Vafþrúðnismál- The Ballad of Vafþrúðnismál

Othin spoke:
1, “Counsel me, Frigg, for I long to fare,
And Vafthruthnir fain would find;
fit wisdom old with the giant wise
Myself would I seek to match.”

Frigg spoke:
2. “Heerfather here at home would I keep,
Where the gods together dwell;
Amid all the giants an equal in might
To Vafthruthnir know I none.”

Othin spoke:
3. “Much have I fared, much have I found.
Much have I got from the gods;
And fain would I know how Vafthruthnir now
Lives in his lofty hall.”

Frigg spoke:
4. “Safe mayst thou go, safe come again,
And safe be the way thou wendest!
Father of men, let thy mind be keen
When speech with the giant thou seekest.”

5. The wisdom then of the giant wise
Forth did he fare to try;
He found the hall | of the father of Im,
And in forthwith went Ygg.

Othin spoke:
6. “Vafthruthnir, hail! | to thy hall am I come,
For thyself I fain would see;
And first would I ask | if wise thou art,
Or, giant, all wisdom hast won.”

Vafthruthnir spoke:
7. “Who is the man | that speaks to me,
Here in my lofty hall?
Forth from our dwelling | thou never shalt fare,
Unless wiser than I thou art.”

Othin spoke:
8. “Gagnrath they call me, | and thirsty I come
From a journey hard to thy hall;
Welcome I look for, | for long have I fared,
And gentle greeting, giant.”

Vafthruthnir spoke:
9. “Why standest thou there | on the floor whilst thou speakest?
A seat shalt thou have in my hall;
Then soon shall we know | whose knowledge is more,
The guest’s or the sage’s gray.”

Othin spoke:
10. “If a poor man reaches | the home of the rich,
Let him wisely speak or be still;
For to him who speaks | with the hard of heart
Will chattering ever work ill.”

1. The phrases “Othin spake,” “Frigg spake,” etc., appear in abbreviated form in both manuscripts. Frigg: Othin’s wife; cf. Voluspo, 34 and note. Vafthruthnir (“the Mighty in Riddles”): nothing is known of this giant beyond what is told in this poem.

2. Heerfather (“Father of the Host”): Othin.

3. This single narrative stanza is presumably a later {footnote p. 70} interpolation. Im: the name appears to be corrupt, but we know nothing of any son of Vafthruthnir. Ygg (“the Terrible”): Othin.

8. Gagnrath (“the Gain-Counsellor”): Othin on his travels always assumes a name other than his own.

10. This stanza sounds very much like many of those in the first part of the Hovamol, and may have been introduced here from some such source.

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