Alvíssmál – The Ballad of Alvis

Thor spake:

6. “Vingthor, the wanderer | wide, am I,
And I am Sithgrani’s son;
Against my will | shalt thou get the maid,
And win the marriage word.”

Alvis spake:

7. “Thy good-will now | shall I quickly get,
And win the marriage word;
I long to have, | and I would not lack,
This snow-white maid for mine.”

Thor spake:

8. “The love of the maid | I may not keep thee
From winning, thou guest so wise,
If of every world | thou canst tell me all
That now I wish to know.

9. “Answer me, Alvis! | thou knowest all,
Dwarf, of the doom of men:
What call they the earth, | that lies before all,
In each and every world?”

Alvis spake:

10. “Earth to men, Field | to the gods it is,
The Ways is it called by the Wanes;
Ever Green by the giants, | The Grower’ by elves,
The Moist by the holy ones high.”

6. Vingthor (“Thor the Hurler”): cf. Thrymskvitha, 1. Sithgrani (“Long-Beard”): Othin.

8. Every world: concerning the nine worlds, cf. Voluspo, 2 and note. Many editors follow this stanza with one spoken by Alvis, found in late paper manuscripts, as follows:

“Ask then, Vingthor, since eager thou art | The lore of the dwarf to learn;
Oft have I fared in the nine worlds all, | And wide is my wisdom of each.”

10. Men, etc.: nothing could more clearly indicate the author’s mythological inaccuracy than his confusion of the inhabitants of the nine worlds. Men (dwellers in Mithgarth) appear in each of Alvis’s thirteen answers; so do the gods (Asgarth) and the giants (Jotunheim). The elves (Alfheim) appear in eleven answers, the Wanes (Vanaheim) in nine, and the dwarfs (who occupied no special world, unless one identifies them with the dark elves of Svartalfaheim) in seven. The dwellers “in hell” appear in six stanzas; the phrase probably refers to the world of the dead, though Mogk thinks it may mean the dwarfs. In stanzas where the gods are already listed appear names else where applied only to them,–“holy ones,” “sons of the gods” and “high ones,”–as if these names meant beings of a separate race. “Men” appears twice in the same stanza, and so do the giants, if one assumes that they are “the sons of Suttung.” Altogether it is useless to pay much attention to the mythology of Alvis’s replies.

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