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
Normalized Text

 Ýdalir heita
þar er Ullur hefir
sér of görva sali
Álfheim freýr
gáfu í árdaga
tívar at tannféi.


 Ýdalir heita
þar er Ullur hefir
sér of gerva sali
Álfheim Frey
gáfu í árdaga
tívar at tannféi.


5. Ýdalir heita
þar er Ullur hefir
sér of görva sali
Álfheim Frey
gáfu í árdaga
tívar at tannféi.


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

Uller there hath fix'd his home,
Where the swift Ydali roam.
The Gods when time first sprang to light,
Fair Alfheim gave to Freyer's right;
The honors of his infant state,
Forever to perpetuate.

In Ydale hath Uller made his home;
The gods, to much loved Freyr,—to mark the day,
When through his infant flesh, in pearly rows,
Appeared his earliest teeth—in the morning of days
Gave Alfheim. These are the first and second homes

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

5. Ydalir it is called,
where Ullr has
himself a dwelling made.
Alfheim the gods to Frey
gave in days of yore
for a tooth-gift.

Yewdales they are called where
Wuldor has built him a hall;
Elf ham the Gods gave to Frey
in olden time for a tooth-fee.
1908 Olive Bray
in Edda Saemundar
The Sayings of Grimnir
1923 Henry Bellows
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir

5. Yew-dale is called the realm where Ull
hath set him a hall on high ;
and Elf-home that which the gods gave Frey
as tooth-fee in days of yore.

5. Ydalir call they        the place where Ull
A hall for himself hath set;
And Alfheim the gods                to Freyr once gave
As a tooth-gift in ancient times.

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

5. On Ydal's(9) plains     Ull hath reared him
   his hall timbered on high.
   For Frey's(10) tooth-fee    was fashioned of yore
   Alf-Home, as gift by the gods.

5. Ull yonder in Yew-Dale
Has made himself a mansion:
Elf-Home for Frey in the old days
The gods gave as a tooth-fee.

1996 Carolyne Larrington
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnir’s Sayings
2011 Ursula Dronke
in The Poetic Edda, Vol. III: Mythological Poems 
“The Lay of Grimnir”

5 'Yewdale it is called, the place where Ull*
has made a hall for himself;
Alfheim the gods gave to Freyr
in bygone days as tooth-payment.

5. Yew Dales they are called,
where Ullr has
made halls for himself
Elf Realm to Freyr
in the old days
The gods gave as a first-tooth penny.


2002 John Lindow, Handbook of Norse Mythology:

Enigmatic god.

"Although Grímnismál, stanza 5, assigns Ull a home at Ýdalir (Yew-dales), Ull is only a shadowy figure in the preserved mythology. Snorri Sturluson included him in a catalog of æsir in the Gylfaginning section of his Edda toward the end of the list (only Forseti follows), where he had to say about him:

'There is one called Ull, the son of Sif and stepson of Thor. He is such a good archer, and so good on skis that none can compete with him. He is also fair of face and has the ability of a warrior. It is good to call on him in a duel.'

"...In Book 3 of his Gesta Dancorum, Saxo Grammaticus has a character called Ollerus, who is clearly Ull in Latin form. This figure replaced Odin when that god was exiled because of disgust over his rape of Rinda to get an avenger for Balderus."

"...The small scholarly literature devoted to Ull depends largely on the place-name evidence and is concerned with reconstructing a cult that is far older than the mythological records."


Viktor Rydberg makes a strong case for Ull being the son of Thor's wife Sif, and her first husband Egil-Örvandel, a close friend of Thor's and a brother of the elf-prince Völund:

1886, Viktor Rydberg
Teutonic Mythology, No. 36:

"When the Aesir had refused to give satisfaction for the murder of Gullveig, and when Odin, by hurling his spear, had indicated that the treaty of peace between him and the Vanir was broken, the latter leave the assembly hall and Asgard. This is evident from the fact that they afterwards return to Asgard and attack the citadel of the Aesir clan (Völuspá; Saxo, Book 6). The gods are now divided into two hostile camps: on the one side Odin and his allies, among whom are Heimdall and Skadi; on the other Njörd, Frigg (Saxo, Hist., Book 1), Frey, Ull (Saxo, Hist., Book 3), and Freyja and her husband Svipdag, besides all that clan of divinities who were not adopted in Asgard, but belong to the race of Vanir and dwell in Vanaheim.

"While Odin was absent and deposed as ruler of the world, Ull has occupied so important a position among the ruling Vanir that, according to the tradition preserved in Saxo, they bestowed upon him the task and honor which until that time had belonged to Odin (Dii . . . Ollerum quendam non solum in regni, sed etiam in divinitatis infulas subrogavere - Hist., Book 3)[3]. This is explained by the fact that Njörd and Frey, though valtívar and brave warriors when they are invoked, are in their very nature gods of peace and promoters of wealth and agriculture, while Ull is by nature a warrior. He is a skilful archer, excellent in a duel, and hefir hermanns atgervi[4] (Prose Edda, Gylfaginning 31). Also, after the reconciliation between the Aesir and Vanir, Thor's stepson Ull has held a high position in Asgard, as is apparently corroborated by Odin's words in Grímnismál 42 (Ullar hylli og allra goða…).[5]

[3] "Oller (Ull) ….bore the symbols not only of royalty, but also of the godhead."
[4] hefir hermanns atgervi, possesses every quality of a warrior.
[5] Ullar hylli og allra goða, Ullr's and all the gods favor.

Teutonic Mythology, No. 102:

The adventures related in the mythology from Svipdag's journey, when he went in search of Freyja-Menglad, are by Saxo so divided between Ericus Disertus and Otharus that of the former is told mostly of what happened to Svipdag during his visit in the giant abode, of the latter mostly of what happened to him on his way home from there.
Concerning Erik's family relations, Saxo gives some facts which, from a mythological point of view, are of great value. It has already been stated that Erik's mother, like Svipdag's, is dead, and that his father, like Svipdag's, is married a second time where his saga begins. The father begets with his second wife a son, whom Saxo calls Rollerus.
[1]  When Erik's father also is dead, Roller's mother, according to Saxo, marries again, and this time a powerful champion called Brak (Book 5), who in the continuation of the story proves himself to be Ása-bragur, the god Thor (cp. No. 105), to whom she brings her son Roller. In our mythological records we learn that Thor's wife was Sif, the goddess of vegetation, and that Sif had been married and had had a son, by name Ullur, before she became the wife of the Asa-god, and that she brought with her to Asgard this son, who became adopted among the gods. Thus the mythic records and Saxo correspond in these points, and it follows that Rollerus is the same as Ullur, whom Saxo elsewhere (Book 3; cp. No. 36) mentions as Ollerus. The forms Ollerus and Rollerus are to each other as Ólfur to Hrólfur. Hrólfur is a contraction of Hróð-úlfur; Rollerus indicates a contraction of Hróð-Ullur.  ...Saxo also describes the half-brothers as faithfully united, and, in regard to Roller's reliable fraternity, makes Erik utter a sentence which very nearly corresponds to the Danish: "End svige de Sorne og ikke de Baarne"[2]  (optima est affinium opera opis indigo).[3] Saxo's account of Erik and Roller thus gives us the key to the mythological statements, not otherwise intelligible, that though Ull has in Thor a friendly stepfather (cp. the expression gulli Ullar - Þórsdrápa 17), and in Odin a clan-chief who distinguishes him (cp. Ullar hylli, etc. - Grímnismál 42), nevertheless he contends in this feud on the same side as Erik-Svipdag, with whom he once set out to rescue Frey from the power of the giants. The mythology was not willing to sever those bonds of fidelity which youthful adventures shared in common had established between Frey, Ull, and Svipdag. Both the last two therefore associate themselves with Frey when the war breaks out between the Aesir and Vanir.
It follows that Sif was the second wife of Örvandil the brave before she became Thor's, and that Ull is Örvandil's son. The intimate relation between Örvandil on the one side and Thor on the other has already been shown above. When Örvandil was out on adventures in Jötunheim his first wife Groa visited Thor's halls as his guest, where the dis of vegetation might have a safe place of refuge during her husband's absence. This feature preserved in the Prose Edda is of great mythological importance, and, as I shall show further on, of ancient Indo-European origin. Örvandil, the great archer and star-hero, reappears in Rigveda and also in the Greek mythology -- in the latter under the name Orion, as Vigfusson has already assumed.

[1] Of Rollerus' mother, whom he calls Kraka, Saxo says "she trusted partially in her divine attributes, and that, consorting as she did in a manner with the gods, she wielded an innate and heavenly power."
[2] "The sworn are more likely to betray than the born" i.e. Friends are more likely to betray than kin.
"The service of kin is best for the helpless." Elton tr.

Aesir and the Elves:
Wayland Smith and the Sons of Ivaldi

Viktor Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology, no. 113:
The myths tell that elves forged splendid treasures for Frey (Grímnismál 42; Gylfaginning 43, Skáldskaparmál 14, 43 [Prose Edda I, 140, 340]). To these treasures belonged the remarkable ship Skiðblaðnir and the gold-glittering boar Slíðrugtanni, also called Gullinbursti (Gylfaginning 49, Skáldskaparmál 14 [Prose Edda I, 176, 264, 340-344]), both most probably symbols of vegetation. The elves that forged these treasures are called Ivaldi's sons, and constitute the same group of brothers whose gifts to the gods, at the instigation of Loki, are subjected to a public examination by the Aesir and by them found wanting as compared with Sindri's smithery. It would be most surprising, even quite incredible, if, when other artists made useful presents to Frey, the elf-prince Völund and his brothers did not do likewise, inasmuch as he is the chief smith of them all, and inasmuch as he and his brother Örvandil-Egil have taken upon themselves the duties of foster-father of the young harvest-god, among which were certainly to care for his well-being and enable him to perform his calling, important to the world.
From this standpoint, it is already more than probable that the same artist who plays the role of the finest smith compared to Mimir known to antiquity in the heroic saga of the Germanic tribes under the name Völund, Wieland, Weland, is the same one who was the most excellent smith in the mythology: namely, the most skilful one of Ivaldi's sons. This view is absolutely confirmed as to its correctness by the evidence which I shall now present.
Of Ivaldi, Hrafnagaldur Oðins 6 [Forspjallsljóð] says that he had two sets of children, and that Idun, the dis of vegetation, belonged to one of these sets:
 Álfa ættar
Iðunni hétu
Ívalds eldri
yngsta barna. 
[Of the elf clan
Idun is named
Ivald’s older
youngest child]
Idun is, therefore, a sister of the famous artists, Ivaldi’s sons. In Völundarkviða, Völund and Slagfin are brothers or half-brothers of the dises of vegetation, who are together with them in the Wolfdales (Völundarkviða 2).
[1] According to Hrafnagaldur Oðins [Forspjallsljóð], Idun was for a time absent from Asgard, and stayed in a winter-cold land in the vicinity of Narfi-Mimir's daughter Nott, and in company with persons whose names and epithets indicate that they were smiths, primeval artists (Rögnir and Reginn; see nos. 113, 115, and the epithet viggiar, a synonym of smiðir – Nafnaþulur 89 [Prose Edda, I. 587]).[2] Thus we read precisely the same of Idun as of the swan-maids and vegetation-dises who dwelt for a time in the Wolfdales with Völund and his brothers. Further on it shall be demonstrated that the name of Völund's father in the introduction of Völundarkviða and the name given to the father of Völund's and Slagfin's swan-maids are synonyms, and designate the same person. But if for the moment, we leave this proof aside and confine ourselves to the evidence already presented, then the question concerning the identity of Ivaldi's sons with the group of brothers Völund, Egil, and Slagfin takes the following form:
1. (a) In the mythology exists a group of brothers, Ivaldi's sons, from which the most wonderful smithery proceeded, smithery which was presented to the gods, who compared them to those of the primeval artist Sindri.
     (b) In the heroic saga exists a group of brothers, to which Völund belongs, the most famous of the heroic saga’s smiths originating in mythology.
2.  (a) Ivaldi is an elf and his sons elves.
     (b) Völund, Egil, and Slagfin are elves (Völundarkviða 32).
3. (a) Ivaldi's sons are brothers or half-brothers of the goddess of vegetation, Idun.
     (b) Völund, Egil, and Slagfin are brothers or half-brothers of swan-maids and dises of vegetation.
4. (a) Of Idun, the sister of Ivaldi's sons, it is told that she once was absent from the gods and dwelt together with the primeval artists in a winter-cold land, in proximity to Nott, Narfi-Mimir’s daughter.
    (b) Völund’s and his brothers' swan-maids stay with them for a time in a winter-cold land, which, after what my investigations have already shown, is located fyr nágrindur neðan,
[3] consequently in the underworld, in the vicinity of Nott’s realm.
5. (a) Ivaldi's sons have stood in close connection with Frey and given him precious treasures.
   (b) Völund and Egil have stood in close connection with Frey and were his fosterers and wards.
6.  (a) Ivaldi's sons were most deeply insulted by the gods.
     (b) Völund has been most deeply insulted by the Aesir. He and Egil have become their foes, and joined with the powers of frost.
7. (a) The insult inflicted upon Ivaldi's sons consisted of their smithery being rejected in comparison to the hammer Mjölnir manufactured by Sindri.
     (b) The finest smithery manufactured by Völund is a sword with such qualities that it shall prove itself superior to Mjölnir in battle.
Already these circumstances compel us to accept the identity of Ivaldi's sons with Völund and his brothers. One must concede that they are identical, or also accept that the mythic epic contained two such sets of brothers and gave them the same family, the same functions, and the same fate and allowed one group to avenge not their own wrong, but an insult inflicted upon the other. I have avoided the latter assumption, because it is in conflict with the best of all rules for a logical investigation: causæ non sunt præter necessitatem multiplicandæ.
[4] And, as the investigation progresses, the identity gains confirmation from all directions.
[1] On this point, see also no. 118 and 123. It is directly stated in the prose introduction and in verse 15 of Völundarkviða that Hladgud and Hervör, two of the swan-maidens, are daughters of Hlöðver and that the third, Ölrun, is the daughter of Kiar. However, in verse 2, when speaking of Hervör, Völund’s swan-maiden, the poet ambiguously states that she is “their sister” (þeira systir). Clearly, Rydberg believes that “their” refers to the three brothers, while modern scholars believe it refers back to the other two swan-maidens. Noting the apparent contradiction of the modern reading, Ursula Dronke writes: “according to 15/5-8 only two of the wives were born sisters. In 2/8 systir might refer to the ‘sorority’ of friendship of the three. …In Völundarkviða, however, I think it more probable that the three swan sisters were designed to be real sisters by the poet of this stanza, to match the three real brothers, and make the family net more tightly knit,” [PE II, p. 306-307] Regarding this discrepancy, she explains “At the same time a reciter has made alterations to the text and has not coordinated the new details with the old. From this arises one serious discrepancy of fact in the poem. There are four names for the three wives: Egill has Ölrun (named in 5/2, 15/7), Völundr has a ‘daughter of Hlöðvér’ (11/16: i.e. either the Hlaðguðr or the Hervör of 15/5), and Slagfiðr has Svanhvít (5/4), whose name is not included with those of the other wives in 15/5-8. The author of the prose prologue has cleverly combined Hlaðguðr-Svanhvít and Hervör-Alvítr (taking alvítr, 11/7, as a proper noun), so that Slagfiðr can marry Svanhvít (5/4) and Völundr Alvítr (11/7), and still have a king as a father-in-law. But this must be ingenuity, not tradition.” [PE II, pp. 290-291].
[2] The words viggi and smiðr occur as synonyms in Nafnaþulur 89 as names of oxen (bulls). It is unlikely these names would also been seen as interchangeable for smith.
[3] “down beneath the corpse-gates.”
[4] “Causes are not to be multiplied beyond what is necessary.”


Tomoaki Mizuno, Ring Composition and Circular Narrative Structure in Eddic Poems[1]12th International Saga Conference:

"It has been known, since H. W. Tonsfeldt (1977) and John D. Niles (1979),[2] that Old English poets made use of ring composition in the sense that the expressive elements in the first half of a verse echo those in the second half, and are thus arranged to form the chiastic, ring pattern [A-B-C---X---C-B-A], surrounding a kernel theme [X].[3] However, no serious attempt seems yet to have been made to uncover the presence of this principle of composition in Eddic poems. My preliminary assessment reveals that some of the Eddic poets also employed ring composition, setting up a close interconnection between different strophes. ...In Grímnismál, on the other hand, only one section of the poem (str. 5-16) seems to have been composed in this way. "

[1] Some part of this paper is based on the Japanese draft of my oral presentation entitled ‘Edda-Shi ni miru Ring Composition to Katari no Enkan-Kozoh’, delivered in the Symposium at 18th Congress of the Japan Society for Medieval English Studies, which was held at Graduate School of Letters, Hiroshima University, on Dec. 7, 2002.
[2] H. Ward Tonsfeldt, “Ring Structure in Beowulf”, Neophilologus 61 (1977): 443-52. John D. Niles, “Ring Structure and the Structure of Beowulf”, PMLA 94 (1979): 924-35.
[3] John D. Niles, Beowulf: The Poem and Its Tradition (Harvard UP, 1983) 152-53.


A  more detailed analysis of the relationship between
The Aesir and the Elves, can be found