Alvíssmál – The Ballad of Alvis

Thor spake:

31. “Answer me, Alvis! | thou knowest all,
Dwarf, of the doom of men:
What call they the seed, | that is sown by men,
In each and every world?”

Alvis spake:

32. “Men call it Grain, | and Corn the gods,
Growth in the world of the Wanes;
The Eaten by giants, | Drink-Stuff by elves,
In hell ‘The Slender Stem.’

Thor spake:

33. “Answer me, Alvis! | thou knowest all,
Dwarf, of the doom of men:
What call they the ale, | that is quaffed of men,
In each and every world?”

Alvis spake:

34. “Ale among men, | Beer the gods among,
In the world of the Wanes The Foaming;
Bright Draught with giants, | Mead with dwellers in hell,
The Feast-Draught with Suttung’s sons.”

Thor spake:

35. “In a single breast | I never have seen
More wealth of wisdom old;
But with treacherous wiles | must I now betray thee:
The day has caught thee, dwarf!
(Now the sun shines here in the hall.)”

32. Grain: the two words translated “grain” and “corn” apparently both meant primarily barley, and thence grain in {footnote p. 193} general, the first being the commoner term of the two. Drink-Stuff: the word is identical with the one used, and commented on, in stanza 24, and again I have followed Gering’s interpretation for want of a better one. If his guess is correct, the reference here is evidently to grain as the material from which beer and other drinks are brewed.

34. Suttung’s sons: these ought to be the giants, but the giants are specifically mentioned in line 3. The phrase “Suttung’s sons” occurs in Skirnismol, 34, clearly meaning the giants. Concerning Suttung as the possessor of the mead of poetry, cf. Hovamol, 104.

35. Concerning the inability of the dwarfs to endure sunlight, which turns them into stone, cf. stanza 16 and note. Line 5 may be spurious.

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