The Speech of the Masked One
1851 in Yale Magazine, Vol. 16 by C.P.
Grimnis-mal or The Song of Grimner


This anonymous translation of the poem was originally published as a continuous text in paragraph form without indication of verse. The text below has been re-divided into verses aid study. Missing and combined verses have been indicated. Paragraph breaks in the original text of the translation appear here as solid lines. 


Source: The Yale Magazine, Vol. 16, Nov. 1851, pp. 65-69.





We read in the Elder Edda,[1] in substance briefly as follows: Hrodung, king of the Goths, had two sons; named Agnarr and Geirrod, aged, at the time the story opens, ten and eight years respectively. One day, while fishing in their boat, they if ere driven out to sea by a storm, and finally wrecked in the night upon some unknown land, where they were cared for during the winter by a peasant and his wife, who were in reality the divinities Odin and Frigga in disguise. Frigga took under her charge the elder brother, while Odin took pains to instruct Geirrod, the younger, in many things; and, on their departure in the Spring, in a boat, with which he kindly furnished them, gave him much advice apart. When they reached the shores of their father's kingdom, Geirrod, leaping from the prow, pushed off the boat, and, with a malediction, bade his brother "begone where evil spirits might possess him." On reaching the palace he found the throne vacant by the death of his father, and, becoming king, rose to distinction.

Meantime Odin and Frigga, sitting in Hlidskialf and scanning the world, fell into a conversation about their foster sons, in which Odin boasted of the prosperity of Geirrod, while Frigga threw into the other scale his want of generosity and his stinginess. Odin disputing her assertions, a wager was laid; whereupon Frigga sent her chief maid, the nymph Fulla, to fill the mind of the king with fears and suspicions which should tend to make him inhospitable, while Odin, disguised in a blue cloak, visited in person his kingdom. He was arrested because the dogs could not be made to touch him, (that being a sign given by Fulla to Geirrod of the man who was to be feared;) and because he would give no further account of himself than that his name was Grimner, he was placed by the king between two fires and tortured for a week. It so happened that the king had a son named, after his uncle, Agnarr, at this time eight years old. This child brought to Grimner a full horn and gave it him to drink, expressing his belief that the king was wrong in torturing him, an innocent man. The fires increasing in heat had by this time become so fierce as to burn his cloak; and he sang as follows:


[1] Hot, hot, oh fire! art thou, and waxest still
In fury ; though more closely round my form
I wrap my fur-bound cloak, and gather in
Its folds, 'tis burned to cinders by thy rage.

[2] Eight weary nights I 've borne this torturing heat
Uncomforted ; no man hath offered food
Save youthful Agnarr, Geirrod's only son,
Who only o'er the fearless Goths shall rule.



[3] My blessing on thee, Agnarr, for that draught!
More rich reward thou never couldst receive
E'en hadst thou filled the horn with dew from heaven.



[4] Lo ! near the Aser and the cunning Elves,

Holy the land which spreadeth before my eyes!  

But Thor in glorious Thrudheim's ancient hulls

Shall dwell, till falleth the twilight of the gods.


[5] In Ydale hath Uller made his home ;

The gods, to much loved Freyr,—to mark the day,

When through his infant flesh, in pearly rows,

Appeared his earliest teeth—in the morning of days

Gave Alfheim. These are the first and second homes


[6] In Asgard. Valaskialf is the third home called,

Because, in the olden time, Vale for himself

 Obtained it; there the cheerful gods o'er all

The house have spread untarnished silver's sheen,

'Neath which they taste of pure unending joys.


[7] The dismal sound of roaring waters, cold

And restless, ceaseth not in Söcqua-beck,

Where joyful Odin drinketh every day,

With Saga mirthfully draining the vases of gold.


[8] The fifth is Gladsheim, where, brilliant as gold,

Ariseth Valhalla's spacious dome, whither

Hropter daily calleth men slain by the sword.


[9-10] Easily 'tis known from the other palaces

By those who come to Odin;—its roof is wrought

With spears—its walls with hero-bucklers hung,

And coats of mail are strewn along the seats;—

O'er the western gate hangeth a wolf; and there

An eagle hovering soareth aloft in pride.


[11] And next is Thrymheim, where, in olden time,

Thiasse dwelt—that powerful giant!—now

Skada dwelleth there in the ancient home

Of her Father.


[12] Seventh is Breidablik, and there

Hath Balder made his glad habitation.

In that blest spot where nought of roughness is,

But all is love, and peace, and purity.


[13] The eighth is Himinbib'rg, 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.


[14] Folkvangr is ninth, and there hath Freya power

To seat her daily guests around the board;

Daily she chooseth unto herself the half

Of fallen heroes, and half Odin owneth.


[15] The tenth is Glitner; there from golden shaft

And capital, the silver arches spring,

And bear aloft th' o'erhanging silvery dome

'Neath which Forsete sitteth every day

In chair of judgment, and with soothing hand

Husheth to sleep the civil strifes of men.


[16] In Noatun Niord hath made his home—

The blameless king of men—who, first of all,

Is knelt to 'neath the temple's holy shade.


[17] With thickets overgrown, and rankest grass,

And pliant osier, is Landvide seen;

But Vidar there descendeth from his steed,

Active in avengeance of his father's wrong.

These are the homes where the powerful Aser dwell,



[18] Andhrimner from Eldhrimner bringeth forth
Saehrimner, seethed,—most excellent of meats—
And few can tell how many Einheriar feed


[19] Th' illustrious Father of armies, with food
Sateth Gera and Freka; but Odin, great
And noble in arms, liveth on wine alone.


[20] Hug-inn and Muninn, over the fields of earth
Fly daily; fear creepeth upon my soul,
Of Huginn, lest he come not faithfully;
But of Muninn I have greater fear than this.

[21] Thiothwitnis howleth at Thund, and still
Fish-like, remaineth in the river's depth ;
Too swiftly rolleth the stream its angry flood
For swift Valglaumer safely to pass the bank.


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


[23] Five hundred and forty the gates Valhalla hath,

And twice four hundred Einheriar through each gate

Shall move in close array, on that last day

When they go forth to fight 'gainst Fenris the wolf.


[24] Five hundred and forty, I think, are the spacious halls

That stretch beneath Bilscirni'a winding roof;

Of all the hall-filled piles which I have known,

Greatest, I know, is the palace of my son.

[25] The goat, which over the hall of Heriafauthr,

Standeth, and nippeth for food the boughs of Laerath,

Is Heithrun; Skaptker daily shall brim with her milk,

The sparkling mead which never can cease to flow.


[26] The stag, which over the hall of Heriafauthr,

Standeth, and browseth for food the boughs of Laerath,

Is Esikthyrnir; and into Huergelmer

Droppeth from his horns the limpid dew; thence flow


[27] All rivers—Sith and Vith, Saekin and Eikin,

And other ten which roll through Asgard's plains

Their sparkling waves, and circle round the homes

Of joyful Aser ; Vina, and Vegeuinn,


[28] 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;


[29] Kaurrmt and Aurmt and the two Kerlaug's,

Through whose cold streams great Thor maketh his way

When he goeth to Yggdrasill, the ancient ash;


[30] On Glathr and Gyller, and other eight steeds are borne

The Aser, when they too go to Yggdrasill.



[31] Downward from Yggdrasill three roots extend
Triverse; 'neath one is dark-browed Hela's home ;
Beneath the second dwell the Hrimthursi, fierce
In war; and under the third dwell learned men.

[32] The squirrel that runneth on lofty Yggdrasill,
And down to Nidhauggr bringeth the eagle's words,
Is Ratatoskr ; also four stags there are—

[33] Dainn, Dualin, Duneyrr,'and Durathror—
Who, twisting their necks, gnaw the boughs of the ash.

[34] Few can number the serpents that lie beneath
The tree of ages; Goinn and Moinn, the sons
Of Grafvitner are there, and other four
Whose fate-allotted task it is to waste
Forever its branches, shooting forever anew.

[35] Greater labors than mortals can know, the Ash,
Yggdrasill sustaineth; above, a stag
Devoureth its branches; its aged trunk is weak
With wasting sickness; and the tooth of Nidhauggr
Gnaweth below.



[36] May Hrist and Mist, fair ones,
Fill for me the golden goblets with wine,
While Herfiötör, and other sisters ten,
With names as sweet, to happy Einheriar bear
Full bowls of sparkling sherry for their lips.


[37 omitted]


[38] Svalinus standeth a shield before the sun,
Before his fiery glances; full well I know
That if it fall, the rocks, and e'en the sea,
The briny flood, shall burn with roaring flames.


[39] The wolf, whose eager eye followeth the sun,
The brilliant god, unto the girding sea,
Is Skaull; but Hati, great Hrodvitner's son,
Goeth before the softly shining moon.


[40] From Ymer's flesh, in the dawning of time, was made
The earth, and from his blood the raging sea,
The rocks from his bones, and from his hair the trees
And plants; his skull became the vaulted heaven;

[41] And Midgard, from his fringed lids, the gods
Kindly have fashioned for the sons of men;
And from his brain, the clouds that dress the sky
Of Summer, or dart their lightnings in the storm,
Their first substance had.


[42 omitted]


[43] Once Invalda's sons

To build Skithbladner, strove, the best of ships,
For Asa Freyr, Niörd's all-worthy son.

[44] Of trees the greatest is Yggdrasill, of ships
Skithbladner, Odin of the Aser's host,
Sleipner of horses, of bridges, Bifraust, Bragi
Of poets, of hawks Habroc and Gramr of dogs.


[verses 45-50 omitted]


[51] I tell thee, Geirrod thou art drunk; too much

Hast thou drunken, blinded art thou by wine;

Thou fallest from high estate, for by my aid

In favor with th' Einheriar hast thou stood

And with Odin.


[52] Much wisdom have I sung,

But in thy memory thou retainest few

Of all my teachings. Round thee, fallen in toils,

Thy friends stand. Lo! falleth a sword all stained

With blood—the blood of my friend.


[53] Now Yggr shall get

One whom the sword hath slain. Thy life, I know,

Passeth; the Disir have no pity on thee.


[54] Now mayst thou see Odin; such now my name;

Just now 'twas Yggr; ere that 'twas Thundr.

Hnicarr And Vacr, Skilfingr, Vafuthr, and Hroptatyr,

Guatr and Ialcr among the gods Ofner

And Suafner— all these I wot are names of mine,


[53:4] And I am Odin. Come near me if thou canst.


King Geirrod was sitting, with his sword half unsheathed upon his knee ; when he heard that Odin was there he arose to lead him away from the fire: his sword fell from his hand, hilt downward: he stumbled and fell ; and, the sword piercing his body, he died. Then Odin disappeared, and Agnarr was king long thereafter.

[1] Edda Saemundar hinns froda. See also Pigott's "Manual of Scandinavian Mythology."