Grímnismál
The Speech of the Masked One
Texts, Translations, & Scholarship
      
 
    
A Study Guide with Commentary
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Eins
 drykkjar
þú skalt aldrigi

betri gjöld geta
 
   
"For one drink

you shall never
get a better reward!"
 

"Grímnismál is not simply a poem of wisdom;  it is a revelation." Hermann Güntert

 "We must understand that the text was not intended to provide a clear, concise first source of information-but rather, a poetic presentation based on well-known mythical 'fact'. The artistic effectiveness of such a text must depend to a large extent on replacing pedestrian directness with literary fancy. The discovery that one and the same person, place or thing is referred to under many different names should not be surprising. If our text were skaldic verse, we would accept such polyonymy simply as the poet's method of satisfying the strict metric demands of his chosen form. ...The religious decoding of the relevant textual corpus therefore depends largely on establishing the identities obscured by polyonymy." 

— Jere Fleck, Odin's Self-Sacrifice Part II, 1971

The Manuscripts
The full text of the poem is contained in:

  • Codex Regius MS No. 2365 4to [R]:
    • page 16 Vafþrúðnismál 38 - Grímnismál prose introduction
    • page 17 Grímnismál prose introduction - 4:2
    • page 18 Grímnismál 4:3 - 24:2
    • page 19 Grímnismál 24:3 - 37:1
    • page 20 Grímnismál 37:2 - 53:3
    • page 21 Grímnismál 53:3 - Skírnismál prose after 10
  • Arnamagnæan Codex AM 748 I 4to [A]: 
Snorri Sturluson quotes twenty-two stanzas in whole or in part and draws on at least six others in the Prose Edda. Part of stanza 47 is quoted by Ólafur Þórðarson in the Third Grammatical Treatise.

Old Icelandic Editions:

Illustration Gallery: Artistic Representations of the Myth

English Translations:

1797 Amos Simon Cottle in Icelandic Poetry as “The Song of Grimnir”  
 
1851 C.P. in The Yale Magazine, Vol. 16, as “The Song of Grimner
 
1866 Benjamin Thorpe in Edda Sæmundar Hinns Frôða as “The Lay of Grimnir
 
1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson in Corpus Poeticum Boreale as “The Sayings of the Hooded One
 
1908 Olive Bray in Edda Saemundar as “The Sayings of Grimnir
 
1923 Henry Bellows in The Poetic Edda as “Grimnismol: The Ballad of Grimnir
 
1962 Lee M. Hollander in The Poetic Edda as “The Lay of Grimnir
 
1967 W. H. Auden & P. B Taylor The Elder Edda as “The Lay of Grimnir
 
1969 Patricia Terry in Poems of the Elder Edda as “The Lay of Grimnir” (Revised 1989)
 
SEE COMMENTARIES FOR TRANSCRIPTIONS OF MORE RECENT TRANSLATIONS
 
 1996 Carolyne Larrington in The Poetic Edda as “Grimnir’s Sayings” Buy this book
 
2011 Ursula Dronke in The Poetic Edda: Vol. III as “The Lay of Grimnir” Buy this book
  
2011 Andy Orchard in The Elder Edda as "The Lay of Grimnir"   Buy this book

French Translations:
   
1844 Rosalie du Puget in Les Eddas as "Le Poème de Grimner"
1871 Frederic G. Bergmann as "Les Dits de Grimnir"
    
German Translations:
   
1814 Frederich David Gräter as "Die Fabel von Grimner"
1818 Frederich Major as "Grimners Gesang"
1829 Gustav Legis as "Grimnirs Gesang" with introduction and translation
1829 Jakob Laurenz Studbach as "Grimners mal"
1851 Karl Simrock as "Das Lied von Grimnir"
1871 Karl Esmarch as "Odhin's Gesang im Feuer" [lacking the Prose introduction and conclusion]
1875 Adolph Holtzmann and Alfred Holder as "Grímnismál"
1877 Bodo Wenzel as "Die Sage von Grimnir"
1889 Wilhelm Jordan as "Mär von Grimnir"
1903 Frederich Fischbach as "Odins Verheissung"
1922 Rudolf John Gorsleben as "Grimner und Gerod"
  
Italian Translations

2005 Dario Giansanti and Oliviero Canetti as "Discorso di Grímnir"
 
Latin Translations
 
1787 Edda Saemundar hinns Fróda: Edda rhythmica seu antiquior  as "Grimneris Melo" (p. 36)
 
Spanish Translations:

1856  D. A. de los Rios "El Poema dé Grimner" (from the French of duPuget)

Verse-by-Verse Commentaries

with side-by-side comparative English Translations :

Click on Stanza Numbers Below

[The Prose Introduction]:
The Quarrel between Odin and Frigg
 
 
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 31a 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40/41 42 43 44 45
46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54
[The Prose Conclusion]:
The Death of King Geirrod

   

(31a) †The so-called 'Lost' Stanza of Grímnismál

    

For an excellent summary of the historical scholarship, see:

        

"Veni, Vidi, Mori: The Eddic Poem Grímnismál

as a Dramatic and Mythological Unity" by Jiri Starý

in Acta Universitatis Carolinae Philologica 1,
Germanistica Pragensia
XXI, pp. 7-35, 2012
.

 

     Scholarship

Astronomy:

Description of Ingebörg's Arm-Ring by Bror Emil Hildebrand, 1839.

On Grimnismal in Northern Mythology, Vol. I, by Benjamin Thorpe, 1851.

The Religion of the Northmen by Rudolf Keyser (tr. Barclay Pennock), 1854.

"Grimnismal" 10: Old Norse Astronomy" by D. O. Comstock, D. O. in Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 17, p. 852 Abstract

General Works:

The Younger Edda, chapter 3, translated by Rasmus Bjørn Anderson, 1879.
   
Jere Fleck:  Excerpts from his four most influential articles.
Notes to "The Lay of Grimnir" in "The Norse Myths" by Kevin Crossley-Holland, 1980.

"The Edda as Ritual: Odin and his Masks" (an excerpt) by Einar Haugen in Edda: A Collection of Essays, 1988.
"Freyja and Frigg" by Stephan Grundy in Concept of the Goddess, 1996.

"From Grímnismál to Graffiti: Themes and Approaches in 1000 years of Icelandic Folkloristics" by Terry Gunnell, The 28th Nordic Ethnologist and Folklorist Congress, Spring 2000.

"Vafþrúðnismál and Grímnismál: Cosmic History, Cosmic Geography" by Carolyne Larrington in The Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Mythology, 2002.

"The Number Nine in the Tradition of the Norsemen,"  by Arkadiusz Soltysiak in "Między Drzewem Życia a Drzewem Poznania. Księga ku czci profesora Andrzeja Wiercińskiego", M.S. Ziółkowski & A. Sołtysiak (Eds), 2003, pp. 231–242.

"The Use and Abuse of Old Norse Religion" by Rudulf Simek in Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives, 2006.

"Hanging on the World-Tree: Man and Cosmos in Old Norse Mythic Poetry" by Henning Kure in Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives, 2006.

"Veni, Vidi, Mori: The Eddic Poem Grímnismál as a Dramatic and Mythological Unity" by Jiri Starý in Acta Universitatis Carolinae Philologica 1, Germanistica Pragensia XXI, pp. 7-35, 2012.

Commentary

1903 F. Detter and R. Heinzel, Notes to Grímnismál

       

    
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