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:

12. Breida -blik ero in fivnðo,
en þar Baldr hefir
sér um gerva sali,
á því landi,
er ek liggja veit
fæsta feiknstafi.

12. Bræida blio ærv hin fiárnndv,
en þar Baldr hefir
sér um gerva sali,
á því landi,
er ek liggja væit
fæsta feiknstafi.  

12. Breiðablik eru in sjaundu,
en þar Baldr hefir
sér um gerva sali,
á því landi,
er ek liggja veit
fæsta feiknstafi.  

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

XII. Seventh in fame,
Breidabliker mortals name:
within whose consecrated walls
stand Balder's hospitable halls.
There smiling peace has ever shone,
and virtue calls the place her own.

  Seventh is Breidablik, and there
Hath Balder made his glad habitation.
In that blest spot where nought of roughness is,
But all is love, and peace, and purity.

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

12. Breidablik is the seventh,
where Baldr has
built for himself a hall,
in that land,
in which I know exists
the fewest crimes.

“Broad-blink is the seventh,
there Balder has made him a hall;
the land in which the fewest curses lie
[the most blessed of lands].”
1908 Olive Bray
in Edda Saemundar
The Sayings of Grimnir
1923 Henry Bellows
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir

12. The seventh is Broad-gleam ; there hath Baldr
set him a hall on high,
away in the land where I ween are found
the fewest tokens of ill.

12. The seventh is Breithablik;        Baldr has there
For himself a dwelling set,
In the land I know        that lies so fair,
And from evil fate is free.

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

12. Breithablik the seventh;    there Baldr the good
    hath reared him his bright abode:
    in that land it lies    where least I know
    falsehood and faithlessness.

12. The seventh Broad-Shining, where Baldur has
Made himself a mansion,
A blessed place, the best of lands,
Where evil runes are rare.

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”

12. Breidablik is the seventh, where Baldr has
a hall made for himself,
in that land where I know there
are the fewest evil plots.

12. Broad Gleam is the seventh,
and Baldr has there
made halls for himself,
In that land,
where I know lie
least omens of ill. 


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


12. ‘Broad-gleam is the seventh, where Baldr has
made himself a hall;
in that land, where I know lie
the fewest evil plans.


Where is Breidablik located?
The text simply tells us that Breidablik is Baldur’s hall. Grímnismál doesn’t indicate where it is located. It need not be situated in Asgard. In the previous verse Skadi’s hall Thrymheim is clearly in Jotunheim. Similarly verse 4 speaks of a land lying near the Aesir and Alfar, before naming Ull’s home Ydalir (Yew-dales) and Alfheim (Home of the Elves). Verse 7 speaks of a hall over which “cool waves resound,” while verse 16 names Njord’s high-timbered hall, Noatun (the Shipyard) no doubt set near the sea.
The location of Briedablik is not given. Since Baldur is killed and goes to dwell in the underworld, we have at least two possibilities:
Is Baldur’s hall Breidablik located in Asgard or in Hel?
Since Briedablik is not mentioned in Eddic poetry again, let’s turn to Snorri’s treatment to see if he sheds any light on the subject. Snorri knew and used the poem Grímnismál, citing several of its verses and paraphrasing others. 
In Gylfaginning, Snorri says:
XVII. Höfuðstaðir goðanna
Then said Gangleri: "Thou knowest many tidings to tell of the heaven. What chief abodes are there more than at Urdr's Well?" Hárr said: "Many places are there, and glorious. That which is called Álfheimr ("Elf-home") is one, where dwell the peoples called Light-Elves; but the Dark-Elves dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike in appearance, but by far more unlike in nature. The Light-Elves are fairer to look upon than the sun, but the Dark-Elves are blacker than pitch. Then there is also in that place the abode called Breidablik ("Broad-gleaming"), and there is not in heaven a fairer dwelling. There, too, is the one called Glitnir ("Glittering"), whose walls, and all its posts and pillars, are of red gold, but its roof of silver. There is also the abode called Himinbjörg ("Heaven-crag"): it stands at heaven's end by the bridge-head, in the place where Bifröst joins heaven. Another great abode is there, which is named Valaskjálf ("Seat or shelf of the Fallen"); Odin possesses that dwelling; the gods made it and thatched it with sheer silver, and in this hall is the Hlidskjálf ("Gate-seat"), the high-seat so called. Whenever Allfather sits in that seat, he surveys all lands. At the southern end of heaven is that hall which is fairest of all, and brighter than the sun; it is called Gimlé ("Heaven"?). It shall stand when both heaven and earth have departed; and good men and of righteous conversation shall dwell therein: so it is said in Völuspá.--
A hall I know standing | than the sun fairer,
Thatched with gold | in Gimlé bright;
There shall dwell | the doers of righteousness
And ever and ever | enjoy delight."
XXII. Frá Baldri

Then said Gangleri: "I would ask tidings of more Æsir." Hárr replied: "The second son of Odin is Baldr, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr's brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik ("Broad-gleaming"), which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be, even as is said here:
Breidablik 't is called, | where Baldr has
A hall made for himself:
In that land | where I know lie
Fewest baneful runes.
Snorri places Breidablik in heaven by Urd’s well.
Encyclopedia entries on Breidablik, such as those in John Lindow’s Handbook of Norse Mythology, and Rudolf Simek’s Dictionary of Northern Mythology have nothing new to add outside of the information provided in Grimnismal 12 and Gylfaginning.
Andy Orchard, Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend, pp. 24-25.
“According to the Eddic poem Grimnismal, the  dwelling of the god Baldr, an association sustained by the thirteenth century Icelander Snorri Sturluson who adds that it is in heaven and that nothing impure is allowed there. Elsewhere, Snorri localizes Briedablik in Alfheim, the home of the elves, saying that there is no fairer place.” 
In the last line of the entry, Orchard apparently misreads Snorri’s text and places Breidablik within Alfheim. The context of the passage makes this unlikely. Snorri says that the Aesir are men from Asia, who live in the city of Asgard, on earth, identified as Constantinople. Odin and his men travel northward. They subjucate the people. They are great magicians and wizards.  The human Aesir are so clever, in fact, they build a bridge to heaven. They ride their horses across it and find Urd’s well there. They establish halls nearby, which Snorri lists, mirroring many of the halls named in Grimnismal. The first is Alfheim, then Breidablik, and Glitnir, Himinbjorg, and so on. The Aesir take up residence there. This notion here  is clearly based on Grimnismal 29-30 which says that the Aesir ride their horses over Bifrost every day to sit in judgment at Urd’s well. But if Snorri’s interpretation is correct, why do the gods ride to Urd’s well “every day”, presumably from their homes in Asgard, if they also established residences there? Why not just remain there? Are there two Asgards?
It goes without saying that the Grimnismal poet most likely did not imagine Asgard as an earthly city inhabited by men from Asia with dual residences on earth and by Urd’s well in the sky. These are learned Christian ideas, overlaid onto the Grimnismal verses. This interpretation only becomes necessary if we accept Snorri’s premise that the Aesir were human beings from Asia who colonized a plot of land in the sky containing Urd’s well, in accordance with Christian thinking at the time.
If Breidablik was thought to be located in Alfheim, as Andy Orchard suggests, then all the following halls listed in Grímnismál would be placed there too. If not, then Alfheim is simply the name of one of the halls there. In 13th century Iceland, it was common to set up booths or temporary residences around a Thingstead, when the community would gather, since most people had to travel to come here. Snorri names theses booths/halls: Alfheim, Brediablik, Glitner, Himinbjorg, Valaskalf, etc.
The sources are otherwise silent on Baldur’s hall Breidablik.
In Gylfaginning 49, Snorri tells us that the home of the Baldur is holy. Immediately after Hodur killed Baldur, no one would take action against him, because the place was a sanctuary. He doesn’t name Baldur’s hall in Asgard. If Briedablik were its name, this seems like a missed opportunity.
“Þá er Baldr var fallinn, þá féllust öllum ásum orðtök ok svá hendr at taka til hans, ok sá hverr til annars, ok váru allir með einum hug til þess, er unnit hafði verkit, en engi mátti hefna. Þar var svá mikill griðastaðr.”
"Then, when Baldr was fallen, words failed all the, Æsir, and their hands likewise to lay hold of him; each looked at the other, and all were of one mind as to him who had. wrought the work, but none might take vengeance, so great a sanctuary was in that place.
Hodr could not be killed in Balder’s hall in Asgard, because it was sacred, even after Baldur himself had been slain there. Odin must father another child, Vali, in “western halls” to kill Hodr, and thereby avenge Baldur’s death.  Perhaps Baldur’s hall in Asgard is “the place where fewest baleful runes lie”, but could the same be said once Baldur himself was killed there? As the most tragic act in all of the mythology, I doubt one could say his home in Asgard was the place where fewest evil-staves lie, after such an event took place there.
There is another possibility.
After his death, Baldur is said to live in the underworld. He inhabits a hall there.
In the poem Balder’s Dreams, Odin rides to the underworld and sees the place where his son Baldur will live, once he has died and gone there. This poem says:
6. Uprose Odin
lord of men,
and on Sleipnir he
the saddle laid;
rode thence down
to Niflhel.
A dog he met,
from Hel coming.

7. It was blood-stained
on its breast,
on its slaughter-craving throat,
and nether jaw.
It bayed
and widely gaped
at the sire of magic song: -
long it howled.

Odin first rides to Niflhel (to the north). Once he has arrived there, a dog comes running toward him from the direction of Hel (from the south). Odin passes the dog without incident and continues on, until he sees “Heljar rann” Hel’s hall. The dog probably guards the border between Niflhel and Hel. His blood-stained breast ties him to other Indo-European Hellhounds, such as Cerberus, whose name means “spotted”. The poem then goes onto describe the hall Baldur will inhabit in Hel.

8. Forth rode Odin -
the ground rattled -
until he came to Hel’s hall [Heljar rann]
Then rode Ygg [Odin]
to the eastern gate,
where he knew there was
a Vala’s grave.

From this splendid hall (which is described in subsequent verses), he rides east, the direction of the rising sun. Solarljod 39 informs us that this is the location of the gates of Hel. When the dying man of that poem looks to the setting sun in the west, he hears the grinding of the hel-gate at his back:
39. The sun I saw,
true star of day,
sink into its roaring home (the sea);
but Hel's grated doors
from behind me, I heard
heavily creaking.
At the eastern gate of Hel, Odin invokes a völva who rises from the dead, so that he may question her about what he saw in Hel.

9. To the völva he began
to chant a magic song,
looked towards the north,
applied potent runes,
pronounced a spell,
demanded an answer,
until she rose compelled,
and with deathlike voice said:

10. “What man is this,
to me unknown
who has for me increased
an irksome course?
I have with snow been decked
by rain beaten,
and with dew moistened:
long have I been dead.”
Vegtam [Odin]

11. “Vegtam [Way-wise]  is my name,
I am Valtam’s son.
Tell me of Hel:
from earth I call on thee.
For whom are those benches
strewed o’er with rings,
those costly couches
o’erlaid with gold?”


12. “Here stands mead,
for Baldr brewed,
over the bright potion
a shield is laid;
but the Æsir race
are in despair.
By compulsion I have spoken
I will now be silent.”
The hall is decorated for a feast. Costly things are strewn on the benches. Mead is poured out in goblets, with a shield over each cup, ready to be removed at a moments notice. The inhabitants are eagerly anticipating Baldur’s arrival there.
When Hermod, visits this same place, he finds it surrounded by a high wall. Only Odin’s horse Sleipnir can leap it.
'Then Hermódr rode on till he came to Hel-gate; he dismounted from his steed and made his girths fast, mounted and pricked him with his spurs; and the steed leaped so hard over the gate that he came nowise near to it. Then Hermódr rode home to the hall and dismounted from his steed, went into the hall, and saw sitting there in the high-seat Baldr, his brother; and Hermódr tarried there overnight.”
Clearly this is not the same as the goddess Hel’s hall, as described by Snorri.
 [Gylfaginning 34, Broeuder tr.] “Yet more children had Loki. Angrboda was the name of a certain giantess in Jötunheim, with whom Loki begat three children: one was Fenris-Wolf, the second Jörmungandr--that is the Midgard Serpent,--the third is Hel. …Hel he [Odin] cast into Niflheim, and gave to her power over nine worlds, to apportion all abodes among those that were sent to her: that is, men dead of sickness or of old age. She has great possessions there; her walls are exceeding high and her gates great. Her hall is called Sleet-Cold; her dish, Hunger; Famine is her knife; Idler, her thrall; Sloven, her maidservant; Pit of Stumbling, her threshold, by which one enters; Disease, her bed; Gleaming Bale, her bed-hangings. She is half blue-black and half flesh-color (by which she is easily recognized), and very lowering and fierce.”
In contrast, the hall in Hel that Baldur comes to is ready for a feast. Baldur sits on the high seat, as the guest of honor. Here Hel is a place-name. Baldur does not come to “Hel’s hall”, but rather a “hall in Hel [Heljar rann].”
The lore knows other halls in the underworld besides that of Loki’s daughter. Some are equally as dismal as hers.  In Völuspá 38, a hall woven of serpents’ backs stands on the Nastronds (Corpse-shores). In Skírnismál, when Skirnir threatens to kill Gerd and send her to the underworld, he speaks of her home there (v. 28) and “halls of rime-thurses” (v. 30). But not all the halls in the underworld are so awful. In Völuspá 37, we’re told of a golden hall inhabited by the family of the dwarf Sindri on the Nidavellir (Dark of Moon Plains), and a “giant’s beer-hall” nearby on Okolnir (Never-Cold). The hall Baldur will come to after death seems like such a place.
Could it be Brediablik, where the “fewest baleful runes are found”?
We have some indications in the lore that such a place existed.
In the first Book of Saxo’s History, when the hero Hadding is invited to the underworld by a woman who raises her head from the fire and draws him underground, he sees a fantastic place:
“While he was at supper, a woman bearing hemlocks was seen to raise her head beside the brazier, and, stretching out the lap of her robe, seemed to ask, "in what part of the world such fresh herbs had grown in winter?" The king desired to know; and, wrapping him in her mantle, she drew him with her underground, and vanished. I take it that the nether gods purposed that he should pay a visit in the flesh to the regions whither he must go when he died. So they first pierced through a certain dark misty cloud (cp. nifl, “cloud”, “mist” as in Nifl-hel), and then advancing along a path that was worn away with long thoroughfaring, they beheld certain men wearing rich robes, and nobles clad in purple; these passed, they at last approached sunny regions which produced the herbs the woman had brought away. Going further, they came on a swift and tumbling river of leaden waters, whirling down on its rapid current divers sorts of missiles, and likewise made passable by a bridge. When they had crossed this, they beheld two armies encountering one another with might and main. And when Hadding inquired of the woman about their estate: "These," she said, "are they who, having been slain by the sword, declare the manner of their death by a continual rehearsal, and enact the deeds of their past life in a living spectacle." Then a wall hard to approach and to climb blocked their further advance. The woman tried to leap it, but in vain, being unable to do so even with her slender wrinkled body; then she wrung off the head of a cock which she chanced to be taking down with her, and flung it beyond the barrier of the walls; and forthwith the bird came to life again, and testified by a loud crow to recovery of its breathing. Then Hadding turned back and began to make homewards with his wife.”
Eddic poems may also refer to such a place. In Gylfaginning 53 we are told that after Ragnarok is done, the human beings Lif and Lifthrasir will emerge from “Hodd-Mimir’s holt” and repopulate the earth. Along with them, Baldur and Hodr will return, as well as Hoenir. This is based on passages in Vafthrudnismal 45 and the final sequence of Voluspa.
In the Vafthrudnismal verse, we learn that the surviving human pair were hidden in Hodd-Mimir’s holt, Treaure Mimir’s grove. It says:
Líf ok Lifþrasir,
en þau leynaz muno
í holti Hoddmímis;
þau sér at mat hafa;
þaðan af aldir alaz.
45. “Lif and Lifthrasir lie hidden in Hoard-Mimir’s Holt;
They shall have the morning dews as food, and from them generations will spring.”
And although it’s not remarked on often, we actually have a variant of the last line, found in the U manuscript of Snorri’s Edda, which says that they:
 thar um alldr alaz, “reside there through the ages.”
This suggests that Lif and Lifthrasir may have been in Hoard-Mimir’s grove for quite some time, before Ragnarok, dwelling there perhaps through the wolf-age, the wind-age, the axe-age and sword-age that precede Ragnarok. Since Ragnarok has long been foretold, that would have given the gods ample time to collect and preserve items for the coming age. The name of the place suggests that Mimir was associated with it in some way. The designation Hodd- (hoard, treasure) also indicates that things of great value are hidden here. Lif and Lifthrasir themselves are the only surviving seeds of humanity, and Mimir is well-known as a collector of treasures, and master of dwarves, who produce golden works of art. Since the gods created the world and man, such things can be said to be their treaure.
In Ynglingasaga, we learn that Hoenir and Mimir were traded as hostages to the Vanir during the Van-As war. Like Lif and Lifthrasir, Hoenir is also associated with Mimir. Like them, Hoenir also survives Ragnarok.
We know that Baldur and Hodr resided in Hel before Ragnarok. From the sources cited above, we know this hall was an opulent place, decorated for a feast in anticipation of a guest, yet surrounded by a high wall that keeps all intruders out.  Only Hermod on Sleipnir can leap it.
Since Balder and Hodr, Hoenir, and Lif and Lifthrasir all appear together on the “new earth” which rises from the sea after Ragnarok, it would be logical to suppose that, before that time, they lived together somewhere else waiting for that day. Could this place have been Mimir’s dwelling in the underworld? Could this be identical to the “beer-hall” on the Never-Cold plain mentioned in Voluspa? The golden hall of Sindri stands nearby. Mimir, of course, is well known as a drinker in the mythology (Voluspa 28)
Of course we cannot be sure, but Grimnismal 27 might just mention just such a place. When speaking of the rivers that flow out of Hvergelmir (located in Niflheim, according to Gylfaginning), several of them are said to “wind around Hodd goda”, which translates as “The Treasure of the Gods.” The element “hodd” also found in “Hodd-Mimir’s grove”  may be a reference to it. Otherwise, this place and the treasure it holds are unknown.
In Saxo, Hadding sees a hall in the underworld surrounded by a high wall over which nothing dead may come. It is an oasis of life set in the land “whither he must go when he died”. No doubt powerful magic must protect that place. Could this be the place where the fewest evil runes lie? Could this be Baldur’s home, Breidablik?
 If so, Glitnir was likely Baldur's home in Asgard, in whose courtyard the Æsir played the fateful game that resulted in Baldur's death. Forseti, naturally would have inherited and inhabited his father Baldur’s hall after Baldur had died.    

Further Reading:

Old Norse Cosmology

Going to Hel: The Consequences of a Heathen Life  
  Towards the Baldur Myth