Grímnismál – The Ballad of Grimnir

41. Mithgarth the gods | from his eyebrows made,
And set for the sons of men;
And out of his brain | the baleful clouds
They made to move on high.

42. His the favor of Ull | and of all the gods
Who first in the flames will reach;
For the house can be seen | by the sons of the gods
If the kettle aside were cast.

43. In days of old | did Ivaldi’s sons
Skithblathnir fashion fair,
The best of ships | for the bright god Freyr,
The noble son of Njorth.

44. The best of trees | must Yggdrasil be,
Skithblathnir best of boats;
Of all the gods | is Othin the greatest,
And Sleipnir the best of steeds;
Bifrost of bridges, | Bragi of skalds,
Hobrok of hawks, | and Garm of hounds.

45. To the race of the gods | my face have I raised,
And the wished-for aid have I waked;
For to all the gods | has the message gone
That sit in Ægir’s seats,
That drink within Ægir’s doors.

42. With this stanza Othin gets back to his immediate situation, bound as he is between two fires. He calls down a blessing on the man who will reach into the fire and pull aside the great kettle which, in Icelandic houses, hung directly under the smoke vent in the roof, and thus kept any one above from looking down into the interior. On Ull, the archer-god, cf. stanza 5 and note. He is specified here apparently for no better reason than that his name fits the initial-rhyme.

43. This and the following stanza are certainly interpolated, for they have nothing to do with the context, and stanza 45 continues the dramatic conclusion of the poem begun in stanza 42. This stanza is quoted by Snorri. Ivaldi (“The Mighty”): he is known only as the father of the craftsmen-dwarfs who made not only the ship Skithblathnir, but also Othin’s spear Gungnir, and the golden hair for Thor’s wife, Sif, after Loki had maliciously cut her own hair off. Skithblathnir: this ship (“Wooden-Bladed”) always had a fair wind, whenever the sail was set; it could be folded up at will and put in the pocket. Freyr: concerning him and his father, see Voluspo, 21, note, and Skirnismol, introductory prose and note.

44. Snorri quotes this stanza. Like stanza 43 an almost certain interpolation, it was probably drawn in by the reference to Skithblathnir in the stanza interpolated earlier. It is presumably in faulty condition. One Ms. has after the fifth line half of a sixth,–“Brimir of swords.” Yggdrasil: cf. stanzas 25-35. Skithblathnir: cf. stanza 43, note. Sleipnir: Othin’s eight-legged horse, one of Loki’s numerous progeny, borne by him to the stallion Svathilfari. This stallion belonged to the giant who built a fortress for the gods, and came so near to finishing it, with Svathilfari’s aid, as to make the gods fear he would win his promised reward–Freyja and the sun and moon. To delay the work, Loki turned himself into a mare, whereupon the stallion ran away, and the giant failed to complete his task within the stipulated time. Bilrost: probably another form of Bifrost (which Snorri has in his version of the stanza), on which cf. stanza 29. Bragi: the god of poetry. He is one of the later figures among the gods, and is mentioned only three times in the poems of the Edda. In Snorri’s Edda, however, he is of great importance. His wife is Ithun, goddess of youth. Perhaps the Norwegian skald Bragi Boddason, the oldest recorded skaldic poet, had been traditionally apotheosized as early as the tenth century. Hobrok: nothing further is known of him. Garm: cf. Voluspo, 44.

45. With this stanza the narrative current of the poem is resumed. Ægir: the sea-god; cf. Lokasenna, introductory prose.