Skírnismál

Based on an English translation by Bellow



1. 0. Freyr,
the son of Njorth,
had sat one day in Hlithskjolf,
and looked over all the worlds. He looked into Jotunheim,
and saw there a fair maiden,
as she went from her father's house to her bower. Forthwith he felt a mighty love-sickness. Skirnir was the name of Freyr's servant;
Njorth bade him ask speech of Freyr. He said:
"Go now,
Skirnir! and seek to gain Speech from my son;
And answer to win,
for whom the wise one Is mightily moved."

2. Skirnir spoke:
"Ill words do I now await from thy son,
If I seek to get speech with him,
And answer to win,
for whom the wise one Is mightily moved."

3. Skirnir spoke:
"Speak prithee,
Freyr,
foremost of the gods,
For now I fain would know;
Why sittest thou here in the wide halls,
Days long,
my prince,
alone?"

4. Freyr spoke:
"How shall I tell thee,
thou hero young,
Of all my grief so great? Though every day the elfbeam dawns,
It lights my longing never."

5. Skirnir spoke:
"Thy longings,
methinks,
are not so large That thou mayst not tell them to me;
Since in days of yore we were young together,
We two might each other trust."

6. Freyr spoke:
"From Gymir's house I beheld go forth A maiden dear to me;
Her arms glittered,
and from their gleam Shone all the sea and sky.

7. "To me more dear than in days of old Was ever maiden to man;
But no one of gods or elves will grant That we both together should be."

8. Skirnir spoke:
"Then give me the horse that goes through the dark And magic flickering flames;
And the sword as well that fights of itself Against the giants grim." Freyr spoke:


9. "The horse will I give thee that goes through the dark And magic flickering flames,
And the sword as well that will fight of itself If a worthy hero wields it."

10. Skirnir spoke to the horse:
"Dark is it without,
and I deem it time To fare through the wild fells,
(To fare through the giants' fastness;) We shall both come back,
or us both together The terrible giant will take."

11. Skirnir rode into Jotunheim to Gymir's house. There were fierce dogs bound before the gate of the fence which was around Gerth's hall. He rode to where a herdsman sat on a hill,
and said:
"Tell me,
herdsman,
sitting on the hill,
And watching all the ways,
How may I win a word with the maid Past the hounds of Gymir here?"

12. The herdsman spoke:
"Art thou doomed to die or already dead,
Thou horseman that ridest hither? Barred from speech shalt thou ever be With Gymir's daughter good."

13. Skirnir spoke:
"Boldness is better than plaints can be For him whose feet must fare;
To a destined day has mine age been doomed,
And my life's span thereto laid."

14. Gerth spoke:
"What noise is that which now so loud I hear within our house? The ground shakes,
and the home of Gymir Around me trembles too." The Serving-Maid spoke:


15. "One stands without who has leapt from his steed,
And lets his horse loose to graze;" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

16. Gerth spoke:
"Bid the man come in,
and drink good mead Here within our hall;
Though this I fear,
that there without My brother's slayer stands.

17. "Art thou of the elves or the offspring of gods,
Or of the wise Wanes? How camst thou alone through the leaping flame Thus to behold our home?"

18. Skirnir spoke:
"I am not of the elves,
nor the offspring of gods,
Nor of the wise Wanes;
Though I came alone through the leaping flame Thus to behold thy home.

19. "Eleven apples,
all of gold,
Here will I give thee,
Gerth,
To buy thy troth that Freyr shall be Deemed to be dearest to you."

20. Gerth spoke:
"I will not take at any man's wish These eleven apples ever;
Nor shall Freyr and I one dwelling find So long as we two live."

21. Skirnir spoke:
"Then do I bring thee the ring that was burned Of old with Odin's son;
From it do eight of like weight fall On every ninth night."

22. Gerth spoke:
"The ring I wish not,
though burned it was Of old with Odin's son;
In Gymir's home is no lack of gold In the wealth my father wields."

23. Skirnir spoke:
"Seest thou,
maiden,
this keen,
bright sword That I hold here in my hand? Thy head from thy neck shall I straightway hew,
If thou wilt not do my will."

24. Gerth spoke:
"For no man's sake will I ever suffer To be thus moved by might;
But gladly,
methinks,
will Gymir seek To fight if he finds thee here."

25. Skirnir spoke:
"Seest thou,
maiden,
this keen,
bright sword That I hold here in my hand? Before its blade the old giant bends,-- Thy father is doomed to die.

26. "I strike thee,
maid,
with my magic staff,
To tame thee to work my will;
There shalt thou go where never again The sons of men shall see thee.

27. "On the eagle's hill shalt thou ever sit,
And gaze on the gates of Hel;
More loathsome to thee than the light-hued snake To men,
shall thy meat become.

28. "Fearful to see,
if thou comest forth,
Hrimnir will stand and stare,
(Men will marvel at thee;) More famed shalt thou grow than the watchman of the gods! Peer forth,
then,
from thy prison,


29. "Rage and longing,
fetters and wrath,
Tears and torment are thine;
Where thou sittest down my doom is on thee Of heavy heart And double dole.

30. "In the giants' home shall vile things harm thee Each day with evil deeds;
Grief shalt thou get instead of gladness,
And sorrow to suffer with tears.

31. "With three-headed giants thou shalt dwell ever,
Or never know a husband;
(Let longing grip thee,
let wasting waste thee,--) Be like to the thistle that in the loft Was cast and there was crushed.

32. "I go to the wood,
and to the wet forest,
To win a magic wand;
. . . . . . . . . . I won a magic wand.

33. "Odin grows angry,
angered is the best of the gods,
Freyr shall be thy foe,
Most evil maid,
who the magic wrath Of gods hast got for thyself.

34. "Give heed,
frost-rulers,
hear it,
giants. Sons of Suttung,
And gods,
ye too,
How I forbid and how I ban The meeting of men with the maid,
(The joy of men with the maid.)

35. "Hrimgrimnir is he,
the giant who shall have thee In the depth by the doors of Hel;
To the frost-giants' halls each day shalt thou fare,
Crawling and craving in vain,
(Crawling and having no hope.)

36. "Base wretches there by the root of the tree Will hold for thee horns of filth;
A fairer drink shalt thou never find,
Maid,
to meet thy wish,
(Maid,
to meet my wish.)

37. "I write thee a charm and three runes therewith,
Longing and madness and lust;
But what I have writ I may yet unwrite If I find a need therefor."

38. Gerth spoke:
"Find welcome rather,
and with it take The frost-cup filled with mead;
Though I did not believe that I should so love Ever one of the Wanes."

39. Skirnir spoke:
"My tidings all must I truly learn Ere homeward hence I ride:
How soon thou wilt with the mighty son Of Njorth a meeting make."

40. Gerth spoke:
"Barri there is,
which we both know well,
A forest fair and still;
And nine nights hence to the son of Njorth Will Gerth there grant delight."

41. Then Skirnir rode home. Freyr stood without,
and spoke to him,
and asked for tidings:
"Tell me,
Skimir,
ere thou take off the saddle,
Or farest forward a step:
What hast thou done in the giants' dwelling To make glad thee or me?"

42. Skirnir spoke:
"Barri there is,
which we both know well,
A forest fair and still;
And nine nights hence to the son of Njorth Will Gerth there grant delight."

43. Freyr spoke:
"Long is one night,
longer are two;
How then shall I bear three? Often to me has a month seemed less Than now half a night of desire."