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:

vin á heitir ein
önnur vegsvinn
þriðja þiodnvma
nýt ok navt
navnn ok hravnn
sliþ ok hriþ
sylgr ok ylgr
víþ ok ván
vavnd ok stravnd
giavll ok leiptr
þær falla gumnum nær
er falla til Heljar héðan  

vina heitir ein
önnur væg svin
þriðja þioðnvma
nyt ok nöt
nönn ok hrönn
slíð ok hríð
sylgr ok ylgr
víð ok váð
vönd ok strönd
giöll ok læiptr
þær falla gumnum nær
er falla til heljar héðan 


28. Vína heitir ein,
önnur Vegsvinn,
þriðja Þjóðnuma,
Nyt ok Nöt,
Nönn ok Hrönn,
Slíð ok Hríð,
Sylgr ok Ylgr,
Víð ok Ván,
Vönd ok Strönd,
Gjöll ok Leiftr,
þær falla gumnum nær,
er falla til Heljar héðan.

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

Viner, Noter, Vegsuonner,
Niter, Stronder, and Heronner, ---
The lands of mortals these divide,
And downward thence to Hela glide.

VINER. The names of many terrestrial rivers are here omitted; viz: Naunn, Hraun, Slid, Hrid, Sylgr, Ylgr, Vid, Van, Vaund, Straund, Giaull, and Serptr. 

And fifteen more of darker waves which pour
Their sluggish streams through Midgard, near to men,
And thence, with mighty thunderings, fall away
To Hela;

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

28. Vina one is called,
a second Vegsvin,
a third Thiodnuma;
Nyt and Nöt,
Nön and Hrön,
Slid and Hrid,
Sylg and Ylg,
Vid and Van,
Vönd and Strönd,
Giöll and Leipt;
these (two) fall near to men,
but fall hence to Hel,

       2. Rivers (continued)

        Vína heitir ein, ænnor Vegsvinn,
                    Þriðja þioðnuma;
        Nyt ok Navt, Navnn ok Hravnn,
        Slið ok Hrið, Slygr ok Ylgr,
        Við ok Van, Vavnd ok Stravnd,
        Giavll ok Leiptr, þær fall gumnom nær,
                   Enn fall til Heljar heðan.

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

27, 28. — Interpolations B, Mh, S, J. The names contained in these strophes do not all bear interpretation and seem to belong to existing, not mythical, rivers, some of which were to be found in Britain.

28. Vino is one, | Vegsvin another,
And Thjothnuma a third;
Nyt and Not, | Non and Hron,
Slith and Hrith, | Sylg and Ylg,
Vith and Von, | Vond and Strond,
Gjol and Leipt, | that go among men,
And hence they fall to Hel.
28. Slith may possibly be the same river as that mentioned in Voluspo, 36, as flowing through the giants' land. Leipt: in Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II, 29, this river is mentioned as one by which a solemn oath is sworn, and Gering points the parallel to the significance of the Styx among the Greeks. The other rivers here named are not mentioned elsewhere in the poems.] 

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

28. Vína is hight one, Vegsvinn the other,
the third, Thjóthnuma;
Nyt and Not, Nonn and Hronn,
Slíth and Hrith, Sylg and Ylg,
Vil and Van, Vond and Strond,
Gjoll and Leiptr, flow in the land of men,
but hence flow to Hel. 

28. Vina is one stream, Vegsvin another,
A third Thjodnuma, Nyt and Not,
Nonn and Hronn, Slid and Hrid,
Sylg and Ylg, Vid and Van, Vond and Strond,
Gjoll and Leift, they gush down to men
And afterwards down to Hel.

1996 Carolyne Larrington
in The Poetic Edda
Grimnir’s Sayings

2001 Eysteinn Björnsson
at Jörmungrund


28. Vina is one's name, another Vegsvinn,
a third Thiodnuma,
Nyt and Not, Nonn and Hronn,
Slid and Hrid, Sylg and Ylg,
Vid and Van, Yond and Strond,
Gioll and Leipt, they fall close to men,
and flow down from here to hell.

Vin is one,
Vegsvinn another,
Thiodnuma a third,
Nyt and Not,
Nonn and Hronn,
Slid and Hrid,
Sylg and Ylg,
Vid and Van,
Vond and Strond,
Gjoll and Leipt,
they run close to men,
and hence down to Hel.

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"

28. There is one river named Wine,
another Way Wise,
a third, Thiever of People-
Needful and Knife,
Burly and Billow,
Cruel and Squall,
Gulp and She Wolf,
Wide and Awaiting,
Stick and Sea Shore,
Clangour and Flash-
they flow close to men,
and drop to Hel from here.

28. ‘One is called the Dvina,
a second Way-swift,
a third Great-reservoir,
Fish-rich and Fresh,
Wild and Wave,
Stern and Storm,
Swallow and She-wolf,
Wide and Wanting,
Bad and Bank,
Screaming and Lightning,
they flow close to men,
they flow down from here to Hel.


A River Runs Through It

The phrase ær falla gumnum nær, er falla til Heljar héðan," seems to indicate that these are subterreanean rivers, which may surface for a time, but which flow from their source, mainly underground. At least three of these, Slíðr, Leiptr, and Gjöll are known from other sources as rivers flowing in Hel.

Snorri paraphrases this verse in Gylfaginning 4, when he speaks of rivers flowing out of the fountain Hvergelmir, located in Niflheim, into Ginnungagap before the earth was created from Ymir's corpse:

Þá mælti Jafnhárr: "Fyrr var þat mörgum öldum en jörð var sköpuð er Niflheimr var gerr, ok í honum miðjum liggr bruðr sá, er Hvergelmir heitir, ok þaðan af falla þær ár, er svá heita: Svöl, Gunnþrá, Fjörm, Fimbulþul, Slíðr ok Hríð, Sylgr ok Ylgr, Víð, Leiptr. Gjöll er næst Helgrindum."

"Then said Jafnhárr: 'It was many ages before the earth was shaped that Niflhel was made; and midmost within it lies the well that is called Hvergelmir, from which spring the rivers called: Svöl, Gunnthrá, Fjörm, Fimbulthul, Slídr and Hríd, Sylgr and Ylgr, Víd, Leiptr; Gjöll is near the Hel-gates.'"

In some editions this verse is broken into verses 28, lines 4-6, & 29. If these are broken into separate verses, they appear as:


Vína heitir ein,
önnur Vegsvinn,
þriðja Þjóðnuma,
29. Nyt ok Nöt,
Nönn ok Hrönn,
Slíðr ok Hrið,
Sylgr ok Ylgr,
Við ok Ván,
Vönd ok Strönd,
Gjöll ok Leiptr,
falla gumnum nær
en falla til Heljar heðan.

This order is reflected in the translations below. 
An excerpt from Christopher Hale, "The River Names in Grímnismál 27-29" in Edda, A Collection of Essays, 1988:

Grímnismál 28/4-6

Vína heitir ein,
önnur Vegsvinn,
þriðja Þjóðnuma,

Vína Grm 28: Vin á R; Vina A.
SnE I 25: vina U; r; vína W; vina T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): vina, vina A; vina, vina r; vína, vína B; C;
vina, uma T.
Gering and Sijmons (p. 198) have interpreted this name, according to the form in R, as 'wine stream' (cf., ON vín n. 'wine' and ON a f. 'river, stream'). However, the form 'Vin a' in R is unique and probably due to a misunderstanding of the text on the part of the manuscript copyist. Most other scholars (e.g., Jónsson, 1900, p. 40, and Wilken, p. 275) have identified the mythological river with the Russian Dvina. Due to the lack of a better explanation, I tend to agree with these latter authors. Furthermore, the ON form of the Dvina River is Vína. Vína may be connected to the name Vín.
Vegsvinn Grm 28: vegsvinn R; væglsvin A.
SnE l25: veglvn U; vog. svinn r; ueg. suínn W; vog. suinn T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): vægsvinn A; vegsvinn r; vegs ... B;
vegsuinn C; T.
The first element is the stem form of ON vegr m. 'way.' The final element seems to be a nominalization of the feminine singular of the ON adjective svinnr 'swift, quick.' This latter word, or a root related to it, seems to occur in a number of Norwegian names such as Svindalen (pron. svinn-) in Andebu, Vestfold (NE, pp. 258-9), but there is a possibility also that the first element in some of these is Norwegian svin n., ON svin n. 'pig.' Furthermore, in several Swedish lake names such as Svinnaren it is quite likely that a river name * Svinn(a) occurs (see Hellquist, pp. 596-97). The ON adjective svinnr in the meaning 'quick, rapid,' however, only occurs in ON in the expression svinn Rín (Atlaqviða 27). Otherwise the word means 'wise'. Nevertheless, I would connect the mythological name to the first meaning (not the least because of its use in conjunction with another river) and thus have Vegsvinn mean something like 'the one which flows rapidly in its course,' rather than 'the one which knows how to, or is wise in, finding its way' as some other scholars have suggested (e.g., Jónsson, 1900, p. 234).
Þjóðnuma Grm 28: þiodnvma R; þioðnvma A.
SnE l25: þioðnvma U; þioðnuma r; þioðnuma W; þiodnuma T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): þioðnvma A; r; þíodnuma B; þiodnuma C; T.
The final element, in spite of Magnus Olsen's doubts (1964, p. 25), seems to be related to Norwegian dialect nome, ON *numi m. 'a little lake right beside a river, with the water level of which it rises and falls; water container' listed by Ross (p. 548). O. Rygh (NE, pp. 170-71) connects the names listed under the root naum- to Ross' word as does Amund B. Larsen for the farm name Nomeland (NO, VIII, p. 222) and A. Kjær for Nome (NO, IX, p. 111). The first element would then probably be ON þjóð f., in compounds meaning 'great, powerful.' Accordingly, þjóðnuma could mean something like 'the one which contains a great deal of water.' Other scholars (e.g., Wilken, p. 276, and Gering, p. 198) have related the final element to the ON verb nema 'to take by force' with the meaning then something like 'the one which devours people.' If the final element has this latter connotation, then the meaning 'the one which takes with great force' could apply to a river which floods with disastrous consequences. Cf., for example, Bægisá in Oxnadals-hreppur, Eyjafjarðarsýsla, Iceland, from Icelandic bægja 'to remove, drive off,' which regularly floods its banks.
Grm 29
Nyt ok Nöt,
Nönn ok Hrönn,
Slíð ok Hrið,
Sylgr ok Ylgr,
Við ok Ván,
Vend ok Strönd,
Gjöll ok Leiptr,
fall a gumnum nær
en falla til Heljar heðan.
Hrið, Sylgr, Ylgr, Við and Leiptr, in that order, flow from the well Hvergelmir according to SnE 14. Also there it is stated that Gjöll is next to the gates of Hel. Furthermore, according to SnE 125, Nyt, Nöt, Nönn and Hrönn, in that order (Nöt appears before Nyt [written 'reyt' in U], flow from Hvergelmir as well. All, except Nönn and Slíð, are mentioned (some of  them twice) in the nafnaþulur but in a different order from that in Grm 29 and mixed in with other river names. According to SnE I 34, Hermóðr rode nine nights to Gjallar on his way to fetch Baldr from Hel. Here it is implied that all must cross the gilded bridge over Gjöll in order to reach Hel, and that Hel itself is situated down and north from this place. Ván in SnE 121 is mentioned as coming from the slather of the bound Fenris Wolf. In Helgakviða Hundingsbana II 31, reference is made to Leiptr as being a river on which oaths are sworn.
Nyt Grm 29: nýt R; nyt A.
SnE I 25: reyt (!) U; nyt r: W; T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): Nyt A; r; N51 B; Nýt C; nit T.
As Nyt stands together with Nöt which has a short vowel, it, too, probably has one in spite of the form with acute accent in R which undoubtedly denotes stress (cf. Lindblad, pp. 101ff. and 144ff.). Finnur Jónsson (1900, p. 229) connects the name to ON nyt f. 'use, enjoyment, produce,' probably meaning 'the one which is rich in fish.' Ivar Lundahl, who concurs with Jónsson, lists two Swedish river names Gagnån and Nytteström, the former formed from Old Swedish gaghn 'use, profit,' and the latter from an Old Swedish adjective *nyter 'useful,' ON *nytr, which are in ablaut connection to Old Swedish nyter, ON nýtr, with the same meaning. It is quite likely that this is the case with Nyt, and these two Swedish examples would support Jónsson's interpretation. See also Nøste in Hedemark, Norway, written 'Nytle' in Diplomatarium Norvegicum, IV, 338, 1363 and probably derived from the same root (NG, III, p. 162), Nøtterøy from an island name Njót (NG, VI, p. 233), and, with a similar meaning, gefn in river names (NE, p. 68). An opposite semantic and etymological parallel is the river called Faanetta from the adjective fánýtr 'of little use' (NE, p. 44). However, nyt f. in ON also means 'milk,' and it could, though this is considerably less likely, refer to the color of the water in the river. Cf. Mjólkurá in Iceland and names such as Mjølkeelven and Mjølkeraaen in Norway (NE, p. 161).
Nöt Grm 29: navt R; nöt A.
SnE I 25: navtt U; navt r; (navt) W; naut T.
SnE II 89: (479-84): nöt A; navt r; (nó)t B; nlaut C; naut T.
Gering and Sijmons (p. 199) interpret the name as 'the stinging or burning one' and refer to the spear heiti Nöt in one of the þulur in SnE (cf. also Jóhannessen, p. 691). Jan de Vries (p. 415), on the other hand, connects it to AS nat, Old High German naz 'wet,' Gothic ganatjan 'to wet,' Sanskrit nadi 'river,' and the Low German river name Nette. Hjalmar Falk (NG, V, pp. 218-19) gives Nöt the same interpretation in discussing the Norwegian farm name Natvet and Hellquist (p. 426) in discussing the Swedish lake name Naten. Hellquist, furthermore, lists the semantic parallels Vättern and Vátsjon. I find this is the most likely explanation, and that the mythological name is thus probably a derivation of the Germanic root *nat.
Nönn Grm 29:  navnn R; nönn A.
SnE I 25: navnn U; r; W; naunn T.
Sophus Bugge (NE, p. 327) posits ON *Nonn for the name written "Nanna-raanæ" (acc.) in Biskop Eysteins Jordebog, 207, near Nanset in Hedrum, Norway. He connects it to the Germanic adjectival stem "nanþa- 'bold, go-ahead' which occurs in Germanic personal names, and to which stem the ON verb nenna 'to strive' also belongs (cf. also Gering, p. 199). This is undoubtedly the same word from which the name of the mythological river is derived. Finnur Jónsson (1900, p. 229) has explained Nönn as 'the quickly flowing one.'
Hrönn Grm 29: hravnn R; hrönn A.
SnE I 25: hravnn U; r; hronn W; hraunn T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): hronn, hronn, A; hravnn, hravnn r; hronn,
hronn B; hraunn, hraunn C; h(l)aunn, hraunn, T.
ON hronn f. 'wave.' Semantic parallels are Gira, connected to Norwegian dialect gir m. 'current in the water' and Unna, related to ON unnr f. 'wave' (NE, pp. 72, 286), both referring to rivers with rough or wavy water which the Eddic name also seems to denote.
Slið Grm 29: sliþ R; slið A
The name must be a derivative of ON sliðr 'fearful.' If this is correct then the Norwegian river called Otta (cf. ON ótti m. 'fright'):" would be a semantic parallel to it. One is tempted to identify it as the same river as Sliðr, mentioned in Voluspá 36, SnE 14 and in the nafnaþulur. If the two names contain the same root as the ON adjective above, then Sliðr would be a derivation in -r and Slið a stem form without the radical -r (note Mod. Norw. slid 'greedy').
Hríð Grm 29: hriþ R; hrið A.
SnE 14: hriþr U; hriþ r; hrið W; hrid T.
SnE II 89 (479-84) hrið A; hrið r; (hr)id B; hrid C; T.
This is undoubtedly ON hríð f. 'tempest, storm.' Semantic parallels found among Norwegian river names are Fjuka, related to ON fjuk n. 'snow storm,' Frysja, to the Norwegian dialect verb frusa 'to spout, spray,' Bøyse, to Norwegian dialect bøysa 'to rush forth' (Hovda, 1966, pp. 30, 35, 43) and Strangen, to the ON adjective strangr 'powerful, rapid' (NE, p. 248). Cleasby and Vigfusson (p. 780) identify Hrið with the English river Reed, but this is unlikely.
Sylgr Grm 29: sylgr R; A.
SnE 14: Sylgr U; r; W; T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): sylgr A; r; sylgr B; C sylgir T.
Sylgr is undoubtedly a feminine derivation in *-iR of the preterite stage sulg- of the' ON verb svelgja 'to swallow.' Etymologically parallel is the Norwegian river name in solg- (NE, p. 239), Svelga (Hovda, 1966, p. 108) and the Icelandic Svelgsá (Jónsson, 1914, p. 22), all connected to the same verb. See also the semantically parallel Glupa (Hovda, 1966, p. 50), related to Norwegian glupe 'to bolt' (food), which flows past and down into a steep and rather long canyon. The Eddic name could signify a similar type of river.
Ylgr Grm 29: ylgr R; -ylgr A.
SnE 14: ylgr U; r; W; T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): ylgr A; r; (y)lgr B; ylgr C; T.
ON ylgr f. 'she-wolf.' O. Rygh (NE, p. 302) connects the Norwegian river name Ylja to the same word, but G. Indrebe refutes this idea and states that it is certainly derived from ON ylr 'warmth. However, there are a number of semantic parallels to this interpretation of Ylgr in river names such as the Norwegian Ulva and Ulvaaen (NE, p. 285) and in the Swedish lake called Ulven (Hellquist, pp. 671-73), all derived from ON ulfr m. 'wolf.' Cf. also the river names connected to ON birna f. 'she-bear' and ON björn m. 'bear' (NE, pp. 13, 18). Another possibility is that Ylgr is related to Modern Icelandic ylgja f. and olga f. 'sea swell' and ON sjávarolga with the same meaning (cf. þyn above).
Víð Grm 29: viþ R; við A.
SnE II 89 (479-84): ið A; við- r; víd C; pid (!) T.
This name is already mentioned in Grm 27 (see there for its interpretation). Whether or not the same river is meant here is difficult to determine with certainty. Hjalmar Falk. among others, believes that Við here is a mistake for Víl. He points out that this latter name occurs in several places in SnE, especially in a passage entitled "fra Fenris ulfi" in A, leaf 15v, where it and Ván are both mentioned as flowing from the slather of the bound Fenris Wolf. Furthermore, he says that Víl and Ván fit well together semantically, meaning 'despair' and 'hope' respectively. I find this idea unlikely as Víð might have been repeated here in order to go together with Ván, and Víð is also mentioned twice in the nafnaþulur.
Ván Grm 29: ván R;-vað (!) A.
SnE 121: vam U; von r; W; T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): van A; von r; von B; vaunn C; von T.
frá Fenris ulfi: van A.
Undoubtedly this is ON váin f. 'hope,' but probably in the context 'hope for something good' such as fishing. See Norwegian dialect von 'a place where one expects to find something, such as a fishing place or a hunting grounds' and Swedish dialect von f. 'instrument, trap in which one catches animals or fish.' Cf. also the river name Vonbækken (NE, p. 300), which is interpreted as possibly being compounded with Norwegian dialect von, and the farm name Ona. According to Joran Sahlgren, however, Ván is possibly an old 'noa-' name with the meaning 'hope, good prospects' and called after a large, well-known river in the Norway of the pre-Christian period; This he identifies as Götaälv. Ván would thus be the old name for this river which is still found in the lake name Vänern. The name also seems to occur in a couple of skaldic kennings, for example, fránskíðs af mér Vánar (Plácitúsdrápa 9/4) and Vánar dags á Spáni (Útfarardrápa 2/2).

Vönd Grm 29: vavnd R; vönd A.
SnE II 89 (479-84): vind - (!) A; vond r; vínn(!) B; vond C; T
The name is most likely a nominalization of the feminine singular of the ON adjective vandr 'difficult.' Cf., for example, the Norwegian river Meina (NE, p. 157), probably derived from the ON verb meina 'to harm, hinder.' Another possibility is that it is related to ON vöndr m. 'wand, switch.' Cf., for example, the river names with the stem gand- (NE, p. 63), the district name Gand and the lake called Gjende (Indrebe, 1924, p. 71), all related perhaps to Norwegian dialect gand m. 'thin stick,' as well as the river names with the stem stav- (NE, p. 245) to ON stafr 'stick, stave' and probably referring to rivers which flow in a straight course for a considerable stretch. A similar meaning may be possible here.
Strönd Grm 29: stravnd R; strönd A.
SnE II 89 (479-84): strind, strond A; strond, strond r; -strinnd,
strónnd B; strond, straund C; stroud, strónd T.
Formally the name is identical to ON strónd f. 'strand, coast, shore,' but it is difficult to interpret semantically. Perhaps it might refer to a river which floods during part of the year, forming shores or banks. Jóhannessen (p. 881) relates the word strönd to the IE root *ster- 'to spread,' and if this is the case, a meaning for the Eddic name such as the one I have posited here might not be too far-fetched.
Gjöll Grm 29: giavll R; giöll A.
SnE 14: Gioll U; r; Giöll W; giøll T.
SnE 134: til giallar ár U; til (á) rinnar giallar r; til arennar
giallar W; til arinnar giallar ár T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): Giöll A; Gjall r; .. ió(l) B; Mjoll C; Gioll T.
Probably either ON gjöll f. 'din, alarm' or a nominalization of the feminine singular of the ON adjective gjallr 'ringing,' used only, however, poetically. O. Rygh (NE, p. 70) mentions three places, Gjellestad, Gjellebæk and Gjeldal, the names of which are probably formed from the same root used as a river name. Also a river Gjold seems to be the base for several names in Denmark (Sorensen, pp. 229-30).
Leiptr Grm 29: leiptr R; læiptr A.
SnE 14: -leiptr U; leiptr r; leiptur T.
SnE II 89 (479-84): læiptr A; leifstr r; læift(r) B; leiptr C; leiptr T.
Helgakviða Hundingsbana II: leiptrar vatni R.
This is undoubtedly ON leiptr f. 'lightning.' Gering and Sijmons (p. 199) suggest that it might be so called because of its movement or shine. As regards the latter possibility see the Norwegian river names Lysa and Skinaaen (NE, pp. 150-51, 216).

At first glance it might appear that a number of these names are made up in order to fit into the rhyme scheme of the half line (e.g., Strönd). However, a few look as though they refer to real rivers, though outside of Scandinavia (e.g., Rín and Vína). Most of the rest seem to be Nordic, and many of these exhibit very old types of name formation. Some could be names of actual Scandinavian rivers (e.g., Göpul) , while others may have once existed but are now to be found only in compound names (e.g., Nöt). Of these Scandinavian names the greater part point to Norway as can be seen by the number of them that have etymological parallels in that country, and where these are lacking, most of the rest have clear semantic parallels there.
As Grm is a didactic poem, ostensibly giving the reader or listener mythological knowledge, such as the names of the halls of the gods or of the heiti of Óðinn, set in the framework of the story of Geirröðr and Agnarr, it has tended to accrete to itself bits of lore or information from other sources which have thus been interpolated into the poem. The section on the river names, as has been mentioned, is doubtlessly, in whole or in part, one of these later interpolations. For example, the meter here is faulty, and only a few lines can be glued together to form reasonably good ljóðaháttr stanzas. In all likelihood a number of different verses or parts of verses have been welded together to form Grm 27-29.
These verses are certainly akin to the nafnaþulur in SnE which on the whole consist of mere lists of names. But I suggest that parallels to them can be found in more modern types of verse. The following stanza (þula) from Arneshreppur in Iceland, composed by an unknown author probably in the 19th century, and appearing in the newspaper Morgunblaðið of 31 December, 1970, is an example:
Nöfnin sex ég nefni:
Nes og Finnbogastao.
Fjórurn fjorðum stefni
Felli og Melum að.
Læt ég Dranga í ljós,
líka Hlíðarós,
vikur sjö og Veiðileysu,
Vog og Kamb og Kjós,
Gjögur , Bær og eyri.
—Ekki man ég fleiri.
This was obviously written, as were probably portions of Grm, as an aid to the remembering of a certain group of names, in this case place names of a particular district in Iceland, though in no particular geographical order.

Grm 27-29 is also strongly reminiscent of certain verses which exist both in Norwegian and Icelandic sources. These are the so-called deildevers, or verse composed in order to help one remember the boundaries of a territory or farm, and médvers which give directions to the finding of good fishing grounds by using landmarks. Both list place names in their descriptions.

…It seems to me quite possible that the author(s) of these verses in Grm had a number of such similar types of verse in mind, or in fact may have used lines from such categories, when composing them. Later the compiler of Grm in its present form took these stanzas, or fragments of them, and put them together to form the section under discussion. Furthermore, as can be seen from the discussion of each individual name, it is possible, that all of these names have been those of actual river in the real world and in particular in Scandinavia or Norway, due to the many etymological and semantic parallels to them. if this is so, then at least some, or the entire body, of these river names could belong together in definite, limited groups, in a geographical context, and refer, for example, to boundaries of some sort, definite routes along which one may travel from one place to another in the real world, or simply be listings of names within certain regions. 

An abridged excerpt from the Introduction to
Sturlunga Saga,
edited by Gudbrandr Vigfusson, 1874.

§ 33. The Eddic Poems

Up to this time the word Edda has been consistently used for Snorri's Edda, and before 1643 there is no trace of any one knowing the Poetic Edda at all. An essay of Björn still in MS., written 1641, and a composition of Jón Gudmundsson, penned in 1642, both treating exhaustively mythological subjects, yield not the faintest allusion to the poems we know as 'Edda.'

But now the Cod. Regius of the Lays turned up, and Brynjolf at once accepted it as proof positive of his own theory: 'Ilia genuina rhythmica Saemundi,' he says; boldly writes Edda SÆmundi on the back of the newly-discovered book, and henceforward the 'two Eddas' become a standing phrase among the learned; Snorri's Edda being distinguished as Prose-Edda, the Book of Lays as Sæmund's Edda.

Whence the bishop got this Book of Lays we do not know for certain. About this he says nothing, but we believe that it was in the East of Iceland, which was almost a terra incognita, where things might lurk in silence for scores of years, for there were no great copyists in the East, it was so far from the real centres of intellectual life, Holar, Skalholt, and Broadfrith. One reason for this hypothesis rests on the fact that with Cod. Regius came a fragment (A of editions, AM. 748) which contained Vegtamskviða. Now there is a poem of the fifteenth or sixteenth century, Hrafnagaldr Óðins, which was composed to serve as introduction and be affixed to Vegtamskviða. In it there is a word borrowed from the Völuspa of Cod. Regius, so that it is clear the author knew both these two MSS. But this poem is, we take it, by an East countryman, the word 'endr-rjoða' being a provincialism only used in that quarter, as far as we know. Again, the handwriting of the two vellums is quite unlike any handwriting known to the Editor. This would, at all events, be hardly the case if they were of Western origin, from a part of the country where there had been a regular school of scribes with a marked character of handwriting, &c.

In the absence therefore of all direct allusion, we must seek back for traces of them through Icelandic literature. In the fifteenth century we have, besides Hrafnagaldr Óðinns quoted above, the two Thrymlur (printed in Möbius' edition of Edda), Ballads founded on the Lay Thrymskviða. Next we come to the fourteenth-century paraphrase of the Lays of Helgi and the Volsungs in Volsunga Saga, clearly drawn from a sister copy of our Cod. Regius.

Looking at the mass of separate poems of different styles, ages, and subject, as a whole, we shall at once perceive that they are all inferior in age to the period when the Scandinavian language broke off from the other Teutonic tongues, and took upon itself a character of its own, both in vocabulary, in the development of new grammatical peculiarities (e. g. the reflexive), and in the great morphological changes (e.g. very great contractions and apheresis). A very early origin is therefore impossible, and the ninth century must be our upward limit.

It is obvious that the only way to settle such a question as this is to take the poems one by one, and argue from one to another where they are connected, classifying them in the process.

Taking Grimmsmal, several of the river names are, we think, to be identified with Gaelic streams. Even 'Kerlaugar tvær' strikes us as remarkably like a Scottish or English Kerlock or the like. The Kjar seems to point to some such root as appears in Cher, Cher-well, Char, &c., all Celtic names.