Grímnismál – The Ballad of Grimnir

26. Eikthyrnir is the hart | who stands by Heerfather’s hall
And the branches of Lærath he bites;
From his horns a stream | into Hvergelmir drops,
Thence all the rivers run.

27. Sith and Vith, | Sækin and Ækin,
Svol and Fimbulthul, | Gunnthro, and Fjorm,
Rin and Rinnandi,
Gipul and Gopul, | Gomul and Geirvimul,
That flow through the fields of the gods;
Thyn and Vin, | Thol and Hol,
Groth and Gunnthorin.

28. Vino is one, | Vegsvin another,
And Thjothnuma a third;
Nyt and Not, | Non and Hron,
Slith and Hrith, | Sylg and Ylg,
Vith and Von, | Vond and Strond,
Gjol and Leipt, | that go among men,
And hence they fall to Hel.

29. Kormt and Ormt | and the Kerlaugs twain
Shall Thor each day wade through,
(When dooms to give | he forth shall go
To the ash-tree Yggdrasil;)
For heaven’s bridge | burns all in flame,
And the sacred waters seethe.

30. Glath and Gyllir, | Gler and Skeithbrimir,
Silfrintopp and Sinir,
Gisl and Falhofnir, | Golltopp and Lettfeti,
On these steeds the gods shall go
When dooms to give | each day they ride
To the ash-tree Yggdrasil.

26. Eikthyrnir (“The Oak-Thorned,” i.e., with antlers, “thorns,” like an oak): this animal presumably represents the clouds. The first line, like that of stanza 25, is too long in the original. Lærath: cf. stanza 25, note. Hvergelmir: according to Snorri, this spring, “the Cauldron-Roaring,” was in the midst of Niflheim, the world of darkness and the dead, beneath the third root of the ash Yggdrasil. Snorri gives a list of the rivers flowing thence nearly identical with the one in the poem.

27. The entire passage from stanza 27 through stanza 35 is confused. The whole thing may well be an interpolation. Bugge calls stanzas 27-30 an interpolation, and editors who have accepted the passage as a whole have rejected various lines. The spelling of the names of the rivers varies greatly in the manuscripts and editions. It is needless here to point out the many attempted emendations of this list. For a passage presenting similar problems, cf. Voluspo, 10-16. Snorri virtually quotes stanzas 27-29 in his prose, though not consecutively. The name Rin, in line 3, is identical with that for the River Rhine which appears frequently in the hero poems, but the similarity is doubt less purely accidental.

28. Slith may possibly be the same river as that mentioned in Voluspo, 36, as flowing through the giants’ land. Leipt: in Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II, 29, this river is mentioned as one by which a solemn oath is sworn, and Gering points the parallel to the significance of the Styx among the Greeks. The other rivers here named are not mentioned elsewhere in the poems.

29. This stanza looks as though it originally had had nothing to do with the two preceding it. Snorri quotes it in his description of the three roots of Yggdrasil, and the three springs be neath them. “The third root of the ash stands in heaven and beneath this root is a spring which is very holy, and is called Urth’s well.” (Cf. Voluspo, 19) “There the gods have their judgment-seat, and thither they ride each day over Bifrost, which is also called the Gods’ Bridge.” Thor has to go on foot in the last days of the destruction, when the bridge is burning. Another interpretation, however, is that when Thor leaves the heavens (i.e., when a thunder-storm is over) the rainbow-bridge becomes hot in the sun. Nothing more is known of the rivers named in this stanza. Lines 3-4 are almost certainly interpolated from stanza 30.

30. This stanza, again possibly an interpolation, is closely paraphrased by Snorri following the passage quoted in the previous note. Glath (“Joyous”): identified in the Skaldskaparmal with Skinfaxi, the horse of day; cf. Vafthruthnismol, 12. Gyllir: “Golden.” Gler: “Shining.” Skeithbrimir: “Swift-Going.” Silfrintopp: “Silver-Topped.” Sinir: “Sinewy.” Gisl: the meaning is doubtful; Gering suggests “Gleaming.” Falhofnir: “Hollow-Hoofed.” Golltopp (“Gold-Topped”): this horse be longed to Heimdall (cf. Voluspo, i and 46). It is noteworthy that gold was one of the attributes of Heimdall’s belongings, and, because his teeth were of gold, he was also called Gullintanni (“Gold-Toothed”). Lettfeti: “Light-Feet.” Othin’s eight footed horse, Sleipnir, is not mentioned in this list.