The Poetic Edda: A Study Guide
 The Speech of the Masked One
Codex Regius
MS No. 2365 4to  [R]
Arnamagnæan Codex
AM 748 I 4to [A]
1954 Guðni Jónsson
Heitr ertu, hripvþr,
ok heldr til mikill;
göngomk firr, funi!
loði sviðnar,
þótt ek á loft berac,
brenomc feldr fyr.  
Heitr ertu, hripvðr,
ok heldr til mikill;
göngumz firr, funi!
loði sviðnir,
þótt ek á loft væra,
brænnumz feldr fyr.
1. Heitr ertu, hripuðr,
ok heldr til mikill;
göngumk firr, funi!
loði sviðnar,
þótt ek á loft berak,
brennumk feldr fyr.
English Translations
1797 Amos Simon Cottle
in Icelandic Poetry
The Song of Grimnir

1851 C.P. in
The Yale Magazine, Vol. 16

The Song of Grimner


Fire! spare thy fury spare,
Nor thus thy torrents on me bear:
Thy flames fierce flashing from me turn
In vain I strive —my garments burn:
Tho' high in air my cloak I raise,
It wastes before thy scorching blaze.
Hot, hot, oh fire! art thou, and waxest still
In fury ; though more closely round my form
I wrap my fur-bound cloak, and gather in
Its folds, 'tis burned to cinders by thy rage
1866 Benjamin Thorpe
in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða
The Lay of Grimnir
1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson
in Corpus Poeticum Boreale
The Sayings of the Hooded One

1. Fire! thou art hot,
and much too great;
flame! let us separate.
My garment is singed,
although I lift it up,
my cloak is scorched before it.


1. Grimni. —HOT thou art, flame, and far too great! Fall back from me,
flame ! My fur is singed, though I hold it aloft. My fur burns on me.

(Here Agnar reaches him the cup?)


1908 Olive Bray
in Edda Saemundar
The Sayings of Grimnir

1923 Henry Bellows
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir


1. Fierce art thou, fire ! and far too great ;
flame, get thee further away !
my cloak is scorched though I hold it high ;
my mantle burns before me.

1. Hot art thou, fire!   too fierce by far;
Get ye now gone, ye flames!
The mantle is burnt,   though I bear it aloft,
And the fire scorches the fur.

1962 Lee M. Hollander
in The Poetic Edda
 “The Lay of Grimnir

1967 W. H. Auden & P. B. Taylor
in The Elder Edda
The Lay of Grimnir


1. Hot art thou, blaze,  and too high, withal!
   Get, fire, thee farther away!
   My frieze coat is singed though I flung it aloft,
   flares up the fur in the flames.

1. You are fierce, fire, too fierce for comfort,
Recede from me, savage flame:
My cloak is beginning to catch fire,
Its fur is singed and smolders.

1969/ 1989 Patricia Terry
in Poems of the Elder Edda
“The Lay of Grimnir”

1996 Carolyne Larrington
in The Poetic Edda
“Grimnir’s Sayings”


1. Fire, you're too hot, and much too fierce,
take your flames further away!
My cloak is singed though I hold it high;
sparks fly against the fur.

1. ‘Hot you are, and rather too fierce;
Go away, sparks!
My fur cloak singes, though I lift it in the air,
My mantle burns me.

2011 Andy Orchard
The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore
'The Lay of Grimnir"

2011 Ursula Dronke
in The Poetic Edda, Vol. III 
“The Lay of Grimnir”

1. ‘Flames, you’re too hot, and rather too big:
get away from me, fire!
My wool-cloak’s singed, though I lift it aloft,
my cape’s burning in front of my eyes!

1. Hustler, you are hot
and rather too huge.
Get further away from me, flame!
The cloak is singeing
-though I catch it up high-
my mantle is burning despite me!


In the oral context of ancient Scandinavian society, the poem was most likely performed without the prose introduction. Some scholars have suggested that the prose passages found in the Poetic Edda were composed once the poems were set in writing. The first stanza thus provides the dramatic context for what is to follow. Grímnismál begins with a man on fire! Whom that man is, we don't yet know. Considering the content of his speech, the fire may be symbolic as well. Spiritually, Odin is a man on fire.
Scholarly commentary on this stanza is varied, and focuses largely on its wording.

An Icelandic-English Dictionary by Cleasby/Vigfusson (1874):

HRIP, n. a box of laths or a basket to carry peat and the like on horseback, with a drop at the bottom, Lv. 65, (mó-hrip, torf-hrip.) hrips-grind, f. the frame of a h., id. Hence the phrase, það er eins og að ausa vatni í hrip, 'it is like pouring water into a sieve,' (cp. Lat. 'Danaidum dolia implere'), of useless efforts: hurried work, e.g. hurried writing, as if dropped out of the quill.

HRIPA, að, to leak much; þá hripar allt, or það hrip-lekr, it leaks fast: metaph. to write hurriedly, h. bréf; það er hripað í mesta flýtri.
hripuðr, m., poët. a fire, Edda (Gl.), Gm. 1.


LaFarge/Tucker, Glossary to the Poetic Edda:

hripuðr, ‘hastener’, fire (Grm. 1)


From the French of F.G. Bergmann (1871), as Dits de Grimnir:

Verse 1:

Hripudr (soufflé rapide) est un des noms poétiques du feu. Il se compose de l'ancien mot uðr (vent), derive d'une forme plus ancienne vatus, qui désigne, également, le soufflé ou l'agitation du feu et de l'air. Hrip exprime la rapidité de l'agitation ou du soufflé du feu. "Hripudr (quick breath) is one of the poetic names for fire. It is composed of the old word uðr (wind), derived from an older form vatus, which equally designates the breath or the restlessness of the fire and of the air. Hrip expresss the rapidity of the restlessness or breath of the fire."

The Garments of the Gods 

In the prologue to this poem, Odin and Frigg visit mortals in human guise. They each foster a human child, Agnar and Geirrod. Clearly, they appear to and are indistinguishable from other humans, when they want to be. So naturally, they would wear clothing.

In Hávamál 49, Odin speaks of giving his clothes to "two tree-men in the field" [Váðir mínur gaf ek velli at tveim trémönnum], a statement that likely indicates that it was Odin who first clothed the newly created human beings, Ask and Embla, which he helped make from trees found along the shore of Midgard. The word used there are  váðir 'clothes(49/1); and  ript, 'cloth', 'linen'(49/5).`
In the sagas, Odin commonly appears as a one-eyed old man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a cloak. In Grímnismál 1, Odin is depicted wearing a mantle or cloak, which catches fire.
The word for the garment here is feldr, meaning “a cloak, especially one lined with fur” (Cleasby-Vigfusson). The etymology of the word appears to be from falda, meaning “to wrap, to fold.” Related words are feldr-dálkr, cloak-pin; feldar-röggvar, “the patches or ‘ragged’ hairs on the outside of a cloak”; and feldar-slitr, “the tatters of a cloak”. Vigfusson remarks that feldr is never used of a woman’s cloak (called a möttull, or skikkja).
In Harbarðsljóð 6, Harbard accuses Thor of not wearing breeches, saying “barelegged you stand, wearing your beggar’s gear. You don’t even have breeches!” So can we surmise that Thor too wears a cloak or other loose-fitting garment that does not include pants?  
In agreement with this, Tacitus describes the traditional dress of the German people in Germania 17:
"A garment common to all is a cloak fastened by a brooch, or if lacking a thorn; they are otherwise uncovered, and spend whole days next to the hearth and the fire. The wealthiest are distinguished by clothing that does not hang loosely, like that of the Samaritans and Parthians, but fits tightly and reveals the individuals limbs. They also wear animal skins, those nearest the rivers without much concern, those further way more fastidiously, since they lack adornments obtained through trade.  They select the animals with care and, after stripping off the hides, fleck them with patches from the pelts of the beasts bred by the outer ocean and its unknown seas. In the manner of dress, women do not differ from men, except that they often drape themselves with linen mantles which they decorate with purple, and do not extend the upper part of their garment into long sleeves, but leave the fore and upper arms bare; the adjoining part of the breast is also exposed."