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:
8. Glaðsheimr heitir en v,
þar er en gullbjarta
Valhlall* við of þrvmir;
en þar Hroftr kýss
hverjan dag
vápndauða vera.
*Corrected to ‘(v)alhall’ in the margin. The initial ‘v’ is not visible.

8. Glaðsheimr ær hinn fimti,
þar er hin gullbjarta
Valhöll víð of þrumir;
en þar Hroftr kýss
hverjan dag
vápndauða vera.


8. Glaðsheimr heitir inn fimmti,
þar er in gullbjarta
Valhöll víð of þrumir;
en þar Hroftr kýss
hverjan dag
vápndauða vera.


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

 VIII. Gladsheimer next succeeds --- the land,
Where bright Valhalla's towers stand:
In burnish'd gold they proudly rise,
And lose their radiance in the skies.
Hropter there with potent word,
Dooms myriads daily to the sword.

The fifth is Gladsheim, where, brilliant as gold,
Ariseth Valhalla's spacious dome, whither
Hropter daily calleth men slain by the sword.

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

8. Gladsheim the fifth is named,
there the golden-bright
Valhall stands spacious,
there Hropt selects
each day those men
who die by weapons.

Gladham the fifth is called,
where the gold-bright wide Walhall towers;
there the Sage (Woden) chooses every day weapon-dead men.
1908 Olive Bray
in Edda Saemundar
The Sayings of Grimnir
1923 Henry Bellows
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir

8. The fifth is called Glad-home, and gold-bright Valholl,
spacious, lies in its midst :
there Odin shall choose his own each day
of the warriors fallen in war.
 8. Odin, here called Hropt

8. The fifth is Glathsheim,        and gold-bright there
Stands Valhall stretching wide;
And there does Othin        each day choose
The men who have fallen in fight.

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

8. Gladhome is hight the fifth    where golden shimm'ring
   Valholl is widely spread out;
   here Othin chooses    every day
   weapon-slain warriors.

8. The fifth Glad-Home where, golden-bright
The Hall of Valhalla stands:
There Hropt, the Doomer, daily chooses
Warriors slain by weapons.

1996 Carolyne Larrington
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnir’s Sayings
2005 James Allen Chisholm
The Eddas: The Keys to the Mysteries of the North
The Lay of Grimnir

8. Gladsheim a fifth is called, there gold-bright Valhall
rises peacefully, seen from afar;
there Odin chooses every day
those dead in combat.

8. The fifth is called Gladhome
There stands Valhalla fast and wide,
where Hropt chooses
the weapon slain every day.


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

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

8. ‘Happy-home the fifth is called, where, gold-bright
Slain-hall quietly lies;
there Hropt makes his choice each day
from men weapon-dead.

8. Glad Realm the fifth is called,
where, gleaming with gold,
the Hall of the Slain Men stretches
into space,
and there the Hidden One
each day elects
the men who met death by weapons.

Valhall: References in Eddic Poetry

The environment of and way to Valhall soon become a major theme in this poem. here are all of the references to Valhalla in the sources. Surprisingly few Eddic poems mention Valhall by name. According to Robert Kellogg’s Concordance to Eddic Poetry, they are:
Voluspa 33:
He [Vali] never washed hands
never combed head,
till he bore to the pyre
Baldr’s adversary—
while Frigg wept
In Fen Halls
for Valhöll’s woe. [Ursula Dronke tr.]
Grimnismal 8:
Gladsheim a fifth is called, there gold-bright Valhall
rises peacefully, seen from afar;
there Odin chooses every day
those dead in combat. [Carolyne Larrington tr.]
Grimnismal 23:
Five hundred doors and forty
I think are in Valhall;
Eight hundreds of warriors will go together from one door
When they go to fight the wolf. [Carolyne Larrington tr.]
Hyndluljod 1:
“Wake up, girl of girls, wake up my friend,
Hyndla, sister, who lives in a rock cave!
Now it’s the darkest of darkness, we two shall ride
To Valhall, to the sacred sanctuary. [Carolyne Larrington tr.]
[Larrington also slips the phrases “the road to Valhall” and “on the way to Valhall” into verses 5 and 6 of this poem, but they do not appear in the Old Icelandic]
This doesn’t exhaust our eddic references to Valhall, however. It is referred to in other passages as well, but not by name. It is called “Odin’s hall”, commonly using an epithet of Odin:
Grimnismal 25 and 26 refer to it as “höllu á Herjaföðrs”— the hall of the Father-of-Hosts. Although it appears (in variant) in both manuscripts, the name Herjaföðr does not fit the meter and is usually omitted in modern Icelandic editions. It is thought to be a later addition.
Vafthrudnismal 40-41 refer to it as Óðins túnum, “Odin’s courtyards.” Helgakvida Hundingsbana II, 49-50, make a fairly clear reference to Valhalla as sölum Óðins “Odin’s hall.” A rooster wakes the heroes there. Havamal 111 may refer to the same place as Háva höllu, “the High One’s hall”
Snorri mentions Glaðsheimr in Gylfaginning 14. The U manuscript of Snorri’s text reads Glaðheimr.
Gylfaginning 14: “In the beginning he established rulers and bade them decide with him the destinies of men and be in charge of the government of the city. This was in the place called Idavoll in the centre of the city. It was the first act to build the temple that their thrones stand in, twelve in addition to the throne that belongs to All-father. This building is the best that is built on earth and the biggest. Outside and inside it seems like nothing but gold. This building is the best that is built on earth and the place is called Gladsheim. They built another hall, this was the sanctuary that belonged to the goddesses, and it was very beautiful. This building they called Vingolf.” [Anthony Faulkes’ tr.]
[Vingolf does not occur in the generally accepted Eddic canon of poems. The name does appear in Hrafnagaldur Odins 17, however, as a general hall for the gods.

Vingólf tóku 
Viðars þegnar,
Fornjóts sefum  
fluttir báðir; 
iðar ganga,   
æsi kveðja     
Yggjar þegar
við ölteiti.

 Arrived at Vingólf
Viðar's thains, (Odin’s men—Heimdall, Bragi and Loki)
by Fornjót's sons (wind and sea)
both transported;
they walk within,
greet the Æsir
forthwith at Yggur's  (Odin’s)
merry ale-feast:
The hall may in fact be Valhalla. Verse 19 says:

að Bölverks ráði 
sjöt Sæhrímni
saddist rakna;  
Skögul að skutlum
skaptker Hnikars 
mat af miði
Mímis hornum.

Seated on benches
at Bölverk's (Odin’s) bidding
the tribe of gods
were with Sæhrímnir sated;
Skögul, at the tables,
with horns meted out
Mímir's mead
from Hnikar's (Odin’s) vat.


Valhall: References in Snorri's Edda

Many of Snorri’s references to Valhalla are based on verses of Grimnismal. Often Snorri cites the verse as evidence of his prose description.  
The Prose Edda, Gylfaginning (Arthur Broeder translation):
2. “…he saw there a hall so high that he could not easily make out the top of it: its thatching was laid with golden shields after the fashion of a shingled roof. So also says Thjódólfr of Hvin, that Valhall was thatched with shields:
On their backs they let beam, | sore battered with stones,
Odin's hall-shingles, | the shrewd sea-farers.
20. “Odin is called Allfather because he is father of all the gods. He is also called Father of the Slain, because all those that fall in battle are the sons of his adopt on; for them he appoints Valhall ("Hall of the Slain") and Vingólf ("Friendly Floor"), and they are then called Champions. He is also called God of the Hanged, God of Gods, God of Cargoes; and he has also been named in many more ways, after he had come to King Geirrödr.”
38. “Then said Gangleri: "Thou sayest that all those men who have fallen in battle from the beginning of the world are now come to Odin in Valhall. What has he to give them for food? I should think that a very great host must be there." Then Hárr answered: "That which thou sayest is true: a very mighty multitude is there, but many more shall be, notwithstanding which it will seem all too small, in the time when the Wolf shall come. But never is so vast a multitude in Valhall that the flesh of that boar shall fail, which s called Sæhrímnir; he is boiled every day and is whole at evening. But this question which thou askest now: I think it likelier that few may be so wise as to be able to report truthfully concerning it. His name who roasts is Andhrímnir, and the kettle is Eldhrímnir; so it is said here:
Andhrímnir | has in Eldhrímnir
Sæhrímnir sodden,
Best of hams; | yet how few know
With what food the champions are fed."
Then said Gangleri: "Has Odin the same fare as the champions?" Hárr answered: "That food which stands on his board he gives to two wolves which he has, called Geri ("Ravener") and Freki ("Glutton, greedy"); but no food does he need; wine is both food and drink to him; so it says here:
Geri and Freki | the war-mighty glutteth,
The glorious God of Hosts;
But on wine alone | the weapon-glorious
Odin aye liveth.
[Dead warriors on the battlefield are known as “food of wolves” and “food of ravens”. Odin feeds the meat of the boar Sæhrimnir to his wolves, thus equating them with the animal sacrifice. The Einherjar who die in battle can be seen as human sacrifices, in a manner of speaking. With that food (i.e. human bodies) the Einherjar are “fed”. In other words, by this means their numbers are increased. They eat the sacrifice and are the sacrifice, symbolically speaking. This makes the prefixes, And- Eld- and Sæ- subject to closer examination, to see if they carry symbolic meaning as well. And- means spirit. Eld-means fire and Sæ- means sea. See Grímnismál 18]
39. “Then said Gangleri: "What have the champions to drink, that may suffice them as abundantly as the food? Or is water drunk there?"' Then said Hárr: "Now thou askest strangely; as if Allfather would invite to him kings or earls or other men of might and would give them water to drink! I know, by my faith! that many a man comes to Valhall who would think he had bought his drink of water dearly, if there were not better cheer to be had there, he who before had suffered wounds and burning pain unto death. I can tell thee a different tale of this. The she-goat, she who is called Heidrún, stands up in Valhall and bites the needles from the limb of that tree which is very famous, and is called Lærádr; and from her udders mead runs so copiously, that she fills a tun every day.”
[See Grímnismál 25. Heiðrún provides eternal drink, just as Sæhrimnir provides eternal meat for the Einherjar. Thor’s goats play a similar role. Even the Einherjar themselves regenerate whole again after a day’s combat. Heidrun’s position on the roof of Valhalla and eating leaves of Yggdrassil, suggest that Valhall is built around the bole of the Tree, like the hall described in Volusungasaga 1-2.]
40. “Then said Gangleri: "These are marvellous tidings which thou now tellest. A wondrous great house Valhall must be; it must often be exceeding crowded before the doors." Then Hárr answered: "Why dost thou not ask how many doors there are in the hall, or how great? If thou hearest that told, then thou wilt say that it is strange indeed if whosoever will may not go out and in; but it may be said truly that it is no more crowded to find place therein than to enter into it; here thou mayest read in Grímnismál:
Five hundred doors | and forty more
So I deem stand in Valhall;
Eight hundred champions | go out at each door
When they fare to fight with the Wolf."
41. “Then said Gangleri: "A very mighty multitude of men is in Valhall, so that, by my faith, Odin is a very great chieftain, since he commands so large an army. Now what is the sport of the champions, when they are not fighting?" Hárr replied: "Every day, as soon as they are clothed, they straightway put on their armor and go out into the court and fight, and fell each other. That is their sport; and when the time draws near to undern-meal, they ride home to Valhall and sit down to drink, even as is said here:
All the Einherjar | in Odin's court
Deal out blows every day;
The slain they choose | and ride from the strife,
Sit later in love together.
[Saxo Book 1 mentions armies of dead men in the underworld, who fight and are renewed each day.
Sorli's Thattur speaks of an undying army, reviving to fight once they fall, until the spell is broken by a Christian man.
The concept of reincarnation may be present here. ]
49. “Frigg: 'Neither weapons nor trees may hurt Baldr: I have taken oaths of them all.' Then the woman asked: 'Have all things taken oaths to spare Baldr?' and Frigg answered: 'There grows a tree-sprout alone westward of Valhall: it is called Mistletoe; I thought it too young to ask the oath of.' Then straightway the woman turned away; but Loki took Mistletoe and pulled it up and went to the Thing.”
The Prose Edda, Skáldskaparmál:
9. Odin heiti and Odin-kenningar (quotes Glúmr Geirason & Eirikrsmal)
Here is an example of this metaphor, that in poesy the earth is called the Wife of Odin. Here is told what Eyvindr sang:
Hermódr and Bragi,
Spake Hropta-Týr.
Go ye to greet the Prince;
For a king who seemeth
A champion cometh
To the hall hither.
24. “Hrungnir was so filled with the giant's frenzy that he took no heed until he had come in beyond the gates of Ásgard. When he came to the hall-door, the Æsir invited him to drink. He went within and ordered drink to be brought to him, and then those flagons were brought in from which Thor was wont to drink; and Hrungnir swilled from each in turn. But when he had become drunken, then big words were not wanting: he boasted that he would lift up Valhall and carry it to Jötunheim, and sink Ásgard and kill all the gods, save that he would take Freyja and Sif home with him. Freyja alone dared pour for him; and he vowed that he would drink all the ale of the Æsir. But when his overbearing insolence became tiresome to the Æsir, they called on the name of Thor.”
41. “When the gods had sat down in their places, straightway Ægir had bright gold brought in onto the floor of the hall, and the gold gave forth light and illumined the hall like fire: and it was used there for lights at his banquet, even as in Valhall swords were used in place of fire.”
42. "Why is gold called the Needles, or Leaves; of Glasir? In Ásgard, before the doors of Valhall, there stands a grove which is called Glasir, and its leafage is all red gold, even as is sung here:
Glasir stands
With golden leafage
Before the High God's halls.
Far and wide, this tree is the fairest known among gods and men.
[This grove's position outside of Valhall’s door, like Heidrun’s position on the roof, suggest that these are the golden leaves the World-Tree. In the poem Fjölvinnsmál, which speaks of “Mimir’s tree” (20), we encounter the words Vedurglasir and Aurglasir, the 'Glasir of the Weather' and the 'Glasir of the Mud' (24, 28). A golden cocks sits on the boughs of 'Weather-glasir'. (Cf the cock Gullinkambi in Völuspá). An ash-colored giantess with a sword sits below. She is designated the "Eir of Aur-glasir”. The names probably refer to the top half and the bottom half of the world-tree: one being exposed to weather and the other planted in the mud.]

Valhall: References in Saga Literature

Icelandic Sagas:
Njals’s Saga 79:
After that they took their weapons when all men were in their beds.  Hogni takes down the bill, and it gave a sharp ringing sound.
Rannveig sprang up in great wrath and said, "Who touches the bill, when I forbade every one to lay hand on it?"
"I mean," says Hogni, "to bring it to my father, that he may bear it with him to Valhalla, and have it with him when the warriors meet."
"Rather shalt thou now bear it," she answered, "and avenge thy father; for the bill has spoken of one man's death or more."
Njal’s Saga 88:
"The gods can have naught to do with it," says the earl; "a man must have burnt the shrine, and borne the gods out; but the gods do not avenge everything on the spot.  That man who has done this will no doubt be driven away out of Valhalla, and never come in thither."
Gisla Saga Surssonar 14:
“When they had decked out Vestein’s body according to the ways of the time, Thorgrim went to Gisli and said: “It is custome to tie Hel-shoes to the men that they may wear themn on their journey to Valhalla, and I will do that for Vestein.” And when he had done this, he said “If these come loose, then I don’t know how to bind Hel-shoes.”
Hervarar Saga og Heidreks 3:
“Hjalmar spoke: “Wherever did we come to a battle, where you go forward in front of me? That's why you want to fight with Angantyr, because you think that will get you more glory. Well, I'm the leader of this dueling expedition. In Sweden I promised the king's daughter not to let you or anyone else go into this duel in front of me. So I should fight Angantyr.” And he drew his sword then and stepped up towards Angantyr, and they dedicated each other to Valhall. And they didn't leave long between each heavy stroke.
Gautreks Saga 1:
“'I'm called Snotra, because I'm the most intelligent. My sisters are called Hjotra and Fjotra,' she said. 'There's a precipice called Gillings Bluff near the farm, and we call its peak Family Cliff. The drop's so great there's not a living creature could ever survive it. It's called Family Cliff simply because we use it to cut down the size of our family whenever something extraordinary happens, and in this way our elders are allowed to die straight off without having to suffer any illnesses. And then they can go straight to Odin, while their children are spared all the trouble and expense of having to take care of them. Every member of our family is free to use this facility offered by the cliff, so there's no need for any of us to live in famine or poverty, or put up with other misfortunes that might happen to us.
'I hope you realize, my father thinks it quite extraordinary, your coming to our house. It would have been remarkable enough for any stranger to take a meal with us, but this really is a marvel, that a king, cold and naked, should have been to our house. There's no precedent for it, so my father and mother have decided to share out the inheritance tomorrow between me and my brothers and sisters. After that they're going to take the slave with them and pass on over Family Cliff on the way to Valhalla. My father feels that's the least reward he could give the slave for trying to bar your way into the house, to let the fellow share this bliss with him. Besides, he's quite sure Odin won't ever receive the slave unless he goes with him."
Gautreks Saga 2:
'What an extraordinary thing to happen,' he said, 'a king has paid us a visit, eaten us out of house and home and then taken away what we could least afford to lose. It's clear to me that we won't be able to stay together any longer as one family since we're reduced to poverty. That's why I've gathered together all my things. And now I'm going to divide them up between my sons. I'm going to take my wife along to Valhalla, and my slave as well, since it's the least I can do to repay him for his faithful service, to let him go there with me.'
'Gilling is to have my fine ox, to share with his sister Snotra. Fjolmod and his sister Hjotra are to have my bars of gold, Imsigull and his sister Fjotra all my cornfields. And now I want to implore you, my children, not to add to the family, so that you'll be able to preserve what you've inherited.'
When Skinflint had said all he wanted, the family climbed up to Gillings Bluff. After that the young people helped their parents to pass on over Family Cliff, and off they went, merry and bright, on the way to Odin.
Hrolfs Saga Kraka ok Kappa Hans 51:
Bodvar said, "Vast is the host of Skuld, and I suspect now that the dead move here and rise up again and fight against us, and it won't be easy to fight with zombies, and however many limbs may be cloven, and shields shivered, helm and hauberk hacked apart, and however many chiefs we cut down, these dead ones are the grimmest to contend with, and we haven't the power to combat this, but where is that champion of King Hrolf, who most questioned my courage and kept challenging me to come out, till I answered him? I don't see him now, and I'm not one to criticise people."
Then said Hjalti, "You speak true, you are no slanderer. Here stands that man, Hjalti by name, and now I have some work at hand, and it's not far between us, and I'm in need of gallant lads, for all my armour is hewn away, foster-brother, although I reckon I'm battling all out, and now I'm not avenging all my blows, but this is no time to hold back, if we're going to stay in Valhall this evening, and we've certainly not seen the like of this before, though we've had enough warnings of what's now come."
Sögubrot af Nokkrum Fornkonungum í Dana ok Svíaveldi 9:
Ok þá lét Hringr konungr taka þann söðul, er hann sjálfr hafði riðit í, ok gaf þann Haraldi konungi, frænda sínum, ok bað hann gera hvárt, er hann vildi, ríða til Valhallar eða aka.
“… and asked him if he would whether ride or drive to Valhalla.”
Ynglingasaga 8:

“Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland.  Thus he established by law that all dead men should be burned, and their belongings laid with them upon the pile, and the ashes be cast into the sea or buried in the earth.  Thus, said he, every one will come to Valhalla with the riches he had with him upon the pile; and he would also enjoy whatever he himself had buried in the earth.”
Hakonar saga Adalsteinsfostra 32:
“They spoke over his grave, as heathen people are used to do, and wished him in Valhal.  Eyvind Skaldaspiller composed a poem on the death of King Hakon, and on how well he was received in Valhal.  The poem is called "Hakonarmal": --
     "In Odin's hall an empty place
     Stands for a king of Yngve's race;
     `Go, my valkyries,' Odin said,
     `Go forth, my angels of the dead,
     Gondul and Skogul, to the plain
     Drenched with the battle's bloody rain,
     And to the dying Hakon tell,
     Here in Valhal shall he dwell.'
"Odin wakes in the morning and cries, as he opens his eyes, with his dream still fresh in his mind: -- `What dreams are these? I thought I arose before daybreak to make Valhal ready for a host of slain. I woke up the host of the chosen. I bade them ride up to strew the benches, and to till up the beer-vats, and I bade valkyries to bear the wine, as if a king were coming. I look for the coming of some noble chiefs from the earth, wherefore my heart is glad.'
"Brage, Odin's counsellor, now wakes, as a great din is heard without, and calls out: -- `What is that thundering? as if a thousand men or some great host were tramping on -- the walls and the benches are creaking withal -- as if Balder was coming back to the ball of Odin?'
"Odin answers: -- `Surely thou speakest foolishly, good Brage, although thou art very wise. It thunders for Eirik the king, that is coming to the hall of Odin.'
"Then turning to his heroes, he cries: -- `Sigmund and Sinfjotle, rise in haste and go forth to meet the prince! Bid him in if it be Eirik, for it is he whom I look for.'
"Sigmund answers: -- `Why lookest thou more for Eirik, the king, to Odin's hall, than for other kings?'
"Odin answers: -- `Because he has reddened his brand, and borne his bloody sword in many a land.'
"Quoth Sigmund: -- `Why didst thou rob him, the chosen king of victory then, seeing thou thoughtest him so brave?'
"Odin answered: -- `Because it is not surely to be known, when the grey wolf shall come upon the seat of the god.'
SECOND SCENE. -- Without Valhal. Sigmund and Sinfjotle go outside the hall and meet Eirik.
"Quoth Sigmund: -- `Hail to thee, Eirik, be welcome here, and come into the hall, thou gallant king! Now I will ask thee, what kings are these that follow thee from the clash of the sword edges?'
"Eirik answers: -- `They are five kings; I will tell thee all their names; I myself am the sixth (the names followed in the song, whereof the rest is lost.)