásgard with her apples. Loki assented, and being straightway loosed, went to his companions; nor for that time are any more things reported concerning their journey, until they had come home.
But at the appointed time Loki lured Idunn out of Ásgard into a certain wood, saying that he had found such apples as would seem to her of great virtue, and prayed that she would have her apples with her and compare them with these. Then Thjazi the giant came there in his eagle’s plumage and took Idunn and flew away with her, off into Thrymheimr to his abode.
But the Æsir became straitened at the disappearance of Idunn, and speedily they became hoary and old. Then those, Æsir took counsel together, and each asked the other what had last been known of Idunn; and the last that had been seen was that she had gone out of Ásgard with Loki. Thereupon Loki was seized and brought to the Thing, and was threatened with death, or tortures; when he had become well frightened, he declared that he would seek after Idunn in Jötunheim, if Freyja would lend him the hawk’s plumage which she possessed. And when he got the hawk’s plumage, he flew north into Jötunheim, and came on a certain day to the home of Thjazi the giant. Thjazi had rowed out to sea, but Idunn was at home alone: Loki turned her into the shape of a nut and grasped her in his claws and flew his utmost.
Now when Thjazi came home and missed Idunn, he took his eagle’s plumage and flew after Loki, making a mighty rush of sound with his wings in his flight. But when the Æsir saw how the hawk flew with the nut, and where the eagle was flying, they went out below Ásgard and bore burdens of plane-shavings thither. As soon as the hawk flew into the citadel, he swooped down close by the castle-wall; then the Æsir struck fire to the plane-shavings. But the eagle could not stop himself when he missed the hawk: the feathers of the eagle caught fire, and straightway his flight ceased. Then the Æsir were near at hand and slew Thjazi the giant within the Gate of the Æsir, and that slaying is exceeding famous.
Now Skadi, the daughter of the giant Thjazi, took helm and birnie and all weapons of war and proceeded to Ásgard, to avenge her father. The Æsir, however, offered her reconciliation and atonement: the first article was that she should choose for herself a husband from among the Æsir and choose by the feet only, seeing no more of him. Then she saw the feet of one man, passing fair, and said: “I choose this one: in Baldr little can be loathly.” But that was Njördr of Nóatún. She had this article also in her bond of reconciliation: that the Æsir must do a thing she thought they would not be able to accomplish: to make her laugh. Then Loki did this: he tied a cord to the beard of a goat, the other end being about his own genitals, and each gave way in turn, and each of the two screeched loudly; then Loki let himself fall onto Skadi’s knee, and she laughed. Thereupon reconciliation was made with her on the part of the Æsir. It is so said, that Odin did this by way of atonement to Skadi: he took Thjazi’s eyes and cast them up into the heavens, and made of them two stars.
Then said Ægir: “It seems to me that Thjazi was a mighty man: now of what family was he?” Bragi answered: “His father was called Ölvaldi, and if I tell thee of him, thou wilt think these things wonders. He was very rich in gold; but when he died and his sons came to divide the inheritance, they determined upon this measure for the gold which they divided: each should take as much as his mouth would hold, and all the same number of mouthfuls. One of them was Thjazi, the second Idi, the third Gangr. And we have it as a metaphor among us now, to call gold the mouth-tale of these giants; but we conceal it in secret terms or in poesy in this way, that we call it Speech, or Word, or Talk, of these giants.”
Then said Ægir: “I deem that well concealed in secret terms.” And again said Ægir: “Whence did this art, which ye call poesy, derive its beginnings?” Bragi answered: “These were the beginnings thereof. The gods had a dispute with the folk which are called Vanir, and they appointed a peace-meeting between them and established peace in this way: they each went to a vat and spat their spittle therein. Then at parting the gods took that peace-token and would not let it perish, but shaped thereof a man. This man is called Kvasir, and he was so wise that none could question him concerning anything but that he knew the solution. He went up and down the earth to give instruction to men; and when he came upon invitation to the abode of certain dwarves, Fjalar and Galarr, they called him into privy converse with them, and killed him, letting his blood run into two vats and a kettle. The kettle is named Ódrerir, and the vats Són and Bodn; they blended honey with the blood, and the outcome was that mead by the virtue of which he who drinks becomes a skald or scholar. The dwarves reported to the Æsir that Kvasir had choked on his own shrewdness, since there was none so wise there as to be able to question his wisdom.
“Then these dwarves invited the giant who is called Gillingr to visit them, and his wife with him. Next the dwarves invited Gillingr to row upon the sea with them; but when they had gone out from the land, the dwarves rowed into the breakers and capsized the boat. Gillingr was unable to swim, and he perished; but the dwarves righted their boat and rowed to land. They reported this accident to his wife, but she took it grievously and wept aloud. Then Fjalar asked her whether it would ease her heart if she should look out upon the sea at the spot where he had perished; and she desired it. Then he spoke softly to Galarr his brother, bidding him go up over the doorway, when she should go out, and let a mill-stone fall on her head, saying that her weeping grew wearisome to him; and even so he did.
“Now when the giant Suttungr, Gillingr’s son, learned of this, he went over and took the dwarves and carried them out to sea, and set them on a reef which was covered at high tide. They besought Suttungr to grant them respite of their lives, and as the price of reconciliation offered him the precious mead in satisfaction of his father’s death. And that became a means of reconciliation between them. Suttungr carried the mead home and concealed it in the place called Hnitbjörg, placing his daughter Gunnlöd there to watch over it. Because of this we call poesy Kvasir’s Blood or Dwarves’ Drink, or Fill, or any kind of liquid of Ódrerir, or of Bodn, or of Són, or Ferry-Boat of Dwarves—since this mead brought them life—ransom from the reef—or Suttungr’s Mead, or Liquor of Hnitbjörg.”
Then Ægir said: “These seem to me dark sayings, to call poesy by these names. But how did ye Æsir come at Suttungr’s Mead?” Bragi answered: “That tale runs thus: Odin departed from home and came to a certain place where nine thralls were mowing hay. He asked if they desired him to whet their scythes, and they assented. Then he took a hone from his belt and whetted the scythes; it seemed to them that the scythes cut better by far, and they asked that the hone be sold them. But he put such a value on it that whoso desired to buy must give a considerable price: nonetheless all said that they would agree, and prayed him to sell it to them. He cast the hone up into the air; but since all wished to lay their hands on it, they became so intermingled with one another that each struck with his scythe against the other’s neck.
“Odin sought a night’s lodging with the giant who is called Baugi, Suttungr’s brother. Baugi bewailed his husbandry, saying that his nine thralls had killed one another, and declared that he had no hope of workmen. Odin called himself Bölverkr in Baugi’s presence; he offered to undertake nine men’s work for Baugi, and demanded for his wages one drink of Suttungr’s Mead. Baugi declared that he had no control whatever over the mead, and said that Suttungr was determined to have it to himself, but promised to go with Bölverkr and try if they might get the mead. During the summer Bölverkr accomplished nine men’s work for Baugi, but when winter came he asked Baugi for his hire. Then they both set out for Suttungr’s. Baugi told Suttungr his brother of his bargain with Bölverkr; but Suttungr flatly refused them a single drop of the mead. Then Bölverkr made suggestion to Baugi that they try certain wiles, if perchance they might find means to get at the mead; and Baugi agreed readily. Thereupon Bölverkr drew out the auger called Rati, saying that Baugi must bore the rock, if the auger cut. He did so. At last Baugi said that the rock was bored through, but Bölverkr blew into the auger-hole, and the chips flew up at him. Then he discovered that Baugi would have deceived him, and he bade him bore through the rock. Baugi bored anew; and when Bölverkr blew a second time, then the chips were blown in by the blast. Then Bölverkr turned himself into a serpent and crawled into the auger-hole, but Baugi thrust at him from behind with the auger and missed him. Bölverkr proceeded to the place where Gunnlöd was, and lay with her three nights; and then she gave him leave to drink three draughts of the mead. In the first draught he drank every drop out of Ódrerir; and in the second, he emptied Bodn; and in the third, Són; and then he had all the mead. Then he turned himself into the shape of an eagle and flew as furiously as he could; but when Suttungr saw the eagle’s flight, he too assumed the fashion of an eagle and flew after him. When the Æsir saw Odin flying, straightway they set out their vats in the court; and when Odin came into Ásgard, he spat up the mead into the vats. Nevertheless he came so near to being caught by Suttungr that he sent some mead backwards, and no heed was taken of this: whosoever would might have that, and we call that the poetaster’s part. But Odin gave the mead of Suttungr to the Æsir and to those men who possess the ability to compose. Therefore we call poesy Odin’s Booty and Find, and his Drink and Gift, and the Drink of the Æsir.”
Then said Ægir: “In how many ways are the terms of skaldship variously phrased, or how many are the essential elements of the skaldic art?” Then Bragi answered: “The elements into which all poesy is divided are two.” Ægir asked: “What two?” Bragi said: “Metaphor and metre.” “What manner of metaphor is used for skaldic writing?” “Three are the types of skaldic metaphor.” “Which?” “Thus: [first], calling everything by its name; the second type is that which is called ‘substitution;’ the third type of metaphor is that which is called ‘periphrasis,’ and this type is employed in such manner: Suppose I take Odin, or Thor, or Týr, or any of the Æsir or Elves; and to any of them whom I mention, I add the name of a property of some other of the Æsir, or I record certain works of his. Thereupon he becomes owner of the name, and not the one whose name was applied to him: just as when we speak of Victory-Týr, or Týr of the Hanged, or Týr of Cargoes: that then becomes Odin’s name: and we call these periphrastic names. So also with the title Týr of the Wain.
“But now one thing must be said to young skalds, to such as yearn to attain to the craft of poesy and to increase their store of figures with traditional metaphors; or to those who crave to acquire the faculty of discerning what is said in hidden phrase: let such an one, then, interpret this book to his instruction and pleasure. Yet one is not so to forget or discredit these traditions as to remove from poesy those ancient metaphors with which it has pleased Chief Skalds to be content; nor, on the other hand, ought Christian men to believe in heathen gods, nor in the truth of these tales otherwise than precisely as one may find here in the beginning of the book.
II. Now you may hear examples of the way in which Chief Skalds have held it becoming to compose, making use of these simple terms and periphrases: as when Arnórr Earl’s Skald says that Odin is called Allfather:
Now I’ll tell men the virtue
Of the terrible Jarl;
Allfather’s Song-Surf streams;
Late my sorrows lighten,
Here, moreover, he calls poesy the Song-Surf of Allfather. Hávardr the Halt sang thus:
Now is the flight of eagles
Over the field; the sailors
Of the sea-horses hie them
To the Hanged-God’s gifts and feasting.
Thus sang Viga-Glúmr:
With the Hanged-God’s helmet
The hosts have ceased from going
By the brink; not pleasant
The bravest held the venture.
Thus sang Refr:
Oft the Gracious One came to me
At the holy cup of the Raven-God;
The king of the stem-ploughed sea’s gold
From the skald in death is sundered.
Thus sang Eyvindr Skald-Despoiler:
He who sated the ravens
With the gore of the host
Of slain Haddings
Of life was spoiled
By the earth-rulers
Thus sang Glúmr Geirason:
There the Týr of Triumph
Himself inspired the terror
Of ships; the gods of breezes
That favor good men steered them.
Thus sang Eyvindr:
Göndull and Skögull
To choose from kings
Who of Yngvi’s kin
Should go with Odin
And be in Valhall.
Thus sang Úlfr Uggason:
Swiftly the Far-Famed rideth,
The Foretelling God, to the fire speeds,
To the wide pyre of his offspring;
Through my cheeks praise-songs are pouring.
Thus sang Thjódólfr of Hvin:
The slain lay there sand-strewing,
Spoil for the Single-Eyed
Dweller in Frigg’s bosom;
In such deeds we rejoiced.
Hallfredr sang thus:
The doughty ship-possessor
With sharpened words and soothfast
Lures our land, the patient,
Barley-lockèd Wife of Thridi.
Here is an example of this metaphor, that in poesy the earth is called the Wife of Odin. Here is told what Eyvindr sang:
Hermódr and Bragi,
Go ye to greet the Prince;
For a king who seemeth
A champion cometh
To the hall hither.
Thus sang Kormákr:
The Giver of Lands, who bindeth
The sail to the top, with gold-lace
Honors him who pours god’s verse-mead;
Odin wrought charms on Rindr.
Thus sang Steinthórr:
Much have I to laud
The ancient-made (though little)
Liquor of the valiant
Load of Gunnlöd’s arm-clasp.
Thus sang Úlfr Uggason:
There I think the Valkyrs follow,
And ravens, Victorious Odin
To the blood of holy Baldr.
With old tales the hall was painted.
Thus sang Egill Skallagrímsson:
No victims for this
To Víli’s brother,
The High-God, I offer,
Glad to behold him;
Yet has Mímir’s friend
On me bestowed
Amends of evil
Which I account better.
He has given me the art—
He, the Wolf’s Opposer,
Accustomed to battle,—
Of blemish blameless.
Here he is called High God, and Friend of Mímir, and Adversary of the Wolf.
Thus sang Refr:
Swift God of Slain, that wieldeth
The snowy billow’s wave-hawks,
The ships that drive the sea-road,
To thee we owe the dwarves’ drink.
Thus sang Einarr Tinkling-Scale:
’T is mine to pour the liquor
Of the Host-God’s mead-cask freely
Before the ships’ swift Speeder:
For this I win no scorning.
Thus sang Úlfr Uggason:
His steed the lordly Heimdallr
Spurs to the pyre gods builded
For the fallen son of Odin,
The All-Wise Raven-Ruler.
This is said in Eiríksmál:
What dream is that? quoth Odin,—
I thought to rise ere day-break
To make Valhall ready
For troops of slain;
I roused the champions,
Bade them rise swiftly
Benches to strew,
To wash beer-flagons;
The Valkyrs to pour wine,
As a Prince were coming.
Kormákr sang this:
I pray the precious Ruler
Of Yngvi’s people, o’er me
To hold his hand, bow-shaking.
Hroptr bore with him Gungnir.
Thórálfr sang this:
The Mighty One of Hlidskjálf
Spake his mind unto them
Where the hosts of fearless
Hárekr were slaughtered.
Thus sang Eyvindr:
The mead which forth
From Surtr’s sunk dales
So sang Bragi:
‘’Tis seen, on my shield’s surface,
How the Son of the Father of Peoples
Craved to try his strength full swiftly
’Gainst the rain-beat Snake earth-circling.
Thus sang Eínarr:
Since less with Bestla’s Offspring
Prevail most lordly princes
Than thou, my task is singing
Thy praise in songs of battle.
Thus sang Thorvaldr Blending-Skald:
Now have I much
In the middle grasped
Of the son of Borr,
Of Búri’s heir.
III. “Now you shall hear how the skalds have termed the art of poesy in these metaphorical phrases which have been recorded before: for example, by calling it Kvasir’s Gore and Ship of the Dwarves, Dwarves’ Mead, Mead of the Æsir, Giants’ Father-Ransom, Liquor of Ódrerir and of Bodn and of Són, and Fullness of these, Liquor of Hnitbjörg, Booty and Find and Gift of Odin, even as has been sung in these verses which Einarr Tinkling-Scale wrought:
I pray the high-souled Warder
Of earth to hear the Ocean
Of the Cliff of Dwarves, my verses:
Hear, Earl, the Gore of Kvasir.
And as Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang further:
The Dwarves’ Crag’s Song-wave rushes
O’er all the dauntless shield-host
Of him who speeds the fury
Of the shield-wall’s piercing sword-bane.
Even as Ormr Steinthórsson sang:
The body of the dame
And my dead be borne
Into one hall; the Drink
Of Dvalinn, Franklins, hear.
And as Refr sang:
I reveal the Thought’s Drink
Of the Rock-Folk to Thorsteinn;
The Billow of the Dwarf-Crag
Plashes; I bid men hearken.
Even as Egill sang:
The Prince requires my lore,
And bound his praise to pour,
Odin’s Mead I bore
To English shore.
And as Glúmr Geirason sang:
Let the Princely Giver hearken:
I hold the God-King’s liquor.
Let silence, then, be granted,
While we sing the loss of thanes.
And as Eyvindr sang:
A hearing I crave
For the High One’s Liquor,
While I utter
While his kin
In the Kettle-Brewing
Of the Gallows-Lord
To the gods I trace.
Even as Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang:
The Wave of Odin surges;
Of Ódrerir’s Sea a billow
’Gainst the tongue’s song-glade crashes;
Aye our King’s works are goodly.
And as he sang further:
Now that which Bodn’s Billow
Bodes forth will straight be uttered:
Let the War-King’s host make silence
In the hall, and hear the Dwarves’ Ship.
And as Eilífr Gudrúnarson sang:
Grant shall ye gifts of friendship,
Since grows of Són the Seedling
In our tongue’s fertile sedge-bank:
True praise of our High Lord.
Even as Völu-Steinn sang:
Egill, hear the Heart-streams
Of Odin beat in cadence
’Gainst my palate’s skerry;
The God’s Spoil to me is given.
Thus sang Ormr Steinthórsson:
No verse of mine men need to fear,
No mockery I intertwine
In Odin’s Spoil; my skill is sure
In forging songs of praise.
Thus sang Úlfr Uggason:
I show to host-glad Áleifr
The Heart-Fjord’s Shoal of Odin,—
My song: him do I summon
To hear the Gift of Grímnir.
Poesy is called Sea, or Liquid of the Dwarves, because Kvasir’s blood was liquid in Ódrerir before the mead was made, and then it was put into the kettle; wherefore it is called Odin’s Kettle-Liquor, even as Eyvindr sang and as we have recorded before:
While his kin
In the Kettle-Brewing
Of the Gallows-Lord
To the gods I trace.
Moreover, poesy is called Ship or Ale of the Dwarves: ale is líð, and lið is a word for ships; therefore it is held that it is for this reason that poesy is now called Ship of the Dwarves, even as this verse tells:
The wit of Gunnlöd’s Liquor
In swelling wind-like fullness,
And the everlasting Dwarves’ Ship
I own, to send the same road.
IV. “What figures should be employed to periphrase the name of Thor? Thus: one should call him Son of Odin and of Jörd, Father of Magni and Módi and Thrúdr, Husband of Sif, Stepfather of Ullr, Wielder and Possessor of Mjöllnir and of the Girdle of Strength, and of Bilskirnir; Defender of Ásgard and of Midgard, Adversary and Slaver of Giants and Troll-Women, Smiter of Hrungnir, of Geirrödr and of Thrívaldi, Master of Thjálfi and Röskva, Foe of the Midgard Serpent. Foster-father of Vingnir and Hlóra. So sang Bragi the Skald:
The line of Odin’s Offspring
Lay not slack on the gunwale,
When the huge ocean-serpent
Uncoiled on the sea’s bottom.
Thus sang Ölvir Cut-Nose-and-Crop-Ears:
The encírcler of all regions
And Jörd’s Son sought each other.
Thus sang Eilífr:
Wroth stood Röskva’s Brother,
And Magni’s Sire wrought bravely:
With terror Thor’s staunch heart-stone
Trembled not, nor Thjálfi’s.
And thus sang Eysteinn Valdason:
With glowing eyes Thrúdr’s Father
Glared at the sea-road’s circler,
Ere the fishes’ watery dwelling
Flowed in, the boat confounding.
Eysteinn sang further:
Swiftly Sif’s Husband bouned him
To haste forth with the Giants
For his hardy fishing:
Well sing we Hrímnir’s horn-stream.
Again he sang:
The earth-fish tugged so fiercely
That Ullr’s Kinsman’s clenched fists
Were pulled out past the gunwale;
The broad planks rent asunder.
Thus sang Bragi:
The strong fiend’s Terrifier
In his right hand swung his hammer,
When he saw the loathly sea-fish
That all the lands confineth.
Thus sang Gamli:
While the Lord of high Bilskirnir,
Whose heart no falsehood fashioned,
Swiftly strove to shatter
The sea-fish with his hammer.
Thus sang Thorbjörn Lady’s-Skald:
Bravely Thor fought for Ásgard
And the followers of Odin.
Thus sang Bragi:
And the vast misshapen circler
Of the ship’s sea-path, fierce-minded,
Stared from below in anger
At the Skull-Splitter of Hrungnir.
Again sang Bragi:
Well hast Thou, Hewer-in-Sunder
Of the nine heads of Thrívaldi,
Kept thy goats . . . .
Thus sang Eilífr:
The Merciless Destroyer
Of the people of the Giants
Grasped with ready fore-arms
At the heavy red-hot iron.
Thus sang Úlfr Uggason:
Faintly the stout-framed thickling
A fearful peril called it,
At the great draught wondrous heavy
Drawn up by the Lord of he-goats.
Thus Úlfr sang further:
The very mighty Slayer
Of the Mountain-Man brought crashing
His fist on Hymir’s temple:
That was a hurt full deadly.
Yet again sang Úlfr:
Vimur’s ford’s Wide-Grappler
’Gainst the waves smote featly
The glittering Serpent’s head off.
With old tales the hall was gleaming.
Here he is called Giant of Vimur’s Ford. There is a river called Vimur, which Thor waded when he journeyed to the garth of Geirrödr.
Thus sang Vetrlidi the skald:
Thou didst break the leg of Leikn,
Didst cause to stoop Starkadr,
Didst bruise Thrívaldi,
Didst stand on lifeless Gjálp.
Thus sang Thorbjörn Lady’s-Skald:
Thou didst smite the head of Keila,
Smash Kjallandi altogether,
Ere thou slewest Lútr and Leidi,
Didst spill the blood of Búseyra;
Didst hold back Hengjankjapta,
Hyrrokkin died before;
Yet sooner in like fashion
Svívör from life was taken.
V. “How should one periphrase Baldr? By calling him Son of Odin and Frigg, Husband of Nanna, Father of Forseti, Possessor of Hringhorni and Draupnir, Adversary of Hödr, Companion of Hel, God of Tears. Úlfr Uggason, following the story of Baldr, has composed a long passage in the Húsdrápa; and examples are recorded earlier to the effect that Baldr is so termed.
VI. “How should one periphrase Njördr? By calling him God of the Vanir, or Kinsman of the Vanir, or Wane, Father of Freyr and Freyja, God of Wealth-Bestowal.
So says Thórdr Sjáreksson:
Gudrun’s self by ill
Her sons did kill;
The wise God-bride
At the Wane’s side
Grieved; men tell
Odin tamed steeds well;
’T was not the saying
Hamdir spared sword-playing.
Here it is recorded that Skadi departed from Njördr, as has already been written.
VII. “How should one periphrase Freyr? Thus: by calling him Son of Njördr, Brother of Freyja, and also God of Vanir, and Kinsman of the Vanir, and Wane, and God of the Fertile Season, and God of Wealth-Gifts.
Thus sang Egill Skallagrímsson:
For that Grjótbjörn
In goods and gear
Freyr and Njördr
Have fairly blessed.
Freyr is called Adversary of Beli, even as Eyvindr Spoiler of Skalds sang:
When the Earl’s foe
Wished to inhabit
The outer bounds
Of Beli’s hater.
He is the possessor of Skídbladnir and of that boar which is called Gold-Bristle, even as it is told here:
In ancient days
Went to shape Skídbladnir,
Foremost of ships,
Fairly for Freyr,
Choicely for Njördr’s child.
Thus speaks Úlfr Uggason:
The battle-bold Freyr rideth
First on the golden-bristled
Barrow-boar to the bale-fire
Of Baldr, and leads the people.
The boar is also called Fearful-Tusk.
VIII. “How should one periphrase Heimdallr? By calling him Son of Nine Mothers, or Watchman of the Gods, as already has been written; or White God, Foe of Loki, Seeker of Freyja’s Necklace. A sword is called Heimdallr’s Head: for it is said that he was pierced by a man’s head. The tale thereof is told in Heimdalar-galdr; and ever since a head is called Heimdallr’s Measure; a sword is called Man’s Measure. Heimdallr is the Possessor of Gulltoppr; he is also Frequenter of Vágasker and Singasteinn, where he contended with Loki for the Necklace Brísinga-men, he is also called Vindlér. Úlfr Uggason composed a long passage in the Húsdrápa on that legend, and there it is written that they were in the form of seals. Heimdallr also is son of Odin.
IX. “How should one periphrase Týr? By calling him the One-handed God, and Fosterer of the Wolf, God of Battles, Son of Odin.
X. “How should one periphrase Bragi? By calling him Husband of Idunn, First Maker of Poetry, and the Long-bearded God (after his name, a man who has a great beard is called Beard-Bragi) and Son of Odin.
XI. “How should one periphrase Vídarr? He maybe called the Silent God, Possessor of the Iron Shoe, Foe and Slayer of Fenris-Wolf, Avenger of the Gods, Divine Dweller in the Homesteads of the Fathers, Son of Odin, and Brother of the Æsir.
XII. “How should Váli be periphrased? Thus: by calling him Son of Odin and Rindr, Stepson of Frigg, Brother of the Æsir, Baldr’s Avenger, Foe and Slayer of Hödr, Dweller in the Homesteads of the Fathers.
XIII. “How should one periphrase Hödr? Thus: by calling him the Blind God, Baldr’s Slayer, Thrower of the Mistletoe, Son of Odin, Companion of Hel, Foe of Váli.
XIV. “How should Ullr be periphrased? By calling him Son of Sif, Stepson of Thor, God of the Snowshoe, God of the Bow, Hunting-God, God of the Shield.
XV. “How should Hœnir be periphrased? By calling him Bench-Mate or Companion or Friend of Odin, the Swift of God, the Long-Footed, and King of Clay.
XVI. “How should one periphrase Loki? Thus: call him Son of Fárbauti and Laufey, or of Nil, Brother of Býleistr and of Helblindi, Father of the Monster of Ván (that is, Fenris-Wolf), and of the Vast Monster (that is, the Midgard Serpent), and of Hel, and Nari, and Áli; Kinsman and Uncle, Evil Companion and Bench-Mate of Odin and the Æsir, Visitor and Chest-Trapping of Geirrödr, Thief of the Giants, of the Goat, of Brísinga-men, and of Idunn’s Apples, Kinsman of Sleipnir, Husband of Sigyn, Foe of the Gods, Harmer of Sif’s Hair, Forger of Evil, the Sly God, Slanderer and Cheat of the Gods, Contriver of Baldr’s Death, the Bound God, Wrangling Foe of Heimdallr and of Skadi. Even as Úlfr Uggason sings here:
The famed rain-bow’s defender,
Ready in wisdom, striveth
At Singasteinn with Loki,
Fárbauti’s sin-sly offspring;
The son of mothers eight and one,
Mighty in wrath, possesses
The Stone ere Loki cometh:
I make known songs of praise.
Here it is written that Heimdallr is the son of nine mothers.
XVII. “Now an account shall be given of the source of those metaphors which have but now been recorded, and of which no accounts were rendered before: even such as Bragi gave to Ægir, telling how Thor had gone into the east to slay trolls, and Odin rode Sleipnir into Jötunheim and visited that giant who was named Hrungnir. Hrungnir asked what manner of man he with the golden helm might be, who rode through air and water; and said that the stranger had a wondrous good steed. Odin said he would wager his head there was no horse in Jötunheim that would prove equally good. Hrungnir answered that it was a good horse, but declared that he had a much better paced horse which was called Gold-Mane. Hrungnir had become angry, and vaulted up onto his horse and galloped after him, thinking to pay him for his boasting. Odin gal loped so furiously that he was on the top of the next hill first; but Hrungnir was so filled with the giant’s frenzy that he took no heed until he had come in beyond the gates of Ásgard. When he came to the hall-door, the Æsir invited him to drink. He went within and ordered drink to be brought to him, and then those flagons were brought in from which Thor was wont to drink; and Hrungnir swilled from each in turn. But when he had become drunken, then big words were not wanting: he boasted that he would lift up Valhall and carry it to Jötunheim, and sink Ásgard and kill all the gods, save that he would take Freyja and Sif home with him. Freyja alone dared pour for him; and he vowed that he would drink all the ale of the Æsir. But when his overbearing insolence became tiresome to the Æsir, they called on the name of Thor.
“Straightway Thor came into the hall, brandishing his hammer, and he was very wroth, and asked who had advised that these dogs of giants be permitted to drink there, or who had granted Hrungnir safe-conduct to be in Valhall, or why Freyja should pour for him as at a feast of the Æsir. Then Hrungnir answered, looking at Thor with no friendly eyes, and said that Odin had invited him to drink, and he was under his safe-conduct. Thor declared that Hrungnir should repent of that invitation before he got away. Hrungnir answered that Ása-Thor would have scant renown for killing him, weaponless as he was: it were a greater trial of his courage if he dared fight with Hrungnir on the border at Grjótúnagard. ‘And it was a great folly,’ said he, ‘when I left my shield and hone behind at home; if I had my weapons here, then we should try single-combat. But as matters stand, I declare thee a coward if thou wilt slay me, a weaponless man.’ Thor was by no means anxious to avoid the fight when challenged to the field, for no one had ever offered him single-combat before.
“Then Hrungnir went his way, and galloped furiously until he came to Jötunheim. The news of his journey was spread abroad among the giants, and it became noised abroad that a meeting had been arranged between him and Thor; the giants deemed that they had much at stake, who should win the victory, since they looked for ill at Thor’s hands if Hrungnir perished, he being strongest of them all. Then the giants made a man of clay at Grjótúnagard: he was nine miles high and three broad under the arm-pits; but they could get no heart big enough to fit him, until they took one from a mare. Even that was not steadfast within him, when Thor came. Hrungnir had the heart which is notorious, of hard stone and spiked with three corners, even as the written character is since formed, which men call Hrungnir’s Heart. His head also was of stone; his shield too was stone, wide and thick, and he had the shield before him when he stood at Grjótúnagard and waited for Thor. Moreover he had a hone for a weapon, and brandished it over his shoulders, and he was not a pretty sight. At one side of him stood the clay giant, which was called Mökkurkálfi: he was sore afraid, and it is said that he wet himself when he saw Thor.
“Thor went to the meeting-place, and Thjálfi with him. Then Thjálfi ran forward to the spot where Hrungnir stood and said to him: ‘Thou standest unwarily, Giant, having the shield before thee: for Thor has seen thee, and comes hither down below the earth, and will come at thee from beneath.’ Then Hrungnir thrust the shield under his feet and stood upon it, wielding the hone with both hands. Then speedily he saw lightnings and heard great claps of thunder; then he saw Thor in God-like anger, who came forward furiously and swung the hammer and cast it at Hrungnir from afar off. Hrungnir lifted up the hone in both hands and cast it against him; it struck the hammer in flight, and the hone burst in sunder: one part fell to the earth, and thence are come all the flint-rocks; the other burst on Thor’s head, so that he fell forward to the earth. But the hammer Mjöllnir struck Hrungnir in the middle of the head, and smashed his skull into small crumbs, and he fell forward upon Thor, so that his foot lay over Thor’s neck. Thjálfi struck at Mökkurkálfi, and he fell with little glory. Thereupon Thjálfi went over to Thor and would have lifted Hrungnir’s foot off him, but could not find sufficient strength. Straightway all the Æsir came up, when they, learned that Thor was fallen, and would have lifted the foot from off him, and could do nothing. Then Magni came up, son of Thor and Járnsaxa: he was then three nights old; he cast the foot of Hrungnir off Thor, and spake: ‘See how ill it is, father, that I came so late: I had struck this giant dead with my fist, methinks, if I had met with him.’ Thor arose and welcomed his son, saying that he should surely become great; ‘And I will give thee,’ he said, ‘the horse Gold-Mane, which Hrungnir possessed.’ Then Odin spake and said that Thor did wrong to give the good horse to the son of a giantess, and not to his father.
“Thor went home to Thrúdvangar, and the hone remained sticking in his head. Then came the wise woman who was called Gróa, wife of Aurvandill the Valiant: she sang her spells over Thor until the hone was loosened. But when Thor knew that, and thought that there was hope that the hone might be removed, he desired to reward Gróa for her leech-craft and make her glad, and told her these things: that he had waded from the north over Icy Stream and had borne Aurvandill in a basket on his back from the north out of Jötunheim. And he added for a token, that one of Aurvandill’s toes had stuck out of the basket, and became frozen; wherefore Thor broke it off and cast it up into the heavens, and made thereof the star called Aurvandill’s Toe. Thor said that it would not be long ere Aurvandill came home: but Gróa was so rejoiced that she forgot her incantations, and the hone was not loosened, and stands yet in Thor’s head. Therefore it is forbidden to cast a hone across the floor, for then the hone is stirred in Thor’s head. Thjódólfr of Hvin has made a song after this tale in the Haustlöng. [It says there:
On the high and painted surface
Of the hollow shield, still further
One may see how the Giant’s Terror
Sought the home of Grjótún;
The angry son of Jörd drove
To the play of steel; below him
Thundered the moon-way; rage swelled
In the heart of Meili’s Brother.
All the bright gods’ high mansions
Burned before Ullr’s kinsman;
With hail the earth was beaten
Along his course, when the he-goats
Drew the god of the smooth wain forward
To meet the grisly giant:
The Earth, the Spouse of Odin,
Straightway reft asunder.
No truce made Baldr’s brother
With the bitter foe of earth-folk.
Rocks shook, and crags were shivered;
The shining Upper Heaven
Burned; I saw the giant
Of the boat-sailed sea-reef waver
And give way fast before him,
Seeing his war-like Slayer.
Swiftly the shining shield-rim
Shot ’neath the Cliff-Ward’s shoe-soles;
That was the wise gods’ mandate,
The War-Valkyrs willed it.
The champion of the Waste-Land
Not long thereafter waited
For the speedy blow delivered
By the Friend of the snout-troll’s crusher.
He who of breath despoileth
Beli’s baleful hirelings
Felled on the shield rim-circled
The fiend of the roaring mountain;
The monster of the glen-field
Before the mighty hammer
Sank, when the Hill-Danes’ Breaker
Struck down the hideous caitiff.
Then the hone hard-broken
Hurled by the Ogress-lover
Whirred into the brain-ridge
Of Earth’s Son, that the whetter
Of steels, sticking unloosened
In the skull of Odin’s offspring,
Stood there all besprinkled
With Einridi’s blood.
Until the wise ale-goddess,
With wondrous lays, enchanted
The vaunted woe, rust-ruddy,
From the Wain-God’s sloping temples;
Painted on its circuit
I see them clearly pictured:
The fair-bossed shield, with stories
Figured, I had from Thórlelfr.”]
XVIII. Then said, Ægir: “Methinks Hrungnir was of great might. Did Thor accomplish yet more valorous deeds when he had to do with the trolls?” And Bragi answered: “It is worthy to be told at length, how Thor went to Geirrödr’s dwelling. At that time he had not the hammer Mjöllnir with him, nor his Girdle of Might, nor the iron gauntlets: and that was the fault of Loki, who went with him. For once, flying in his sport with Frigg’s hawk-plumage, it had happened to Loki to fly for curiosity’s sake into Geirrödr’s court. There he saw a great hall, and alighted and looked in through the window; and Geirrödr looked up and saw him, and commanded that the bird be taken and brought to him, But he who was sent could scarce get to the top of the wall, so high was it; and it seemed pleasant to Loki to see the man striving with toil and pains to reach him, and he thought it was not yet time to fly away until the other had accomplished the perilous climb. When the man pressed hard after him, then he stretched his wings for flight, and thrust out vehemently, but now his feet were stuck fast.
So Loki was taken and brought before Geirrödr the giant; but when Geirrödr saw his eyes, he suspected that this might be a man, and bade him answer; but Loki was silent. Then Geirrödr shut Loki into a chest and starved him there three months. And now when Geirrödr took him out and commanded him to speak, Loki told who he was; and by way of ransom for his life he swore to Geirrödr with oaths that he would get Thor to come into Geirrödr’s dwelling in such a fashion that he should have neither hammer nor Girdle of Might with him.
“Thor came to spend the night with that giantess who was called Grídr, mother of Vídarr the Silent. She told Thor the truth concerning Geirrödr, that he was a crafty giant and ill to deal with; and she lent him the Girdle of Might and iron gloves which she possessed, and her staff also, which was called Grídr’s Rod. Then Thor proceeded to the river named Vimur, greatest of all rivers. There he girded himself with the Girdle of Might and braced firmly downstream with Grídr’s Rod, and Loki held on behind by the Girdle of Might. When Thor came to mid-current, the river waxed so greatly that it broke high upon his shoulders. Then Thor sang this:
Wax thou not now, Vimur,
For I fain would wade thee
Into the Giants’ garth:
Know thou, if thou waxest,
Then waxeth God-strength in me
As high up as the heaven.
“Then Thor saw Gjálp, daughter of Geirrödr, standing in certain ravines, one leg in each, spanning the river, and she was causing the spate. Then Thor snatched up a great stone out of the river and cast it at her, saying these words: ‘At its source should a river be stemmed.’ Nor did he miss that at which he threw. In that moment he came to the shore and took hold of a rowan-clump, and so climbed out of the river; whence comes the saying that rowan is Thor’s deliverance.
“Now when Thor came before Geirrödr, the companions were shown first into the goat-fold for their entertainment, and there was one chair there for a seat, and Thor sat there. Then he became aware that the chair moved under him up toward the roof: he thrust Grídr’s Rod up against the rafters and pushed back hard against the chair. Then there was a great crash, and screaming followed. Under the chair had been Geirrödr’s daughters, Gjálp and Greip; and he had broken both their backs. Then Geirrödr had Thor called into the hall to play games. There were great fires the whole length of the hall. When Thor came up over against Geirrödr, then Geirrödr took up a glowing bar of iron with the tongs and cast it at Thor. Thor caught it with his iron gloves and raised the bar in the air, but Geirrödr leapt behind an iron pillar to save himself. Thor lifted up the bar and threw it, and it passed through the pillar and through Geirrödr and through the wall, and so on out, even into the earth. Eilífr Gudrúnarson has wrought verses on this story, in Thórsdrápa:
[The winding sea-snake’s father
Did wile from home the slayer
Of the life of the gods’ grim foemen;
—(Ever was Loptr a liar)—
The never faithful Searcher
Of the heart of the fearless Thunderer
Declared green ways were lying
To the walled stead of Geirrödr.
No long space Thor let Loki
Lure him to the going:
They yearned to overmaster
Thorn’s offspring, when the Seeker
Of Idi’s garth, than giants
Greater in might, made ready
In ancient days, for faring
To the Giants’ Seat, from Odin’s.
Further in the faring
Forward went warlike Thjálfi
With the divine Host-Cheerer
Than the deceiving lover
Of her of enchanted singing:
—(I chant the Ale of Odin)—
The hill dame’s Mocker measured
The moor with hollow foot-soles.
And the war-wonted journeyed
Till the hill-women’s Waster
Came to Gangr’s blood, the Vimur;
Then Loki’s bale-repeller,
Eager in anger, lavish
Of valor, longed to struggle
Against the maid, kinswoman
Of the sedge-cowled giant.
And the honor-lessener
Of the Lady of the Sea-Crag
Won foot-hold in the surging
Of the hail-rolled leaping hill-spate;
The rock-knave’s swift Pursuer
Passed the broad stream of his staff’s road,
Where the foam-flecked mighty rivers
Frothed with raging venom.
There they set the staves before them
In the streaming grove of dogfish;
The wind-wood’s slippery pebbles,
Smitten to speech, slept not;
The clashing rod did rattle
’Gainst the worn rocks, and the rapid
Of the fells howled, storm-smitten,
On the river’s stony anvil.
The Weaver of the Girdle
Beheld the washing slope-stream
Fall on his hard-grown shoulders:
No help he found to save him;
The Minisher of hill-folk
Caused Might to grow within him
Even to the roof of heaven,
Till the rushing flood should ebb.
The fair warriors of the Æsir,
In battle wise, fast waded,
And the surging pool, sward-sweeping,
Streamed: the earth-drift’s billow,
Blown by the mighty tempest,
Tugged with monstrous fury
At the terrible oppressor
Of the earth-born tribe of cave-folk.
Till Thjálfi came uplifted
On his lord Thor’s wide shield-strap:
That was a mighty thew-test
For the Prop of Heaven; the maidens
Of the harmful giant stiffly
Held the stream stubborn against them;
With Grídr’s staff fared sternly.
Nor did their hearts of rancor
Droop in the men unblemished,
Nor courage ’gainst the headlong
Fall of the current fail them:
A fiercer-daring spirit
Flamed in the dauntless God’s breast,—
With terror Thor’s staunch heart-stone
Trembled not, nor Thjálfi’s.
And afterward the haters
Of the host of sword-companions,
The shatterers of bucklers,
Dinned on the shield of giants,
Ere the destroying peoples
Of the shingle-drift of monsters
Wrought the helm-play of Hedinn
’Gainst the rock-dwelling marksmen.
The hostile folk of sea-heights
Fled before the Oppressor
Of headland tribes; the dalesmen
Of the hill-tops, imperilled,
Fled, when Odin’s kindred
Stood, enduring staunchly;
The Danes of the flood-reef’s border
Bowed down to the Flame-Shaker.
Where the chiefs, with thoughts of valor
Imbued, marched into Thorn’s house,
A mighty crash resounded
Of the cave’s ring-wall; the slayer
Of the mountain-reindeer-people
On the giant-maiden’s wide hood
Was brought in bitter peril:
There was baleful peace-talk.
And they pressed the high head, bearing
The piercing brow-moon’s eye-flame
Against the hill-hall’s rafters;
On the high roof-tree broken
He crushed those raging women:
The swinging Storm-car’s Guider
Burst the stout, ancient back-ridge
And breast-bones of both women.
Earth’s Son became familiar
With knowledge strange; the cave-men
Of the land of stone o’ercame not,
Nor long with ale were merry:
The frightful elm-string’s plucker,
The friend of Sudri, hurtled
The hot bar, in the forge fused,
Into the hand of Odin’s Gladdener.
So that Gunnr’s Swift-Speeder
Seized (the Friend of Freyja),
With quick hand-gulps, the molten
High-raised draught of metal,
When the fire-brand, glowing,
Flew with maddened fury
From the giant’s gripping fingers
To the grim Sire of Thrúdr.
The hall of the doughty trembled
When he dashed the massy forehead
Of the hill-wight ’gainst the bottom
Of the house-wall’s ancient column;
Ullr’s glorious step-sire
With the glowing bar of mischief
Struck with his whole strength downward
At the hill-knave’s mid-girdle.
The God with gory hammer
Crushed utterly Glaumr’s lineage;
The Hunter of the Kindred
Of the hearth-dame was victorious;
The Plucker of the Bow-String
Lacked not his people’s valor,—
The Chariot-God, who swiftly
Wrought grief to the Giant’s bench-thanes.
He to whom hosts make offering
Hewed down the dolt-like dwellers
Of the cloud-abyss of Elf-Home,
Crushing them with the fragment
Of Grídr’s Rod: the litter
Of hawks, the race of Listi
Could not harm the help-strong
Queller of Ella’s Stone-Folk.]
XIX.“How should one periphrase Frigg? Call her Daughter of Fjörgynn, Wife of Odin, Mother of Baldr, Co-Wife of Jörd and Rindr and Gunnlöd and Grídr, Mother-in-law of Nanna, Lady of the Æsir and Ásynjur, Mistress of Fulla and of the Hawk-Plumage and of Fensalir.
XX. “How should one periphrase Freyja? Thus: by calling her Daughter of Njördr, Sister of Freyr, Wife of Ódr, Mother of Hnoss, Possessor of the Slain, of Sessrúmnir, of the Gib-Cats, and of Brísinga-men; Goddess of the Vanir, Lady of the Vanir, Goddess Beautiful in Tears, Goddess of Love. All the goddesses may be periphrased thus: by calling them by the name of another, and naming them in terms of their possessions or their works or their kindred.
[XXI. “How should Sif be periphrased? By calling her Wife of Thor, Mother of Ullr, Fair-Haired Goddess, Co-Wife of Járnsaxa, Mother of Thrúdr.
XXII. “How should Idunn be periphrased? Thus: by calling her Wife of Bragi, and Keeper of the Apples; and the apples should be called Age-Elixir of the Æsir. Idunn is also called Spoil of the Giant Thjazi, according to the tale that has been told before, how he took her away from the Æsir. Thjódólfr of Hvin composed verses after that tale in the Haustlöng:
How shall I make voice-payment
Meetly for the shield-bridge
. . . . . . .
Of the war-wall Thórleifr gave me?
I survey the truceless faring
Of the three gods strife-foremost,
And Thjatsi’s, on the shining
Cheek of the shield of battle.
The Spoiler of the Lady
Swiftly flew with tumult
To meet the high god-rulers
Long hence in eagle-plumage;
The erne in old days lighted
Where the Æsir meat were bearing
To the fire-pit; the Giant
Of the rocks was called no faint-heart.
The skilful god-deceiver
To the gods proved a stern sharer
Of bones: the high Instructor
Of Æsir, helmet-hooded,
Saw some power checked the seething;
The sea-mew, very crafty,
Spake from the ancient tree-trunk;
Loki was ill-willed toward him.
The wolfish monster ordered
Meili’s Sire to deal him
Food from the holy trencher:
The friend of Him of Ravens
To blow the fire was chosen;
The Giant-King, flesh-greedy,
Sank down, where the guileless
Craft-sparing gods were gathered.
The comely Lord of All Things
Commanded Loki swiftly
To part the bull’s-meat, slaughtered
By Skadi’s ringing bow-string,
Among the folk, but straightway
The cunning food-defiler
Of the Æsir filched-the quarters,
All four, from the broad table.
And the hungry Sire of Giants
Savagely ate the yoke-beast
From the oak-tree’s sheltering branches,—
That was in ancient ages,—
Ere the wise-minded Loki,
Warder of war-spoil, smote him,
Boldest of foes of Earth-Folk,
With a pole betwixt the shoulders.
The Arm-Burden then of Sigyn,
Whom all the gods in bonds see,
Firmly forthwith was fastened
To the Fosterer of Skadi;
To Jötunheim’s Strong Dweller
The pole stuck, and the fingers
Of Loki too, companion
Of Hœnir, clung to the pole’s end.
The Bird of Blood flew upward
(Blithesome in his quarry)
A long way off with Loki,
The lither God, that almost
Wolf’s Sire was rent asunder;
Thor’s friend must sue for mercy,
Such peace as he might purchase
To pray: nigh slain was Loptr.
Then Hymir’s Kinsman ordered
The crafty god, pain-maddened,
To wile to him the Maiden
Who warded the Æsir’s age-cure;
Ere long the necklace-robber,
Brísinga’s thief, lured slyly
The Dame of Brunnakr’s brooklet
Into the Base One’s dwelling.
At that the steep slope-dwellers
No sorrow felt; then Idunn
Was from the south, by giants
New-stolen, come among them.
All Ingvi-Freyr’s high kindred,
Hoary and old, to council
Hasted; grewsome of fashion
And ugly all the gods were.
. . . . . . .
This heard I, that the Staunch Friend
Of Hœnir—oft thereafter
With wiles he tricked the Æsir—
Flew, in hawk-wings hidden;
And the vile Sire of Giants,
Hurtled on eagle-pinion
After the hawk-shaped Loki.
Swiftly the gods have kindled
A fire; and the sovereign rulers
Sustained the flame with shavings:
Scorched was the flying giant,—
He plunged down in mid-soaring:
’Tis pictured on the giant’s
Sole-bridge, the shield which, painted
With stories, Thórleifr gave me.]
“This is the correct manner of periphrasing the Æsir: To call each of them by the name of another, and to designate him in terms of his works or his possessions or his kindred.
XXIII. “How should the heaven be periphrased? Thus: call it Skull of Ymir, and hence, Giant’s Skull; Task or Burden of the Dwarves, or Helm of Vestri and Austri, Sudri, or Nordri; Land of the Sun, of the Moon, and of the Stars of Heaven, of the Wains and the Winds; Helm, or House, of the Air and the Earth and the Sun. So sang Arnórr Earls’-Skald:
So large of gifts ne’er mounted
Young Lord of Shields on ship-deck
’Neath the ancient Skull of Ymir:
Splendid this Prince’s largess.
And as he sang again:
Bright grows the sun at dusking,
The earth sinks into the dark sea,
The Toil of Austri bursteth;
All the ocean on the fells breaks.
Thus sang Bödvarr the Halt:
For never ’neath the Sun’s Plain
Shall come a nobler Land-Ward,
Keener in battle-onset,
Nor a brother of Ingi better.
And as Thjódólfr of Hvin sang:
Jörd’s Son drove to the steel-play
(High swelled the godlike anger
In the mind of Meili’s Brother),
And the Moon-Way ’neath him quivered.
Even as sang Ormr Barrey’s-Skald:
Lady of Draupnir’s gore-streak,
However great I know him,
The wielder (by right he ruleth)
Of the Wain’s Road sees me gladly.
Even as the skald Bragi sang:
He who threw the dead eyes
Of Thjazi, Skadi’s father,
Into the Winds’ Wide Basin
O’er the abodes of men-folk many.
And as Markús sang:
’Tis long since the dear-loved Warder
Of sea-men was born on the wave-girt earth-bottom
Of the Storm-Container; each man praises
The sublime age of the Ring-Dispenser.
Even as Steinn Herdísarson sang:
I sing the holy Ruler
Of the high World-Tent rather
Than men, for very precious
Is He: His praises tell I.
And as Arnórr Earls’-Skald sang:
Help, dear King of Heaven,
The Day’s Plain, help my Hermundr.
And as Arnórr sang further:
Soothfast King of the Sun-Tents,
Help stout-hearted Rögnvaldr.
And as Hallvardr sang:
Knútr wards the land, as the Ruler
Of All wards the radiant Fell-Hall.
As Arnórr sang:
Michael, wise of understanding,
Weighs what seems done ill, and good things:
Then the Monarch of the Sun’s Helm
At the Doom-Seat parts all mortals.
XXIV. “How should one periphrase the earth? Thus: by calling her Flesh of Ymir, and Mother of Thor, Daughter of Ónarr, Odin’s Bride, Co-Wife of Frigg and Rindr and Gunnlöd, Mother-in-law of Sif, Floor and Bottom of the Storm-Hall, Sea of Beasts, Daughter of Night, Sister of Audr and of Day. Even as Eyvindr Skald-Despoiler sang:
Now the beaming gold is hidden
In the body of the Mother
Of the Giants’ Foe; the counsels
Of a kindred strong are mighty.
As sang Hallfredr Troublous-Skald:
In council ’t was determined
That the King’s friend, wise in counsel,
Should wed the Land, sole Daughter
Of Ónarr, greenly wooded.
And he said further:
The Raven-Abode’s brave Ruler
Got the broad-faced Bride of Odin,
The Land, with kingly counsels
Of weapons, lured unto him.
Even as Thjódólfr-sang:
The Ruler, glad in Warriors,
In the rowed hull doth fasten
The ships of men to the strand’s end,
At the head of the sea keel-ridden.
As Hallfredr sang:
Full loath to let the Land slip
I hold the lordly Spear-Prince
Audr’s sister is subjected
To the splendid Treasure-Spender.
Thus sang Thjódólfr:
Far off the dart-slow sluggard
Stood, when the Sword-Inciter
In ancient days took to him
The unripe Co-Wife of Rindr.
XXV. “How should one periphrase the sea? Thus: by calling it Ymir’s Blood; Visitor of the Gods; Husband of Rán; Father of Ægir’s Daughters, of them who are called Himinglæva, Dúfa, Blódughadda, Hefring, Udr, Hrönn, Bylgja, Bára, Kolga; Land of Rán and of Ægir’s Daughters, of Ships and of ships’ names, of the Keel, of Beaks, of Planks and Seams, of Fishes, of Ice; Way and Road of Sea-Kings; likewise Encircler of Islands; House of Sands and of Kelp and of Reefs; Land of Fishing-gear, of Sea-Fowls, and of Fair Wind. Even as Ormr Barrey’s-Skald sang:
On the gravelly beach of good ships
Grates the Blood of Ymir.
As Refr sang:
The mild deer of the masthead beareth
O’er the murky water from the westward
Her wave-pressed bows; the land I look for
Before the beak; the Whale-Home shallows.
Even as Steinn sang:
When the fallow fell-wall’s Whirlwinds
Wove o’er the waves full fiercely,
And Ægir’s storm-glad daughters
Tore, of grim frost begotten.
And as Refr sang:
Gymir’s wet-cold Spae-Wife
Wiles the Bear of Twisted Cables
Oft into Ægir’s wide jaws,
Where the angry billow breaketh.
It is said here that Ægir and Gymir are both the same. And he sang further:
And the Sea-Peak’s Sleipnir slitteth
The stormy breast rain-driven,
The wave, with red stain running
Out of white Rán’s mouth.
As Einarr Skúlason sang:
The stern snow-wind has thrust out
With strength, the ship from landward:
The Swan-Land’s steed sees Iceland
Into the surf receding.
And as he sang further:
Many a stiff rowlock straineth,
And the noisy Strand of Fish-Gear,
The Sea, the lands o’ercometh:
Men’s hands oft span the stays.
And he sang yet further:
The gray Isle-Fetter urges
Heiti’s raven-ship onward;
Gold beaks the fleet ships carry:
Rich that faring to the Chieftain.
And he sang again:
The Isle-Rim autumn chilly
Impels the dock’s cold snowshoe.
And thus also:
The cool lands’ Surging-Girdle
Before the beaks springs asunder.
As Snæbjorn sang:
They say nine brides of skerries
Swiftly move the Sea-Churn
Of Grótti’s Island-Flour-Bin
Beyond the Earth’s last outskirt,—
They who long the corny ale ground
Of Amlódí; the Giver
Of Rings now cuts with ship’s beak
The Abiding-Place of boat-sides.
Here the sea is called Amlódi’s Churn.
As Einarr Skúlason sang:
The sturdy drive-nails weaken
In the swift swirl, where paleth
Rakni’s Heaving Plain: wind
Puffs the reefs against the stays.
XXVI. “How should one periphrase the sun? By calling her Daughter of Mundilfari, Sister of the Moon, Wife of Glenr, Fire of Heaven and of the Air. Even as Skúli Thorsteinsson sang:
Glenr’s god-blithe Bed-Mate wadeth
Into the Goddess’s mansion
With rays; then the good light cometh
Of gray-sarked Máni downward.
Thus sang Einarr Skúlason:
Whereso the lofty flickering
Flame of the World’s Hall swimmeth
O’er our loved friend, who hateth
And lavisheth the sea-gold.
XXVII. “How should the wind be periphrased? Thus: call it Son of Fornjótr, Brother of the Sea and of Fire, Scathe or Ruin or Hound or Wolf of the Wood or of the Sail or of the Rigging.
Thus spake Sveinn in the Nordrsetu-drápa:
First began to fly
Fornjótr’s sons ill-shapen.
XXVIII. “How should one periphrase fire? Thus: call it Brother of the Wind and the Sea, Ruin and Destruction of Wood and of Houses, Hálfr’s Bane, Sun of Houses.
XXIX. “How should winter be periphrased? Thus: call it Son of Vindsvalr, Destruction of Serpents, Tempest Season. Thus sang Ormr Steinthórsson:
To the blind man I proffer
This blessing: Vindsvalr’s Son.
Thus sang Ásgrímr:
The warlike Spoil-Bestower,
Lavish of Wealth, that winter—
Snake’s-Woe—in Thrándheim tarried;
The folk knew thy true actions.
XXX. “How should one periphrase summer? Thus: call it Son of Svásudr and Comfort of Serpents, and Growth of Men. Even as Egill Skallagrímsson sang:
We shall wave our swords, O Dyer
Of Wolf’s Teeth, make them glitter:
A deed we have for wreaking
In the Comfort of Dale-Serpents.
XXXI. “How should man be periphrased? By his works, by that which he gives or receives or does; he may also be periphrased in terms of his property, those things which he possesses, and, if he be liberal, of his liberality; likewise in terms of the families from which he descended, as well as of those which have sprung from him. How is one to periphrase him in terms of these things? Thus, by calling him accomplisher or performer of his goings or his conduct, of his battles or sea-voyages or huntings or weapons or ships. And because he is a tester of weapons and a winner of battles,—the words for ‘winner’ and ‘wood’ being the same, as are also those for ‘tester’ and ‘rowan,’—therefore, from these phrases, skalds have called man Ash or Maple, Grove, or other masculine tree-names, and periphrased him in such expressions in terms of battles or ships or possessions. It is also correct to periphrase man with all the names of the Æsir; also with giant-terms, and this last is for the most part for mocking or libellous purposes. Periphrasis with the names of elves is held to be favorable.
“Woman should be periphrased with reference to all female garments, gold and jewels, ale or wine or any other drink, or to that which she dispenses or gives; likewise with reference to ale-vessels, and to all those things which it becomes her to perform or to give. It is correct to periphrase her thus: by calling her giver or user of that of which she partakes. But the words for ‘giver’ and ‘user’ are also names of trees; therefore woman is called in metaphorical speech by all feminine tree-names. Woman is periphrased with reference to jewels or agates for this reason: in heathen times what was called a ‘stone-necklace,’ which they wore about the neck, was a part of a woman’s apparel; now it is used figuratively in such a way as to periphrase woman with stones and all names of stones. Woman is also metaphorically called by the names of the Ásynjur or the Valkyrs or Norris or women of supernatural kind. It is also correct to periphrase woman in terms of all her conduct or property or family.
XXXII. “How should gold be periphrased? Thus: by calling it Ægir’s Fire, and Needles of Glasir, Hair of Sif, Snood of Fulla, Freyja’s Tears, Talk and Voice and Word of Giants, Draupnir’s Drop and Rain or Shower of Draupnir, or of Freyja’s Eyes, Otter’s Ransom, Forced Payment of the Æsir, Seed of Fýris-Plain, Cairn-Roof of Hölgi, Fire of all Waters and of the Hand, Stone and Reef or Gleam of the Hand.
XXXIII. Wherefore is gold called Ægir’s Fire? This tale is to the same purport as we have told before: Ægir went to Ásgard to a feast, but when he was ready to return home, he invited Odin and all the Æsir to visit him in three months’ time. First came Odin and Njördr, Freyr, Týr, Bragi, Vídarr, Loki; likewise the Ásynjur: Frigg, Freyja, Gefjun, Skadi, Idunn, Sif. Thor was not there, having gone into the eastern lands to slay trolls. When the gods had sat down in their places, straightway Ægir had bright gold brought in onto the floor of the hall, and the gold gave forth light and illumined the hall like fire: and it was used there for lights at his banquet, even as in Valhall swords were used in place of fire. Then Loki bandied sharp words with all the gods, and slew one of Ægir’s thralls, him who was called Five-Finger; another of his thralls was named Fire-Kindler. Rán is the name of Ægir’s wife, and their daughters are nine, even as we have written before. At this feast all things were self-served, both food and ale, and all implements needful to the feast. Then the Æsir became aware that Rán had that net wherein she was wont to catch all men who go upon the sea. Now this tale is to show whence it comes that gold is called Fire or Light or Brightness of Ægir, of Rán, or of Ægir’s daughters; and now such use is made of these metaphors that gold is called Fire of the Sea, and of all names of the sea, even as Ægir or Rán had names associated with the sea. Therefore gold is now called Fire of Waters or of Rivers, and of all river names.
“But these names have fared just as other figures also have done: the later skalds have composed after the examples of the old skalds, even those examples which stood in their poems, but were later expanded into such forms as seemed to later poets to be like what was written before: as a lake is to the sea, or the river to the lake, or the brook to the river. Therefore all these are called new figures, when terms are expanded to greater length than what was recorded before; and all this seems well and good, so fair as it concurs with verisimilitude and nature. As Bragi the Skald sang:
I was given by the Battler
The fire of the Brook of Sea-Fish:
He gave it me, with mercy,
For the Drink of the Mountain-Giant.
XXXIV. “Why is gold called the Needles, or Leaves; of Glasir? In Ásgard, before the doors of Valhall, there stands a grove which is called Glasir, and its leafage is all red gold, even as is sung here:
With golden leafage
Before the High God’s halls.
Far and wide, this tree is the fairest known among gods and men.
XXXV. “Why is gold called Sif’s Hair? Loki Laufeyarson, for mischief’s sake, cut off all Sif’s hair. But when Thor learned of this, he seized Loki, and would have broken every bone in him, had he not sworn to get the Black Elves to make Sif hair of gold, such that it would grow like other hair. After that, Loki went to those dwarves who are called Ívaldi’s Sons; and they made the hair, and Skídbladnir also, and the spear which became Odin’s possession, and was called Gungnir. Then Loki wagered his head with the dwarf called Brokkr that Brokkr’s brother Sindri could not make three other precious things equal in virtue to these. Now when they came to the smithy, Sindri laid a pigskin in the hearth and bade Brokkr blow, and did not cease work until he took out of the hearth that which he had laid therein. But when he went out of the smithy, while the other dwarf was blowing, straightway a fly settled upon his hand and stung: yet he blew on as before, until the smith took the work out of the hearth; and it was a boar, with mane and bristles of gold. Next, he laid gold in the hearth and bade Brokkr blow and cease not from his blast until he should return. He went out; but again the fly came and settled on Brokkr’s neck, and bit now half again as hard as before; yet he blew even until the smith took from the hearth that gold ring which is called Draupnir. Then Sindri laid iron in the hearth and bade him blow, saying that it would be spoiled if the blast failed. Straightway the fly settled between Brokkr’s eyes and stung his eyelid, but when the blood fell into his eyes so that he could not see, then he clutched at it with his hand as swiftly as he could,—while the bellows grew flat,—and he swept the fly from him. Then the smith came thither and said that it had come near to spoiling all that was in the hearth. Then he took from the forge a hammer, put all the precious works into the hands of Brokkr his brother, and bade him go with them to Ásgard and claim the wager.
“Now when he and Loki brought forward the precious gifts, the Æsir sat down in the seats of judgment; and that verdict was to prevail which Odin, Thor, and Freyr should render. Then Loki gave Odin the spear Gungnir, and to Thor the hair which Sif was to have, and Skídbladnir to Freyr, and told the virtues of all these things: that the spear would never stop in its thrust; the hair would grow to the flesh as soon as it came upon Sif’s head; and Skídbladnir would have a favoring breeze as soon as the sail was raised, in whatsoever direction it might go, but could be folded together like a napkin and be kept in Freyr’s pouch if he so desired. Then Brokkr brought forward his gifts: he gave to Odin the ring, saying that eight rings of the same weight would drop from it every ninth night; to Freyr he gave the boar, saying that it could run through air and water better than any horse, and it could never become so dark with night or gloom of the Murky Regions that there should not be sufficient light where be went, such was the glow from its mane and bristles. Then he gave the hammer to Thor, and said that Thor might smite as hard as he desired, whatsoever might be before him, and the hammer would not fail; and if he threw it at anything, it would never miss, and never fly so far as not to return to his hand; and if be desired, he might keep it in his sark, it was so small; but indeed it was a flaw in the hammer that the fore-haft was somewhat short.
“This was their decision: that the hammer was best of all the precious works, and in it there was the greatest defence against the Rime-Giants; and they gave sentence, that the dwarf should have his wager. Then Loki offered to redeem his head, but the dwarf said that there was no chance of this. ‘Take me, then,’ quoth Loki; but when Brokkr would have laid hands on him, he was a long way off. Loki had with him those shoes with which he ran through air and over water. Then the dwarf prayed Thor to catch him, and Thor did so. Then the dwarf would have hewn off his head; but Loki said that he might have the head, but not the neck. So the dwarf took a thong and a knife, and would have bored a hole in Loki’s lips and stitched his mouth together, but the knife did not cut. Then Brokkr said that it would be better if his brother’s awl were there: and even as he named it, the awl was there, and pierced the lips. He stitched the Ups together, and Loki ripped the thong out of the edges. That thong, with which Loki’s mouth was sewn together, is called Vartari.
XXXVI. “One may hear how gold is metaphorically called Fulla’s Snood, in this verse which Eyvindr Skald-Despoiler wrought:
Fulla’s shining Fillet,
The forehead’s sun at rising,
Shone on the swelling shield-hill
For skalds all Hakon’s life-days.
XXXVII. “Gold is called Freyja’s Tears, as was said before. So sang Skúli Thorsteinsson:
Many a fearless swordsman
Received the Tears of Freyja
The more the morn when foemen
We murdered; we were present.
And as Einarr Skúlason sang:
Where, mounted ’twixt the carvings,
The Tear of Mardöll lieth,
We bear the axe shield-splitting,
Swollen with Serpent’s lair-gold.
And here Einarr has further periphrased Freyja so as to call her Mother of Hnoss, or Wife of Ódr, as standeth below:
The shield, tempest’s strong roof-ice,
With tear-gold is unminished,
Eye-rain of Ódr’s Bed-Mate:
His age the King so useth.
And again thus:
Hörn’s Child, the glorious adornment,
I own, gold-wound—a jewel
Most fair—to the shield’s rim
Fast is the golden Sea-Flame:
On the gem, Freyr’s Niece, the tear-drift
Of the fore-head of her Mother
She bears; the Raven-Feeder
Gave me Fródi’s seed-gold’s fostering.
It is also recorded here that one may periphrase Freyja by calling her Sister of Freyr.
And thus also:
A defence of songs full goodly
He freely gave me, neighbor
Of sea-scales: I praise gladly
Njördr’s Daughter’s golden gem-child.
Here she is called Daughter of Njördr.
And again thus:
The awesome Stately Urger
Of Odin, he who raises
The struggle stern, gave to me
The courage-stalwart daughter
Of the Vana-Bride, my fair axe;
The valorous sword-mote’s Ruler
Led Gefn’s girl to the Skald’s bed,
Set with the sea-flame’s gold-work.
Here she is called Gefn and Bride of the Vanir.—It is proper to join ‘tears’ with all the names of Freyja, and to call gold by such terms; and in divers ways these periphrases have been varied, so that gold is called Hail, or Rain, or Snow-Storm, or Drops, or Showers, or Water falls, of Freyja’s Eyes, or Cheeks, or Brows, or Eyelids.
XXXVIII. “In this place one may hear that gold is called Word, or Voice, of Giants, as we have said before; thus sang Bragi the Skald:
Then had I the third friend
Fairly praised: the poorest
In the Voice of the Botched-Knob’s Áli,
But best of all to me.
He called a rock Botched Knob, and a giant Áli of Rock, and gold Voice of the Giant.
XXXIX. “For what reason is gold called Otter’s Wergild? It is related that when certain of the Æsir, Odin and Loki and Hœnir, went forth to explore the earth, they came to a certain river, and proceeded along the river to a waterfall. And beside the fall was an otter, which had taken a salmon from the fall and was eating, blinking his eyes the while. Then Loki took up a stone and cast it at the otter, and struck its head. And Loki boasted in his catch, that he had got otter and salmon with one blow. Then they took up the salmon and the otter and bore them along with them, and coming to the buildings of a certain farm, they went in. Now the husbandman who dwelt there was named Hreidmarr: he was a man of much substance, and very skilled in black magic. The Æsir asked him for a night’s lodging, saying that they had sufficient food with them, and showed him their catch. But when Hreidmarr saw the otter, straight way he called to him his sons, Fáfnir and Reginn, and told them that the otter their brother was slain, and who had done that deed.
“Now father and sons went up to the Æsir, seized them, bound them, and told them about the otter, how he was Hreidmarr’s son. The Æsir offered a ransom for their lives, as much wealth as Hreidmarr himself desired to appoint; and a covenant was made between them on those terms, and confirmed with oaths. Then the otter was flayed, and Hreidmarr, taking the otter-skin, bade them fill the skin with red gold and also cover it altogether; and that should be the condition of the covenant between them. Thereupon Odin sent Loki into the Land of the Black Elves, and he came to the dwarf who is called Andvari, who was as a fish in the water. Loki caught him in his hands and required of him in ransom of his life all the gold that he had in his rock; and when they came within the rock, the dwarf brought forth all the gold he had, and it was very much wealth. Then the dwarf quickly swept under his hand one little gold ring, but Loki saw it and commanded him to give over the ring. The dwarf prayed him not to take the ring from him, saying that from this ring he could multiply wealth for himself if he might keep it. Loki answered that be should not have one penny left, and took the ring from him and went out; but the dwarf declared that that ring should be the ruin of every one who should come into possession of it. Loki replied that this seemed well enough to him, and that this condition should hold good provided that he himself brought it to the ears of them that should receive the ring and the curse. He went his way and came to Hreidmarr’s dwelling, and showed the gold to Odin; but when Odin saw the ring, it seemed fair to him, and he took it away from the treasure, and paid the gold to Hreidmarr. Then Hreidmarr filled the otter-skin as much as he could, and set it up when it was full. Next Odin went up, having the skin to cover with gold, and he bade Hreidmarr look whether the skin were yet altogether hidden. But Hreidmarr looked at it searchingly, and saw one of the hairs of the snout, and commanded that this be covered, else their covenant should be at an end. Then Odin drew out the ring, and covered the hair, saying that they were now delivered from their debt for the slaying of the otter. But when Odin had taken his spear, and Loki his shoes, and they had no longer any need to be afraid, then Loki declared that the curse which Andvari had uttered should be fulfilled: that this ring and this gold should be the destruction of him who received it; and that was fulfilled afterward. Now it has been told wherefore gold is called Otter’s Wergild, or Forced Payment of the Æsir, or Metal of Strife.
XL. “What more is to be said of the gold? Hreidmarr took the gold for his son’s wergild, but Fáfnir and Reginn claimed some part of their brother’s blood-money for themselves. Hreidmarr would not grant them one penny of the gold. This was the wicked purpose of those brethren: they slew their father for the gold. Then Reginn demanded that Fáfnir share the gold with him, half for half. Fáfnir answered that there was little chance of his sharing it with his brother, seeing that he had slain his father for its sake; and he bade Reginn go hence, else he should fare even as Hreidmarr. Fáfnir had taken the helmet which Hreidmarr had possessed, and set it upon his head (this helmet was called the Helm of Terror, of which all living creatures that see it are afraid), and the sword called Hrotti. Reginn had that sword which was named Refill. So he fled away, and Fáfnir went up to Gnita Heath, and made himself a lair, and turned himself into a serpent, and laid him down upon the gold.
“Then Reginn went to King Hjálprekr at Thjód, and there he became his smith; and he took into his fostering Sigurdr, son of Sigmundr, Völsungr’s son, and of Hjördís, daughter of Eylimi. Sigurdr was. most illustrious of all Host-Kings in race, in prowess, and in mind. Reginn declared to him where Fáfnir lay on the gold, and incited him to seek the gold. Then Reginn fashioned the sword Gramr, which was so sharp that Sigurdr, bringing it down into running water, cut asunder a flock of wool which drifted down-stream onto the sword’s edge. Next Sigurdr clove Reginn’s anvil down to the stock with the sword. After that they went, Sigurdr and Reginn, to Gnita Heath, and there Sigurdr dug a pit in Fáfnr’s way and laid him self in ambush therein. And when Fáfnir glided toward the water and came above the pit, Sigurdr straightway thrust his sword through him, and that was his end.
“Then Reginn came forward, saying that Sigurdr had slain his brother, and demanded as a condition of reconciliation that he take Fáfnir’s heart and roast it with fire; and Reginn laid him down and drank the blood of Fáfnir, and settled himself to sleep. But when Sigurdr was roasting the heart, and thought that it must be quite roasted, he touched it with his finger to see how hard it was; and then the juice ran out from the heart onto his finger, so that he was burned and put his finger to his mouth. As soon as the heart’s blood came upon his tongue, straightway he knew the speech of birds, and he understood what the nuthatches were saying which were sitting in the trees. Then one spake:
There sits Sigurdr
With flame he roasteth:
Wise seemed to me
The Spoiler of Rings
If the gleaming
Life-fibre he ate.
There lies Reginn—sang another—
Rede he ponders,
Would betray the youth
Who trusteth in him:
In his wrath he plots
The smith of bale
Would avenge his brother.
Then Sigurdr went over to Reginn and slew him, and thence to his horse, which was named Grani, and rode till he came to Fáfnir’s lair. He took up the gold, trussed it up in his saddle-bags, laid it upon Grani’s back, mounted up himself, and then rode his ways. Now the tale is told why gold is called Lair or Abode of Fáfnir, or Metal of Gnita Heath, or Grani’s Burden.
XLI. “Then Sigurdr rode on till he found a house on the mountain, wherein a woman in helm and birnie lay sleeping. He drew his sword and cut the birnie from her: she awoke then, and gave her name as Hildr: she is called Brynhildr, and was a Valkyr. Sigurdr rode away and came to the king who was named Gjúki, whose wife was Grímhildr; their children were Gunnarr, Högni, Gudrún, Gudný; Gotthormr was Gjúki’s stepson. Sigurdr tarried there a long time, and then he obtained the hand of Gudrún, daughter of Gjúki, and Gunnarr and Högni swore oaths of blood brotherhood with Sigurdr. Thereafter Sigurdr and the sons of Gjúki went unto Atli, Budli’s son, to sue for the hand of Brynhildr his sister in marriage to Gunnarr. Brynhildr abode on Hinda-Fell, and about her hall there was a flaring fire; and she had made a solemn vow to take none but that man who should dare to ride through the flaring fire.
“Then Sigurdr and the sons of Gjúki (who were also called Niflungs) rode up onto the mountain, and Gunnarr should have ridden through the flaring fire: but he had the horse named Goti, and that horse dared not leap into the fire. So they exchanged shapes, Sigurdr and Gunnarr, and names likewise; for Grani would go under no man but Sigurdr. Then Sigurdr leapt onto Grani, and rode through the flaring fire. That eve he was wedded with Brynhildr. But when they came to bed, he drew the Sword Gramr from its sheath and laid it between them. In the morning when he arose and clothed himself, he gave Brynhildr as linen-fee the same gold ring which Loki had taken from Andvari, and took another ring from her hand for remembrance. Then Sigurdr mounted his horse and rode to his fellows, and he and Gunnarr changed shapes again and went home to Gjúki with Brynhildr. Sigurdr and Gudrún had two children, Sigmundr and Svanhildr.
“It befell on a time that Brynhildr and Gudrún went to the water to wash their hair. And when they came to the river, Brynhildr waded out from the bank well into the river, saying that she would not touch to her head the water which ran out of the hair of Gudrún, since herself had the more valorous husband. Then Gudrún went into the river after her and said that it was her right to wash her hair higher upstream, for the reason that she had to husband such a man as neither Gunnarr nor any other in the world matched in valor, seeing that he had slain Fáfnir and Reginn and succeeded to the heritage of both. And Brynhildr made answer: ‘It was a matter of greater worth that Gunnarr rode through the flaring fire and Sigurdr durst not.’ Then Gudrún laughed, and said: ‘Dost thou think that Gunnarr rode through the flaring fire? Now I think that he who went into the bride-bed with thee was the same that gave me this gold ring; and the gold ring which thou bearest on thine hand and didst receive for linen-fee is called Andvari’s Yield, and I believe that it was not Gunnarr who got that ring on Gnita Heath.’ Then Brynhildr was silent, and went home.
“After that she egged on Gunnarr and Högni to slay Sigurdr; but because they were Sigurdr’s sworn blood-brothers, they stirred up Gotthormr their brother to slay him. He thrust his sword through Sigurdr as he slept; but when Sigurdr felt the wound, he hurled his sword Gramr after Gotthormr, so that it cut the man asunder at the middle. There fell Sigurdr and Sigmundr, his son of three winters, whom they slew. Then Brynhildr stabbed herself with a sword, and she was burned with Sigurdr; but Gunnarr and Högni took Fáfnir’s heritage and Andvari’s Yield, and ruled the lands thereafter.
“King Atli, Budli’s son, and brother of Brynhildr, then wedded Gudrún, whom Sigurdr had had to wife; and they had children. King Atli invited to him Gunnarr and Högni, and they came at his invitation. Yet before they departed from their land, they hid the gold, Fáfnir’s heritage, in the Rhine, and that gold has never since been found. Now King Atli had a host in readiness, and fought with Gunnarr and Högni; and they were made captive. King Atli bade . the heart be cut out of Högni alive, and that was his end. Gunnarr he caused to be cast into a den of serpents. But a harp was brought secretly to Gunnarr, and he struck it with his toes, his hands being bound; he played the harp so that all the serpents fell asleep, saving only one adder, which glided over to him, and gnawed into the cartilage of his breast-bone so far that her head sank within the wound, and she clove to his liver till he died. Gunnarr and Högni were called Niflungs and Gjúkungs, for which reason gold is called Treasure, or Heritage, of the Niflungs.
[“A little while after, Gudrún slew her two sons, and caused flagons to be made of their skulls, set with gold and silver. Then the funeral-feast was held for the Niflungs; and at this feast Gudrún had mead poured into the flagons for King Atli, and the mead was mixed with the blood of the boys. Moreover, she caused their hearts to be roasted and set before the king, that he might eat of them. And when he had eaten, then she herself told him what she had done, with many scathing words. There was no lack of strong drink there, so that most of the company had fallen asleep where they sat. That night she went to the king while he slept, and Högni’s son with her; they smote the king, and that was the death of him. Then they set fire to the hall, and burned the folk that were within. After that she went to the shore and leaped into the sea, desiring to make an end of herself; but she was tossed by the billows over the firth, and was borne to King Jónakr’s land. And when he saw her, he took her to him and wedded her, and they had three sons, called Sörli, Hamdir, and Erpr: they were all raven-black of hair, like Gunnarr and Högni and the other Niflungs. There Svanhildr, daughter of the youth Sigurdr, was reared, and of all women she was fairest. King Jörmunrekkr the Mighty learned of her beauty, and sent his son Randvér to woo her and bring her to be his wife. When Randvér had come to the court of Jónakr, Svanhildr was given into his hands, and he should have! brought her to King Jörmunrekkr. But Earl Bikki said that it was a better thing for Randvér to wed Svandhildr, since he and she were both young, whereas Jörmunrekkr was old. This counsel pleased the young folk well. Thereupon Bikki reported the matter to the king. Straightway, King Jörmunrekkr commanded that his son be seized and led to the gallows. Then Randvér took his hawk and plucked off ins feathers, and bade that it be sent so to his father; after which he was hanged. But when King Jörmunrekkr saw the hawk, suddenly it came home to him that even as the hawk was featherless and powerless to fly, so was his kingdom shorn of its might, since he was old and childless. Then King Jörmunrekkr, riding out of the wood where he had been hunting, beheld Svanhildr as she sat washing her hair: they rode upon her and trod her to death under their horses’ feet.
“But when Gudrún learned of this, she urged on her sons to take vengeance for Svanhildr. When they were preparing for their journey, she gave them birnies and helmets so strong that iron could not bite into them. She laid these instructions upon them: that, when they were come to King Jörmunrekkr, they should go up to him by night as he slept:
Sörli and Hamdir should hew off his hands and feet, and Erpr his head. But when they were on their way, they asked Erpr what help they might expect from him, if they met King Jörmunrekkr. He answered that he would render them such aid as the hand affords the foot. They said that that help which the foot received from the hand was altogether nothing. They were so wroth with their mother that she had sent them away with angry words, and they desired so eagerly to do what would seem worst to her, that they slew Erpr, because she loved him most of all. A little later, while Sörli was walking, one of his feet slipped, and he supported himself on his hand; and he said: ‘Now the hand assists the foot indeed; it were better now that Erpr were living.’ Now when they came to King Jörmunrekkr by night, where he was sleeping, and hewed hands and feet off him, he awoke and called upon his men, and bade them arise. And then Hamdir spake, saying: ‘The head had been off by now, if Erpr lived.’ Then the henchmen rose up and attacked them, but could not overmaster them with weapons; and Jörmunrekkr called out to them to beat them with stones, and it was done. There Sörli and Hamdir fell, and now all the house and offspring of Gjúki were dead. A daughter named Áslaug lived after young Sigurdr; she was reared with Heimir in Hlymdalir, and great houses are sprung from her. It is said that Sigmundr, Völsungr’s son, was so strong that he could drink venom and receive no hurt; and Sinfjötli his son and Sigurdr were so hard-skinned that no venom from without could harm them: wherefore Bragi the Skald has sung thus:
When the wriggling Serpent
Of the Völsung’s Drink hung writhing
On the hook of the Foeman
Of Hill-Giants’ kindred.
Most skalds have made verses and divers short tales from these sagas. Bragi the Old wrote of the fall of Sörli and Hamdir in that song of praise which he composed on Ragnarr Lodbrók:
Once Jörmunrekkr awakened
To an dream, ’mid the princes
Blood-stained, while swords were swirling:
A brawl burst in the dwelling
Of Randvér’s royal kinsman,
When the raven-swarthy
Brothers of Erpr took vengeance
For all the bitter sorrows.
The bloody dew of corpses,
O’er the king’s couch streaming,
Fell on the floor where, severed,
Feet and hands blood-dripping
Were seen; in the ale-cups’ fountain
He fell headlong, gore-blended:
On the Shield, Leaf of the Bushes
Of Leifi’s Land, ’t is painted.
There stood the shielded swordsmen,
Steel biting not, surrounding
The king’s couch; and the brethren
Hamdir and Sörli quickly
To the earth were beaten
By the prince’s order,
To the Bride of Odin
With hard stones were battered.
The swirling weapons’ Urger
Bade Gjúki’s race be smitten
Sore, who from life were eager
To ravish Svanhildr’s lover;
And all pay Jónakr’s offspring
With the fair-piercing weapon,
The render of blue birnies,
With bitter thrusts and edges.
I see the heroes’ slaughter
On the fair shield-rim’s surface;
Ragnarr gave me the Ship-Moon
With many tales marked on it.]
XLII. “Why is gold called Fródi’s Meal? This is the tale thereof: One of Odin’s sons, named Skjöldr,—from whom the Skjöldungs are come,—had his abode and ruled in the realm which now is called Denmark, but then was known as Gotland. Skjöldr’s son, who ruled the land after him, was named Fridleifr. Fridleifr’s son was Fródi: he succeeded to the kingdom after his father, in the time when Augustus Caesar imposed peace on all the world; at that time Christ was born. But because Fródi was mightiest of all kings in the Northern lands, the peace was called by his name wherever the Danish tongue was spoken; and men call it the Peace of Fródi. No man injured any other, even though he met face to face his father’s slayer or his brother’s, loose or bound. Neither was there any thief nor robber then, so that a gold ring lay long on Jalangr’s Heath. King Fródi went to a feast in Sweden at the court of the king who was called Fjölnir, and there he bought two maid-servants, Fenja and Menja: they were huge and strong. In that time two mill-stones were found in Denmark, so great that no one was so strong that he could turn them: the nature of the mill was such that whatsoever he who turned asked for, was ground out by the mill-stones. This mill was called Grótti. He who gave King Fródi the mill was named Hengikjöptr. King Fródi had the maid-servants led to the mill, and bade them grind gold; and they did so. First they ground gold and, peace and happiness for Fródi; then he would grant them rest or sleep no longer than the cuckoo held its peace or a song might be sung. It is said that they sang the song which is called the Lay of Grótti, and this is its beginning:
Now are we come
To the king’s house,
The two fore-knowing,
Fenja and Menja:
These are with Fródi
Son of Fridleifr,
The Mighty Maidens,
As maid-thralls held.
And before they ceased their singing, they ground out a host against Fródi, so that the sea-king called Mýsingr came there that same night and slew Fródi, taking much plunder. Then the Peace of Fródi was ended. Mýsingr took Grótti with him, and Fenja and Menja also, and bade them grind salt. And at midnight they asked whether Mýsingr were not weary of salt. He bade them grind longer. They had ground but a little while, when down sank the ship; and from that time there has been a whirlpool the sea where the water falls through the hole in the mill-stone. It was then that the sea became salt.
[“The lay of Grótti:
They to the flour-mill
Were led, those maidens,
And bidden tirelessly
To turn the gray mill-stone:
He promised to neither
Peace nor surcease
Till he had heard
The handmaids’ singing.
They chanted the song
Of the ceaseless mill-stone:
‘Lay we the bins right,
Lift we the stones!’
He urged the maidens
To grind on ever.
They sung and slung
The whirling stone
Till the men of Fródi
For the most part slept;
Then spake Menja,
To the mill coming:
‘Wealth grind we for Fródi,
We grind it in plenty,
Fullness of fee
At the mill of fortune:
Let him sit on riches
And sleep on down;
Let him wake in weal:
Then well ’t is ground.
‘Here may no one
Nor cast wiles for slaying,
Nor slaughter any
With sword well sharpened,
Though his brother’s slayer
In bonds he find.’
But he spake no word
Save only this:
‘Sleep ye no longer
Than the hall-cuckoo’s silence,
Nor longer than so,
While one song is sung.’
‘Thou wast not, Fródi,
Full in wisdom,
Thou friend of men,
When thou boughtest the maidens:
Didst choose for strength
And outward seeming;
But of their kindred
Didst not inquire.
‘Hardy was Hrungnir,
And his father;
Yet was Thjazi
Than they more mighty:
Idi and Aurnir
Of us twain are kinsmen,—
Brothers of Hill-Giants,
Of them were we born.
‘Grótti had not come
From the gray mountain,
Nor the hard boulder
From the earth’s bosom,
Nor thus would grind
The Hill-Giants’ maiden,
If any had known
The news of her.
‘We nine winters
Were playmates together,
Mighty of stature,
’Neath the earth’s surface,
The maids had part
In mighty works:
Ourselves we moved
Mighty rocks from their place.
‘We rolled the rock
O’er the Giants’ roof-stead,
So that the ground,
Quaking, gave before us;
So slung we
The whirling stone,
The mighty boulder,
Till men took it.
‘And soon after
In Sweden’s realm,
We twain fore-knowing
Strode to the fighting;
Bears we hunted,
And shields we broke;
We strode through
The gray-mailed spear-host.
We cast down a king,
We crowned another;
To Gotthormr good
We gave assistance;
No quiet was there
Ere Knúi fell.
‘This course we held
Those years continuous,
That we were known
For warriors mighty;
There with sharp spears
Wounds we scored,
Let blood from wounds,
And reddened the brand.
‘Now are we come
To the king’s abode
Of mercy bereft
And held as bond-maids;
Clay eats our foot-soles,
Cold chills us above;
We turn the Peace-Grinder:
’T is gloomy at Fródi’s.
‘Hands must rest,
The stone must halt;
Enough have I turned,
My toil ceases:
Now may the hands
Have no remission
Till Fródi hold
The meal ground fully.
‘The hands should hold
The hard shafts,
The weapons gore-stained,—
Wake thou, Fródi!
Wake thou, Fródi,
If thou wouldst hearken
To the songs of us twain
And to ancient stories.
‘Fire I see burning
East of the burg,
A beacon of warning:
A host shall come
Hither, with swiftness,
And fire the dwellings
Above King Fródi.
‘Thou shalt not hold
The stead of Hleidr,
The red gold rings
Nor the gods’ holy altar;
We grasp the handle,
Maiden, more hardly,—
We were not warmer
In the wound-gore of corpses.
‘My father’s maid
For she saw the feyness
Of men full many;
The sturdy posts
From the flour-box started,
Made staunch with iron.
Grind we yet swifter.
‘Grind we yet swifter!
The son of Yrsa,
Shall come with vengeance
On Fródi’s head:
Him shall men call
Yrsa’s son and brother.
We both know that.’
The maidens ground,
Their might they tested,
Young and fresh
The bin-poles trembled,
And burst the flour-box;
In sunder burst
The heavy boulder.
And the sturdy bride
Of Hill-Giants spake:
‘We have ground, O Fródi!
Soon we cease from grinding;
The women have labored
O’er long at the grist.’
Thus sang Einarr Skúlason:
I have heard that Fródi’s hand-maids
Ground in the mill full gladly
The Serpent’s Couch; with gold-meal
The king lets peace be broken:
The fair cheeks of my axe-head,
Fitted with maple, show forth
Fenja’s Grist; exalted
Is the skald with the good king’s riches
So sang Egill:
Glad are full many men
In Fródi’s meal.]
XLIII. “Why is gold called Kraki’s Seed? In Denmark there was a king called Hrólfr Kraki: he was most renowned of all ancient kings for munificence, valor, and graciousness. One evidence of his graciousness which is often brought into stories is this: A little lad and poor, Vöggr by name, came into the hall of King Hrólfr. At that time the king was young, and of slender stature. Vöggr came into his presence and looked up at him; and the king said: ‘What wouldst thou say, lad, for thou lookest at me?’ Vöggr answered: ‘When I was at home, I heard say that Hrólfr the king at Hleidr was the greatest man in the northern lands; but now there sitteth in the high seat a little pole, and he is called King.’ Then the king made answer: ‘Thou, boy, hast given me a name, so that I shall be called Hrólfr the Pole (Kraki); and it is the custom that the giving of a name be accompanied by a gift. Now I see that with the name which thou has fastened on me, thou hast no gift such as would be acceptable to me, wherefore he that has wherewith to give shall give to the other.’ And he took from his hand a gold ring and gave it to him. Then Vöggr said: ‘Above all kings be thou most blessed of givers! Now I swear an oath that I shall be that man’s slayer who slays thee.’ Then spake the king, laughing loudly: ‘Vöggr is pleased with a small thing.’
“Another example is the tale told concerning the valor of Hrólfr Kraki: That king whom men call Adils ruled over Uppsala; he had to wife Yrsa, mother of Hrólfr Kraki. He was at strife with the king who ruled over Norway, whose name was Ali; the two joined battle on the ice of the lake called Vaeni. King Adils sent an embassy to Hrólfr Kraki, his stepson, praying him to come to his aid, and promised wages to all his host so long as they should be away; King Hrólfr himself should have three precious gifts, whatsoever three he might choose from all Sweden. King Hrólfr could not make the journey in person, owing to the strife in which he was engaged with the Saxons; but he sent to Adils his twelve berserks: Bödvar-Bjarki was there for one, and Hjalti the Stout-Hearted, Hvítserkr the Stern, Vöttr Véseti, and the brethren Svipdagr and Beigudr. In that battle King Áli fell, and the great part of his host with him; and King Adils took from him in death the helm Battle-Swine and his horse Raven. Then the berserks of Hrólfr Kraki demanded for their hire three pounds of gold for each man of them; and in addition they required that they might bear to Hrólfr Kraki those gifts of price which they had chosen for him: which were the Helm Battle-Boar and the birnie Finn’s Heritage,—on neither of which iron would take hold,—and the gold ring which was called Pig of the Swedes, which Adils’ forefathers had had. But the king denied them all these things, nor did he so much as pay their hire: the berserks went away ill-pleased with their share, and told the state of things to Hrólfr Kraki.
“Straightway he begin his journey to Uppsala; and when he had brought his ships into the river Fýri, he rode at once to Uppsala, and his twelve berserks with him, all without safe-conduct. Yrsa, his mother, welcomed him and led him to lodgings, but not to the king’s hall: fires were made there before them, and ale was given them to drink. Then men of King Adils came in and heaped firewood onto the fire, and made it so great that the clothes were burnt off Hrólfr and his men. And the fellows spake: ‘Is it true that Hrólfr Kraki and his berserks shun neither fire nor iron?’ Then Hrólfr Kraki leapt up, and all they that were with him; and he said:
‘Add we to the fire
In Adils’ dwelling!’
took his shield and cast it onto the fire, and leapt over the flames, while the shield burnt; and he spake again:
‘He flees not the flames
Who o’er the fire leapeth!’
Even so did his men, one after another; and they laid hands on those fellows who had heaped up the fire, and cast them into the flames. Then Yrsa came and gave Hrólfr Kraki a deer’s horn full of gold, the ring Pig of the Swedes being with the gold; and she bade them ride away to the host. They vaulted onto their horses and rode down into the Plain of the Fýri; and soon they saw King Adils riding after them with his host all in armor, hoping to slay them. Then Hrólfr Kraki plunged his right hand down into the horn, grasped the gold, and strewed it all about the road. When the Swedes saw that, they leapt down out of their saddles, and each took up as much as he could lay hold of; but King Adils bade them ride on, and himself rode furiously . His horse was called Slöngvir, swiftest of all horses. Then Hrólfr Kraki saw that King Adils was drawing close up to him, took the ring, Pig of the Swedes, and threw it toward him, and bade him receive it as a gift. King Adils rode at the ring and thrust at it with his spear-point, and let it slide down over the shaft-socket. Then Hrólfr Kraki turned back and saw how he bent down, and spake: ‘Now I have made him who is mightiest of Swedes stoop as a swine stoops.’ Thus they parted. For this cause gold is called Seed of Kraki or of Fýri’s Plain. Thus sang Eyvindr Skald-Despoiler:
God of the blade of battle,
We bear through Hákon’s life-days
The Seed of Fýri’s valley
On our arms, where sits the falcon.
Even as Thjódólfr sang:
The king sows the bright seed-corn
Of knuckle-splendid gold rings,
With the crop of Yrsa’s offspring,
In his company’s glad hand-grasp;
The guileless Land-Director
With Kraki’s gleaming barley
Sprinkles my arms, the flesh-grown
Seat of the hooded falcon.
XLIV. “It is said that the king called Hölgi, from whom Hálogaland is named, was the father of Thorgerdr Hölgabrúdr; sacrifice was made to both of them, and a cairn was raised over Hölgi: one layer of gold or silver (that was the sacrificial money), and another layer of mould and stones. Thus sang Skúli Thorsteinsson:
When I reddened Reifnir’s Roof-Bane,
The ravening sword, for wealth’s sake
At Svöldr, I heaped with gold rings
Warlike Hölgi’s cairn-thatch.
In the ancient Bjarkamál many terms for gold are told: it says there:
The king most gift-gracious
His guardsmen enriched
With Fenja’s Labor,
With Fáfnir’s Midgard,
Glasir’s bright Needles,
Grani’s fair Burden,
Draupnir’s dear dripping,
Down of Grafvitnir.
The free-handed Lord gave,
The heroes accepted,
Sif’s firm-grown tresses,
Ice of the bow-force,
Weeping of Mardöll,
Fire-flame of Órun,
Idi’s fine Speeches.
The warrior rejoiced;
We walked in fair garments,
In Thjazi’s counsels
The people’s host-countless,
In the Rhine’s red metal,
Wrangling of Niflungs,
The leader war-daring,
Warded Baldr not.
XLV. “Gold is metaphorically termed Fire of the Hand, or of the Limb, or of the Leg, because it is red; but silver is called Snow, or Ice, or Hoar-Frost, because it is white. In like manner, gold or silver may be periphrased in metaphors of purse, or crucible, or lather, and both silver and gold may be called Hand-Stone, or Necklace, of any man who was wont to have a necklace. Necklaces and rings are both silver and gold, if no other distinction is raised.
As Thorleikr the Fair sang:
The kindly Prince the Load casts
Of Crucibles on the Hawk-Seats
Of thanes, the wrists embellished,—
Gives Embers of the Arm-joint.
And as Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang:
The land-strong King of Lurid
Breaks the golden Limb-Brands;
I think the Prince of Warriors
Lacks not the Rhine’s bright Pebbles.
Thus sang Einarr Skúlason:
The Purse-Snow and the Sea-Fire
Lie on both sides of the axe-head
Blood-spilling; ’t is my office
To praise our foemen’s Scather.
And as he sang further:
The Sea-Glow each day standeth
O’er the Crucible’s white Snow-Drift,
And the shield, ships’ cheeks protecting,
Shelters a heart most lavish;
Ne’er can one melt the silver
Flagon-Snow in the Fire-Flame
Of the Eel’s Stream-Road; the Feller
Of Hosts all feats performeth.
Here gold is called Fire of the Eel’s Stream-Road; and silver, Snow of Flagons.
Thus sang Thórdr Mæri’s Skald:
The glad Giver of the Hand-Waste
Of the Gold-Minisher perceiveth
That the Hermódr of the Snake’s Lair
Hath had a lordly father.
XLVI. “Man is called Breaker of Gold, even as Óttarr the Swarthy sang:
I needs must use the Breaker
Of the Battle-Glow of good men;
Here is the watch war-doughty
Of the Wise King assembled.
Or Gold-Sender, as Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang:
The Sender of Gold permitteth
The silent earth to hearken
To song; his gifts I gather:
The prince his young men gladdens.
Gold-Caster, as Thorleikr sang:
Gold-Caster makes loyal to him
His guard with kingly armor.
Gold’s Adversary, as sang Thorvaldr Blending-Skald:
The gold’s foe Hot Coals casteth
Of the Arm; the king gives red wealth;
The vile folk’s Desolator
Dispenseth the Freight of Grani.
Gold-Towerer, as is written here:
The Gold-Towerer in friendship
I got, and of the Warrior,
Son of the glowing War-Blade,
I make a song of praise.
Woman is periphrased in metaphors of gold, being called Willow or Giver of Gold, as Hallarsteinn sang:
He who casts the Amber
Of Vidblindi’s Boar’s cool, salt Drink,
Long will recall the Willow
Of the Reed-Snake’s golden River.
Here the whale is called Boar of Vidblindi; this Vidblindi was a giant who drew whales out of the sea like fishes. The Drink of Whales is the sea; Amber of the Sea is gold; woman is the Willow, or Dealer, of that gold which she gives; and the willow is a tree. Therefore, as is already shown, woman is periphrased with all manner of feminine tree-names: she is also called User of that which she gives; and the word for ‘user’ also signifies a log, the tree which falls in the forest.
Thus sang Gunnlaugr Serpent’s-Tongue:
That dame was born to stir strife
Among the sons of men-folk;
The War-Bush caused that; madly
I yearned to have the Wealth-Log.
Woman is called Forest; so sang Hallarsteinn:
With the well-trained Plane of Singing,
The tongue, I have planed, my Lady,
Dame of the First Song’s ale-vats,
Forest fair of Flagons.
Fagot, as Steinn sang:
Thou shalt, O fresh Sif-Tender
Of the Flood’s gold Fire, like other
Fagots of Hjadnings’ gravel,
Break with thy good fortune.
Prop, as Ormr Steinthórsson sang:
The Prop of Stone was clothèd
In garments clean and seemly:
A new cloak did the hero
Cast o’er the Mead’s bright Valkyr.
Post, as Steinarr sang:
All my dreams of the gracious Goddess
Of the bracelet-girded soft arms
Have lied to me; the Stream-Moon’s
Unsteadfast Prop beguiled me.
Birch, as Ormr sang:
For a mark of the Birch
Of the bright hollow ring,
The palm-flame, I laid
On the dwarf-flagon, my song.
Oak, even as stands here:
The fair shaped Oak of Riches
Stands, our mirth forestalling.
Linden, even as is written here:
O dreadful, towering Elm-Tree
Of the dinning shower of weapons,
Our courage shall not lessen:
So bade the Linen’s Linden.
Man is periphrased in tree-metaphors, as we have written before; he is called Rowan, or Tester, of Weapons, or of Combats, of Expeditions and of Deeds, of Ships, and of all that which he wields and tests; thus sang Úlfr Uggason:
But the flashing-eyed stiff Edge-Rope
Of the Earth stared past the gunwale
At the Rowan-Tree of the people
Of Stone, the Giant-Tester.
Tree and Beam, as Kormákr sang:
The Beam of the murdering Sword-Twig
Is taller than are many
In the Din of Darts; the sword wins.
The land for dauntless Sigurdr.
Grove, as sang Hallfredr Troublous-Skald:
The Mighty Grove and Faithful
Of the Shield-Murderer, budded
With hair, stands in the Eastlands
Safe with Ullr’s Ash-Warriors.
Here he is also called Ash.
Box, as Arnórr sang:
The Box of Ships bade the Rygir
Bring the shields together
At early dusk; through the spear-rain
Of strife-clouds held the autumn night.
Ash, as Refr sang:
The Strife-Lord, gracious Giver,
Sought the Maid’s bed gold-sprinkled;
The Ash of Odin’s War-Sleet
Won the estate of manhood.
Maple, as here:
‘Hail, Maple of the Ice-Lumps
Of the Hand!’ So spake the Birnie.
Tree, as Refr sang:
Since I have appointed
To proffer Odin’s Breast-Sea,
The War-God’s Verse, to Thorsteinn;
The Tree of Swords so wills it.
Staff, as Óttarr sang:
Thou, fierce War-Staff, maintainedst
Maugre two kings, thy borders
With heroes’ kin, where the ravens
Starved not; keen-hearted art thou.
Thorn, as Arnórr sang:
He gathered, the young Wealth-Thorn,
Many great heaps of corpses
For the eagles, and his henchmen
Guided and helped the hero.
XLVII. “How should battle be periphrased? By calling it Storm of Weapons or of Sheltering Shields, or of Odin or the Valkyrs, or of Host-Kings; and Din and Clashing.
Thus sang Hornklofi:
The king hath held a Spear-Storm
With heroes, where the eagles
Screamed at the Din of Skögul;
The red wounds spat out blood.
Thus sang Eyvindr:
And that hero
At Háar’s Tempest
Wore a sark
Of gray wolf-skin.
Thus sang Bersi:
In earlier days I seemed not
To Gunn’s War-Bushes useful
In the Sleet of Hlökk, when younger
We were: so ’t is said.
Thus sang Einarr:
The stark prince lets Hildr’s Shield-Sails
Take the sternest crashing Storm-Wind
Of the Valkyr, where hail of bow-strings
Drives; the sword-blade hammers.
As Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang:
The mail-sarks of the warriors,
Firm-woven, did not shelter
The seemly youths ’gainst Högni’s
Showers of Hákon’s onset.
Even as here:
They set the Point-Net’s edge-band
Against the Point-Crash-Urger.
’Neath eagles’ claws the king’s foes
Sank at the Clash of Göndul.
XLVIII. “Weapons and armor should be periphrased in figures of battle, and with reference to Odin and the Valkyrs and host-kings: one should call a helmet Cowl, or Hood; a birnie, Sark, or Kirtle; a shield, Tent; and a shield-wall is termed Hall and Roof, Wall and Floor. Shields, periphrased in figures of warships, are called Sun, or Moon, or Leaf, or Sheen, or Garth, of the Ship; the shield is also called Ship of Ullr, or periphrased in terms of Hrungnir’s feet, since he stood upon his shield. On ancient shields it was customary to paint a circle, which was called the ‘ring,’ and shields are called in metaphors of that ring. Hewing weapons, axes or swords, are called Fires of Blood, or of Wounds; swords are called Odin’s Fires; but men call axes by the names of troll-women, and periphrase them in terms of blood or wounds or a forest or wood. Thrusting weapons are properly periphrased by calling them by names of serpents or fishes. Missile weapons are often metaphorically termed hail or sleet or storm. Variants of all these figures have been made in many ways, for they are used chiefly in poems of praise, where there is need of such metaphors.
So sang Víga-Glúmr:
With the Hanged-God’s helmet
The hosts have ceased from going
By the brink; not pleasant
The bravest held the venture.
Thus sang Einarr Tinkling-Scale:
Helm-folded strife-bold Búi,—
Who from the south went forth
Into Gunn’s Crash,—and din-swift
Sigvaldi offered battle.
Sark of Ródi, as Tindr sang:
When came the birnied Hákon
To cast away the ring-rent
Streaming Sark of Odin,
Ródi’s rocking sea-steeds were cleared.
Hamdir’s Kirtle, as Hallfredr sang:
The war-sleet hard and streaming
Of Egill’s weapons breaketh
Fiercely on Hamdir’s Kirtles
Of the foremost wave-deer’s warriors.
Sörli’s Garments, as he sang further:
Thence the bright Weeds of Sörli
In men’s blood must be reddened;
I hear it clearly: Wound-Fire
In cutting showers of iron.
Shields are called Tents of Hlökk, as Grettír sang:
Hlökk’s Tent-Raisers held their noses
Together, and the heroes
Of the Rain-Storm of Hildr’s Shield-Wall
Hewed at each other’s beards.
Ródi’s Roof, as Einarr sang:
Ródi’s Roof’s great Ice-Lump
For the Rain of Freyja’s Eyelids
Grows not less, my fair axe-head;
His age my lord so useth.
Wall of Hildr, as Grettír sang, and as we have written before.
Ship-Sun, as Einarr sang:
In the sea Ólafr’s Kinsman
Reddens the flame of the Ship-Sun.
Moon of the Ship’s Cheek, as Refr sang:
Fair was the day, when Scatterers
Of Arm-Fire thrust the clear Moon
Of the Cheek into my hand-clasp,
The coiling track of red rings.
Ship’s Garth, as here:
The swift Sweller of the Spear-Crash
Shot through the stain-dyed Prow-Garth
As it were birch-bark; truly
He was a bitter battler.
Ash of Ullr, as here:
The Snow-Gusts of Ullr’s Ash-Ship
Grimly o’er our Prince shoot
With fullness, where are tossing
The fearsome covered spike-spars.
Blade of Hrungnir’s Foot-Soles, as Bragi sang:
Wilt hear, O Hrafnketill,
How I shall praise the Sole-Blade
Of Thrúdr’s thief, stain-covered
With skill, and praise my king.
Bragi the Skald sang this concerning the ring on the shield:
Unless it be, that Sigurdr’s
Renowned Son would have payment
In good kind for the ring-nave
Of the Ringing Wheel of Hildr.
He called the shield Wheel of Hildr, and the ring the Nave of the Wheel.
Ring-Earth, as Hallvardr sang:
The Chief of ranks of Combat
Sees the red-gleaming Ring-Earth
Fly in two parts; the white disk,
The pictured, bursts in sunder.
It is also sung:
A ring befits the shield best;
Arrows befit the bow.
A sword is Odin’s Fire, as Kormákr sang:
The fight swelled, when the Warrior,
The Wolf’s blithe Feeder, in tumult
Fared with Odin’s ringing Fire-Flame;
Urdr came forth from the Well.
Fire of the Helm, as Úlfr Uggason sang:
The very mighty Maiden
Of the Mountain made the Sea-Horse
Roll forward, but the Champions
Of Odin’s Helm-Fire felled her Wolf-Steed.
Fire of the Birnie, as Glúmr Geirason sang:
At that the Land-Protector
Let the Birnie’s Streaming Fire whine,
Hone-whetted, he who warded
Him strongly ’gainst the warriors.
Ice of the Rim, and Hurt of Sheltering Weapons, as Einarr sang:
I received the Ice of Wed Rims,
With Freyja’s golden Eye-Thaw,
From the upright prince high-hearted;
We bear in hand the Helm’s Hurt.
An axe is called Troll-Woman of Sheltering Weapons, as Einarr sang:
Ræfill’s Sea-Steed’s Riders
May see how, richly carven,
The dragons close are brooding
’Gainst the brow of the Helm-Ogress.
A spear is called Serpent, as Refr sang:
My angry Murky Serpent
Of the markings of the Shield-Board
Savagely doth sport, in
My palms, where men in strife meet.
Arrows are called Hail of the Bow or Bowstring, or of the
Shelters, or of Battle, as Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang:
The hammering King of Swords shook
From the Sails of Hlökk the Bow-Hail:
Bravely the Wolf’s Supporter
Warded his life in battle.
And the armor of the Spear-Sleet,
Knitted with iron, saved not
The saters of hungry ravens
From the Shaft-Hail of the Bowstring.
And Eyvindr Skald- Despoiler:
They said, O Hörds’ Land-Warder,
Thy spirit little faltered,
When the Birnie’s Hail in the wound burst;
Bent were the stringèd elm-bows.
XLIX. “Battle is called Storm or Snow-Shower of the Hjadnings, and weapons are termed Fire or Wands of Hjadnings; and this is the tale thereof: that king who was called Högni had a daughter named Hildr: her King Hedinn, son of Hjarrandi, took as the spoils of war, while King Högni attended an assembly of kings. But when he learned that there had been raiding in his realm and his daughter had been borne off, he departed with his host to seek Hedinn, and heard tidings of him, that he was proceeding northward along the land. When Högni had come into Norway, he learned that Hedinn had sailed westward over the sea. Then Högni sailed after him, even to the Orkneys; and when he landed at the place called Hoy, Hedinn was already there before him with his host. Then Hildr went to meet her father, and offered him a necklace on Hedinn’s behalf, for reconciliation and peace; but if it were not accepted, she said, Hedinn was ready to fight, and Högni might hope for no mercy at his hands.
“Högni answered his daughter harshly; and when she returned to Hedinn, she told him that Högni desired no reconciliation, and she bade him make ready for battle. So did both parties: they went to the island and marshalled their hosts. Then Hedinn called to Högni his father-in-law, offering him reconciliation and much gold in compensation. But Högni answered: ‘Thou hast made this offer over-late, if thou wouldst make peace: for now I have drawn Dáinsleif, which the dwarves made, and which must cause a man's death every time it is bared, nor ever fails in its stroke; moreover, the wound heals not if one be scratched with it.’ Then said Hedinn: ‘Thou dost boast in the sword, but not in the victory; I call any sword good which is faithful to its lord.’ Then they began that famous battle which is called the Hjadnings' Strife, and they fought all that day, but at evening the kings went to their ships. Now Hildr went to the slain by night, and with magic quickened all those that were dead. The next day the kings went to the battlefield and fought, and so did all those that had fallen on the day before. So the fight went one day after the other: all who fell, and all those weapons which lay on the field, and the shields also, were turned to stone; but when day dawned, up rose all the dead men and fought, and all weapons were renewed. It is said in songs that in this fashion the Hjadnings shall continue unto the Weird of the Gods. Bragi the Skald composed verses after this tale in Ragnarr Lodbrók’s Song of Praise:
And the belovèd Maiden
Of the veins’ blood-letting
Purposed to bring, for wrath’s sake,
The bow-storm to her father:
When the ring-wearing lady,
The woman full of evil,
Bore the neck-ring of War-Doom
To the Battler of the Wind’s Steeds.
That gory Wound-Amender
To the glorious Monarch offered
The necklace not for fear’s sake,
At the mote of fatal weapons:
Ever as restraining battle
She seemed, although she goaded
Warriors to walk the death-road
With the ravening Wolf’s dire Sister.
The Prince of Folk, the Land-God,
Let not the fight, wolf-gladdening,
Halt, nor slaughter on the sands cease,—
Hate, deadly, swelled in Högni,
When the stern Lords of Sword-Din
Sought Hedinn with stern weapons,
Rather than receive
The necklet-rings of Hildr.
And that baleful Witch of Women,
Wasting the fruits of victory,
Took governance on the island
O’er the axe, the Birnie’s Ruin;
All the Ship-King’s war-host
Went wrathful ’neath the firm shields
Of Hjarrajidi, swift-marching
From Reifnir’s fleet sea-horses.
On the fair shield of Svölnir
One may perceive the onslaught;
Ragnarr gave me the Ship-Moon,
With many tales marked on it.
Battle is called Storm of Odin, as is recorded above; so sang Víga-Glúmr:
I cleared my way aforetime
Like earls to lands; the word went
Of this among the Storm-Staves,
The men of Vidrir’s Sword-Wand.
Here battle is called Storm of Vidrir, and the sword is the Wand of Battle; men are Staves of the Sword. Here, then, both battle and weapons are used to make metaphors for man. It is called ‘inlaying,’ when one writes thus.
“The shield is the Land of Weapons, and weapons are Hail or Rain of that land, if one employs figures of later coinage.
L. “How should the ship be periphrased? Call it Horse or Deer or Snowshoe of the Sea-King, or of Ship’s Rigging, or of Storm. Steed of the Billow, as Hornklofi sang:
The Counsel-Stern Destroyer
Of the pale Steed of the Billow
When full young let the ships’ prows
Press on the sea at flood-tide.
Geitir’s Steed, as Erringar-Steinn sang:
But though to the skald all people
This strife from the south are telling,
We shall yet load Geitir’s Sea-Steed
With stone; we voyage gladly.
O Son of Sveinn strife-valiant,
Thou comest with Sveidi’s Reindeer,
Long of seam, on the Seat of Sölsi;
The Sound-Deer from land glided.
So sang Hallvardr. Here the ship is also called Deer of the Sound; and the Sea is called Sölsi’s Seat.
Thus sang Thórdr Sjáreksson:
The swift Steed of the Gunwale
Around Sigg veered from northward,
The gust shoved Gylfi’s Stream’s Mirth,
The Gull’s Wake-Horse, to southward
Of Aumar, laying fleetly
Both Körmt and Agdir’s coastline
Along the stern; by Listi
The Leek’s Steed lightly bounded.
Here the ship is called Steed of the Gunwale; and the sea is Gylfi’s Land; the sea is also called Gull’s Wake. The ship is called Horse, and further, Horse of the Leek: for ‘leek’ means ‘mast.’
And again, as Markús sang:
The Stream’s Winterling waded
Stoutly the Firth-Snake’s Snow-Heaps;
The Tusker of the Mast-Head
Leaped o’er the Whale’s spurned House-Tops;
The Bear of the Flood strode forward
On the ancient paths of sea-ships;
The Stay’s Bear, shower-breasting.
Broke the Reef’s splashing Fetter.
Here the ship is called Winterling of the Stream: a bear cub is called a Winterling; and a bear is called Tusker; the Bear of the Stay is a ship.
The ship is also called Reindeer, and so Hallvardr sang, as we have written before; and Hart, as King Haraldr Sigurdarson sang:
By Sicily then widely
The Seam cut: we were stately;
The Sea-Hart glided swiftly
As we hoped beneath the heroes.
And Elk, as Einarr sang:
The ring’s mild Peace-Dispenser,
The princely hero, may not
Long bide with thee, if something
Aid not; we boune the Flood’s Elk.
And Otter, as Máni sang:
What, laggard carle with gray cheeks,
Canst do among keen warriors
On the Otter of the Sea-Waves?
For thy strength is ebbing from thee.
Wolf, as Refr sang:
And the Hoard-Diminisher hearkened
To Thorsteinn; true my heart is
To the Lord of the Wolf of Billows
In the baleful Wrath-Wand’s conflict.
And Ox also. The ship is called Snowshoe, or Wagon, or Wain. Thus sang Eyjólfr the Valiant Skald:
Late in the day the young Earl
In the Snowshoe of Landless Waters
Fared with equal following
To meet the fearless chieftain.
Thus sang Styrkárr Oddason:
Högni’s host drove the Wagons
Of Rollers o’er Heiti’s snow-Heaps,
The great Giver of Flood-Embers.
And as Thorbjörn sang:
The Freighter of Wave-Crests’ Sea-Wain
Was in the font of christening,
Hoard-Scatterer, who was given
The White Christ’s highest favor.
LI. “How should one periphrase Christ? Thus: by calling Him Fashioner of Heaven and Earth, of Angels, and of the Sun; Governor of the World and of the Heavenly Kingdom and of Jerusalem and Jordan and the Land of the Greeks; Counsellor of the Apostles and of the Saints. Ancient skalds have written of Him in metaphors of Urdr’s Well and Rome; as Eilífr Gudrúnarson sang:
So has Rome’s Mighty Ruler
In the Rocky Realms confirmèd
His power; they say He sitteth
South, at the Well of Urdr.
Thus sang Skapti Thóroddssen:
The King of Monks is greatest
Of might, for God all governs;
Christ’s power wrought this earth all,
And raised the Hall of Rome.
King of the Heavens, as Markús sang:
The King of the Wind-House fashioned
Earth, sky, and faithful peoples;
Christ, sole Prince of Mortals,
Hath power o’er all that liveth.
Thus sang Eilífr Kúlnasveinn:
The Host of the beaming World’s Roof
And the Band of Illustrious bow down
To the Holy Cross; than all glory
Else the Sole Sun’s King is brighter.
Son of Mary, as Eilífr sang further:
The bright Host of Heaven boweth
To Mary’s Bairn: He winneth,
The Gentle Prince, of glory
The true might, God and man both.
King of Angels, as Eilífr sang again:
The goodly might of God’s friend
Is better than men guess of;
Yet the Gracious King of Angels
Is dearer than all, and holier.
King of Jordan, as Sigvatr sang:
Four angels the King of Jordan
Sent long ago through aether
To earthward; and the stream washed
The holy head of the World’s Lord.
King of Greeks, as Arnórr sang:
I have lodged for the hero’s ashes
Prayers with the Lordly Warder
Of Greeks and men of Gardar:
Thus I pay my Prince for good gifts.
Thus sang Eilífr Kúlnasveinn:
The Glory of Heaven praises
Man’s Prince: He is King of all things.
Here he called Christ, first, King of Men, and again, King of All. Eínarr Skúlason sang:
He who compasseth, Bright in Mercy,
All the world, and gently careth
For all, caused the realm of Heaven
To ope for the valiant ruler.
LII. “There the metaphors coincide; and he who interprets the language of poesy learns to distinguish which king is meant; for it is correct to call the Emperor of Constantinople King of Greeks, and similarly to call the king who rules over the land of Jerusalem King of Jerusalem, and also to call the Emperor of Rome King of Rome, and to call him King of Angles who governs England. But that periphrasis which was cited but now, which called Christ King of Men, may be had by, every king. It is proper to periphrase all kings by calling them Land-Rulers, or Land-Warders, or Land-Attackers, or Leader of Henchmen, or Warder of the People.
Thus sang Eyvindr Skald-Despoiler:
Who filled the ravens
From life was reft
By the Earth-Rulers
And as Glúmr Geirason sang:
The Prince beneath the helmet
Reddened the sword hone-hollowed
On the Geats: there the Land-Warder
Was found in the grinding spear-din.
As Thjódólfr sang:
’T is my wish that the glorious Leader
Of Henchmen, the Glad-hearted,
Should leave his sons the heritage
And the sod of his fair freehold.
As Einarr sang:
The valiant-souled Earth-Warder
On his stern head the helm bears;
The bard before heroes telleth
The fame of the King of Hördland.
It is right also to call him King of Kings, under whom are tributary kings. An emperor is highest of kings, and next under him is that king who reigns over a nation; and each of these is equal to the other in the periphrases made of them in poesy. Next to them are those men who are called earls or tributary kings: and they are equal in periphrasis with a king, save that one may not term them kings of nations. And thus sang Arnórr Earl’s Skald concerning Earl Thorfinnr:
Let the men hear how the Earl’s King,
Hardy of mind, the sea sought:
The overwhelming Ruler
Failed not to thwart the ocean.
Next to these in the figures of poesy are those men who are called chiefs: one may periphrase them as one might a king or an earl, calling them Dispensers of Gold, Wealth Munificent, Men of the Standards, and Captains of the Host, or Van-Leaders of the Array or of Battle; since each king of a nation, who rules over many lands, appoints tributary kings and earls in joint authority with himself, to administer the laws of the land and defend it from attack in those parts which lie far removed from the king. And in those parts they shall be equal with the king’s self in giving judgment and meting punishment. Now there are many districts in one land; and it is the practice of kings to appoint justiciars over as many districts as one chooses to give into their hands. These justiciars are called chiefs or landed men in the Danish tongue, reeves in Saxony, and barons in England. They are also to be righteous judges and faithful warriors over the land which is entrusted to them for governance. If the king is not near, then a standard shall be borne before them in battle; and then they are quite as lawful war-captains as kings or earls.
“Next under them are those men who are called franklins: they are those freeholders who are of honorable kindred, and possessed of full rights. One may periphrase them by calling them Wealth-Givers, and Protectors, and Reconcilers of Men; headmen also may have these titles.
“Kings and earls have as their following the men called henchmen and house-carles; landed-men also have in their service those who are called henchmen in Denmark and Sweden, and house-carles in Norway, and these men swear oaths of service to them, even as henchmen do to kings. The house-carles of kings were often called henchmen in the old heathen time.
Thus sang Thorvaldr Blending Skald:
Hail, King, swift in the onset!
And thy sturdy house-carles with thee!
In their mouths men have my verses,
Made for a song of praising.
King Haraldr Sigurdarson composed this:
The man full mighty waiteth
The filling of the King’s seat;
Oft, I find, to the Earl’s heels
Throngs my host of house-carles.
Henchmen and house-carles may be periphrased by calling them House-Guard, or Wage-Band, or Men of Honor: thus sang Sigvatr:
I learned the Warrior’s Wage-Band
On the water fought that battle
Newly: ’t is not the smallest
Snow-shower of Shields I tell of.
And thus also:
When on the Steed of Cables
The clashing steel was meeting,
’T was not as when a maid bears
The Chief’s mead to the Honor-Winners.
The service-fee which headmen give is called wages and gifts; thus sang Óttarr the Swarthy:
I needs must use the Breaker
Of the Battle-Glow of good men;
Here is the watch war-doughty
Of the Wise King assembled.
Earls and chiefs and henchmen are periphrased by calling them Counsellors or Speech-Friends or Seat-Mates of the King, as Hallfredr sang:
The Counsellor battle-mighty
Of the Prince, whom boldness pleases,
Lets the feud-fiery weeds of Högni,
Hammer-beaten, clash upon him.
As Snaebjörn sang:
The Speech-Friend of Kings letteth
The long-hulled steer-rope’s Race-Horse
Steady the swordlike steel beak
Of the ship against the stern wave.
Thus sang Arnórr:
My young sons do bear for my sake
Grave sorrow for the slaughter
Of the Earl, destroyed by murder,
The Bench-Mate of our Monarch.
King’s Counsel-Friend, as Hallfredr sang:
In council ’t was determined
That the King’s Friend, wise in counsel,
Should wed the Land, sole Daughter
Of Ónarr, greenly wooded.
One should periphrase men by their kindred; as Kormákr sang:
Let the son of Haraldr’s true friend
Give ear, and hearken to me:
I raise my song, the Yeast-Stream
Of Sýr’s snow-covered Monsters.
He called the Earl True Friend of the King, and Hákon, Son of Earl Sigurdr. And Thjódólfr sang thus concerning Haraldr:
About Ólafr’s sire
Waxed the steel-knife-storm’s ire,
That of wightness each deed
Is worthy fame’s meed.
Jarizleifr could espy
Where the king passed by:
The brave, sainted lord’s kin
Stoutly praise did win.
And again he sang:
Breath-bereft is he
Who o’er all bore the gree,—
Of chiefs kinsman mild,
Haraldr’s brother’s child.
Arnórr also sang thus in Rögnvaldr’s Song of Praise:
Heiti’s war-good kinsman
Made wedlock-kindred with me:
The earl’s strong tie of marriage
Made honor to us rendered.
And again, concerning Earl Thorfinnr, he sang:
The thin-made swords bit keenly
Old Rögnvaldr’s kin, to southward
Of Man, where rushed the strong hosts
Under the sheltering shield-rims.
And he sang further:
O God, guard the glorious
Kin-Betterer of great Turf-Einarr
From harm; I pray, show mercy
To him whom faithful chiefs love.
And Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang:
The House-Prop of the Kindred
Of Hilditönn shall not lack
Hardihood more munificent;
I am bound to maintain praises.
LIII. “How are the uninvolved terms of poesy made? By calling each thing by its proper name. What are the simple terms for poesy? It is called Poetry, Glorifying, Song, Laud, and Praise. Bragi the Old sang this, when he was travelling through a forest late at evening: a troll woman hailed him in verse, asking who passed:
‘Trolls do call me
Moon’s . . .
. . . of the giant,
Storm-sun’s (?) bale,
Fellow-in-misery of the sibyl,
Warder of the circled ring-earth,
Wheel-devourer of the heaven.
What is the troll but that?’
He answered thus:
‘Skalds do call me
Bard not faulty,
Skilled Smith of Verse:
What is the Skald but this?’
And as Kormákr sang:
I make more Glorifying
By far o’er Hákon’s great son:
I pay him the song-atonement
Of the gods. In his wain Thor sitteth.
And as Thórdr Kolbeinsson sang:
The Shield-Maple let many swift ships
And merchant-craft, and speedy
War-boats o’er the sea pour;
The skald’s ready Song of Laud waxed.
Laud, as Úlfr Uggason sang:
Now the stream to the sea cometh;
But first the Laud I sang forth
Of the Messenger of Sword-Rain:
Thus I raise the praise of warriors.
Here poesy is called praise also.
LIV. “How are the gods named? They are called Fetters, as Eyjólfr the Valiant Skald sang:
Eiríkr draws the lands beneath him
At the pleasure of the Fetters,
And fashions the Spear-Battle.
And Bonds, as Thjódólfr of Hvin sang:
The skilful God-Deceiver
To the Bonds proved a stern sharer
Of bones: the Helmet-Hooded
Saw somewhat hindered seething.
Powers, as Einarr Tinkling-Scale sang:
I say, the Mighty Powers
Magnify Hákon’s empire.
Jólnar, as Eyvindr sang:
We have fashioned
The Feast of Jólnar,
The Prince’s praise-song,
Strong as a stone bridge.
Deities, as Kormákr sang:
The Giver of Lands, who bindeth
The sail to the top, with gold-lace
Honors him who pours Deities’ verse-mead;
Odin wrought charms on Rindr.
LV. “These names of the heavens are recorded (but we have not found all these terms in poems; and these skaldic terms, even as others, are not meet for use in skaldic writing, methinks, unless one first find such names in the works of Chief Skalds): Heaven, Hlýrnir, Heidthornir, Storm Mímir, Long-Lying, Light-Farer, Driving, Topmost Sky, Wide-Fathom, Vet-Mímir, Lightning, Destroyer, Wide-Blue. The solar planet is called Sun, Glory, Ever-Glow, All-Bright, Sight, Fair Wheel, Healing Ray, Dvalinn’s Playmate, Elfin-Beam, Doubtful-Beam, Luminary. The lunar planet is called Moon, Waxer, Waner, Year-Teller, Mock-Sun, Fengari, Glamour, Haster, Crescent, Glare.
LVI. “Which are the simple terms for Earth? She is called Earth, as Thjódólfr sang:
The hardy Point-Rain’s Urger
Oft caused the harsh sword-shower,
Ere under him the broad Earth
With battle he subjected.
Field, as Óttarr sang:
The Prince guards the Field:
Few kings are so mighty;
Óleifr fattens the eagle,
Foremost is the Swedes’ King.
Ground, as Hallvardr sang:
The broad Ground, ’neath the venom-cold Adder
Bound, lies subject to the Warrior
Of the Island-Fetter’s heaped gold;
The Hone-Land’s Lord the hoard dispenseth.
Haudr, as Einarr sang:
Brave heroes are defending
The hard Haudr of famous princes
With the sword; oft splits the helmet
Before the furious edge-storm.
Land, as Thórdr Kolbeinsson sang:
The Land, after the battle,
Was laid low from Veiga northward
To Agdir south, or farther:
Hard is song in conflict.
Fief, as Óttarr sang:
Thou, fierce War-Staff, maintainedst
The Fief despite two Monarchs
With heroes’ kin. where the ravens
Starved not; keen-hearted art thou.
Hlödyn, as Völu-Steinn sang:
I remember how murky earth yawned
With graven mouth for the Sender
Of the Gold-Words of the Giant
Of the hard bones of Green Hlödyn.
Country, as Úlfr Uggason sang:
But the flashing-eyed stiff Edge-Rope
Of the Earth stared past the gunwale
At the Rowan-Tree of the Country
Of Stone, the Giant-Tester.
Fjörgyn, as is said here:
I was faithful to the free Payer
Of the stream-bed of Fjörgyn’s Serpent;
May honor be closely guarded
By the Giver of the Giant’s Stream-gold.
LVII. “It is correct to periphrase blood or carrion in terms of the beast which is called Strangler, by calling them his Meat and Drink; it is not correct to express them in terms of other beasts. The Strangler is also called Wolf.
As Thjódólfr sang:
Enough guesting to the Ravener
Was given, when the Son of Sigurdr
Came from the North, the Wolf
To lure from the wood to the wound.
Here he is called Ravener also.
Greedy One, as Egill sang:
The Greedy One gashed
Grisly wounds, when plashed
The red Point-Creek
On the raven’s beak.
Witch-Beast, as Einarr sang:
The Götha, cold with venom,
With hot Wound-Gush was reddened;
The Witch-Beast’s warm drink, mingled
With the water, in the sea poured.
She-Wolf, as Arnórr sang:
The She-Wolf’s evil Kindred
Swallowed the corpse, harm-swollen,
When the green sea was turnèd
To red, with gore commingled.
Strangler, as Illugi sang:
There was happiness for the Strangler
When my lord pursued hosts full many;
With the sword the Necklet-Minisher
Pierced the swart Snake of the Forest.
Thus sang Hallr:
He sated the Heath-Beasts’ Hunger:
The hoar howler in wounds gladdened;
The king reddened the Wild One’s mouth-hairs,—
The Wolf went to drink of the wound.
And again, as Thórdr sang:
In blood Gjálp’s Stud-Horse waded,
The dusty pack got fullness
Of the Greedy One’s Wheat; the howler
Enjoyed the Ravener’s Gore-Drink.
The bear is called Wide-Stepper, Cub, Winterling, Ourse, Gib-Cat, Tusker, Youngling, Roarer, Jölfudr, Wilful-Sharp, She-Bear, Horse-Chaser, Scratcher, Hungry One, Blómr, Bustler. The hart is called Módrödnir, Dalarr, Dalr, Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr, Durathrór. These are the names of horses enumerated in the Rhymes of Thorgrímr:
These also are recorded in Kálfsvísa:
Vésteinn rode Valr,
And Vifill rode Stúfr;
Meinthjófr rode Mór,
And Morginn on Vakr;
Áli rode Hrafn,
They who rode onto the ice:
But another, southward,
A gray one, wandered,
Wounded with the spear.
“These names of oxen are in Thorgrímr’s Rhymes:
Neat-Cattle: Cow, calf, oxen, heifer, yearling, steer, bull.
Sheep: Ram, buck, ewe, lamb, wether.
Swine: Sow, she-pig, boar, hog, suckling.
LVIII. “What are the names of the air and of the winds? Air is called Yawning Void and Middle World, Bird-Abode, Wind-Abode. Wind is called Storm, Breeze, Gale, Tempest, Gust, Blowing. Thus does one read in Alsvinnsmál:
Wind ’t is called among menfolk,
And Waverer with the gods,—
Neigher the great powers name it;
Shrieker the giants,
And Shouter elves call it;
In Hel Clamorer ’t is called.
The Wind is also called Blast.
LIX. “Two are those birds which there is no need to periphrase otherwise than by calling blood and corpses their Drink and Meat: these are the raven and the eagle. All other male birds may be periphrased in metaphors of blood or corpses; and then their names are terms of the eagle or the raven. As Thjódólfr sang:
The Prince with Eagle’s Barley
Doth feed the bloody moor-fowl:
The Hörd-King bears the sickle
Of Odin to the gory Swan’s crop;
The Sater of the Vulture
Of the Eagle’s Sea of corpses
Stakes each shoal to the southward
Which he wards, with the spear-point.
Thus sang Einarr Tinkling-Scale:
With flesh the Host-Convoker
Filled the feathered ravens:
The raven, when spears were screaming,
With the she-wolf’s prey was sated.
Thus sang Einarr Skúlason:
He who gluts the Gull of Hatred,
Our precious lord, could govern
The sword; the hurtful raven
Of Huginn’s corpse-load eateth.
And as he sang further:
But the King’s heart swelleth,
His spirit flushed with battle,
Where heroes shrink; dark Muninn
Drinks blood from out the wounds.
As Víga-Glúmr sang:
When stood the shielded Maidens
Of the gory sword, strife-eager,
On the isle; the Bold of Mood then
Received the meat of wound-blood.
As Skúli Thorsteinsson sang:
Not the hindmost in the hundred
Might Hlökk of horns have seen me,
Where to the Yearly Flier
I fed the wounds full grievous.
The erne is called Eagle, Old One, Storm-Shearer, Inciter, Soarer, Wound-Shearer, Cock. As Einarr sang:
With blood the lips he reddened
Of the black steed of Járnsaxa;
With steel Erne’s meat was furnished:
The Eagle slit the Wolf’s Bait.
As Ottarr sang:
The Erne swills corpse-drink,
The She-wolf is sated,
The Eagle there feedeth,
Oft the wolf his fangs reddens.
As Thjódólfr sang:
The Spoiler of the Lady
Swiftly flew with tumult
To meet the high God-Rulers,
Long hence, in Old One’s plumage.
And as stands here:
With skill will I rehearse
Of the Storm-Shearer my verse.
And again as Skúli sang:
Early and late with sobbing
I wake, where well is sated
The hawk of the Cock’s blood-ocean:
Then the bard heareth good tidings.
LX. “What are the names of the Sea? It is called Ocean, Main, Wintry, Lee, Deep, Way, Weir, Salt, Lake, Furtherer. As Arnórr sang, and as we have written above:
Let men hear how the Earls’ King,
Hardy of mind, the Sea sought;
The overwhelming Ruler
Failed not to resist the Main.
Here it is named Sea, and Main also.
“Ocean, as Hornklofi sang:
When the man-scathing Meeter
Of the Mansion of the Rock-Reefs
Thrust the Forecastle-Adder
And the skiff out on the Ocean.
In the following verse it is called Lake as well: thus sang Einarr:
The Lake doth bathe the vessel,
Where the sea ’gainst each side beateth,
And the bright wind-vanes rattle;
The surf washes the Flood-Steeds.
Here it is called Flood also. Thus sang Refr, as was said before:
Deep, as Hallvardr sang:
The Sword-Shaker bids be pointed
The prow of the hardy ship-steed
Westward in the girdle
Of all lands, the Watery Deep.
Way, as here:
On our course from land we glided;
On the Way to the coast of Finland:
I see from the Ship’s Road, eastward,
The fells with radiance gleaming.
Weir, as Egill sang:
I sailed o’er the Weir
To the West: I bear
So it stands with me.
Ocean, as Einarr sang:
Many a day the cold Ocean
Washes the swarthy deck-planks
’Neath the gracious Prince; and Snow-Storm
Furrows Mona’s Girdle.
Salt, as Arnórr sang:
The hardy King the Salt plowed
From the east with hull ice-laden:
Brown tempests tossed the Lessener
Of Surf-Gold toward Sigtún.
Furtherer, as Bölverkr sang:
Thou didst summon from fair Norway
A levy the next season,
With Din-Surf’s ships the Furtherer
Didst shear; o’er decks the sea poured.
Here the sea is called Din-Surf also.
Wide One, as Refr sang:
To its breast the Stay’s steed taketh
The Home of Planks, beak-furrowed,
And tosses the Wide One over
The hard side; the wood suffers.
Dusky One, as Njáll of the Burning sang:
We sixteen pumped, my Lady,
In four oar-rooms, but the surge waxed:
The Dusky One beat over
The hull of the driven sea-ship.
These are other names for the Sea, such as it is proper to use in periphrasing ships or gold.
“Rán, it is said, was Ægir’s wife, even as is written here:
To the sky shot up the Deep’s Gledes,
With fearful might the sea surged:
Methinks our stems the clouds cut,—
Rán’s Road to the moon soared upward.
The daughters of Ægir and Rán are nine, and their names are recorded before: Himinglæva, Dúfa, Blódughadda, Hefring, Udr, Hrönn, Bylgja, Dröfn, Kólga. Einarr Skúlason recorded the names of six of them in this stanza, beginning:
Himinglæva sternly stirreth,
And fiercely, the sea’s wailing.
Welling Wave, as Valgardr sang:
Foam rested in the Sea’s bed:
Swollen with wind, the deep played,
And the Welling Waves were washing
The awful heads of the war-ships.
Billow, as Ottarr the Swarthy sang:
Ye shear with shaven rudder
Billows moisty-deep; the broad sheet,
Which girls spun, on the mast-head
With the Roller’s Reindeer sported.
Foam-Fleck, as Ormr sang:
The hawk-like, heedful Lady
Has every virtue: Lofn
Of the Foam-Fleck’s flame-gold, faithful
As a friend, all faults renounceth.
Wave-Borne, as Thorleikr the Fair sang:
The sea walls, and the Wave-Borne
Bears bright froth o’er the red wood,
Where gapes the Roller’s Brown Ox,
With mouth gold-ornamented.
Shoal, as Einarr sang:
Nor met the Forward-Minded,
Where the fierce sea on our friends falls;
I think the Shoal becalmed not
The Ship, Wood of the Waters.
Fullness, as Refr sang:
Downward the Fells of Fullness
Fall on the Bear of Tackle:
Now forward Winterling, stirreth,
The ship, on Glammi’s sea-path.
Comber, as here:
The Comber fell headlong o’er me;
The Main called me home unto it:
I accepted not the Sea’s bidding.
Breaker, as Óttarr sang:
In burst the ship-sides thin;
Rushed the Breaker downward; flushed
Stood the wind, bane of the wood;
Men endured wild tempest then.
Wave, as Bragi sang:
The Giver of the Wave’s Coals,
Who cut Thor’s slender tackle,
The Line of the Land of Sea-Mews,
Loved not to fight the wroth sea.
Sound, as Einarr sang:
I sheared the Sound
From Hrund south-bound;
My hand was gold-wound
When the Giver I found.
Fjord, as Einarr sang:
Next I see a serpent
Carved well on the splendid ale-horn:
Let the Fjord-Fire’s Dispenser
Learn how for that I pay him.
Wetness, as Markús sang:
I’ll not lampoon the Chatterer,
Lord of the fearful sword-blade,
Who squanders the Sun of Wetness:
Ill is he who spoileth verses.
LXI. “What are the names of fire? Even as is written here:
Not seldom does the fire blaze
Which Magnús sets: the stalwart
Ruler burns habitations:
Houses blow reek before him.
Glow, as Valgardr sang:
Fierce Glow, with red-hot embers,
Swiftly from the soot flared,
Straight o’er the tottering dwellings
Stood up the dense smoke-columns.
Bale, as here:
Haki was burned on Bale,
Where the sea’s broad wake weltered.
Gledes, as Grani sang:
I think the Gledes diminished . . .
Glammi’s tracks; thus the king kindled.
Embers, as Atli sang:
With blood the axe is reddened,
Embers wax, burn many houses,
Halls stand aglow; now rages
The Gem; good men are falling.
Here fire is called Gem also.
Vapor, as here:
Half-built, by the Nid’s side
Burn the All-Ruler’s dwellings;
I think fire razed the hall’s pride:
Vapor shot rime on the people.
Hot Ashes, as Arnórr sang:
The Isle-Danes’ wrathful Harmer
With the Raumar spared not hard counsel:
Hot Ashes made them calmer;
The Heinir’s threatening words hushed.
Flames, as Einarr sang:
Flame soon was alight,
And swiftly took flight
All Hísing’s host:
The fight they lost.
Flare, as Valgardr sang:
The sturdy king’s bright Flare soared
Above the castle’s bulwark;
The vikings burst in grimly:
Grief on the maid descended.
Lowe, as Haldórr sang:
There did ye share their jewels,
While o’er the host the Shield’s Lowe,
The sword, shrieked fiercely: never
Wert thou spoiled of conquest.
LXII. “These are time-names: Cycle, Days of Yore, Generation, Lang-Syne, Year, Season, Winter, Summer, Spring, Autumn, Month, Week, Day, Night, Morning, Eve, Twilight, Early, Soon, Late, Betimes, Day before Yesterday, Yester Eve, Yesterday, To-morrow, Hour, Moment. These are more names of Night in Alsvinnsmál:
Night ’t is called among men,
And among the gods, Mist-Time;
Hooded Hour the Holy Powers know it;
Sorrowless the giants,
And elves name it Sleep-joy;
The dwarves call it Dream-Weaver.
[“It is autumn from the equinox till the time when the sun sets three hours and a half after noon; then winter endures till the equinox; then it is spring till the moving-days; then summer till the equinox. The month next before winter is called Harvest-Month; the first in winter is the Month of Cattle-Slaughter; then Freezing Month, then Rain-Month, then the Month of Winter’s Wane, then Gói; then Single Month, then Cuckoo-Month and Seed-Time, then Egg-time and Lamb-Weaning-Time; then come Sun-Month and Pasture Month, then Haying-Season; then Reaping Month.]
LXIII. “What are the simple terms for men? Each, in himself, is Man; the first and highest name by which man is called is Emperor; next to that, King; the next thereto, Earl: these three men possess in common all the following titles: All-Ruler, as this song showeth:
I know all All-Rulers
East and south, o’er the Ships’ seat
Sveinn’s son in proof is better
Than any other War-Prince.
Here he is called War-Prince also; for this reason he is called All-Ruler, that he is sole Ruler of all his realm.
Host-Arrayer, as Gizurr sang:
The Host-Arrayer feedeth
The wolf and the raven in folk-mote;
Óláfr gladdens, in Skögul’s sharp showers
Of battle, the geese of Odin.
“A King is called Host-Arrayer because he divides his war-host into companies.
Leader, as Ottarr the Swarthy sang:
The Leader taketh
Odin’s loved Wife,
The lordless land;
His a warrior’s life.
Lord or Lording, as Arnórr sang:
The Lord of Hjaltland, highest
Of heroes, gained the victory
In every thunderous sword-clash:
The bard will extol his glory.
An earl is called Host-Duke, and a king also is so termed, forasmuch as he leads his host to battle. Thus sang Thjódólfr:
He who put to shame the Host-Duke
Thrust out the eyes of prisoners,—
He who speeds the sacrifices;
In song I chant his praises.
Signor, or Señor, as Sigvatr sang:
O Norway’s gracious Signor,
Grant the wretched, as the happy,
May now enjoy thy wise laws;
Give greatly, hold thy word!
Munificent One, as Markús sang:
The Munificent Prince brought fire’s destruction
O’er the base people; to the pirates
Death was fated: Thief-Compeller,
South at Jóm highest flame-glow kindle!
Illustrious One, as Hallvardr sang:
No Illustrious One nearer
Under Earth’s Hazel liveth
Than thou, O Monks’ Upholder:
The Gold-Minisher Danes protecteth.
Land-Driver, as Thjódólfr sang:
The guileless Land-Driver sprinkles
Kraki’s gleaming barley,
as was written before; he is called so because he drives his host about the lands of other kings, or drives a host out of his own land.
LXIV. “There was a king named Hálfdan the Old, who was most famous of all kings. He made a great sacrificial feast at mid-winter, and sacrificed to this end, that he might live three hundred years in his kingdom; but he received these answers: he should not live more than the full life of a man, but for three hundred years there should be no woman and no man in his line who was not of great repute. He was a great warrior, and went on forays far and wide in the Eastern Regions: there he slew in single combat the king who was called Sigtryggr. Then he took in marriage that woman named Alvig the Wise, daughter of King Eymundr of Hólmgardr: they had eighteen sons, nine born at one birth. These were their names: the first, Thengill, who was called Manna-Thengill; the second, Ræsir; the third, Gramr; the fourth, Gylfi; the fifth, Hilmir; the sixth, Jöfurr; the seventh, Tyggi; the eighth, Skyli or Skúli; the ninth, Harri or Herra. These nine brothers became so famous in foraying that, in all records since, their names are used as titles of rank, even as the name of King or that of Earl. They had no children, and all fell in battle. Thus sang Ottarr the Swarthy:
In his youth stalwart Thengill
Was swift and staunch in battle:
I pray his line endureth;
O’er all men I esteem him.
Thus sang Markus:
The Ræsir let the Rhine’s Sun shimmer
From the reddened Skull’s ship on the Sea-Fells.
Thus sang Egill:
The Gramr the hood hath lifted
From the hair-fenced brows of the Singer.
Thus sang Eyvindr:
He played with the land-folk
Who should have defended;
Gylfi the gladsome
Stood ’neath the gold helmet.
Thus sang Glúmr Geirason:
Hilmir beneath the helmet
Reddened the sword hone-hollowed.
Thus sang Óttarr the Swarthy:
Let Jöfurr hear the beginning
Of his laud: all the king’s praises
Shall be maintained, and justly
Let him mark my praise-song’s measures.
As Stúfr sang:
The glory-ardent Tyggi
South before Niz with two hands
Beat down the band of heroes:
Glad beneath their shields the host went.
Thus sang Hallfredr:
From Skyli I am parted:
This age of swords hath caused it.
’T is greatest of all self-mockings
To hope that the king’s guard cometh.
Thus sang Markús:
I bid the hawklike Danish Harri
Hark to my cunning web of praises.
“Hálfdan and his wife had nine other sons also; these were Hildir, from whom the Hildings are come; Nefir, from whom the Niflungs sprang; Audi, from whom the Ödlungs are come; Yngvi, from whom the Ynglings are descended; Dagr, from whom come the Döglings; Bragi, from whom the Bragnings are sprung (that is the race of Hálfdan the Munificent); Budli, from whom the Budlungs are come (from the house of the Budlungs Atli and Brynhildr descended); the eighth was Lofdi, who was a great war-king (that host who were called Lofdar followed him; his kindred are called Lofdungs, whence sprang Eylimi, Sigurdr Fáfnisbani’s mother’s sire); the ninth, Sigarr, whence come the Siklings: that is the house of Siggeirr, who was son-in-law of Völsungr,—and the house of Sigarr, who hanged Hagbardr. From the race of Hildings sprang Haraldr the Red-Bearded, mother’s father of Hálfdan the Swarthy. Of the Niflung’s house was Gjúki; of the house of Ödlings, Kjárr; of the house of the Ylfings was Eiríkr the Wise in Speech. These also are illustrious royal houses: from Yngvi, the Ynglings are descended; from Skjöldr in Denmark, the Skjöldungs are come; from Völsungr in the land of Franks, those who are called Völsungs. One war-king was named Skelfir; and his house is called the House of Skilfings: his kindred is in the Eastern Region.
“These houses which were named but now have been used in skaldship for titles of rank. Even as Einarr sang:
I learned that the Hildings sallied
To hold the Spear-Assembly
On the Gray Isle; the broad shields,
Green lindens, burst in sunder.
As Grant sang:
The Dögling to eagle’s kindred
For drink gave Danish blood.
As Gamli Gnævadar-Skald sang:
Not long since, the young Ödling
With ship’s deck and with sword-blade
Joined battle, waging fiercely
Of points the bitter tempest.
As Jórunn sang:
The Bragning bade the weapons
Be dyed in blood of vile folk;
The people endured his anger:
Houses bowed before red embers.
Thus sang Einarr:
The Budlung’s blade sheared,
Blood on darts was smeared;
The storm-cloud of Hildr
At Whitby spilled.
Thus sang Arnorr:
The Kin of Siklings inureth
To the waves the ships sea-tossing;
With blood he dyes the warships
Within: ’t is the weal of ravens.
As Thjódólfr sang:
Thus the doughty Sikling ended
His life; in dire straits were we:
The glorious Lofdung waited
Bravely surcease of living.
The folk who were called Lofdar followed King Lofdi.
As Arnórr sang:
Chief, another Skjöldung higher
Than thou shall ne’er be born ’neath sun’s light.
Völsung, as Thorkell Hamar-Skald sang:
The Kin of Völsungs
Gave counsel to send me
The gold-decked weapon
O’er the cool waters.
Yngling, as Ottarr the Swarthy sang:
In the East no mighty Yngling
To earth fell, ere o’ertook thee
He who subjected to him
The Sea-isles from the westward.
Yngvi: that too is a king’s title, as Markús sang:
The age shall hear the praise of Eiríkr:
None in the world a prince hath known of
Lordlier; thou holdest, Yngvi,
The Seat of Kings with long-kept glory.
Skilfing, as Valgardr sang:
The Skilfing kept a great host
Southward in the broad lands,
Where the swift ships shivered:
Sicily soon was desolated.
Signor, as Sigvatr sang:
O Norway’s gracious Signor,
Let the poor enjoy; give greatly.
LXV. “Skalds are called bards; and in skaldship it is correct to call any man so whom one will. Those men who served King Hálfr were called Champions. and from their name warriors are called champions; and it is correct to call all men so. In skaldship men are called Lofdar also, as is written above. Those men were called Skatnar who served the king named Skati the Munificent: from his name every one who is munificent is called Skati. They who followed Bragi the Old were called Bragnar. They who assess the transactions of men are called taxers. Fyrdar and Firar are they called who defend the land. Vikings and fleet-men form a ship-army. They who followed King Beimuni were called Beimar. Captains of companies are called Grooms, even as he is called who carries home a bride. The Goths are named after that king who was called Goti, from whom Gotland is named: he was so called after Odin’s name, derived from the name Gautr, for Gautland or Gotland was named after Odin’s name, and Sweden from the name of Svidurr, which is also a title of Odin’s. At that time all the mainland which he possessed was called Reid-Gotaland, and all the islands, Ey-Gotaland: that is now called the Realm of Danes or of Swedes.
“Young men not householders are called Drengs, while they are acquiring wealth and glory: sea-faring Drengs are they who voyage from land to land; King’s Drengs are they who serve rulers. They also are Drengs who serve wealthy men or franklins; valiant and ambitious men are called Drengs. Warriors are also called Champions and Troops: these are soldiers. Freeholders are called Thanes and Yeomen; those men who go about reconciling men are called Day-Men. These men are they who are called Champions, Kemps, Men of War, Brave Men, Valiant Men, Hardy Men, Overpowerers, Heroes. Over against these are the following terms: Soft, Weak, Unleavened, Leavenless, Melting One, Sheath, Coward, Skulker, Weakling, Qualmish, Caitiff, Scamp, Vile One, Dog, Lout, Feeble One, Paltry One, Imbecile, Bungler, Son of Wretchedness.
“A good man of his hands is called Munificent, Illustrious, Towerer, Mighty Towerer, Towering Gold-Giver, Prince of Men, Wealthy One, Prosperous, Heaper-Up of Riches, Mighty Man, Chieftain. In contrast to these are they who are called Niggard, Miser, Calculator, Wretched One, Wealth-Hiding, Gift-Tardy One. A man wise in Counsel is called Wielder of Counsel. A witless man is called Clown, Oaf, Gander, Dupe, Boor, Idiot, Dolt, Fool, Madman, Maniac, Moon-Struck. One who thinks much of dress is called Gaudy, Dreng, Glittering One, Careful of Attire, Tricked-Out. A noisy fellow is called Shark-Skin, Braggart, Sheath-Cleaner, Fawner, Brawler, Good-for-Naught, Worthless One. Common-folk are called Country-folk or People. A thrall is called Kept-Man, Serf, Laborer, Servant.
LXVI. “Each one singly is called man; ’t is twain if they are two; three are a thorp; four are a group; a band is five men; if there are six, it is a squad; seven complete a crew; eight men make a panel; nine are ‘good fellows;’ ten are a gang; eleven form an embassy; it is a dozen if twelve go together; thirteen. are a crowd; fourteen are an expedition; it is a gathering, when fifteen meet; sixteen make a garrison; seventeen are a congregation; to him who meets eighteen, they seem enemies enough. He who has nineteen men has a company; twenty men are a posse; thirty are a squadron; forty, a community; fifty are a shire; sixty are an assembly; seventy are a line; eighty are a people; one hundred is a host.
LXVII. “Beside these there are those terms which men prefix to the names of men: we call such terms epithets of possession, or true terms, or surnames. It is an epithet of possession when one names a thing by its true name, and calls him whom one desires to periphrase Owner of that thing; or Father or Grandfather of that which was named; Grandsire is a third epithet. Moreover, a son is also called Heir, Heritor, Bairn, Child and Boy, Inheritor. A blood-kinsman is called Brother, Twin, Germane, Consanguine; a relation is also called Nephew, Kinsman, Kin, Kith, Friend, Kin-Stave, Descendant, Family-Prop, Family-Stem, Kin-Branch, Family-Bough, Offshoot, Offspring, Head-Tree, Scion. Kinsmen by marriage are further called Sib-folk, Minglers of Blood. A friend is called Counsel-Mate, Counsel-Giver, Adviser, Secret-Sharer, Converser, Bench-Fellow, Fondling, Seat-Mate; bench-fellow also means Cabin-Mate. A foe is called Adversary, Shooter Against One, Hater, Attacker, Scather, Slayer, Hard Presser, Pursuer, Overbearer.
“These terms we call epithets of possession; and so also if a man is known by his dwelling or his ship, which has a name of its own, or by his estate, when a name of its own is given to it.
“This we call true terms: to call a man Wise Man, Man of Thought, Wise in Speech, Sage in Counsel, Wealth Munificent, Not Slack, Endower, Illustrious One; these are surnames.
LXVIII. “These are simple terms for women in skald ship: Wife and Bride and Matron are those women who are given to a man. Those who walk in pomp and fine array are called Dame and Lady. They who are witty of speech are called Women of Wisdom. They who are gentle are called Girls; they who are of high countenance are called Proud and Haughty Ones. She who is of noble mind is called Gentlewoman; she who is richest, Lady. She who is bashful, as young -maids are, or those women who are modest, is called Lass. The woman whose husband has departed from the land is called Stay-at-Home.
That woman whose husband is slain is called War-Widow: Widow is the term for her whose husband has died of sick ness. Maid means, first, every woman, and then carlines that are old. Then there are those terms for women which are libellous: one may find them in songs, though they be not ill writing. Those women who have one husband in common are called Concubines. A son’s wife is termed Daughter-in-law; the husband’s mother is called Mother-in-law. A woman may also be called Mother, Grand mother, Great-Grandmother; a Mother is called Dam. Woman is further called Daughter, Bairn, and Child. She is also called Sister, Lady, and Maiden. Woman is also called Bed-Fellow, Speech-Mate, and Secret-Sharer of her husband; and that is an epithet of possession.
LXIX. “A man’s head is termed thus: [thus should it he periphrased: call it Toil or Burden of the Neck; Land of the Helm, of the Hood, and of the Brain, of the Hair and Brows, of the Scalp, of Ears, Eves, and Mouth; Sword of Heimdallr, arid it is correct to name any term for sword which one desires; and to periphrase it in terms of every one of the names of Heimdallr] the Head, in simple terms, is called Skull, Brain, Temple, Crown. The eyes are termed Vision or Glance, and Regard, Swift-Appraising; [they may he so periphrased as to call them Sun or Moon, Shields and Glass or Jewels or Stones of the Eyelids, of the Brows, the Lashes, or the Forehead]. The ears are called Listeners or Hearing; [one should periphrase them by calling them Land, or any earth-name, or Mouth, or Canal, or Vision, or Eyes of Hearing, if the metaphors employed are new-coined. The mouth one should periphrase by calling it Land or House of the Tongue or of the Teeth, of Words or of the Palate, of the Lips, or the like; and if the metaphors used are not traditional, then men may call the mouth Ship, and the lips the Planks, and the tongue Oar or Tiller of the Ship. The teeth are sometimes called Gravel or Rocks of Words, of the Mouth, or of the Tongue. The tongue is often called Sword of Speech or of the Mouth]. The hair which stands on the lips is called Beard, Moustache, or Whiskers. Hair is called Nap; the hair of women is called Tresses. Hair is termed Locks. [One may periphrase hair by calling it Forest, or by some tree-name; one may periphrase it in terms of the skull or brain or head; and the beard in terms of chin or cheeks or throat.]
LXX. “The heart is called grain-sheaf; [one should periphrase it by terming it Grain or Stone or Apple or Nut or Ball, or the like, in figures of the breast or of feeling. More over, it may be called House or Earth or Mount of Feeling. One should periphrase the breast by calling it House or Garth or Ship of the Heart, of Breath, or of the Liver; Land of Energy, of Feeling, and of Memory]. Feeling is affection and emotion, love, passion, desire, love-longing. [Passion should be periphrased by calling it Wind of Troll Women; also it is correct to name what one soever is desired, and to name giants, periphrasing giantesses as Woman or Mother or Daughter of the Giants.] Feeling is also called mood, liking, eagerness, courage, activity, memory, understanding, temper, humor, good faith. It is also wrath, enmity, mischievousness, grimness, balefulness, grief, sorrow, ill-will, spite, falseness, faithlessness, fickleness, light-mindedness, baseness, hasty temper, violence.
LXXI. “The hand and fore-arm may be called hand, arm, paw, palm. Parts of the arm are called elbow, upper arm, wolf’s joint, finger, grip, wrist, nail, finger-tip, hand-edge, quick. [One may term the hand Earth of Weapons or of Defensive Armor; and together with shoulder and arm, the hollow of the hand and the wrist, it may, be called Earth of Gold Rings, of the Falcon and the Hawk, and of all the equivalents thereof; and in new-coined metaphors, Leg of the Shoulder-joint, and Force of the Bow. The legs may be called Tree of the Soles, of the Insteps, of the Ankles, or the like; Running Shaft of the Road or of the Way or the Pace; one may call the leg Tree or Post of all these. The legs are periphrased in metaphors of snowshoes, shoes, and breeks.] The parts of the legs are called thigh, knee, calf, lower leg, upper leg, instep, arch, sole, toe; [one may periphrase the leg in terms of all these, calling it Tree, Mast, and Yard thereof; and in metaphors of them all].
LXXII. “Speech is called words, language, eloquence, talk, tale, gibing, controversy, song, spell, recital, idle talk, babbling, din, chatter, squalling, merry noise, wrangling, mocking, quarrelling, wish-wash, boasting, tittle-tattle, nonsense, idiom, vanity, gabbling. It is also termed voice, sound, resonance, articulation, wailing, shriek, dash, crash, alarm, roaring, creaking, swoop, swooping, outburst.
LXXIII. “Understanding is called wisdom, counsel, discernment, memory, speculation, intelligence, arithmetic, far sight, craft, word-wit, preëminence. It is called subtlety, wiliness, falsehood, fickleness.
LXXIV. “Expression is of two kinds: that which is called voice, and that which is called manners; manners is also temper. Reiðialso has double meaning: reiði is the ill humor of a man, and reiði is also the rigging of a ship or the driving-gear of a horse. Fár also has double meaning: fár signifies wrath, and far signifies a ship.
“Men have made frequent use of such ambiguous expressions as these; and this practice is called punning. [Lith is that part of a man where bones meet; lið is a word for ship; lið means people; when a man renders an other assistance, his aid is lið; líð signifies ale. Hlið signifies the gate in a garth; hliðr men call an ox, and hlíð signifies a slope. One may make such use of these distinct meanings in skaldship as to make a pun that is hard to interpret, provided one employ other distinctions than those which are indicated by the half-lines which precede. These cases are there, and many others, in which divers things have the same name in common.]”