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:

Valgrind heitir,
er stendr velli á
heilog fyr helgum durum;
forn er sú grind,
en þat fáir vitu,
hve hon er lás lokin.  

Valgrind heitir,
er stendr velli á
hæilög fyr helgum dýrum;
forn er sú grind,
en þat fairvi tu,
hve hon er í lás um lokin.  

22. Valgrind heitir,
er stendr velli á
heilög fyr helgum dyrum;
forn er sú grind,
en þat fáir vitu,
hve hon er í lás lokin.  

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

XXII. Far o'er yon hills old Valgrind stands,
Erected by no mortal hands:
Few know the dome's mysterious ways,
Or how the massy bars to raise.

Holy, in the plain before the holy gate,
Standeth Valgrind; ancient the court, but few
Can tell how late shall close its clanging gates.

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

22. Valgrind is the lattice called,
in the plain that stands,
holy before the holy gates:
ancient is that lattice,
but few only know
how it is closed with lock.

Among “Fragments”:
Wal-gate is the gate's name: it stands on the holy plain before the holy doors. It is an ancient gate, but few know how it is locked.


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

Out of Sequence:

20. Death-barrier stands, the sacred gate,
on the plain 'fore the sacred doors ;
old is the lattice and few have learned
how it is closed on the latch.

22. There Valgrind stands, the sacred gate,
And behind are the holy doors;
Old is the gate,        but few there are
Who can tell how it tightly is locked.

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

22. Valgrind is the gate    that wards the gods,
    holy, nigh holy doors;
    old is that wicket,    nor wot many
    with what bolt that gate is barred.

Gate-of-Dead before doors that are holy
Stands upon hallowed acres:
Old is that gate, and how to bolt it
Few now know.

1969/1989 Patricia Terry
in Poems of the Elder Edda 
“The Lay of Grimnir”

1996 Carolyne Larrington
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnir’s Sayings

7. Guarding Valhalla a holy gate
defends the inner doors;
ancient it is, and few men know
what kind of lock will close it.

22. Valgrind it's called, standing on the plain,
sacred before the holy doors:
ancient is that gate, but few know
how it is closed up with a lock.

2011 Ursula Dronke
in The Poetic Edda, Vol. III
“The Lay of Grimnir”
2011 Andy Orchard
The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore
'The Lay of Grimnir"

22. Slain's Gate it is called,
that stands on the plain,
sacred in front of the sacred door.
That gate is old,
but few know
how it is locked by its latch.

22. ‘Corpse-gate, it’s called,
that stands on the plain,
hallowed, before holy doors;
ancient is that gate, but few know,
how that bolt is barred.

 Valgrind ('Slain-Gate') appears to be the name of the gate of Valhall. Only the dead may enter here, and among them, only those chosen by either Odin or Freyja on the battlefield (cf. st. 14). The verse seems to suggest that it has a special lock. The same gate may be mentioned in Fjölsvinnsmál 9-10, where we learn more about its nature:

Svipdagur kvað:

Segðu mér það, Fjölsviður,
er eg þig fregna mun
og eg vilja vita:
hvað sú grind heitir
er með goðum sjá-at
menn ið meira forað?

Svipdag said:

Now tell me, Fjolsvith
what I will ask you
and what I wish to know:
what is the name of this gate
the greatest obstacle seen
 by mortals in the land of the gods?

Fjölsviður kvað:

Þrymgjöll hún heitir,
en hana þrír gjörðu
Sólblinda synir;
fjötur fastur
verður við faranda hvern,
er hana hefur frá hliði.

Fjolsvith said:

Thrymgjoll it is called,
and was made by the three
sons of Solblindi;
a fetter will hold fast
any traveller
who attempts to open it.

Here Svipdag inquires about the gate before him, just as in stanza 11 he will ask about the wall which Fjölsviðr (Odin) built from "Leirbrimir's (Ymir's) limbs." Both the gate and the wall are með goðum, "with the gods".  Through this gate, which may be the gate of Asgard itself, Svipdag spies the goddess Menglad and her costly halls.


The name Þrymgjöll signifies "the one making a resounding noise".  Grímnismál 22 informs us that "few know how to open the lock". The entrance through the walls surrounding Asgard is restricted to a chosen few, and if Þrymgjöll is identical to Valgrind, Fjölsvinnsmál 10 tells us that any intruders will be fettered by it, should he attempt to open the lock.
The identity of Sólblindi ('Sun-blinded') and his three sons cannot be established, although the name suggests that of a dwarf, who turn to stone in sunlight.

According to the  Grímnismál 43, the sons of Ívaldi were great smiths, who created the ship Skidbladnir for Frey. In Skáldskaparmál 43, where they are identifed both as dwarves and as dark-eleves, they make various treasures for the gods including Odin's spear, and golden hair for Thor's bride Sif. Viktor Rydberg has convincingly shown that these  semi-divine smiths are functional parallels of the Rbhus in the Rig-Veda, who also forge treasures for the gods and were three in number. The word alf ('elf') has long been recognized as etymologically related to the Sanskrit rbhu (see Jan de Vries, Altnordisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1962, s.v. alfr; J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, 1997, s.v elf).

In Viktor Rydberg's reconstruction of the mythic epic, the sons of Ívaldi are identical to the three elven brothers of Völundarkviða. Völund's brother Egil, also known as Aurvandill, is the father of Svipdag. When Svipdag ("bright countenance") ultimately reveals himself as Menglad's fated husband in Fjölsvinsmál 47, he identifes his father as Sólbjartur ("Sun-Bright"). His grandfather's name, which is not stated, but may well be Sólblindi, "Blinding Sun."

The Elves were radiantly beautiful to behold. Snorri calls them Ljósálfar "Light-Elves", stating that the are "fairer than the sun" (fegri en sól sýnum - Gylfaginning 17). In Rydberg's reconstruction, Ivaldi takes Sol as his bride and fathers the swan-maidens, 'southern girls' who are creatures of warmth and light. They become the brides of his three sons. The poem Hrafnagaldur Óðins, verse 6, identifies Idunn as one of Ivaldi's daughters:

Dvelur í dölum 
dís forvitin,
Yggdrasils frá
aski hnigin;
álfa ættar, 
Iðunni hétu, 
Ívalds eldri 
yngsta barna.

Dwells in dales
the curious dís,
from Yggdrasill's
ash descended;
of elven kin,
Iðunn was her name,
youngest of Ívaldi's
elder children.
In Skáldskaparmál 43, Snorri tells the tale of a contest, provoked by Loki, between the Sons of Ivaldi and the dwarf-smith Sindri. In the Rigveda, the Rhbus create a serum that returns their aged parents to youth as part of a contest with the smith Tvashtar, also provoked by 'a lying tongue'. In Eddic mythology, Idunn, the sister of the Sons of Ivaldi, keeps ellilyf ása "the gods' remedy against old-age" (Haustlöng 9/3) in her possession. This connection, if it is Indo-European in origin, suggests that Idunn's apples are also a product of their forge.

If indeed by Sólblindi's sons, the sons of Ivaldi are meant, this indicates that they created Asgard's magical gate some time after the giant-builder constructed the wall around Asgard. In Gylfaginning 42, Snorri says that when Loki disrupted the master-builder's work, three days before the deadline by transforming himself into a mare and luring away the giant's horse Svadilfari, that the "the work had almost reached the gate of the stronghold" (þá var komit mjök at borghliði). This strongly suggests that when the master-builder was killed by Thor, the gate was left unfinished, forcing the gods to enlist other artisans to complete the work. It would make perfect sense if they asked the Sons of Ivaldi, who had previously forged treasures for them, to complete the task.