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:

10. Mjög er auðkennt,
þ er. o. k. s. k:
vargr hangir
fyr vestan dyrr
ok drúpir örn yfir

10. Mjög er auðkennt,
þæim ær. t. k. f. sia:
vargr hangir
fyr vestan dyrr
ok drúpir örn yfir

10. Mjög er auðkennt,
þeir er til Óðins koma
salkynni at séa:
vargr hangir
fyr vestan dyrr
ok drúpir örn yfir.  

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

  X. Where Odin's towers rise to view,
Thus may be known by symbols true;
A gaunt Wolf sits in pend'lous state
Ever o'er the western gate;
While Eagles the wide portals grace.

— O'er the western gate
 hangeth a wolf; and there
An eagle hovering soareth aloft in pride.

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

10. Easily to be known is,
by those who to Odin come,
the mansion by its aspect.
A wolf hangs
before the western door,
over it an eagle hovers.

“That hall is, etc. A wolf hangs before the west door, an eagle hovers above it.”

1908 Olive Bray
in Edda Saemundar
The Sayings of Grimnir
1923 Henry Bellows
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir

10. 'Tis easily known by all who come
to visit Odin's folk ;
there hangs a wolf 'fore the western door,
and an eagle hovers over.

10. Easy is it to know        for him who to Othin
Comes and beholds the hall;
There hangs a wolf        by the western door,
And o’er it an eagle hovers.

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

10. Easily known    to Ygg's chosen
    are the heavenly halls:
    a wolf hangeth    o'er the western gate,    and hovers an eagle on high.

10. Easy to recognize for all who come there
Is Odin's lofty hall:
The wolf lurks before the west door,
The eagle hovers above.

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”

10.  It's very easy to recognize for those who come to Odin
to see how his hall's arranged;
a wolf hangs in front of the western doors
and an eagle hovers above.

10. Much is easily recognizable
by those who come to Óðinn's
to see his household:
A wolf hangs
west of the door
and an eagle droops down above it.

  E.O.G Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North, 1964, p. 53-54:
  The dead warriors go to Odinn's palace, Valholl, as is stated in the Eiriksmal and the Hakonarmal. There they join the ranks of Odinn's glorious band, awaiting the Ragnarok.
The scaldic poets have little to say of' Valholl, and their allusions to it are generally obscure. The only detailed descriptions of it are found in the Grimnismal (strs. 8-10, 23-26) and in Snorri's Gylfaginning (chs. 24-5), based mainly on this poem.
Valholl stands in Gladsheimr, the World of Joy; its rafters are spearshafts and the tiles are shields, as was known already by Harald Finehair's poet, Thorbjorn Hornklofi. A wolf lurked to the west of the entrance and an eagle hovered over the building. There Odinn dwelt with his wolves, Geri and Freki, and his ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who fly over the world every day. Odinn lives on wine alone, but the fallen warriors feast on the flesh of the boar Saehrimnir which, according to Snorri, is stewed every day and arises whole in the evening. The warriors drink the liquor which flows from the udders of the goat, Heidrun, nourished by the foliage of the tree Laeradr. These warriors fight each other in the courts every day, but in the evening they sit together at peace." The gate, through which the fallen warriors probably enter, is called Valgrind (Grill of the Fallen), and the palace has no less than five hundred and forty (i.e. 640) doorways. Eight hundred (i.e. 960) warriors will march abreast through each doorway, when they go to fight the wolf in the Ragnarok.
The description of Valhall has more to do with art than with popular belief. The splendid picture is not free from foreign influences. The glorious hall is modeled on a royal palace, but such palaces were not to be found in Scandinavia in the heathen age. J. Grimm" observed that, according to a chronicler of the tenth century, Charles the Great had set up a flying eagle of bronze on the roof of his palace. Later scholars have carried the comparison with European architecture further and M. Olsen sees the Valholl described in the Edda as the reflection of a Roman amphitheatre, or even of the Coliseum, which a Scandinavian traveller had seen. There the warriors fight, day in day out. The building has many doors, and the Emperor, presiding in the high seat, might correspond with Odinn, presiding in Valholl?
Olsen's arguments should not be rejected as lightly as they have been, but they apply to the picture of Valholl drawn by the poets of the Edda, and not to the fundamental conceptions underlying the belief.
Formally, the name Valholl could mean 'the foreign hall', and it has sometimes been interpreted in this way, although it more probably means the 'castle of the slain'. The word valr is applied collectively to corpses slain in battle." It has been noticed that the name Valhall is applied to certain rocks in southern Sweden, and these were 'believed to be dwelling-places of the dead. It is, therefore, likely that the second element in the name Valholl was not originally hell (hall), but rather hallr (rock). In this case, it was the magination of the poets which turned the rock of the dead into a noble, glorious palace.
If this is so, Valholl represents little more than a refinement of the common belief that the dead dwell in a rock, or that men die into a rock, as they died into the Helgafell in estern Iceland." Odinn presides over them, originally perhaps as god of death rather than as god of war.
  Grimnismal 9-10: "They recognize it well, those that go to Odin"

How easy is Odin’s hall to recognize exactly? Can it be found in the verse below? You be the judge.
Fjölsvinsmal is a late poem, yet the poet seems to have a clear grasp on mythic concepts. In it,  a young hero, Svipdag, arrives at a fortified gate, usually interpreted as a giant-stronghold. But is it really?
Svipdag is met at the gate by a watchman who engages him in conversation. The poem calls him Fjolsvidr, a name of Odin found in Grimnismal 47. This opens the very real possibility that Svipdag stands at the gates of Asgard, speaking to Odin himself.
In a series of cryptic questions and answers, the poem sustains this allusion. The full text of the poem, which appears as part of the compound poem Svipdagsmal, can be found here in English translation.
In verse 5, Svipdag sees before him golden halls, like those described in Grimnismal, not the rocky caverns of a giant. Once the eye has seen such a delightful sight, it ever seeks to return to it.

In verse 12, the walls are said to be built of Leir-brimir’s limbs by Fjolsvidr himself, a possible allusion to the slaying of the primordial giant Ymir, and the creation of the world from his corpse. Brimir is a name found in Voluspa, and associated with the creation of the dwarves, who sprang from Ymir’s flesh.

In verse 14, Fjolsvidr possesses two wolf-hounds, Geri and Gifr, which correspond to Odin’s wolves in Grimnismal, Geri and Freki.

In verse 20, “Mimir’s Tree” usually identified as Yggdrassil, stands nearby. Its leaves shade the place and the poet says “few are they who know from what root it springs” a phrase which echoes the description of the tree that Odin sacrifices himself from in Havamal 140.

In verse 24, a golden cock is perched in its branches, comparable to the golden cock Gullinkami (gold-comb) in Voluspa.

Inside the walls sits a goddess named Menglad (the necklace-lover), surrounded by 8 lesser goddesses, including Eir, the Asynje of healing (verses 8, 37, 38). They protect those who worship them “at the holy altar” from any danger, no matter how great the need (40).

The goddess Menglad is most often identified with Freyja herself, the owner of the necklace Brisingamen. Like all gods and goddesses, she has many names.
In verse 45, after Fjolsvidr first announces Svipdag’s arrival, Menglad swears to the watchman that, if he is lying “wise ravens shall tear out your eyes on the high gallows”— all attributes which playfully point to Odin, the god of the ‘wise’ ravens, Thought and Memory, as well as the hanged god, the High one himself.
Could the poet be any plainer? The imagery here, clearly, points to Odin at Asgard’s gate questioning a young traveler— perhaps an initiate arriving there. If this interpretation is correct, this late Eddic poem gives us a rare glimpse of Asgard, through the eyes of a traveler standing at Asgard’s gate!
One hall in particular is of interest to our discussion. Standing outside, Svipdag asks Fjolsvidr-Odin what the hall he sees before the gate is called. Fjolsvidr responds:

  32. It is called Hyr,
and it will long tremble
on the point of a sword;
this rich mansion
forever shall be known to men
only by hearsay.

 Commentary which once appeared on the same site explains the possible meaning of this cryptic verse:
 The name is usually read as Hyrr, i.e. "fire". However, It could also be read as Hýr, i.e. "sweet, smiling, mild", and understood as a reference to Valhall, the greatest mansion found within the walls of Asgard, making this as much of a riddle as most of the proper names found in the poem. Grímnismál 8 states that Valhall is situated in Glaðsheimr, "world of gladness, world of joy". Glaðr and hýr are synonyms.
Thus Fjolsvith states that Valhall, the very castle of the father of gods, "trembles on the point of a sword". Broddr does not strictly mean "sword", but is frequently used to mean "a weapon with a sharp point", and should be compared with teinn, as used in stanzas 26-28. …The statement in lines 4-6 is certainly applicable to Valhall: it is a place which no mortal can know except by hearsay.
End quote
Similarly, in Eiriksmál 2, when new warriors arrive in Valhalla over Bifrost, the benches are said to “tremble” (bifast) the same word used here. The name of the bridge Bifrost itself means “the trembling way”. Thus we have a unified semantic field present in all these elements, making it unlikely to be a mere coincidence.
So, in your opinion, is Odin’s hall recognizable in this verse?