1908 W.C. Greene
Translations from the Icelandic
Froði's Mill and The Grotto-söngr

Grain is the gold of the earth, the truest and surest wealth: to this the legend may point. Also over-greed of treasure works ruin: qui festinat ad divitias non trit insons. The grinding maidens at the mill appear also in the poem of the mill, translated later on.
Why is gold called Frodi's meal? To this belongs the following story. There was a son of Odin named Shield. He had his royal seat and rule in what is now called Denmark, but was then called Gotland. Shield had a son Fridleif, who ruled the land after him. Fridleif's son was named Frodi; he took the kingdom after his father: it was in the time when Augustus Caesar established peace over all the world; then was Christ born. But as Frodi was the most powerful king in the north, the peace was called after him among all peoples of Danish tongue, being termed by northmen Frodi's peace. No man harmed another, even though he met before him his father's bane, or brother's, loose or bound. None  There was a then was a thief or robber, so that a gold ring lay long on Jalangs-heath untouched.
Now King Frodi was bidden to a feast in Sweden with a king named Tjölnir. There he bought two bondwomen named Fenja and Menja; they were tall and strong. At that time there were found in Denmark two millstones so large that no one was strong enough to turn them. And the mill had this nature, that it ground out whatever the grinder named before beginning to grind. This mill was called Grotti; and Hang-jaw was he named who gave King Frodi the mill.
King Frodi had the bondwomen led to the mill, and bade them grind gold, and peace, and bliss for Frodi. And he granted them no longer rest or sleep than while the cock was silent, or a stave could be sung. Then they sang, it is said, the song called Grotti's song. But ere they ceased they ground an army against Frodi; so that in the self-same night came the sea-king Mysing, and slew Frodi, and took there much booty. And so ended Frodi's peace.

This curious poem, Grotta-songr, rendered variously "Grit-song" or "Grinding Song," is attached in the Prose "Edda" to the Story of Frodi's Mill. A painstaking German translator, Volzogen, thinks it a "year-myth." As to the details he does not convince me. Grain, the oldest wealth of the earth, may be partly the foundation of the myth about a wealth-grinding mill. Excessive greed of wealth works ruin. Also perhaps there lurks the lesson that, while the forces of nature are useful servants, they may, if over-strained, work destruction.
Besides being in the younger "Edda," this lay is also in Saemund's "Edda."
Now they are come

To the King’s house,
Fenja and Menja
Fore-knowing pair
They bide with Frodi
Fridleif’s son,
Mighty maidens
As menials held.

The twain to the flour-bin,

Forthwith were led;
They bade the grey granite
A-grinding run.
No rest king Frodi
Nor respite gave;
At once would he hear
His handmaids' sound.

They croon'd to the mill-wheel's

Deep-murmuring hum,
They sang as they swang
The swift-spinning stone;
Till servants of Frodi
All slumbering lay:
Then thus spake Menja,
Who stood at the mill:

"Wealth grind we for Frodi,

Grind we pure bliss,
Full measure of money
In mill of joy:
On wealth be his sitting,
On down be his sleeping,
To gladness his waking:
Such grist were well ground.

Hurt to his fellow

Here none shall frame;
Bale none shall bring,
Bane none shall work;
None shall smite vengeful
With sword's keen blade,
Tho' his brother's slayer
Bound he should meet.

Now leave we the flour-bin,

Let the stone stand."
But the master still bade
The maids grind on:
"Sleep ye no more
Than sleeps the house-crower;
Stay ye no longer
Than one stave I sing.

Thou wast not, Frodi,

Thou friend of men,
Foresighted in bargain,
Thy bondwomen buying.
Thou chosest by strength,
By stature to look on,
Of kith and kin
Nought caring to ask.
Rough wight was Hrungnir,
Rough was his sire,
Yet these did Thiassi
In thews surpass:
Idi and Orni
Our forefathers were,
Hill-giants' brethren;
Hence were we born.

Ne'er had come Grotti
From gray fell-side,
That boulder hard
From bosom of earth:
Nor thus would grind
Grim giant maid,
Had men but wotted,
Whence she claim'd kin.

Playmates we twain
For winters nine
Were nourished to strength
In nethermost earth.
We wrought as maidens
In mighty works,
Rocky ridges
We rent from their base.

To giants' stronghold
Stones we upheaved,
While shook beneath them
The shivering ground.
We slang up in such wise
The spinning boulders,
That men might reach them,
Those massy crags.

I 2
Soon thereafter
In Sweden's realm
Foreseers twain
The fray we sought.
Brute bears we hunted,
We brake war-shields;
Charged mightily through
Gray mail-clad throng:

O'erthrew one monarch,
Upbore another;
To gallant Gothorm
Gave we our aid,
Nor sate men quiet,
Till Knut fell.

For seasons many
So held we on,
In warlike combats
Winning renown:
There did we shear
With sharp lance-point,
Till wounds were bloody,
And sword-blades red.

Now are we come
To a king's high house;
Here bide we unpitied
As bond-slaves held.
Clay gnaws our footsoles,
Cold stings our heads;
Frodi's war-queller
We wearily turn.

Let hands have respite,
Let stone be still!
Myself large measure
Of mill-work have wrought.
Nay, but our labour
No lightening finds,
Till Frodi our grinding
Fulfill'd shall deem.

Lo hands of heroes
Holding hard pikes,
Weapons blood-dripping:
Wake, Frodi, wake!
Wake, Frodi, wake,
If thou wouldst hearken
To the songs we sing,
To the saws of old.

Fire see I blazing
East from the burgh;
From watchmen's beacon
Is war-news, I wot.
In hot haste hither
A host will come,
And the proud palace
Of prince will burn.

The throne of Hleidr
Thou, Frodi, shalt lose,
The rings of the red gold,
The rocks divine.
Swiftlier whirl we,
Sister, the mill;
Not yet are we whelm'd,
War-maiden, in gore.

My father's daughter
Hath forcefully ground;
For warriors full many
'Fey' hath she seen.
The flour-bin's strong staves
Starting all break
With iron girding;
Yet grind we on!

Yet grind we on!
By grandson of Halfdan,
By son of Yrsa
Falls Frodi slain.
Her son, her brother,
Both is he call'd;
The two-fold kinship
We twain best know."

With might and with main
The maidens ground,
In giant fury
Fierce and young.
The shaft-wood shiver'd,
Fell shatter'd the bin,
The mill-stone boulder
Burst all in twain.
This word then spake she
That giant bride:
"Of grist our venture,
O Frodi, is ground.
Long time at the mill
Have the maidens stood."