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:

Himinbjörg ero in áttu,
en þar Heimdall
kveða valda véum;
þar vörðr goða
drekkr í væru ranni
glaðr góða mjöð.  

Himinbiorg ærv hin áttu,
en þar Heimdall
kveða valda véum;
þar vörðr goða
drekkr í væru ranni
glaðr hin góða mjöð.
13. Himinbjörg eru in áttu,
en þar Heimdall
kveða valda véum;
þar vörðr goða
drekkr í væru ranni
glaðr inn góða mjöð.  
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

  XIII. Himinbiörga eighth I sing,
Where o'er the lands, propitious king,
Heimdaller reigns. There mindful he,
Of every holy mystery.
On downy couches spends his hours,
And copiously metheglin pours.

The eighth is Himinbiörg, and Heimdall there,
They say, guardeth the sacred palaces;
There dwelleth the merry warder of the gods,
And, in his happy home, quaffeth good mead.

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

13. Himinbjörg is the eighth,
where Heimdall, it is said,
rules o’er the holy fanes:
there the gods’ watchman,-
in his tranquil home,
drinks joyful the good mead.

Heavenhold is the eighth,
where they say Heimdall rules over the fane;
here the glad watchman of the Gods
drinks the goodly mead in the peaceful hall.
1908 Olive Bray
in Edda Saemundar
The Sayings of Grimnir
1923 Henry Bellows
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir

13. The eighth is Heaven-hill; world-bright Heimdal
rules o'er its holy fanes :
in that peaceful hall the watchman of gods
glad-hearted the good mead quaffs.

13. Himingbjorg is the eighth,  and Heimdall there
O’er men holds sway, it is said;
In his well-built house does the warder of heaven
The good mead gladly drink.

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

13. Himinbjorg the eighth;    there Heimdall, they say,
    guards the holy hall;
    there the gods' warder    in goodly stead
    the mead drinks, glad in mind.

13. The eighth Heaven-Mount: Heimdal there
Is lord of land and temple:
The gods' watchman drinks good mead,
Glad in that peaceful place.

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”
  13. Himinbiorg is the eighth, and there, they say,
Heimdall rules over his sanctuaries;
there the glad watchman of the gods

drinks good mead in the comfortable hall.

13. Heaven Hills is the eighth,
and Heimdall there
is sovereign of sanctuaries, they say.
There the sentry of the gods,
in a house serene,
drinks good mead with gladness.


The Location of Himinbjörg
The Poetic Edda vs. Snorri's Edda

Gylfaginning 9:
“Next they made for themselves in the middle of the world a city which is called Asgard; men call it Troy. There dwelt the gods and their kindred; and many tidings and tales of it have come to pass both on earth and aloft. There is one abode called Hlidskjálf, and when Allfather sat in the high-seat there, he looked out over the whole world and saw every man's acts, and knew all things which he saw. His wife was called Frigg daughter of Fjörgvinn; and of their blood is come that kindred which we call the races of the Aesir, that have peopled the elder Asgard, and those kingdoms which pertain to it; and that is a divine race.”
Here Snorri speaks of an “elder Asgard” located on earth, and identical to the city of Troy, inhabited by men from Asia known as the Aesir. Clearly, there is a blending of Christian-Latin religio-historical tradition with Old Norse tradition.
Next Snorri provides his understanding of the geography of Asgard. Odin’s high-seat and the rokstola of the other gods are built on Idavellir (cp. Voluspa 8, 58) in the center of Asgard. He locates this place “on earth”.
Gylfaginning 14
Then said Gangleri: "What did Allfather then do when Ásgard was made?" Hárr answered: "In the beginning he established rulers, and bade them ordain fates with him, and give counsel concerning the planning of the town; that was in the place which is called Ida-field, in the midst of the town. It was their first work to make that court in which their twelve seats stand, and another, the high-seat which Allfather himself has. That house is the best-made of any on earth, and the greatest; without and within, it is all like one piece of gold; men call it Gladsheim. They made also a second hall: that was a shrine which the goddesses had, and it was a very fair house; men call it Vingólf. Next they fashioned a house, wherein they placed a forge, and made besides a hammer, tongs, and anvil, and by means of these, all other tools. After this they smithied metal and stone and wood, and wrought so abundantly that metal which is called gold, that they had all their household ware and all dishes of gold; and that time is called the Age of Gold, before it was spoiled by the coming of the Women, even those who came out of Jötunheim.
The Aesir (Asia-men) are so clever, they build a bridge to heaven.
Gylfaginning 13. (Arthur Gilchrist Broedur translation): “Then said Gangleri: "What is the way to heaven from earth?" Then Hárr answered, and laughed aloud: "Now, that is not wisely asked; has it not been told thee, that the gods made a bridge from earth, to heaven, called Bifröst? Thou must have seen it; it may be that ye call it rainbow.' It is of three colors, and very strong, and made with cunning and with more magic art than other works of craftsmanship. But strong as it is, yet must it be broken, when the sons of Múspell shall go forth harrying and ride it, and swim their horses over great rivers; thus they shall proceed."
They ride their horses across this bridge daily. Snorri clearly bases this on Grimnismal 29, 30, by citing verse 29 and paraphrasing the horse-list (adding Sleipnir) of 30. So, according to Snorri’s conception of Old Norse Cosmology, the Bifrost bridge connects Earth and Urd’s well in the heavens. The gods live in Asgard on one end (earth). On the opposite end, they find Urd’s well (in the heavens). In agreement with this, the ride from Asgard to Urd’s well, according to Snorri, is “up”-wards:
Gylfaginning 15 (Arthur Gilchrist Broedur translation):
The third root of the Ash stands in heaven; and under that root is the well which is very holy, that is called the Well of Urdr; there the gods hold their tribunal. Each day the Aesir ride thither up over Bifröst, which is also called the Aesir’s Bridge. These are the names of the Aesir's steeds: Sleipnir ("The Slipper") is best, which Odin has; he has eight feet. The second is Gladr ("Bright or Glad"), the third Gyllir ("Golden"), the fourth Glenr ("The Starer"), the fifth Skeidbrimir ("Fleet Courser"), the sixth Silfrintoppr ("Silver-top"), the seventh Sinir ("Sinewy"), the eighth Gisl ("Beam, Ray"), the ninth Falhófnir ("Hairy-hoof"), the tenth. Gulltoppr ("Gold-top"), the eleventh Léttfeti ("Light-stepper"), Balder's horse was burnt with him; and Thor walks to the judgment, and wades those rivers which are called thus:
Körmt and Örmt | and the Kerlaugs twain,
Them shall Thor wade
Every day | when he goes to doom
At Ash Yggdrasill;
For the Æsir's Bridge | burns all with flame,
And the holy waters howl."
Then said Gangleri: "Does fire burn over Bifröst?" Hárr replied: "That which thou seest to be red in the bow is burning fire; the Hill-Giants might go up to heaven, if passage on Bifröst were open to all those who would cross. There are many fair places in heaven, and over everything there a godlike watch is kept. A hall stands there, fair, under the ash by the well, and out of that hall come three maids, who are called thus: Urdr ("Past"), Verdandi ("Present"), Skuld ("Future"); these maids determine the period of men's lives: we call them Norns; but there are many norns: those who come to each child that is born, to appoint his life;
So he clearly places the hall of the three norns by Urd’s well (cp. Voluspa 20) and places additional halls near there. These are not halls in Asgard (on earth) but halls “at Urdr’s well” (in the heavens). Snorri says:
Gylfaginning 17
“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 Snorri places Heimdall’s hall Himinbjorg “at heaven’s end” in the place where Bifröst joins heaven. Since Bifrost stretches from earth, upwards to Urd’s well and the halls the gods have built there, then Heimdall’s hall Himninbjorg (according to Snorri) is located at the apex of heaven, where the Bifrost bridge meets the heavens. Thus, he is the gatekeeper and sentry for the gods (at Urd’s well).


Heimdall, The Whitest of the Æsir

Gylfaginning 27 (Arthur Gilchrist Broedur translation): 
"Heimdallr is the name of one: he is called the White God. He is great and holy; nine maids, all sisters, bore him for a son. He is also called Hallinskídi ("Ram") and Gullintanni ("Golden-teeth"); his teeth were of gold, and his horse is called Gold-top. He dwells in the place called Himinbjörg ("Heaven-fells"), hard by Bifröst: he is the warder of the gods, and sits there by heaven's end to guard the bridge from the Hill-Giants. He needs less sleep than a bird; he sees equally well night and day a hundred leagues from him, and hears how grass grows on the earth or wool on sheep, and everything that has a louder sound. He has that trumpet which is called Gjallar-Horn, and its blast is heard throughout all worlds. Heimdallr's sword is called Head. It is said further:
Himinbjörg 't is called, |
where Heimdallr, they say, has his housing;
There the gods' sentinel | drinks in his snug hall
Gladly good mead.
And furthermore, he himself says in Heimdalar-galdr:
I am of nine | mothers the offspring,
Of sisters nine | am I the son.
End quote
According to a lost poem named Heimdalsgaldr, of which a single line is preserved in Snorri’s Edda, Heimdall is called the “son of nine mothers and nine sisters too.” Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the rest of THAT poem contained?
According to Hyndluljod 35-38, “one” was born “at the edge of the world” from nine mothers. Due to this, he is universally identified as Heimdall. The text says:

35. Vard einn borin
i ardaga
rammaukin miok
raugna kindar;
niu baru þann
naddgaufgann mann
iotna meyiar
vid iardar þraum. 

35. There was one born,
in times of old (ardaga),
with wondrous might endowed,
of origin divine:
nine Jotun maids
gave birth
to the gracious god,
at the world's margin.

36. Mart segium þer
ok munum fleira,
vorumz at viti sua,
villtu enn leingra? 

36. We tell thee much,
and remember more:
I admonish thee thus much to know,
wishest thou yet to go further?

37. Hann Gialp vm bar,
hann Greip vm bar,
bar hann Eistla
ok Eyrgiafa,
hann bar Vlfrun
ok Angeyia,
Imdr ok Atla
ok Iarnsaxa. 

37. Gjalp gave him birth,
Greip gave him birth,
Eistla gave him birth,
and Eyrgiafa;
Ulrun gave him birth,
and Angeya,
Imd and Atla,
and Jarnsaxa.
Heimdall’s nine mothers are usually identified with the nine waves. Heimdall is born “at the world’s edge”, “at earth’s margin”. A skaldic verse, preserved by Snorri places nine giant maidens there. They turn the mill that makes the waves. According to the Snaebjorn, quoted in Skaldskaparmal:
“Nine skerry-brides fast turn
the violent island-mill
beyond the world’s edge.”
Skerries are rocky islands; thus “Skerry-brides” are women of the skerries, i.e. breakers, waves. They turn a mill handle at the edge of the world. It is the “island-mill” the mill that produces island.  This mill (éyluðr) is cognate with mills mentioned or hinted at in other Icelandic texts - the poems Grottasongr and Vafthrudhnismal from the Poetic Edda; and Snorri's own Gylfaginning - and closely related to the mill-like Sampo described in the Finnish traditions preserved in the Kalevala. These mills are cosmic structures; The essential image is that of the rotary quern, comprising a flat, unmoving lower millstone and an upper stone revolved by turning a handle. The lower stone represents the earth, conceived of as a flat, immobile disc. The upper stone represents the sky, upon which the stars are seen revolving about the celestial axis (polestar).
When we next find Heimdall as an adult, he is walking along “green roads”, visiting homes as Rig, and fathering a child which is the first thrall, karl, and jarl respectively, representatives of the three Germanic castes.   The prose introduction informs us that this community was located “along a seashore” (fram med siovarstrondu).  Ask and Embla are also created a long a sea-shore, so we gather that this is event takes place soon thereafter. Human couples have established homes and modes of living.  The poem says nothing of how Heimdall happened to be there, or what happened afterwards. The poem ends unfinished. The episode is partially confirmed by the opening verse of Voluspa (in both mss.) which states prays for a “hearing” from Heimdall’s children “high and low”. Snorri doesn’t cite this verse, or ever refer to the myth of Rig.
Thus, the Icelandic sources leave a gap. We are not told what happened from the time Heimdall was born, to the time he walked as an adult along the shore of the earliest human community in Scandinavia. How did the son of 9 mothers, born at “the world’s margin” arrive from there on the shores of Midgard?
Several Old Anglo-Saxon sources preserve a widespread myth of a young boy in a boat who arrived among them, and grew up to be their king. The sleeping child is surrounded by tools and treasures— the foundation of culture and agriculture. He sleeps with his head on a sheaf of grain, thus they call him Sceaf. He grows up among them and becomes their ruler.
The Chronicle of Aethelweard, [late 10th, early 11th century] Edited and translated by A. Campbell, London, Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962.
“And this Sceaf arrived with one light ship in the island of the ocean which is called Skaney, with arms all round him. He was a very young boy, and unknown to the people of that land, but he was received by them, and they guarded him with diligent attention as one who belonged to them, and elected him king.”
William of Malmesbury. Gesta Regum Anglorum: The History of the English Kings.
Edited and translated by R. A. B. Mynors. Completed by R. M. Thomson and
M. Winterbottom. Vol. 1. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1998.
“This Sceaf, they say, landed on an island in Germany called Scandza mentioned by Jordanes the historian of the Goths, as a small child in a ship without a crew, sleeping with a sheaf of wheat laid by his head, and hence was called Sheaf. The men of that country welcomed him as something miraculous and brought him up carefully, and on reaching manhood he ruled a town then called Slaswic but now Hedeby. The name of that region is Old Anglia, and it was from there that the Angles came to Britain; it lies between the Saxons and the Goths.)”
Roger of Hoveden, Chronica Magistri (4) Late twelfth-century English record; Bodleian MS Laud 582; British Library MSS Arundel 69, Arundel 150, and Cotton Claudius B.vii. Standard Edition.
“Geta accordingly was the son of Tetwa, who was of Beaw, who was of Scaldwa, who was of Sheaf. That one, as people say, was driven in a boat without an oar, being a child, with a handful of grain placed at his head, to a certain island of Germany, Scandelin in name, concerning which Jordanes, historian of the Goths, speaks, and was found sleeping-he whom we call in the language of the country "Scef," in Gallic truly "Garbarn," For this cause he was thus called "Sheaf' and by the men of this region received as a miracle and diligently nourished. In his adult age, he reigned in the town that then was called Slaswic, but now is truly called Harthebi: now this region is called "Old Anglia," whence the Angles came into Britain; it stood between the Goths and the Saxons.”
The same tale is told in Beowulf (Seamus Heaney tr.)
“Shield was still thriving when his time came
and he crossed over into the Lord's keeping.
His warrior band did what he bade them
when he laid down the law among the Danes:
they shouldered him out to the sea's flood,
the chief they revered who had long ruled them.
A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,
ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince.
They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,
laid out by the mast, amidships,
the great ring-giver. Far-fetched treasures
were piled upon him, and precious gear
I never heard before of a ship so well furbished
with battle tackle, bladed weapons
and coats of mail. The massed treasure
was loaded on top of him: it would travel far
on out into the ocean's sway.
They decked his body no less bountifully
with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child
and launched him alone out over the waves.
And they set a gold standard up
high above his head and let him drift
to wind and tide, bewailing him
and mourning their loss. No man can tell,
no wise man in hall or weathered veteran
knows for certain who salvaged that load.”
 While we cannot say definitively that Sceaf is Heimdall, the tale appears in several Anglo-Saxon sources, and neatly fills the gaps in the fragmentary record regarding Heimdall. Born at the world’s margin, young Heimdall was sent as a baby in a boat with the tools of culture and agriculture. He was adopted and cared for among the people. As he grew, customs were established and culture spread. As a grown man, he walks among the homes along the seashore (where man was created) and sanctifies the lifestyles of each home, establishing the caste system among the ancient Germanic tribes. As Scef, he becomes their ruler and in time dies. The people send his corpse back across the sea in a boat filled with more treasures than it initially brought.
Like Scef, Heimdall dwells among the people for a time, and returns to educate his son, who becomes the first king (Kon ungr). The tale is told in Rigsthula, a tale apparently unknown to Snorri. While many peopkle recall that Heimdall established the three classes, many forget that the poem says that Heimdall himself (Rig) returns to his son Jarl to instruct him in many things, including runes and battle-sports.
“It is told by men in olden times that one of the gods whose name was Heimdall, fared forth along the seashore until he came to a farm. There he called himself Rig.”

....25. Rig went along the straight roads
till he came to a hall whose gates looked south.
The door was a ajar, a ring set in the post;

26. He forthwith entered the rush-strewn room.
Eyeing one another, the housefolk -- 
Father and Mother, -- their fingers busy.

27. There the husband, twisted twine,
shafting arrows and shaping bows:
and there was the wife o'er her fair arms wondering,
smoothing her linen, stretching her sleeves.

28. She wore a high headdress and a breast-brooch,
trailing robes and a blue-tinged blouse.
Her brow was brighter, her breast was lighter,
her throat was whiter than driven snow.

29. Well knew Rig how to give them counsel;
he sat him down in the middle of the bench,
and the housefolk on either side.

30. Then took Mother an embroidered cloth,
of linen white and covered the board;
thereupon she set a fine-baked loaf,
white of wheat and covered the cloth:

31. Next she brought forth full dishes,
set with silver and spread the board
with flesh and fowl.
There was wine in a vessel and rich-wrought goblets;
they drank and reveled while day went by.

32. Well knew Rig how to give them counsel;
ere long he rose and prepared to rest:
he laid him down in the middle of the bed,
and the housefolk on either side.

33. Thus he tarried three nights together;
then on he strode in the middle of the road.
Nine months passed;

34. Then Mother had a boy; she swathed him in silk,
and with water sprinkled him; called him Earl.
His locks were light and his cheeks were fair,
eyes flashing like a serpent's shone.

35. Grew Earl forthwith in the halls and 'gan
to swing the shield, to fit the string,
to bend the bow, to shaft the arrow,
to hurl the dart, to shake the spear,
to ride the horse, to loose the hounds,
to draw the sword, and to swim the stream.

36.  Forth from the wood came
Rig walking,
Rig walking,
and taught him runes,
gave him his own name -- claimed him as son,
and bade him hold the ancestral acreage -- 
the ancestral fields -- and the ancient home.

42. Forthwith grew the sons of Earl;
games they learned, and sports and swimming,
taming horses, round shields bending,
war shafts smoothing, ash spears shaking;

43. Kon the youngest alone knew runes,
runes eternal and runes of life.
Yet more he knew, -- how to shelter men,
to blunt the sword-edge and calm the sea:

44. He learnt bird language, to quench the fire flame,
heal all sorrows and soothe the heart;
strength and might of eight he owned.

45.Then he strove in runes with Rig, the Earl,
crafty wiles he used and won,
so gained his heritage, held the right thus
Rig to be called and runes to know.
When next we find Heimdall he is the guardian of the Bifrost Bridge and watchman of the gods. He plays a role in few myths. In the poems of the Elder Edda, he appears in Lokasenna where he takes part in the feast, which Loki ruins with accusations. In Thrymskvida, it is Heimdall who suggests that Thor dress as Freyja and marry the giant Thrym to retrieve his stolen hammer. In the poem Hrafnagaldur Odins, Odin sends him as an envoy to the underworld to get news of impending Ragnarok. In Völuspá 28, Heimdall’s ‘hljóð’ (his hearing) is hidden in the well. Sigurd Nordal (1923) suggested that this meant that Heimdall’s ear, his “hearing” was hidden in the well, just as one of Odin’s eyes was pledged to Mimir. Heimdall is known for his acute hearing, as well as his sight.
Völuspá also tells us that before the battle of Ragnarok, he will blow his horn to announce the battle. Snorri elaborates on this:
 "When these tidings come to pass, then shall Heimdallr rise up and blow mightily in the Gjallar-Horn, and awaken all the gods; and they shall hold council together. Then Odin shall ride to Mímir's Well and take counsel of Mímir for himself and his host. Then the Ash of Yggdrasill shall tremble, and nothing then shall be without fear in heaven or in earth. Then shall the Æsir put on their war-weeds, and all the Champions, and advance to the field: Odin rides first with the gold helmet and a fair birnie, and his spear, which is called Gungnir. He shall go forth against Fenris-Wolf, and Thor stands forward on his other side, and can be of no avail to him, because he shall have his hands full to fight against the Midgard Serpent. Freyr shall contend with Surtr, and a hard encounter shall there be between them before Freyr falls: it is to be his death that he lacks that good sword of his, which he gave to Skírnir. Then shall the dog Garmr be loosed, which is bound before Gnipa's Cave: he is the greatest monster; he shall do battle with Týr, and each become the other's slayer. Thor shall put to death the Midgard Serpent, and shall stride away nine paces from that spot; then shall he fall dead to the earth, because of the venom which the Snake has blown at him. The Wolf shall swallow Odin; that shall be his ending But straight thereafter shall Vídarr stride forth and set one foot upon the lower jaw of the Wolf: on that foot he has the shoe, materials for which have been gathering throughout all time. (They are the scraps of leather which men cut out: of their shoes at toe or heel; therefore he who desires in his heart to come to the Æsir's help should cast those scraps away.) With one hand he shall seize the Wolf's upper jaw and tear his gullet asunder; and that is the death of the Wolf. Loki shall have battle with Heimdallr, and each be the slayer of the other. Then straightway shall Surtr cast fire over the earth and burn all the world; so is said in Völuspá:
High blows Heimdallr, | the horn is aloft;
Odin communes | with Mimir's head;
Trembles Yggdrasill's | towering Ash;
The old tree wails | when the Jötun is loosed.
Skáldskaparmál  15: Heimdallarkenningar
"How should one periphrase Heimdallr? By calling him Son of Nine Mothers, or Watchman of the Gods, as already has been written; or White God, Foe of Loki, Seeker of Freyja's Necklace. A sword is called Heimdallr's Head: for it is said that he was pierced by a man's head. The tale thereof is told in Heimdalar-galdr; and ever since a head is called Heimdallr's Measure; a sword is called Man's Measure. Heimdallr is the Possessor of Gulltoppr; he is also Frequenter of Vágasker and Singasteinn, where he contended with Loki for the Necklace Brísinga-men, he is also called Vindlér. Úlfr Uggason composed a long passage in the Húsdrápa on that legend, and there it is written that they were in the form of seals. Heimdallr also is son of Odin.
Skáldskaparmál 85:
A man's head is termed thus: thus should it he periphrased: call it Toil or Burden of the Neck; Land of the Helm, of the Hood, and of the Brain, of the Hair and Brows, of the Scalp, of Ears, Eves, and Mouth; Sword of Heimdallr, arid it is correct to name any term for sword which one desires; and to paraphrase it in terms of every one of the names of Heimdallr. the Head, in simple terms, is called Skull, Brain, Temple, Crown.

 Heimdall Drinks the Good Mead

13. Himinbiorg is the eighth,
and there Heimdall
rules over sanctuaries;
there the ward of gods
drinks in the comfortable hall,
gladly, the good mead
In light of this, I wonder if there is any significance in Heimdall warning Loki against drinking to excess in Lokasenna:
47. Drunk art thou Loki,
So that you are out of your wits—
Why not restrain yourself?
Because overdrinking
Overcomes he who
Forgets how talkative he can be.
Ursula Dronke comments:
47/4  of drykkia: I do not know why the proverbial disapproval of drunkenness should be attributed to Heimdallr (cf. Hdv I I). Could it be because he has the well of mead at his foot, and -heiðvanr (Vsp 27/3)- uses it with discretion morginhverian (Vsp 28)?
Heimdall rules over the veum, the “sanctuaries”
He is the watchman of the gods, their protector.
He drinks good mead, happily (no doubt, in peace) in his own hall, which is “væra”, a good place ‘to be.’
Loki retorts:
48. Silence Heimdall,
For you in early days
a loathsome lot was laid
with loam on your back
you must ever be
and awake, ward of gods.
Ursula Dronke comments:
48/4 aurgo baki: a derisory reference to the aurogr fors of Voluspa 27 from the well at the tree's foot, which laves the tree (i.e. Heimdallr).
Völuspá 27:
Veit hon Heimdallar 
hljóð um fólgit 
undir heiðvönum 
helgum baðmi. 
Á sér hon ausask 
aurgum forsi 
af veði Valföðrs - 
vituð ér enn, eða hvat ? 
According to this verse: Heimdall’s hljóð [hearing] is hidden beneath the holy tree, which is heið-vönum [accustomed to the clear sky], then the volva sees an “ausask aurgum forsi” [muddy waterfall flow] from “Val-father’s pledge.”
What “Heimdall’s “hljóð” and “Valfather’s pledge” represent has been the subject of much scholarly debate. For now, we will focus on the meaning of the words “aususk aurgum forsi”. They contain ideas that appear to be directly connected to Yggdrassil, and therefore are probably important to our understanding of this verse.
Á sér hon ausask 
aurgum forsi 
af veði Valföðrs - 

1866 Benjamin Thorpe: “A river she sees flow, with foamy fall, from Valfather’s pledge”
1923 Henry Bellows: “On it there pours from Valfather's pledge A mighty stream”
1996 Carolyne Larrington: “She sees, pouring down, the muddy torrent from the wager of Father of the Slain.”
1997 Ursula Dronke: “A stream she sees springing with loamy flood from the Sire of the Slain’s forfeit.”
The word aurr refers to clay or loam. It can simply means “wet soil, mud”, as in Rigsþula 10 when Thrall’s wife is said to have “aurr on her soles, and her arms were sunburned.” In Alvismál 10, it is one of the names of the earth. The uppregin (high powers) call earth, aurr. In Vafþrúðnismál 30, it is the prefix of the alternate name for Ymir, Aurgelmir (cp. Hvergelmir, ‘Kettle-roarer’) 
In verse 19 of Völuspá, aurr is mixed with the water that the norns pour on the world-tree, the words used there are “ausinn hvíta auri.” Here the tree is “drenched with white mud” and it seems that on this occasion aur is more accurately understood as "muddy water, water blended with mud", a reading supported by Snorri's account in Gylfaginning 16.
The word aurr is used in an exchange between Heimdall and Loki in the insult-poem Lokasenna 48, and may be related to the meaning here.
Ursula Dronke, like many other scholars, understands Heimdall to be an anthropomorphic representation of the world-tree. In plain language, they take Heimdall to be a representation of the world-tree in divine form. She then understands this passage to be “a derisory reference to the aurogr fors of Völuspá 27, from the well at the tree’s foot, which laves the tree (i.e. Heimdall).”  [Poetic Edda  II, Lokasenna]

From “The Scope of the Corpus Poeticum Boreale” by Ursula Dronke reprinted in “Myth and Fiction in Early Norse Lands”:
The identity of the world tree and Heimdallr is nowhere directly expressed —it seems almost to have been held as a religious mystery, so cryptic are the allusions traceable to it. The mythologem of the world tree is a very archaic one, and in the many cultures in which it occurs, it includes the concept of the tree as begetter of mankind. So, in Norse, the great world Askr is the "parent" of Askr, the first man (cf. Voluspa, st. 17), the relationship being indicated by the identical name and the juxtaposition of the stanzas 17 and 18 to 19 and 20 in Voluspa. Egill is able to play familiarly on the same concept in Sonatorrek st. 21, when he speaks of his son as "ash-tree of my ancestry, that grew from me, wood of the womanhood [and of the clan] of my wife".
     In Rigsþula we see the god Heimdallr-Rigr giving advice on procreation -- Rigr kunni þeim ráð at segia. The sentence recurs steadily as a refrain in the poem (sts. 3, 5, 17, 30, 33). In Húsdrápa (a heathen poem from the end of the tenth century, fragments of which Snorri preserves) Heimdallr's reputation for good rað is given prominence: he is termed raðgegninn, "profitable in his advice". In this use of rað, as in Rigsþula, a pun is no doubt intended on other senses of rað, "marriage", "sexual union", in allusion to Heimdallr's helpful adventures among mankind in the royal guise of Rigr. That the play on rað, in connection with Heimdallr, should occur in Húsdrápa gives a date as early as the tenth century for traditions of the god as progenitor of men, traditions that we find most fully demonstrated in Rigsthula, but also clearly stated in Voluspa st. 1 (men are mögu Heimdalar, sons of the god) and in Hyndluljóð st. 43, where the powerful god - born of nine giantesses —is said to be "related by marital bond to each and every home".
Ursula Dronke, Poetic Edda, Volume II, Mythological Poems (1997), Vóluspá:
17/2: Ask ok Emblo: while in Völuspá the mythologem to which Askr and Embla primarily relate —á landi — is that of the divine driftwood, the fact that here there are two wooden figures links them to a second mythologem, that of the god as kindler of life between male and female, made of wood,. In archaic fire-making rituals fire is sparked by boring with a hard spike of wood into a softer wooden block: a simulation of sexual action, in which the spark of life is given by a god.

From “The Scope of the Corpus Poeticum Boreale” by Ursula Dronke reprinted in “Myth and Fiction in Early Norse Lands”
“…[In Lokasenna 47-48] Heimdallr is mocked for his inescapable and humiliating life as sleepless sentinel of the gods, whose backside is forever streaming with excrement. On the face of it a puerile mockery. But Loki is guying here the very ancient and sacred image of the world tree, that encompasses, fructifies and guards the world. Heimdallr is a divine hypostasis of it.
Loki mocks the human figure forced into the life of a tree, a farcically rigid being, unable to wipe his backside. The "excrement" is Loki's view of the fructifying loam -Aurr -with which the world tree is splashed, and which flows in a torrent from its base (cf. Völuspá, sts. 19,27) According to Snorri (see also under note 21) the tree is laved daily with water and Aurr from Urðrbrunnr, the "Well of Fate", by the Norns, who dwell near it, in order to prevent its branches from drying up or rotting. According to Grímnismál st. 35 the side of the tree is already rotting, á hliðo fúnar. These allusions to the constant dampness of the tree --in fertility and in decay --point to the symbolic situation that Loki is travestying.”
End quote
In this light, Dronke suggests that Heimdall’s disapproval of drunkenness could “be because he has the well at his feet, and heiðvanr (Völuspá 27)— uses it with discretion.”   
In Grímnismál 13, we learn more about Heimdall’s private life. The poet says:
“Himinbjorg is the eighth, and there they say,
Heimdall rules over the sanctuaries;
There the glad watchman of the gods drinks good mead
In the comfortable hall.”
In Völuspá 27, we are told that Heimdall’s hljóð is hidden under the tree. There, a stream of loam-laden water flows from “Val-father’s pledge.”  In verse 28, we will learn that Mimir drinks water “Val-father’s pledge” every morning.  Thus, the water in the well at the base of the tree seems to be indicated. Heimdall has already been connected with “Val-father” in Voluspa 1 and will be connected with Mimir again in Völuspá 45. Odin goes to see Mimir on a regular basis, we have several examples of their connection in the lore. If Heimdall represents the world-tree, then he is the concrete connection between the heavens (Odin) and the underworld (Mimir), and partakes in the same drink that Mimir and Odin do.
This is probably the meaning of Hyndluljóð:

35. Varð einn borin
í árdaga
rammaukinn mjök
rögna kindar;
níu báru þann
naddgöfgan mann
jötna meyjar
við jarðar þröm.

35. There was one born,
in times of old,
with wondrous might endowed,
of origin divine:
nine Jötun maids
gave birth
to the gracious god,
at the world´s margin.

36. Hann Gjalp of bar,
hann Greip of bar,
bar hann Eistla
ok Eyrgjafa,
hann bar Ulfrún
ok Angeyja,
Imdr ok Atla
ok Járnsaxa.

36. Gialp gave him birth,
Greip gave him birth,
Eistla gave him birth,
and Angeia;
Ulfrun gave him birth,
and Eyrgiafa,
Imd and Atla,
and Jarnsaxa.

37. Sá var aukinn
jarðar megni,
svalköldum sæ
ok sónardreyra.

37. The boy was nourished
with the strength of earth,
with the ice-cold sea,
and with Son's blood.
These last three elements may refer to the world wells. The strength of the earth is also Urd’s strength. In the poem Gudrunarkviða II, v. 21, a similar trio of elements is enumerated: jarþar magni/ svalcaldom se/ ok sonar dreyra. In the Codex Regius manuscript of that poem, jarþar magni, earth’s strength is replaced with urðar magni, Urd’s strength. Urd’s well seems to play a similar role in the poem Hrafnagaldur Óðins, protecting the world from the coldest winter. If these three liquids can be understood as the water of the three wells, the ice-cold sea would be Hvergelmir which all the waters of the world come from. One of the rivers which flows from it in Grímnismál 26-28 is svöl, the cool. Son’s blood is then Mimir’s well (Son and Oðrærir are names for two of the three containers that the mead of poetry is stored in). The mead of poetry is known as “Kvasir’s blood”, so the idea is not as far-fetched as it would seem.
If these three liquids that nourish the young Heimdall are identical to the contents of the three world-wells, then Heimdall and Yggdrassil are nourished from the same source. Thus, before we move forward, I think an understanding of the nature of the water of the wells that feed Yggdrassil is in order.
Gylfaginning 16 reads:
"It is said that the Norns, who dwell by Urd's well, take water from the well each day, and with it the mud that lies around the well, and pour it over the tree, so that its branches may not rot or decay. This water is so holy that all things, which come into contact with it, turn as white as the membrane called "skjall" that covers the inside of an eggshell..."
Since the same water laves the Tree,then it too must be as “white” as the inner lining of an eggshell. We cannot be sure why Snorri chose the skjall (membrane) of the egg to clarify the image, but it must be noted that this membrane is semi-transparent. The same word skjall was used of a semi-transparent membrane, stretched over a frame, and used as a window (instead of glass). Snorri may have been implying that the Tree is transparent, i.e. that even if it spreads throughout the universe, it is invisible to the eyes of men. This image may lie behind the meaning of Heimdall’s title “hvitastr As”, the “whitest god” or the “White god.”
Another usage of the word  “aurr” in the poem Fjölsvinnsmál is of importance here. In that poem, the world-tree is described in verses 24 and 28 by two names unique to that poem: Vedurglasir (Weather-glasir) and Aurglasir (Mud-glasir).
[The following is based on the translation of Fjölsvinnsmál by Eysteinn Björnsson] 
The first half of verse 24 reads:
Víðófnir hann heitir
en hann stendur Veðurglasi á
meiðs kvistum Míma
His name is Vidofnir
and he stands upon Vedurglasir
the boughs of Mími's tree

In Fjölsvinnsmál, the Vidofnir is described as a golden cock perched on the branches of “Mimir’s Tree”. Scholars have long identified this tree as the World-Tree (also known as askur Yggdrasils, Yggdrasill, Læraður, mjötviður, hárbaðmur), whose roots penetrate the three Underworld wells, and whose branches and foliage stretch throughout the whole universe. Fjolsvinsmal 20 says that the branches of this tree spread over every land, cp. Gylfaginning 14: "Its branches spread out over all the world and extend across the sky. Three of the tree's roots support it and extend very, very far." The tree could be named after Mímir (Mími) for the reason that he is the guardian of the well by the tree's central root.
The golden cock Vidofnir, sitting in its branches, can hardly be written off as a poetic invention, since the same cock appears in Voluspa 42. There he is called Gullinkambi, gold-combed. The translation of the name Vidofnir as Víðopnir, "the wide-open", is tempting, if the cock is seen as a symbol of the sky. Compare the names of various "heavens" in the Nafnaþulur, among which are Víðbláinn "wide-blue" or "wide-dark" and Víðfeðmir ("wide-embracing"). The cock sitting in the top branches of the World-Tree would thus be an allegory of the vault of heaven, forming a canopy overhead with the spread of his wings, which should be compared with the crown of Yggdrasill, which forms a similar canopy over Asgard. The wing-meats spoken of in the poem, which will become the food of 2 wolves then represent the sun and the moon, which will be devoured by wolves.
Taken literally the name Víð-ófnir means "wide-weaver", or "wide web". -ófnir can be derived from the verb vefa "weave". From Helgakviða Hundingsbana I, 2-4, we learn that the norns wove their threads of fate across the sky (undir mána sal). The web of fate was seen as a complex pattern, similar to a spider web, stretching across the heavens. This is in accordance with the principles of the medieval world-picture, where fate was written in the starry heavens, according to the principles of astrology. Víðófnir is thus a symbol of the heavens, where the web of the norns is woven.
He also symbolizes the crown of the tree Glasir spoken of by Snorri as growing outside of Valhall’s door. Its leaves are golden, and its fruit are the golden apples of life. In Volsungasaga, Frigg sends one of Odin’s “wish-maidens” (valkyries?) to an infertile queen with one of these fruits, and she becomes pregnant after eating it. The same image probably lies at the root of the cryptic passage in Fjölsvinsmál 23: The fruit of the tree must be laid on the fire of the laboring woman, then will come out that which was in (the human fetus).
 Víðófnir is glittering with gold; perhaps he was a symbol of heaven (or the night sky), adorned with glittering stars. The stars, perhaps, were the apples growing in the uppermost branches of the tree, unborn human souls, who were occasionally seen to fall towards earth, as meteors (falling stars), according to medieval folklore. If Heimdall is understood as a representative of this tree, we gain further insight into his role as the father of mankind. Mankind is the seed of his fruit.
Perhaps related to this image, Heimdall’s horse is named Gulltopp, Gold-top. Heimdall himself has golden teeth. At the end of the poem Hrafnagaldur Óðins, Heimdall blows his horn at daybreak, like a rooster crowing at dawn:

25. Jörmungrundar
í jódyr nyrðra
und rót yztu
gengu til rekkju
gýgjur og þursar,
náir, dvergar
og dökkálfar.

25. At Jörmungrund's
northern border,
under the outermost root
of the noble tree,
went to their couches
giantesses and giants,
dead men, dwarves,
and dark-elves.

26. Risu raknar
rann álfröðull
norður að Niflheim
njóla sótti
upp nam Árgjöll
Úlfrúnar niður

26. The gods arose
álfröðull (the sun) ran,
njóla (night) advanced
north towards Niflheimur
Úlfrún's son
lifted up Árgjöll
the mighty hornblower
in Himinbjörg.

The name of the tree in which the golden cock sits, Veðurglasir (Glasir of the Winds), is probably best understood as a proper name. Björn M. Ólsen concluded similarly, and pointed out the connection with Glasir: "This name (Veðurglasir) seems to be a name of that part of Mímameiður, which rises above the earth, and is afflicted by the weather and the winds."
From Grímnismál 25-26, we learn that the goat Heiðrún and the hart Eikþyrnir stand on the roof of Odin's palace, Valhöll, grazing on the foliage of the tree. This suggests that Valhöll was seen as standing in the middle of Asgard, and was actually built around the tree's bole, which must have penetrated the roof of the palace. The topmost part of the tree is thus seen as forming a leafy canopy over the home of the gods. Cp. the description of Völsung's palace in Völsunga saga, Chapter 2, where a great oak grows inside the palace, penetrating its roof, and the tree's wonderful foliage, with splendid flowers, spreads out above it (eik ein mikil stóð inni í höllinni, ok limar trésins með fögrum blómum stóðu út um ræfr hallarinnar, en leggurinn stóð niðr í höllina).
In Voluspa 21-24, We have already seen that a witch named Gullveig-Heid caused a war between the Aesir and the Vanir. The poem Hyndluljod calls Heid, Hrimnir’s daughter. In Volsungasaga 2, the “wish-maiden” who carries an apple to an infertile queen at Frigg’s behest is said to be the daughter of Hrimnir. In Volsungsaga her proper name is given as Hljóð. Might it be related to Heimdallar’s hljóð? In Voluspa 22, Heid travels among mankind from house to house, just as Heimdall did as Rig. In Voluspa 27, the world-tree is said to be heið-vönum (lacking-heið, but also accustomed to heið).    Is this merely coincidence? Why do these words and concepts keep recurring? What is the poet alluding to?          
Conceptually, the uppermost part of the World-Tree, which was possibly seen as penetrating central Asgard and the floor and roof of Valhöll, was considered to be the most beautiful and precious part of the tree. Here we may have the origin of the tree Glasir, mentioned in Skáldskaparmál 42: "Why is gold called Glasir's foliage or leaves? In Asgard, in front of the doors of Valhöll, there stands a tree called Glasir, and all its foliage is red gold, as in this verse where it says that: 'Glasir stands / with golden leaves / before Odin's halls'. This tree is the most splendid one among gods and men." The name Glasir means "glittering, glowing, shining"
Such an interpretation could explain why Yggdrasill is also "Odin's horse", the eight-legged Sleipnir. The World-Tree was at the center of the world, surrounded by the eight directions, also known as the eight winds. [Might Heimdall’s hall Himinbjörg being listed as the ‘eighth’ hall have some significance here?] Glasir is thus properly "Veður-Glasir", Tree of Winds. When Odin hangs from Yggdrassil in Havamal 138, he says “I hung on a windy tree nine long nights.” (cp. verse Fjolvinnsmal 28). Odin was thus seen as riding upon the eight winds, who were symbolized as an eight-legged horse.
The whole of Fjolsvinnsmal verse 28 reads:

Aftur mun koma
sá er eftir fer
og vill þann tein taka,
ef það færir
sem fáir eigu
Eiri Aurglasis.

He who seeks the sword
and desires to possess it,
shall return,
only if he brings
a rare object
to the Eir (goddess) of Aurglasir

 It is possible to survive such a quest for the sword kept by Sinmara (a goddess at the base of the Tree), if you bring her an object sem fáir eigu, owned by few, i.e none. It can hardly be doubted that Eir Aurglasis is a kenning (paraphrase) for Sinmara. Eir was the goddess of healing, but her name was commonly used as a synonym for woman in skaldic kennings. Aurglasir is obviously another name of the World-Tree. In stanza 24 Veðurglasir was used as a name of that part of the Tree which is above-ground, exposed to the winds. Aur means "mud, soil, clay", thus Aur-glasir is the part below-ground, the underworld part of the Tree. Sinmara is an underworld divinity, the healing goddess of Mud-Glasir, named Mímameiður in stanzas 20 and 26.
The word aur, here and elsewhere, has puzzled many commentators, some of which have postulated a "lost" word aur, meaning "gold", cp. the Latin aurum, and the Icelandic eyrir "money, coin". [Sophus Bugge translated Eiri aurglasis as the “goddess of the golden arm-ring’]  This is unnecessary. All the word's occurrences in the poems can be explained from the meanings "mud, wet clay, wet soil, loam". It signifies the richness of muddy soil as a source of growth and fruitfulness. We have seen that the primeval giant Ymir was also known as Aurgelmir. The very soil of the earth was made from his flesh, and was fruitful for the reason that he sucked the milk of life from the udder of the primeval cow Audhumla. In Völuspá 19 we also find this same substance intimately connected with the World-Tree.