Norse Mythology: Grimnismol in Modern English

The fourth Eddic Poem in the Codex Regius, Grimnismoltells the tail of two brothers and their dealings with Odin:

King Hrauthung had two sons, one called Agnar, and the other Geirröd. When Agnar was ten years old and Geirröd eight, they rowed out in a boat with their fishing gear to catch little fish, and the wind drove them out into the sea. In the darkness of the night they were wrecked on a shore. Going up from the beach, they found a poor peasant couple, with whom they stayed through the winter. The housewife took care of Agnar, and the husband cared for Geirröd and taught him wisdom.

In the spring the peasant gave the two a boat, and when the couple led them to the shore, the peasant spoke secretly with Geirröd. They had good winds, and soon came to their father’s landing place. Geirröd was in the prow of the boat. He leaped up on land, but pushed the boat back out.

“Go wherever evil may take you!” he said to Agnar.

The boat drifted out to sea. Geirröd went up to the house, and was well received, but learned his father was dead. The boy was made king, and in time became a renowned man.

Odin and Frigg sat in Hlithskjolf and looked over all the worlds.

“See how Agnar, your fosterling, begets children with a giantess in a cave?” said Odin. “But Geirröd, my fosterling, is a king, and now rules over his land.”

“Yet he is so miserly that he tortures his guests if he thinks that too many of them come to him.” said Frigg.

“That is the greatest of lies,” replied Odin.

“Then let us wager on this,” said Frigg.

She then sent her maid servant, Fulla, to Geirröd. The maid warned the king to beware of a magician who was coming to his land to bewitch him, and gave him this sign concerning the man: that no dog was so fierce as to leap at him.

Now it was a very great slander to say that King Geirröd was not hospitable, but nevertheless he had his men capture the man whom the dogs would not attack. He wore a dark blue mantle and called himself Grimnir the Hooded, but would say no more about himself, though he was questioned. The king had him tortured to make him speak, and set him between two fires, and he sat there eight nights.

Grímnir_and_AgnarKing Geirröd had a ten year old son, called Agnar after his father’s brother. Agnar went to Grimnir, and gave him a full horn to drink from, and said that the king was wrong to let him be tormented with out cause. Grimnir drank from the horn. The fire had come so near that the mantle burned on Grimnir’s back. He spoke:

You are hot, fire! Too fierce by far. Begone now, flames!” he said. “My mantle is burnt, though I bear it aloft, and the fire scorches the fur. I’ve now sat between these fires for eight nights, and no man brought meat to me save Agnar alone, and alone Geirröd’s son shall rule over the Goths. Hail to you, Agnar! You are hailed by the Lord of Men. For a single drink, you will never receive a greater gift as reward.

The holy land lies close by. The gods, the elves, and Thor shall live together forever in Thruthheim, the place of might, until the gods are destroyed. Ull has built a hall for himself in Ydalir and the gods gave Alfheim to Freyr as a gift when he cut his first tooth in ancient times. There is a third home, Valaskjolf, thatched with silver by the hands of the gracious gods in days of old, built by a god for himself. Sökkvabekk, the sinking stream, is the fourth, where cool waves flow, and it stands amid their murmur. There each day, Odin and Saga drink happily from golden cups. 

The fifth is Gladsheim, the place of joy, where golden, bright Valhalla stands, stretching wide. There, each day, Odin chooses men who have fallen in battle. Valhalla is easily recognized for one who comes to Odin and beholds the hall. Its rafters are spears, and it is roofed with shields. Breastplates are strewn on its benches. A wolf hangs by the western door, and over it an eagle hovers.

The sixth is Thrymheim, the house of clamor, where Thjazi, the  marvelous mighty giant, dwelt. Now Skadi, the fair bride of Njord, lives in her father’s home. The seventh is Breidablik, where Baldr has there built his dwelling, in a land I know that lies fair and free from evil fate. Himinbjorg, heaven’s cliff, is the eighth, and Heimdall holds sway over men there in his well built house, where the warder of heaven gladly drinks good mead.

The ninth is Folkvang, the field of the folk, where Freyja decrees who shall have seats in her hall, Sessrymnir. Each day, she chooses half of the dead, and Odin has the other half,. The tenth is Glitnir, the shining. Its pillars are gold, and its roof set with silver. There most of his days Forseti dwells, and ends all strife. The eleventh is Noatun, the ship’s haven. There has Njord has built himself a dwelling. The sinless ruler of men sits there in his tall temple of timber. Vidi, Vidar’s land, is filled with growing trees and high-standing grass. There the son will leap down from his steed when the time comes to avenge his father.

In the kettle Eldhrimnir, Andhrimnir cooks the boar Sæhrimnir’s seething flesh, the best of food. Few men know that this is the fare on which the warriors feast. Odin feeds his wolves Freki and Geri, but the weapon decked god himself lives forever on wine alone. His ravens Hugin and Munin set forth each day to fly over Midgard. I fear for Hugin lest he does not come home, but for Munin I care even more.

The river Thund roars loudly about the hall, and Thjodvitnir’s fish joyously swims in the flood. It seems hard to the host of the slain to wade through the wild torrent. There, Valgrind, the sacred gate, stands, and behind it are the holy doors. The gate is old, but few there can tell how it is so tightly locked. There are five hundred and forty doors in Valhalla’s walls, and eight hundred fighters will pass through each when they go to war with the wolf.

The goat Heidrun stands near the Allfather’s hall, and chews on the branches of Lærath. She fills pitchers with the fair, clear mead, and the foaming drink never runs out. Eikthyrnir the hart stands next to her, also chewing on the branches of Lærath. A stream falls from his horns into Hvergelmir, the roaring cauldron, from which all the rivers run.

There are five hundred and forty rooms in Bilskirnir. Of all the homes whose roofs I have beheld, my son Thor’s is the greatest. Each day, Thor wades through the river Kormt, the Ormt, and the two Kerlaugs to the ash-tree Yggdrasil to give judgement, for heaven’s bridge burns all in flame, and the sacred waters seethe. The other gods ride forth to meet him on the steeds Glath, Gyllir, Gler, Skeithbrimir, Silfrintopp, Sinir, Gisl, Falhofnir, Golltopp and Lettfeti.

The three roots of the ash tree Yggdrasil run three ways run. Beneath the first lives Hel, beneath the second the land of the frost giants, and under the last, the lands of men. Ratatosk the squirrel runs up and down the tree bearing the words of the eagle above to Nidhogg beneath. Four harts, Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr, and Dyrathror, nibble with their necks bent back at the highest twigs.

There are more serpents beneath the ash than an unwise ape would think. Goin and Moin, Grafvitnir’s sons, and Grabak, Grafvolluth, Ofnir, and Svafnir shall gnaw at the twigs of the tree forever. Yggdrasil the ash suffers far greater evil than men know. The harts bite its crown, its trunk is rotting, and Nithhogg gnaws on its roots.

The Valkyries Hrist and Mist bring the horn at my command. Skeggjold, Skogul, Hild, Thruth, Hlok, Herfjotur, Gol, Geironul, Randgrith, Rathgrith, and Reginleif bring beer to the warriors. The horses Arvak and Alsvith wearily pull the weight of the sun, but long ago, the kindly gods set cool iron under their yokes. Svalin, the shield ofthe shining god, stands in front of the sun. Mountains and seas would be set aflame if it fell from before the sun.

Skoll the wolf follows the glittering god that to Ironwood and Hati, the son of Fenrir the mighty, awaits the burning bride of heaven.

The earth was fashioned out of Ymir’s flesh and the ocean out of his blood. The hills were made of his bones, the trees his hair, and the high heavens of his skull. The gods walled Midgard with his eyebrows to protect the sons of men. Out of his brain, they made the baleful clouds that move on high.

He who first reaches the flames of these fires will win the favor of Ull and of all the gods, for the inside of the house can be seen by the sons of the gods if the kettle that blocks the smoke hole is cast aside.

In days of old, the sons of Ivaldi the mighty fashioned fair Skidbladnir, the best of ships, for the bright god Freyr, the noble son of Njorth. Yggdrasil is the greatest of trees, Skithblathnir best of boats; of all the gods, Odin is the greatest, and Sleipnir the best of steeds. Bifrost is the greatest bridge, Bragi the best skald, Hobrok the best hawks, and Garm the greatest hound.

I have raised my face to the race of the gods and awakened the wished for aid. The message gone to all the gods that sit in Ægir’s seats and drink within Ægir’s doors.

I am called Grimnir the hooded one, Gangleri the wanderer, Herjan the ruler,  Hjalmberi the helmet bearer, Thekk the much loved, Thridi the third, Thuth, Uth,
Herblindi the blinder of the hosts, and Hor the highest. Others have called me Sath the truthful, Svipal the changing, Sanngetal the truth teller, Herteit, the host’s gladness, Hnikar the overthrower, Bileyg the shifty eyed, Baleyg the flaming eyed, Bolverk the door of evil, Fjolnir the shapeshifter, Glapsvith the swift deceiver, Fjolsvith the wise. Still others call me Sithhott of the broad hat, Sithskegg the long beard, Sig the father of victory, Hnikuth the overthrower, Allfather, Val the father of the slain, Atrith the rider, and Farmatyr, the god of cargoes. I have never had a single name since I first fared among men.

Though they call me Grimnir in Geirröd’s hall, with Asmund I am Jalk, I was Kjalar I when I rode in a sledge, I’m called Thror at the council Thror, I fare to the fight as Vithur, Oski god of wishes, Biflindi, Jafnhor the equally high, and Omi the shouter, and I’m known as Gondlir the wand bearer and Harbarth the graybeard by the gods. I deceived the old giant Sokkmimir as Svidur.  Long ago, I slew Svidrir, the son of Midvitnir.

Geirröd is drunk; he drank too much and has lost much for he will get no more help from me or my heroes. He paid little attention to all that I told him, and his friends to him lies. Now I see my friend’s sword, waiting wet with blood. I will soon have your sword pierced body, for your life is ended at last. The Norns are hostile; now behol Odin the terrible! Come to me if you can!

Now am I called Odin, once I was Ygg. Before that they called me Thund the thunderer, Vak the wakeful, Skilfing the shaker, Vofuth the wanderer, Hroptatyr the crier of the gods, Gaut the father, and Jalk in the midst the gods. All of these are names for none but me.

King Geirröd was sitting with his sword on his knee, half drawn from its sheath. When he heard that his prisoner was Odin, he rose up to go to the god and take him from the fire. The sword slipped from the king’s hand, and fell with the hilt down. He stumbled and fell forward, and the sword pierced through him, and killed him. Then Odin vanished, but Agnar ruled there as king for many long years.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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