Grttasngr




Skjldr ht sonr ins, er Skjldungar er fr komnir. Hann hafi atsetu ok r lndum, ar sem n er kllu Danmrk, en var kallat Gotland. Skjldr tti ann son, er Frileifr ht, er lndum r eftir hann. Sonr Frileifs ht Fri. Hann tk konungdm eftir fur sinn ann t, er gstus keisari lagi fri of heim allan. var Kristr borinn. En fyrir v at Fri var allra konunga rkastr Norrlndum, var honum kenndr fririnn um alla danska tungu, ok kalla Normenn at Frafri. Engi mar grandai rum, tt hann hitti fyrir sr furbana ea brurbana lausan ea bundinn. var ok engi jfr ea rnsmar, sv at gullhringr einn l Jalangrsheii lengi.

Fri konungr stti heimbo Svj til ess konungs, er Fjlnir er nefndr. keypti hann ambttir tvr, er htu Fenja ok Menja. r vru miklar ok sterkar.

ann tma fannst Danmrk kvernsteinar tveir sv miklir, at engi var sv sterkr, at dregit gti. En s nttra fylgi kvernunum, at at mlst kverninni, sem s mlti fyrir, er ml. S kvern ht Grtti. Hengikjftr er s nefndr, er Fra konungi gaf kvernina. Fri konungr lt leia ambttirnar til kvernarinnar ok ba r mala gull ok fri ok slu Fra. gaf hann eim eigi lengri hvld ea svefn en gaukrinn agi ea hlj mtti kvea. er sagt, at r kvi lj au, er kallat er Grttasngr. Ok r ltti kvinu, mlu r her at Fra, sv at eiri ntt kom ar s skonungr, er Msingr ht, og drap Fra, tk ar herfang mikit. lagist Frafrir.

Msingr hafi me sr Grtta ok sv Fenju ok Menju ok ba r mala salt. Hann ba r mala lengr. r mlu litla hr, r nir sukku skipin, ok var ar eftir svelgr hafinu, er srinn fellr kvernaraugat. var sr saltr.

 

Skjǫldr was the name of a son of inn, who the Skjǫldungs are descended from. He had a royal residence and ruled over the lands that are now called Denmark, and were then called Gotland. Skjǫldr had the son who was called Frileifr, who ruled the lands after him. Frileifr's son was called Fri. He inherited the kingdom from his father at that time when the Emperor Augustus laid peace on all the world. Christ was born then. And because Fri was the most powerful king in the Northlands, the peace was attributed to him in the tongue of all Danes, and Norsemen called that the Peace of Fri. No one harmed another, even if he found before him the slayer of his father or his brother, loose or bound. There was also then no thief or robber, so that a gold ring lay for a long time on Jelling heath.

King Fri went to a feast in Sweden held by the king there, who was called Fjǫlnir.(1) There he bought two bondswomen, called Fenja and Menja. They were big and strong.

At that time there were two grindstones in Denmark so big that no one was so strong as to manage to turn them. And that power was attached to the quern(2) that there was ground out in the quern whatever the person who was grinding said. That quern was called Grtti.(3) The person who gave the quern to King Fri is called Hengikjǫftr. King Fri had the bondswomen brought to the quern and commanded them to grind out gold and peace and happiness for Fri. And he gave them no longer to rest than the cuckoo sang or he might speak a sound. It is said that they spoke this lay, which is called the Song of Grtti. And before they left off with the poem, they ground out an army(4) against Fri, so that that night there came the sea-king called Msingr and killed Fri, [and] there took great booty. Then the Peace of Fri came to an end.

Msingr had Grtti with him and likewise Fenja and Menja, and ordered them to grind out salt. He ordered them to grind for a long time. They ground for a little while before the ship sank, and afterwards there was a whirlpool in the sea, where the water falls into the eye of the quern. Then the sea became salty.(5)


 

 

1. 1.

N eru komnar Now are come

til konungs hsa to the king's house

framvsar tvr, two seeresses,

Fenja ok Menja; Fenja and Menja;

r ro at Fra they are at Fri

Frileifssonar Frileifsson's,

mttkar meyjar the mighty maids,

at mani hafar. held as bondswomen.

 

2. 2.

r at lri They to the flour-bin

leiddar vru were led

ok grjts gra and to the turning

gangs of beiddu; of the stones of the groats(6) commanded;

ht hann hvrigri he said neither

hvld n yni, rest nor ease

r hann heyri rather he heard

hljm ambtta. the servantmaids' song.(7)

 

3. 3.

r yt ulu They chanted(8) songs,

gnhorfinnar: bereft of silence:(9)

"Leggjum lra, "Let's lay down the bin,

lttum steinum." let's lift the stones."

Ba hann enn meyjar, Yet he ordered the maids

at r mala skyldu. that they should grind.

 

4. 4.

Sungu ok slungu They sang and turned

snga-steini, the twist-stone,

sv at Fra man so that Fri's men

flest sofnai; mostly(10) slept;

kva at Menja, then Menja said this,

var til meldrs komin: she was come to the flour:(11)

 

5. 5.

"Au mlum Fra, "Let's grind wealth for Fri,

mlum alslan, let's grind complete bliss,

mlum fjl far let's grind much riches

feginslri; on the mill of joy;

siti hann aui, may he sit on wealth,

sofi hann dni, may he sleep on down;

vaki hann at vilja, may he wake with delight,

er vel malit. there is well ground.

 

6. 6.

Hr skyli engi Here shall no one

rum granda, harm another,

til bls ba work towards evil

n til bana orka, or devise killing,

n hggva v or strike to that end

hvssu sveri, with sharp sword,

at bana brur even if a brother's slayer

bundinn finni." [he] finds bound."

 

7. 7.

En hann kva ekki But he spoke no

or it fyrra: word sooner [than]:

"Sofi eigi meir "Sleep no more

en of sal gaukar than [the song] of the cuckoo(12)

ea lengr en sv or longer than when

lj eitt kveak." I utter a lay."

 

8. 8.

"Var-at-tu, Fri, "Fri, you were not

fullspakr of ik, full-wise in yourself,

mlvinr manna, friend of people,

er man keyptir; when you bought bondservants;

kaustu at afli you chose by strength

ok at litum, and by looks,

en at tterni and about descent

ekki spurir. you did not ask.

 

9. 9.

Harr var Hrungnir Hardy was Hrungnir,

ok hans fair, and his father,

var jazi although jazi

eim flgari; was stronger than them;

Ii ok Aurnir, [and] Ii and Aurnir,

okkrir nijar, our relatives,

brr bergrisa, brothers of mountain-risir,(13)

eim erum bornar. from whom we are descended.

 

10. 10.

Kmi-a Grtti Grtti would not have come

r gra fjalli out of the grit fell(14)

n s inn hari or that hard

hallr r jru, rock out of the earth,

n mli sv nor would be grinding so

mr bergrisa, a girl of the mountain-risir,

ef vissi vit if we two had known

vtr til hennar. nothing of it.(15)

 

11. 11.

Vr vetr nu For nine winters we(16)

vrum leikur were playmates,

flgar alnar strong bred

fyr jr nean; down under the earth;

stu meyjar [we] girls performed

at meginverkum, mighty feats,

frum sjalfar we ourselves moved

setberg r sta. the mountain seat(17) from its place.

 

12. 12.

Veltum grjti We rolled the rock

of gar risa, over the giants' court,

sv at fold fyrir so that from it the earth

fr skjalfandi; was set shaking;

sv slngum vit so [far] we slung

snga-steini, the whirling stone,

hfga-halli, the heavy rock,

at halir tku. that men took [it].(18)

 

13. 13.

En vit san And we later

Svju in Sweden,

framvsar tvr two seeresses,

folk stigum, stepped into battle,

beiddum bjrnu, baited bears,(19)

en brutum skjldu, shattered shields,

gengum ggnum went up against

grserkjat li. the grey-shirted folk.(20)

 

14. 14.

Steypum stilli, We cast down a king,

studdum annan, supported another,

veittum gum gave to good

Gothormi li; Gothormr aid;

var-a kyrrseta, there was no resting

r Kni felli. until Kni fell.

 

15. 15.

Fram heldum v We continued on

au misseri, for those seasons,

at vit at kppum so that we as champions

kenndar vrum; were known;

ar soru vit there we cut

skrpum geirum with sharp spears

bl r benjum blood from wounds

ok brand ruum. and reddened swords.

 

16. 16.

N erum komnar Now we have come

til konungs hsa to a king's houses,

miskunnlausar pitilessly,

ok at mani hafar; and held in bondage;

aurr etr iljar, the mud eats our soles

en ofan kuli, and the cold(21) the tops [of our heads],

drgum dolgs sjtul, we are pulling on the settler(22) of strife,

daprt er at Fra. it is dreary at Fri's.

 

17. 17.

Hendr skulu hvlask, Hands must rest,

hallr standa mun, stone will stand still,

malit hefi ek fyr mik; I have ground, to me,

mitt of leiti; my share;(23)

n mun-a hndum now I will not give

hvld vel gefa, my hands a good rest

r fullmalit before fully ground

Fra ykki. it seems to Fri.(24)

 

18. 18.

Hendr skulu hndla Hands must handle

harar trjnur, hard poles,

vpn valdreyrug, weapons bloody from slaughter,

vaki , Fri, wake up, Fri,

vaki , Fri, wake up, Fri,

ef hla vill if you wish to hear

sngum okkrum our songs

ok sgnum fornum. and ancient tales.

 

19. 19

Eld s ek brenna I see fire burning

fyr austan borg, east of the stronghold,

vgspjll vaka, war-tidings waking,

at mun viti kallar, that will be called a warning beacon,

mun herr koma an army will come

hinig af bragi here of a sudden

ok brenna b and burn the dwelling

fyr bulungi. in spite of the king.(25)

 

20. 20.

Mun-at halda You will not hold onto

Hleirar stli, the throne of Hleir,(26)

rauum hringum the red rings

n regingrjti; or the stones of the regin;(27)

tkum mndli let us seize the handles,

mr, skarpara, girl, harder,

erum-a varmar we are not warm(28)

valdreyra. in blood of slaughter.

 

21. 21.

Ml mns fur My father's girl

mr rammliga, ground forcefully,(29)

v at hon feig fira because she saw doomed to die

fjlmargra s; full many men;

stukku strar [the] big props

ster fr lri flew off the bin,

jrni varar, girded with iron:

mlum enn framar! let us grind further yet!

 

22. 22.

Mlum enn framar! Let us grind further yet!

Mun Yrsu sonr, Yrsa's son will,

nir Halfdanar, Halfdan's kinsman,(30)

hefna Fra; take revenge on Fri;

s mun hennar he will to her

heitinn vera be called

burr ok brir, son and brother,

vitum bar at." we both know this."

 

23. 23.

Mlu meyjar, The maids ground,

megins kostuu, tested their strength,

vru ungar young, they were

jtunmi; in jǫtunn-rage;

skulfu skaptr, the timber frames(31) quaked,

skauzk lr ofan, the bin shot downwards,

hraut inn hfgi the heavy rock

hallr sundr tvau. split asunder in two.

 

24. 24.

En bergrisa And the mountain-risir's

brr or of kva: bride spoke these words:

"Malit hfum, Fri, "We have ground, Fri,

sem munum htta, so that we will [have to] stop,(32)

hafa fullstait they have stood enough

flj at meldri." at the grinding, the ladies."

 

 

Notes

 

 

1. A name of inn, as is Hengikjǫftr, below.

2. the hand-operated mill made up of the two huge grindstones.

3. The edition by Clive Tolley, which was partly the work of Ursula Dronke, uses the form Grotti.

4. i.e, war

5. This prose introduction is from Snorri's Gylfaginning; Snorri has combined the story of Fri with that of how the sea became salty.

6. Some reordering for clarity. The manuscripts have variants of gria, for grja.

7. Following the prose, this is presumably to be interpreted: "He ordered them to take neither rest nor ease but he must always hear the servantmaids' song".

8. Interpreting yt as a variant of ulu. Tolley and Dronke instead emend ulu to utu, translating: "They started the screeching".

9. Faulty text: this has been taken as an epithet for the thudding mill, and variously emended.

10. presumably to be taken as "all".

11. i.e., she was standing at the flour-mill. One manuscript has meldr, for the alternate form meldrar.

12. Problematic text. The manuscript has: sofit eigi it ne of sal-gaukar. Tolley and Dronke emend to: Sofi eigi it meir en syngrat gaukr, which they translate: "Sleep no more, you two, than the cuckoo stops singing".

13. Brr, brothers, has sometimes been amended to brir, brides, based on Verse 24. A risi is a kind of giant; the distinctions are not clear, although modern Icelanders characterise the thurs as stupid, the jtunn as strong and the risi as big: "Hr sem risi, sterkr sem jtunn, heimskr sem urs".

14. or Grafjell; one manuscript has griafalli.

15. Adopting Tolley and Dronke's emendation of vissi to vissim; they also amend the last word to kvernar, the quern.

16. i.e., years. For grammar, vr should be the dual, vit.

17. According to Tolley and Dronke, a saddle-backed mountain.

18. or them; this may refer to the two grindstones referred to in the prose.

19. following Tolley and Dronke. One manuscript has beiddum, another beittum. Presumably meaning berserkers?

20. presumably meaning mail-shirts.

21. I'm taking this as Cleasby-Vigfsson's kuldi.

22. Sjǫtull only occurs in one other place: a verse by Egill Skallagrmsson, where it means "seat". "Settler", from the verb sjǫtlask, "subside", is the usual interpretation here.

23. following Tolley and Dronke's interpretation

24. Tolley and Dronke plausibly suggest that the second half of the verse is spoken by the other giantess, and that "n mun-a" should be amended to "munum-a" - "we will not".

25. With Tolley and Dronke, I follow Neckel's pointing to a skaldic verse that may be influenced by this line; it could also be taken as "around" the king. Bulungr is a heroic word for "king" derived from Buli, father of Atli.

26. now Lejre; the ancient capital city.

27. I take this with Gubrandur Vigfsson as referring to hǫrgar, altars made out of rocks, but Tolley and Dronke think regin- is here merely used to mean "mighty", and that the word refers to the millstones.

28. Emended. One manuscript has valmar with the lm underlined, indicating some sort of correction is needed; the other has valnar. Other than the choice made by the editor, Guni Jnsson, there are no Modern Icelandic cognates to guide emendation. A possible interpretation of valnar is "fumbling", based on a Norn word; Tolley and Dronke emended to vamlar and rendered it as "squeamish", based on words like a Danish word meaning "sickly".

29. Rearrangements for clarity in this and the following two pairs of lines. The change to past tense is unexplained; Gubrandur Vigfsson took it as referring to the speaker's mother (father's wife).

30. Or more clearly, "son": emendation of the manuscripts' vi hlfdana, which would mean "take vengeance against the Half-Danes for Fri". The verse, which is probably an interpolation, is about Hrlfr kraki, who was Yrsa's brother as well as son because their father Helgi inadvertently married his own daughter. Hrlfr would have taken vengeance against Fri, not for him, but is not recorded as having done so; the editor's emendation to his taking vengeance for the death of his grandfather Halfdan (brother and victim of one of the Fris), referring to him as Halfdan's son, corresponds to a suggestion by Sijmons and Gering in their German edition. Tolley and Dronke instead emend to vgs, "for Halfdan's slaughter".

31. Taking as skapttr: wooden framework for steadying the handle.

32. Problematic line; something may be missing.