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:

Svipum hef ek nú yppt  
fyr sigtíva sonum,
við þat skal vilbjörg vaka;
öllum ásum
þat skal inn koma
Ægis bekki á,
Ægis drekko at.

Svipum hef ek í yppt  
fyr sigtíva sonum,
við þat skal vilbjörg vaka;
öllum ásum
þat skal inn koma
ögis bekki á,
ægis dryxiv at.

Svipum hef ek nú yppt  
fyr sigtíva sonum,
við þat skal vilbjörg vaka;
öllum ásum
þat skal inn koma
Ægis bekki á,
Ægis drekku at.
English Translations
1797 Amos Simon Cottle
in Icelandic Poetry
The Song of Grimnir
1866 Benjamin Thorpe
in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða
The Lay of Grimnir

My various hardships I describe,
Now to the Sigtivori tribe:
Protecting hands approach me near!
Steps of Asori now I hear:
The giants seat shall they ascend,
And inmost halls with clamours rend.

[1] "My various", --- Odin now begins to assume his true character, and asserts that he is instilling into the minds of his distant friends an idea of his sufferings.  

45. Now I my face have raised
to the gods´ triumphant sons,
at that will welcome help awake;
from all the Æsir,
that shall penetrate, to Aegir’s bench,
to Aegir’s compotation.
1871 Frederic Bergmann
Dits de Grimnir
1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson
in Corpus Poeticum Boreale

The Sayings of the Hooded One
  45. Déguisé, j'ai, en un instant, enlevé,
pour les Fils des Célestes-Vainqeurs,
Ce à quoi Garde-Joie (Vilbiörg) aura à veiller;
Cela fera toujours venir tous les Ases
Aux bancs d'Œgir,
Au festin d'Œgir.

Disguised, I have, in an instant, removed,
for the Sons of the Celestial-victors (Sîgtiva sonar)
That which Joy-Guard will have to look after;
This will always keep the Aesir coming
To the benches of Ægir,
To feast of Ægir



with the caption:

                [Some reference to Eager's banquet.]

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

45. (44) Now my face have I shown to the war-god's sons,
therewith shall help awake,
and the gods shall gather, all glad, to the bench
in Aegir's feasting hall.

45. To the race of gods my face have I raised,
And the wished-for aid have I waked;
For to all the gods has the message gone
That sit in Ægir’s seats,
That drink within Ægir’s doors.

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
  46. Now my looks have I lifted    aloft to the gods:
help will come from on high,
from all the Aesir which in shall come
on Aegir's benches,
At Aegir's feast

I have raised my eyes to the gods above,
and I'll soon have help
from all the Æsir who'll come in
to Ægir's hall
to hold a feast.

  1969 Patricia Terry
"The Lay of Grimnir"
1985 Einar Haugen
"The Edda as Ritual"
  I have raised my eyes[1] to the gods above,
and I'll soon have help
from all the Aesir who'll come in
to Aegir's hall
to hold a feast.

[1] I have raised my eyes … The translation of the first two lines is uncertain.
45. Visions I have now given 
to the sons of the gods.
From this will come a welcome blessing.
To all the gods it will come
On Ægir's benches,
At Ægir's ale-feast.

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”

45. My face I have now revealed before the sons of the fighting gods,
Now the wished-for sustenance will awaken;
All the Aesir it shall bring in
Onto Aegir’s benches,
At Aegir’s feast.

45. Fleeting scenes I have now shown
for the sons of victory’s gods.
With that, the longed-for
deliverance shall wake
for all the Æsir.
It shall enter in
to Ægir’s bench
at Ægir’s drinking.

2011 Andy Orchard
The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore
'The Lay of Grimnir"
2014 Jackson Crawford
The Poetic Edda

45. ‘Now I have lifted my face before victory-gods’ sons,
so the wished-for sustenance will occur;
it shall fetch in all the Æsir
on Ægir’s benches,
at Ægir’s feast.

I have shown my face
in the presence of the gods,
Now help is on the way.
It will come to all the gods
on Aegir's benches
When they drink at Aegir's place.

Loki intrudes on Aegir's Feast
Carl Emil Doepler Jr., 1905
This is the last verse before Odin reveals himself as the speaker of the poem. He remains tied between two fires, and has just finished his revelation of the heavenly realms and way to Valhalla, after first receiving a cool drink from Agnar, the king's young nephew (v. 3). Immediately before declaring his name, Odin invokes the Sacrifical Feast of the Gods, over which he presides. By the end of the poem, Odin elevates Agnar to king.
Notes on the Translations

1851 C.P. in
The Yale Magazine, Vol. 16,
The Song of Grimner omits verses 45-50.

The Auden/Taylor translation resumes here and continues for the remainder of the poem.

There is some descrepancy among the translations regarding the interpretation of lines 2-3.
Ægisdrekka: Ægir's Feast
Ægir, the Ocean Giant.  His name means "ocean", resulting in occasional ambiguity. For example, in Völuspá 60:  jörð úr ægi, "earth from the sea", and Rígsþula 43: ægi lægja, "ocean waves", the word ægir simply means "ocean".

The sea-giant Ægir customarily hosts the gods at his drekka, or Drinking Feast. The Eddic poem Lokasenna, also called Ægisdrekka, is set at such a feast. Loki intrudes and insults all the gods gathered there. He violates the firthstead by murdering one of Ægir's servants, and is driven from the hall by Thor. Shortly after the gods catch and bind him, as told in the prose conclusion to that poem. In Hymiskvida, Thor demands that Ægir brew beer for the gods. The poem implies that Ægir is obligated to perform this duty. The giant declares he doesn't have a brewing kettle big enough and tasks Thor to find one. Should Thor not secure the kettle, then Aegir would not supply the liquor. Thor and Tyr travel to Jotunheim, enter Hymir's hall as guests and, after a series of events including a fishing episode and a contest in which Thor shatters the giant's drinking cup, the thunder god retrieves the brewing vessel. 

Snorri uses the motif of the Drinking Feast at Ægir's to open Skáldskaparmál and in the late poem Hrafnagalður Oðins, Heimdall and Loki attend a feast of the gods in Valhall after returning from Hel as envoys of Odin to learn the fate of Idunn. There the mead is drawn from Mimir's vat, another giant associated with water and brewing. Völuspá 37 calls his place "Brimir's beer-hall." The gods seem to have at least two feasting sites: one in Valhall within the walls of Asgard at the apex of Yggdrassil, and another at Ægir's beside the sea. Hoard-Mimir's hall may represent a third site or serve as the archetype. Odin himself has sipped from it, in exchange for one of his eyes. Thus, one of Odin's eyes remains with him as he sits on this throne Hlidskalf at the apex of heaven, and the other resides in Mimir's well, just as the sea reflects the afternoon sun. As above, so below. Ægir's hall appears to form a middle ground between Valhall and Mimir's well, located where Ginnungagap once was according to Gylfaginning 9, and whose roots "no one knows how deep they run,"  Hávamál 142].  Asgard and Mimir's well at opposite ends of the world-tree on the vertical plane.

Ægir's role as brewer for the gods is apparently ancient. In Sonatorrek, a lament for his lost sons (ca. 960), Egill Skallagrímsson refers to the Ocean-giant as "ale-smith" (ölsmiðr). His brewing kettle represents the sea. The sea, formed from the blood of the primordial giant Ymir, sacrificed by the Sons of Borr, is thus symbolically compared to a giant brewing kettle as well as the liquor within it. In Asgard, Thor has the biggest drinking horn. When Hrungnir comes, Freyja serves him with it. In the tale of Utgard-Loki, Thor is fooled into drinking from a horn which conceals the sea. His deep draughts made the tides ebb and flow ever after.  At Hymir's along he consumes three vats of liquor and a whole bull. In turn, the Brewing Kettle is compared to the Sacrifical Bowl (hlaut-bol) used to catch the blood of the sacrifice. Inversely, this kettle can be compared to Ymir's skull which forms the dome of the sky. The sea and sky are reflections of one another. This is made evident, when Thor, the storm god, wears the kettle on his head as he leaves Hymir's hall with it.  Hymiskviða clearly connects the Æsir's drinking feast at Ægir's to the hlaut-bowl by having the gods divine from it.
The Lay of Hymir

1. Ár valtívar 
veiðar námu, 
ok sumblsamir, 
áðr saðir yrði. 
Hristu teina 
ok á hlaut sá: 
fundu þeir at Ægis 
ørkost hvera. 

1. Long ago the battle-gods
were hunting (or: feasting on game),
and desired ale to drink
before they had eaten their fill. 
They shook the twigs
and inspected the sacrificial blood,
and discovered at Ægir's
an abundance of cauldrons.

1. valtívar means "gods of the battle-slain". It occurs only here and in Völuspá (52, 63), as the earth sinks into the sea; cp. sigtíva sonum: use of the word sigtíva, "Victory gods" vs. valtívar, gods of the slain.

5-6. teinar, hlaut "twigs, blood" refers to a divinatory practice. Hlaut is a  heathen technical term for sacrificial blood. The teinar "twigs, wands" were dipped in the blood and shaken, resulting in random patterns of blood read as an oracle. The exact method is unclear, see Rudolf Simek,  Dictionary,  s.v. hlautteinn.  

Ægir's Family

Aegir's daughters are nine in number; they represent the waves.  Similar sets of girls associated with the sea are found as Hymir's daughters (Lokasenna), and Njörd's daughters (Solarljóð 79), also nine in number. In Hyndluljód, Heimdall's mothers are said to be sisters, nine in number. There names indicate their status as waves.

As a sea-giant, Ægir is married to Ran, who drowns sailors with her net. According to Snorri, Ægir is also known as Hler and Gymir. In Hyndluljóð 41, Gymir and Aurboda are the parents of the radiant giantess Gerd, who weds Freyr.  Skirnismál assures us that her bright arms shine over both land and sea.

Lokasenna 42 says that Freyr traded his sword for Gymir's daughter. Völuspá calls Freyr's sword valtiva sol, 'the sun of the god(s) of the slain", the phrase can be singular or plural. If Gymir takes the sword from Freyr's messenger in exchange for his daughter Gerd, then the "sun" of the gods would pass into the sea, symbolically inverting their power.
This stanza has yet to be satisfactorily explained. It occurs at a watershed in the poem. Odin has just finished reciting his wisdom; now he reveals himself; by giving a list of all his names and pseudonyms, so Geirrod may be absolutely sure of his identity.   No satisfactory explanation of the verse has yet appeared.

Line 1 ------  
SVIPUM: (svipur)    = litum (see Rydberg, svipur, litur)
YPPT:   (yppa/yppta = lyft (lifted off, taken away) cp. bregða litum, skipta litum   Svipum hef eg nu lyft = I have now taken off my mask, I have now stripped off my disguise (i.e. "I was Grimnir, now I have revealed myself as Odin")  

Line 2 ------  
SIGTYRR (perhaps)= ODIN
SYNIR SIGTIVA = sons of the Æsir, a paraphrase of Æsir  

The general names for divine beings can replace each other:   god = regin = tivar = aesir = vanir = bond   An obscure term like "synir Sigtiva" can easily mean "any god." If "sonum" is emended to "syni", the verse reads as follows: Svipum hef ek nu yppt fyr Sigtys syni.  Sigtiva would also be grammatical, and give exactly the same meaning.   Thus the combined meaning of lines 1-2, reads:
"I have now revealed my true nature to Odin's son," (i.e. to Agnar, who is now Odin's adopted son, or even a real son secretly).

Line 3: -------   VILBJORG is a problem word.  We know that Ægir's hall is a favorite drinking place of the gods. See, for example, the intro to Lokasenna and the opening of Skaldskaparmal.  If we assume that "vilbjorg" is none other than the drink brewed by Æegir, all becomes clear. Then the meaning of the stanza is as follows, paraphrased:  
"Now I take off my mask. I am not Grimnir, I am Odin. The gods can see this clearly (and especially my son, Agnar, whom I have blessed and made king). The drink he gave me I will deliver to all the Æsir. We shall sit on Ægir's benches, and drink the good mead (given by Agnar) from the great kettle at Aegir's drinking party."  
It cannot be firmly established what exactly "vilbjorg" means. It is preserved in Mod. Icel. as a common woman's name, usually assumed to mean "help in need".  But could it possibly have been a NAME for the Hvergelmir drink? We will never know.
Heimdall and the Hlautbowl
A Stab at Interpretting the Deeper Symbolism

Heimdall's 9 mothers, Aegir's 9 daughters,  Njörd's nine daughters (Solarljod 78)
Heimdall = the ram
Celtic myth of the 10th wave being called The Ram
Thor's male goats/rams as a renewable supply of meat in Valhalla
Freyja compared to the female goat Heidrun as an endless supply of milk/ale in Valhalla
Cycle of procreation, already touched on in earlier verses:
Heimdall sleeps between man and wife in Rigthula, spark of life
Heimdall: Light of the World
Heimdall wins back Freyja's necklace from Loki, the thief of Brisingsamen
Freyja's necklace bursts and she refuses to marry Thrym
Heimdall suggests Thor must dress as a bride to retrieve his hammer from Thrym
Hammer is laid in the bride's lap/ Thor is a "friend of Throng" (Freyja)
Brisingsmen= The Fire Necklace
Heimdall and the World-Tree and Hlaut-bowl (Ursula Dronke, commentary on Voluspa 28)
Heimdall returns from Hel in Hrafnagaldur Odins and attends a feast at Odins, reinforcing his connection to this cycle of life
Next: The Names of Odin