Vafþrúðnismál- The Ballad of Vafþrúðnismál

Vafthruthnir spoke:
21. “Out of Ymir’s flesh | was fashioned the earth,
And the mountains were made of his bones;
The sky from the frost-cold | giant’s skull,
And the ocean out of his blood.”

Othin spoke:
22. “Next answer me well, | if thy wisdom avails,
And thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now:
Whence came the moon, | o’er the world of men
That fares, and the flaming sun?”

Vafthruthnir spoke:
23. “Mundilferi is he | who begat the moon,
And fathered the flaming sun;
The round of heaven | each day they run,
To tell the time for men.”

Othin spoke:
24. “Third answer me well, | if wise thou art called,
If thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now:
Whence came the day, | o’er mankind that fares,
Or night with the narrowing moon?”

Vafthruthnir spoke:
25. “The father of day | is Delling called,
And the night was begotten by Nor;
Full moon and old | by the gods were fashioned,
To tell the time for men.”

Othin spoke:
26. “Fourth answer me well, | if wise thou art called,
If thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now:
Whence did winter come, | or the summer warm,
First with the gracious gods?”

Vafthruthnir spoke:
27. “Vindsval he was | who was winter’s father,
And Svosuth summer begat;”

Othin spoke:
28. “Fifth answer me well, | if wise thou art called,
If thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now:
What giant first | was fashioned of old,
And the eldest of Ymir’s kin?”

Vafthruthnir spoke:
29. “Winters unmeasured | ere earth was made
Was the birth of Bergelmir;
Thruthgelmir’s son | was the giant strong,
And Aurgelmir’s grandson of old.”

21. Ymir: the giant out of whose body the gods made the world; cf. Voluspo, 3 and note.

22. In this and in Othin’s following questions, both manuscripts replace the words “next,” “third,” “fourth,” etc., by Roman numerals.

23. Mundilferi (“the Turner”?): known only as the father of Mani (the Moon) and Sol (the Sun). Note that, curiously {footnote p. 75} enough, Mani is the boy and Sol the girl. According to Snorri, Sol drove the horses of the sun, and Mani those of the moon, for the gods, indignant that they should have been given such imposing names, took them from their father to perform these tasks. Cf. Grimnismol, 37.

25. Delling (“the Dayspring”? Probably another form of the name, Dogling, meaning “Son of the Dew” is more correct): the husband of Not (Night); their son was Dag (Day); cf. Hovamol, 161. Nor: Snorri calls the father of Night Norvi or Narfi, and puts him among the giants. Lines 3-4: cf. Voluspo, 6.

27. Neither the Regius nor the Arnamagnæan Codex indicates a lacuna. Most editors have filled out the stanza with two lines from late paper manuscripts: “And both of these shall ever be, / Till the gods to destruction go.” Bugge ingeniously paraphrases Snorri’s prose: “Vindsval’s father was Vosuth called, / And rough is all his race.” Vindsval: “the Wind-Cold,” also called Vindljoni, “the Wind-Man.” Svosuth: “the Gentle.”

28. Ymir’s kin: the giants.

29. Bergelmir: when the gods slew Ymir in order to make the world out of his body, so much blood flowed from him that all the frost-giants were drowned except Bergelmir and his wife, who escaped in a boat; cf. stanza 35. Of Thruthgelmir (“the Mightily Burning”) we know nothing, but Aurgelmir was the frost-giants’ name for Ymir himself. Thus Ymir was the first of the giants, and so Othin’s question is answered.

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