Skrnisml


Freyr, sonr Njarar, hafi einn dag setzt Hliskjlf, ok s um heima alla. Hann s Jtunheima ok s ar mey fagra, er hon gekk fr skla fur sns til skemmu. ar af fekk hann hugsttir miklar. Skrnir ht sksveinn Freys. Njrr ba hann kveja Frey mls. mlti Skai:

One day Freyr, son of Njǫr, had sat down on Hliskjlf, and looked over all the worlds. He could see into Jǫtunheim and there he saw a fair maid, as she was walking from her father's hall to her chamber. Seeing that, he was struck by a great sickness of heart. Skrnir was the name of Frey's shoe-swain. Njǫrr told him to ask to speak to Frey. Then Skai said:

1. 1.

"Rstu n, Skrnir, "Rise up now, Skrnir,

ok gakk [skjtt] at beia and go [quickly] to ask

okkarn mla mg to speak with our son

ok ess at fregna, and to ask him,

hveim inn fri s with whom the wise one is

ofreii afi." angered, the ancestor."(1)

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

2. 2.

"Illra ora "Harsh words

er mr n at ykkrum syni, I can hope for from your son

ef ek geng at mla vi mg if I go to speak with the young man

ok ess at fregna, and to ask him,

hveim inn fri s with whom the wise one is

ofreii afi." angered, the ancestor."

 

3. 3.

"Segu mr at, Freyr, "Tell me this, Freyr,

folkvaldi goa, commander of the hosts of the gods,

ok ek vilja vita: and I wish to know it:

Hv einn sitr Why do you sit alone

endlanga sali, in the hall the livelong

minn drttinn, um daga?" day, my lord?"

 

Freyr kva: Freyr said:

4. 4.

"Hv um segjak r, "Why should I tell you,

seggr inn ungi, young man,

mikinn mtrega? the great trouble of my spirit?

v at lfrull For the elf-glory(2)

lsir um alla daga shines each and every day

ok eygi at mnum munum." and yet not to my wishes."

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

5. 5.

"Muni na "Your wishes

hykk-a ek sv mikla vera, I think not to be so great

at mr, seggr, n segir, that to me you [can]not, man, tell them,

v at ungir saman because young together

vrum rdaga, we were in days of yore,

vel mttim tveir trask." well might we two trust each other."

 

Freyr kva: Freyr said:

6. 6.

" Gymis grum "In Gymir's courts

ek ganga s I saw walking

mr ta mey; a maid dear to me;

armar lstu, her arms gleamed,

en af aan and from there

allt loft ok lgr." all the sky and the water."

 

7. 7.

"Mr er mr tari "The maiden is dearer to me

en manna hveim than to any person

ungum rdaga; young in days of yore;

sa ok alfa of sir and lfar

at vill engi mar no person wishes

at vit samt sim." that we be together."

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

8. 8.

"Mar gefu mr Give me then a steed

ann er mik um myrkvan beri that [will] bear me through the dark

vsan vafrloga, wise wavering fire,

ok at sver, and the sword

er sjalft vegisk that itself fights

vi jtna tt." against the race of jǫtuns."

 

Freyr kva: Freyr said:

9. 9.

"Mar ek r ann gef, I will give you the steed

er ik um myrkvan berr that [will] bear you through the dark

vsan vafrloga, wise wavering fire,

ok at sver, and the sword

er sjalft mun vegask that itself will fight

ef s er horskr, er hefr." if he is knowing who wields it."

 

Skrnir mlti vi hestinn: Skrnir spoke to the horse:

10. 10.

"Myrkt er ti, "Dark is it outside,

ml kve ek okkr fara time, I say, for us two to go

rig fjll yfir, over dripping mountains,

ursa j yfir; over thurses' realm;

bir vit komumk, we both will get there,

ea okkr ba tekr or he will take us both,

s inn mttki jtunn." that fearful jǫtunn."

 


Skrnir rei Jtunheima til Gymisgara. ar vru hundar lmir ok bundnir fyrir skgars hlii, ess er um sal Gerar var. Hann rei at ar, er fhirir sat haugi, og kvaddi hann:

 

Skrnir rode into Jǫtunheim, to Gymisgarth.(3) There there were fierce dogs, and [they were] tied before the gate in the fence that was around Ger's hall. He rode up to where a hersdman sat on a barrow, and spoke to him:

 


11. 11.

"Segu at, hirir, "Tell me, herder,

er haugi sitr you who sit on a gravemound

ok varar alla vega: and watch over all the roads:

Hv ek at andspilli How to a conversation

komumk ins unga mans do I come with the young woman(4)

fyr greyjum Gymis?" for Gymir's curs?"

 

Hirir kva: The herdsman said:

12. 12.

"Hvrt ertu feigr, "Which is it, are you doomed to die

ea ertu framgenginn? or the walking dead?

-- -- -- -- -- --

Andspillis vanr Lacking an answer

skalt vera you must forever be

grar meyjar Gymis." from the good daughter of Gymir."

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

13. 13.

"Kostir ro betri The choices are better

heldr en at klkkva s, than that one should be to whimper,

hveim er fss er fara; for the man who is eager to go;

einu dgri to one day

mr var aldr of skapar my time alive was created

ok(5) allt lf of lagit." and my whole life laid down."

 

Gerr kva: Gerr said:

14. 14.

"Hvat er at hlym hlymja, "What is that din of dins

er ek heyri n til that I hear now

ossum rnnum ? in our residences?

Jr bifask, The earth is shaking,

en allir fyrir and with it all

skjalfa garar Gymis." Gymir's courts are shuddering."

 

Ambtt kva: A maid said:

15. 15.

"Mar er hr ti, "A man is here outside,

stiginn af mars baki, dismounted from horseback,

j ltr til jarar taka." he is putting his steed to graze."

-- -- -- -- -- --

 

Gerr kva: Gerr said:

16. 16.

"Inn bi hann ganga "Have him come in

okkarn sal into our hall

ok drekka inn mra mj; and drink the glorious mead;

ek hitt umk, yet I fear

at hr ti s that here outside the door may be

minn brurbani. my brother's slayer.

 

17. 17.

Hvat er at alfa Which is this of the sons of lfar

n sa sona or sir

n vssa vana? or wise Vanir?

Hv einn of komt Why have you come alone

eikinn fr yfir over the fierce fire

r salkynni at sa?" to see those in our household?"

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

18. 18.

"Emk-at ek alfa "I am not of the sons of lfar

n sa sona or sir

n vssa vana; or wise Vanir;

ek einn of komk yet I have come alone

eikinn fr yfir over the fierce fire

yur salkynni at sa." to see those in your household."

 

19. 19.

"Epli ellifu "Eleven apples(6)

hr hef ek algullin, I have here all of gold,

au mun ek r, Gerr, gefa, these will I give to you, Gerr,

fri at kaupa, to buy peaceful relations with you,

at r Frey kveir that you call Frey, for you,

leiastan lifa." the least loathsome who lives."

 

Gerr kva: Gerr said:

20. 20.

"Epli ellifu "Eleven apples

ek igg aldregi will I never take

at mannskis munum, by any man's will,

n vit Freyr, nor [will] Freyr and I,

mean okkart fjr lifir, while we continue to live,

byggjum bi saman." dwell both together."

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

21. 21.

"Baug ek r gef, "I give you that ring

ann er brenndr var that was burnt

me ungum ins syni; with in's young son;

tta eru jafnhfir, eight there are, equally heavy,

er af drjpa that drip from it

ina nundu hverja ntt." every ninth night."

 

Gerr kva: Gerr said:

22. 22.

"Baug ek ikk-a-k, "The ring I [will] not take,

tt brenndr si even though it was burnt

me ungum ins syni; with in's young son;

er-a mr gulls vant I have no lack of gold

grum Gymis, in Gymir's courts,

at deila f fur." dealing my father's possessions."

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

23. 23.

"Sr enna mki, mr, "Do you see this sword, maiden,

mjvan, mlfan, slender [and] inlaid,(7)

er ek hef hendi hr? that I hold here in my hand?

Hfu hggva I will from your neck

ek mun r hlsi af, hew off your head

nema mr stt segir." unless you accept my proposition."

 

Gerr kva: Gerr said:

24. 24.

"nau ola "Suffer oppression

ek vil aldregi I never shall

at mannskis munum; by any man's will;

ek hins get, yet I guess,

ef it Gymir finnizk, if you and Gymir meet,

vgs trauir, undeterred from fighting,

at ykkr vega ti." that you both long to battle."(8)

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

25. 25.

"Sr enna mki, mr, "Do you see this sword, maiden,

mjvan, mlfan, slender [and] inlaid,

er ek hef hendi hr? that I hold here in my hand?

Fyr essum eggjum by its edges

hngr s inn aldni jtunn, [will] fall the old jǫtunn,

verr inn feigr fair. your father will be doomed.

 

26. 26.

Tamsvendi ek ik drep, I touch you with a taming wand,

en ek ik temja mun, and I will tame you,

mr, at mnum munum; maiden, to my will;

ar skaltu ganga, there you must go

er ik gumna synir where sons of men

san va si. afterwards never [will] see you.

 

27. 27.

Ara fu On an eagles' mound

skaltu r sitja you must ever(9) sit,

horfa heimi r, gaze out of the worlds,

snugga heljar til; hanker for Hel;

matr s(10) r meir leir may food be more loathsome to you

en manna hveim than to any person

innfrni ormr me firum. among humanity [is] the gleaming

snake.(11)

 

28. 28.

At undrsjnum verir, A wondrous sight(12) may you become

er t kemr; when you come out;

ik Hrmnir hari, may Hrmnir gawp(13) at you,

ik hotvetna stari; may all and sundry stare at you;

vkunnari verir may you become more widely known

en vrr me goum, than the watchman of the gods,

gapi grindum fr. may you gape out through the gate.

 

29. 29.

Tpi ok pi, Madness and howling,(14)

tjsull ok oli, teasle(15) and lust,

vaxi r tr me trega; may your tears grow with woe;

sezk nir, sit down

en ek mun segja r and I will tell you

svran ssbreka a heavy wave of suffering(16)

ok tvennan trega: and two woes:

 

30. 30.

Tramar gneypa Trolls(17) shall weigh

ik skulu gerstan dag you down every day

jtna grum ; in courts of jǫtuns;

til hrmursa hallar to a hall of frost thurses(18)

skalt hverjan dag you must every day

kranga kostalaus, creep(19) with no choices,(20)

kranga kostavn; creep lacking choices;

grt at gamni weeping instead of pleasure

skaltu ggn hafa you will have as your lot(21)

ok leia me trum trega. grieve [your] trouble with tears.

 

31. 31.

Me ursi rhfuum With a three-headed thurs

skalt nara, you must forever languish,(22)

ea verlaus vera; or be husbandless;

itt ge grpi, may longing(23) grip you,

ik morn morni; pining pine you away;(24)

ver sem istill, may you be like the thistle

s er var runginn that was squashed

nn ofanvera. late in the season.(25)

 

32. 32.

Til holts ek gekk To a wood I went

ok til hrs viar, and to a fresh tree,

gambantein at geta, to get a twig of power,(26)

gambantein ek gat. a twig of power I got.

 

33. 33.

Reir er r inn, Angry with you is inn,

reir er r sabragr, angry with you is the foremost of

sir,(27)

ik skal Freyr fask, Freyr shall hate you,

in firinilla mr, the shockingly bad maiden,

en fengit hefr for you have received

gambanreii goa. the mighty anger of the gods.

 

34. 34.

Heyri jtnar, May jǫtuns hear,

heyri hrmursar, may frost thurses hear,

synir Suttungs, sons of Suttung,(28)

sjalfir sliar, companies of the sir themselves,

hv ek fyrb, how I forbid,

hv ek fyrirbanna how I ban

manna glaum mani, joy in men(29) to the maid,

manna nyt mani. enjoyment of men to the maid.

 

35. 35.

Hrmgrmnir heitir urs, Hrmgrmnir is the name of the thurs

er ik hafa skal who shall have you

fyr ngrindr nean; down under the gates of the dead;

ar r vlmegir there may bondsmen to you

viarrtum among tree-roots

geitahland gefi; give goat urine;

ri drykkju a better drink

f aldregi, may you never receive,

mr, af num munum, maiden, by my will,

mr, at mnum munum. maiden, by my will.

 

36. 36.

urs rst ek r urisaz I carve for you

ok ra stafi, and three staves,

ergi ok i ok ola; ergi(30) and frenzy and insatiability;

sv ek at af rst, so I [can] uncarve it,

sem ek at reist, as I have carved it,

ef gerask arfar ess." if needs for that come about."

 

Gerr kva: Gerr said:

37. 37.

"Heill ver n heldr, sveinn, "Hail to you now rather, young man,

ok tak vi hrmklki and take the foaming(31) goblet

fullum forns mjaar; full of aged mead;

hafa ek at tlat, yet I had thought(32)

at myndak aldregi that I would never

unna vaningja vel." love the son of the Vanir well."

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

38. 38.

"rendi mn "My message

vil ek ll vita, I wish to know entirely

r ek ra heim hean, before I ride home from here:

nr ingi when you at a meeting

munt inum roska will join the manly

nenna Njarar syni." son of Njǫr."

 

Gerr kva: Gerr said:

39. 39.

"Barri heitir, Barri is the name

er vit bi vitum, of [a grove] we both know,

lundr lognfara; a grove where the wind is stilled;(33)

en eft ntr nu and after nine nights

ar mun Njarar syni there will to Njǫr's son

Gerr unna gamans." Gerr grant pleasure."(34)

 

 


rei Skrnir heim. Freyr st ti ok kvaddi hann ok spuri tenda:

 

Then Skrnir rode home. Freyr was standing outside and spoke to him asking for news:


40. 40.

"Segu mr at, Skrnir, "Tell me, Skrnir,

r verpir sli af mar before you cast the saddle off the steed

ok stgir feti framar: and you take a step further:

Hvat rnair what did you achieve

Jtunheima in Jǫtunheim

ns ea mns munar?" of your or my will?"

 

Skrnir kva: Skrnir said:

41. 41.

"Barri heitir, Barri is the name

er vit bir vitum, of [a grove] we both know,

lundr lognfara; a grove where the wind is stilled;

en eft ntr nu and after nine nights

ar mun Njarar syni there will to Njǫr's son

Gerr unna gamans." Gerr grant pleasure."

 

Freyr kva: Freyr said:

42. 42.

"Lng er ntt, "Long is a night,

langar ro tvr, longer are two,

hv of reyjak rjr? how do I endure for three?

Oft mr mnar Often to me a month

minni tti has seemed less

en sj half hntt." than this half bridal night."(35)

 

 

Notes

 

1. Afi means "grandfather"; Dronke makes the point that this verse contains deliberately archaic usage alluding to Frey's divine role.

2. lfrǫull: kenning for the sun.

3. Or two words: til Gymis gara, to the courts of Gymir.

4. Man (neuter), meaning a slave or a woman(servant), not mar (masculine), meaning a person, by default a man; the word often has negative connotations because it is often used of serving wenches and mistresses. This is also the "maid" in the last two lines of Verse 34.

5. Of in Guni Jnsson's text appears to be a misprint.

6. The Roman numeral xi in both manuscripts is now usually amended to ellilyfs - "apples of eternal life" - here and in verse 20.

7. Mlfr means "with inlaid ornament" but has been taken as "with runes"; another word ml means "speech" and weapons were often inscribed with runes.

8. There's a change of metre here, suggesting to Dronke that the original last line has been replaced.

9. The basic meaning of r is "early", but the rarer meaning "always" fits better here.

10. Corrected from Guni Jnsson's n.

11. Reading as inn frni ormr, as is usual.

12. Undrsjnir only occurs here in Old Norse; cognate words occur once in Anglo-Saxon - in Bowulf - and in a Middle High German gloss of Latin spectaculum. The connotations are different.

13. The verb hara is also a hapax legomenon (unique occurrence) in Old Norse; translated as usual based on Norwegian dialect.

14. Tpi and pi are also not found elsewhere.

15. Tjǫsull is also a hapax legomenon. It is easiest to interpret it as the equivalent of A-S tǽsel - teasle, but there are similar A-S words having to do with plague and torment.

16. Interpreting the otherwise unknown ss as A-S ssl - torment; but Dronke amends to st-, grief.

17. Tramar is also a hapax legomenon in Old Norse, but the word survives in Norwegian, Swedish and modern Icelandic for trolls or evil spirits; on the other hand Cleasby-Vigfsson suggested a misreading of gramar, "demons", which would give better alliteration, and Gubrandur so amended it in Corpus Poeticum Boreale.

18. Another kind of giant; the distinction between a thurs and a jǫtunn is not very 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".

19. Kranga is another hapax legomenon, related to words about weakness and narrow passages.

20. Kostir, plural of kostr, has a wide range of meanings, including daily necessities, luxuries, marriage ... but the basic meaning is "options".

21. gǫgn ... at go together: instead of, as replacement for.

22. Nara is a rare word that in modern Icelandic is used of a guttering candle; it appears to connote living joylessly.

23. Ge has multiple meanings in the poetry including "mind" and "spirit".

24. Morna, "pine away", occurs several times elsewhere, but the noun morn is a hapax legomenon.

25. The thistle lines have been much discussed. Perhaps the thistle is crushed in threshing (at the end of harvest season) or grew late in the year and was thus trodden down; or Cleasby-Vigfsson thought it was squeezed into a tight space in storage.

26. Clearly referring to a magic wand; the force of the rare gamban- prefix is hard to determine, but Dronke's argument that all the occurrences have to do with power is persuasive; note its use in the next verse for the rage of the gods.

27. Generally taken to refer to Thor.

28. Emended from Suttunga in the manuscript, which is either plural or Suttungi, an alternate form of the name Suttungr.

29. Manna in this and the following line could also be interpreted as "humankind".

30. Ergi is a much debated word. Although the dominant interpretation, derived from post-conversion law codes, is "homosexuality", that fits less well here than "lust"; and the debate has made the word familiar enough to leave it untranslated.

31. or clear glass; literally "rimy, frosty".

32. I have removed the -k from hafak that appears to have been added by Guni Jnsson and creates a double negative, "not thought ... that I would never".

33. Lognfari is a compound in the genitive of logn - calm, wind-stillness - and fari - travelling, journeying, hence here presumably "arrival".

34. Gaman often has connotations of sexual fulfilment.

35. Hntt is also a hapax legomenon; Dronke explains the number problem by interpreting it as a reference to a custom of waiting three nights before consummating a marriage.