Friday, 9 June 2017

Vafthruthnismol - Snorri Sturluson

Othin spake: 
"Counsel me, Frigg, for I long to fare,
And Vafthruthnir fain would find;
In wisdom old with the giant wise
Myself would I seek to match."

Frigg spake: 
"Heerfather1 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 spake: 
"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 spake: 
"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."

The wisdom then of the giant wise
Forth did he fare to try;
He found the hall of the father of Im2,
And in forthwith went Ygg3.

Othin spake:
"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 spake:
"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 spake:
"Gagnrath4 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 spake:
"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 spake:
"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."

Vafthruthnir spake:
"Speak forth now, Gagnrath, if there from the floor
Thou wouldst thy wisdom make known:
What name has the steed that each mom anew
The day for mankind doth draw?"

Othin spake:
"Skinfaxi5 is he, the steed who for men
The glittering day doth draw;
The best of horses to heroes he seems,
And brightly his mane doth burn."

Vafthruthnir spake:
"Speak forth now, Gagnrath, if there from the floor
Thou wouldst thy wisdom make known:
What name has the steed that from East anew
Brings night for the noble gods?"

Othin spake:
"Hrimfaxi6 name they the steed that anew
Brings night for the noble gods;
Each morning foam from his bit there falls,
And thence come the dews in the dales."

Vafthruthnir spake:
 "Speak forth now, Gagnrath, if there from the floor
Thou wouldst thy wisdom make known:
What name has the river that 'twixt the realms
Of the gods and the giants goes?"

Othin spake:
"Ifing7 is the river that 'twixt the realms
Of the gods and the giants goes;
For all time ever open it flows,
No ice on the river there is."

Vafthruthnir spake:
"Speak forth now, Gagnrath, if there from the floor
Thou wouldst thy wisdom make known:
What name has the field where in fight shall meet
Surt8 and the gracious gods?"

Othin spake:
"Vigrith9 is the field where in fight shall meet
Surt and the gracious gods;
A hundred miles each way does it measure,
And so are its boundaries set."

Vafthruthnir spake:
"Wise art thou, guest! To my bench shalt thou go,
In our seats let us speak together;
Here in the hall our heads, O guest,
Shall we wager our wisdom upon."

Othin spake:
"First answer me well, if thy wisdom avails.
And thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now:
In earliest time whence came the earth.
Or the sky, thou giant sage?"

Vafthruthnir spake:
"Out of Ymir's10 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 spake:
"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 spake:
"Mundilferi11 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 spake:
"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 spake:
"The father of day is Delling12 called,
And the night was begotten by Nor;
Full moon and old by the gods were fashioned,
To tell the time for men."

Othin spake:
"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 spake:
"Vindsval13 he was who was winter's father.
And Svosuth14 summer begat;"

Othin spake:
"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's15 kin?"

Vafthruthnir spake:
"Winters unmeasured ere earth was made
Was the birth of Bergelmir16;
Thruthgelmir's son was the giant strong,
And Aurgelmir's grandson of old."

Othin spake:
"Sixth answer me well, if wise thou art called,
If thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now:
Whence did Aurgelmir17 come with the giants' kin,
Long since, thou giant sage?"

Vafthruthnir spake:
"Down from Elivagar did venom drop.
And waxed till a giant it was;
And thence arose our giants' race,
And thus so fierce are we found."

Othin spake:
"Seventh answer me well, if wise thou art called,
If thou knowest it, Vaf thruthnir, now :
How begat he children, the giant grim,
Who never a giantess knew?"

Vafthruthnir spake:
"They say 'neath the arms of the giant of ice
Grew man-child and maid together;
And foot with foot did the wise one fashion
A son that six heads bore."

Othin spake:
"Eighth answer me well, if wise thou art called,
If thou knowest it, Vaf thruthnir, now :
What farthest back dost thou bear in mind ?
For wide is thy wisdom, giant!"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"Winters unmeasured ere earth was made
Was the birth of Bergelmir;
This first knew I well, when the giant wise
In a boat of old was borne."

Othin spake: 
"Ninth answer me well, if wise thou art called,
If thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now:
Whence comes the wind that fares o'er the waves
Yet never itself is seen?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"In an eagle's guise at the end of heaven
Hraesvelg18 sits, they say;
And from his wings does the wind come forth
To move o'er the world of men."

Othin spake: 
"Tenth answer me now, if thou knowest all
The fate that is fixed for the gods:
Whence came up Njorth to the kin of the gods,—
(Rich in temples and shrines he rules,—)
Though of gods he was never begot?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"In the home of the Wanes did the wise ones  create him,
And gave him as pledge to the gods;
At the fall of the world shall he fare once more
Home to the Wanes so wise."

Othin spake: 
"Eleventh answer me well,  [if thou knowest me well]19
[The fate that is fixed for the gods;]
What men [are they who] in [Othin's] home
Each day to fight go forth?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"The heroes all in Othin's hall
Each day to fight go forth;
They fell each other, and fare from the fight
All healed full soon to sit."

Othin spake: 
"Twelfth answer me now how all thou knowest
Of the fate that is fixed for the gods;
Of the runes of the gods and the giants' race
The truth indeed dost thou tell,
(And wide is thy wisdom, giant!)"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"Of the runes of the gods and the giants' race
The truth indeed can I tell,
(For to every world have I won;)
To nine worlds came I, to Niflhel20 beneath,
The home where dead men dwell."

Othin spake: 
"Much have I fared, much have I found.
Much have I got of the gods:
What shall live of mankind when at last there comes
The mighty winter to men?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"In Hoddmimir's21 wood shall hide themselves
Lif and Lifthrasir22 then;
The morning dews for meat shall they have,
Such food shall men then find."

Othin spake: 
"Much have I fared, much have I found,
Much have I got of the gods:
Whence comes the sun to the smooth sky back,
When Fenrirg23 has snatched it forth?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"A daughter bright Alfrothul24 bears
Ere Fenrir snatches her forth;
Her mother's paths shall the maiden tread
When the gods to death have gone."

Othin spake: 
"Much have I fared, much have I found.
Much have I got of the gods:
What maidens are they, so wise of mind.
That forth o'er the sea shall fare ?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"O'er Mogthrasir'sg25 hill shall the maidens pass,
And three are their throngs that come;
They all shall protect the dwellers on earth,
Though they come of the giants' kin."

Othin spake: 
"Much have I fared, much have I found.
Much have I got of the gods:
Who then shall rule the realm of the gods,
When the fires of Surt have sunk ?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"In the gods' home Vithar26 and Vali27 shall dwell,
When the fires of Surt have sunk;
Mothi and Magni28 shall Mjollnir29 have
When Vingnir30 falls in fight."

Othin spake: 
"Much have I fared, much have I found.
Much have I got of the gods:
What shall bring the doom of death to Othin,
When the gods to destruction go?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"The wolf shall fell the father of men,
And this shall Vithar avenge;
The terrible jaws shall he tear apart,
And so the wolf shall he slay."

Othin spake:  "Much have I fared, much have I found,
Much have I got from the gods:
What spake Othin himself in the ears of his son31.
Ere in the bale-fire he burned?"

Vafthruthnir spake: 
"No man can tell what in olden time
Thou spak'st in the ears of thy son;
With fated mouth the fall of the gods
And mine olden tales have I told;
With Othin in knowledge now have I striven,
And ever the wiser thou art."

Snorri Sturluson (1179 – 1241) Iceland
Translated by Henry Adams Bellows
Source: The poetic Edda translated by Henry Adams Bellows, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1923


Notes:
Othin and his wife Frigg share a biref discourse, before Othin goes on the speak with the giant Vafthruthnismol
  1. Heerfather = "Father of the host", i.e. Othin
  2. Im = unknown, possibly a corruption in original text
  3. Ygg = "the Terrible", i.e. Othin
  4. Gagnrath = "the Gain-Counsellor" - Othin has assumed a pseudonym as is his custom when travelling
  5. Skinfaxi = "Shining-Mane"
  6. Hrimfaxi = "Frosty-Mane"
  7. Ifring = this river never freezes, so giants cannot cross it
  8. Surt = The ruler of the fire world
  9. Vigrith = "the Field of Battle
  10. Ymir = the giant from whose body the gods made the world
  11. Mundiferi = "the Turner", father of Mani (the Moon) and Sol (the Sun)
  12. Delling = "the Day-spring"; probably more correctly this should be Dogling (Son of the Dew) - he was husband of Not (Night) and father of Dag (Day)
  13. Vindsval = "the Wind Cold"
  14. Svosuth = "the Gentle"
  15. Ymir's kin = the giants
  16. Bergelmir = the only frost giant who escaped (with his wife) after the gods slew Ymir to make the world out of his body
  17. Aurgelmir = the Frost Giants' name for Ymir
  18. Hraesvelg = "the Corpse-Eater"
  19. The text is slightly corrupt at this point - the parts in [] are the probable missing bits
  20. Niflhel = "Dark=Hell"
  21. Hoddmimr = the ash tree Yggdrasil, also called Mimir's tree
  22. Lif and Lifthrasir = "Life" and "Sturdy of Life"
  23. Fenrir = the wolf; however it's actually his son Skoll who steals the sun
  24. Alfrothul = "the Elf-Beam" - the sun
  25. Mogthrasir = "Desiring Sons"
  26. Vithar = a son of Othin who slays the wolf Fenrir
  27. Vali = a son of Othin begotten to avenge Baldr's death
  28. Mothi and Magni = Mothi (Wrath), Magni (Might) sons of Thor
  29. Mjollnir = Thor's hammer
  30. Vingnir = "the Hurler", i.e. Thor
  31. Othin's son here is Baldr

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