The Lay of Thrym

1962 Lee M. Hollander

 The Lay of Thrym




1. Wroth was Vingthor[1]        when awakening he

Mjolnir[2] misses        his mighty hammer;

his beard gan shake,        his shaggy head,

Fjorgyn's first-born[3]--        he fumbled about him.



2. These words then first        fell from his lips:

"Hear thou, Loki,        what loss I have,

which no wight knows--        neither on earth

nor in heaven:        my hammer is stolen!"



3. To Freya's[4] bower        they bent thier steps.

These words then first        fell from his lips:

"Wilt thou, Freya,        thy feather coat lend me,

my hammer to seek,        if haply I find it?"



Freya said:


4. "Though of gold it were        I gave it to thee,

and for thy sake,        though of silver it were."



5. Flew then Loki        the feather coat whirred,

left behind him        the halls of the gods,

and winged his way        to the world of etins.



6. On a mound sat Thrym,[5]        the thurses' lord;

golden halters        for his hounds he twined,

and sleeked the manes        of slender horses.[6]



7. Thrym said:


"What ails the Æsir,        what ails the alfs?[7]

Why art thou come       to etin-home?"



Loki said:


"'Tis ill with the AEsir,        (ill with the alfs):[8]

dost hide Hlorrithi's[9]        hammer with thee?"



Thrym said:


8. "Hlorrithi's hammer        I hide with me

full eight rosts[10] deep        the ground beneath;

Mjolnir no wight        may win from me

but he Freya bring        as bride to me."[11]



9. Flew then Loki,        the feather coat whirred,

left behind him        the home of the etins,

and winged his way        to the world of the gods.

Him Thor met there        in middle court.

These words then first        fell from his lips:



10. "What welcome word        rewards thy toil?

Tell while aloft        thy long tidings:[12]

sitting, one oft        his errand forgets,

and lying, tells        lies altogether."



Loki said:


11. "A welcome word        rewards my toil:

Thrym has thy hammer,       the thurses' lord.

Mjolnir no wight        may win from him,

but he Freya bring        as bride with him."



12. To Freya's bower        they bent their steps.

These words then first        fell from his lips:

"Busk the, Freya,        in bridal linen,

we twain shall wend        to the world of etins."



13. Wroth grew Freya,        foamed with rage,

the shining halls        shook with her wrath,

the Brisings' necklace[13]        burst asunder;

"Most mad after men        thou mayst call me,

if I wend with thee        to the world of etins."



14. To the Thing forthwith        fared all godheads,

and all goddesses        gathered together.

Among them mooted        the mighty gods

how they Hlorrithi's        hammer'd win back.



15. Whereon Heimdall,[14]        whitest of the Gods--

he fathomed the future        as foreknowing Van--[15]

"Busk we Thor then        in bridal linen,

and buckle on him        the Brisings' necklace.



16. "Let a housewife's door keys        dangle about him,[16]

let woman's weeds        be worn by him.

Let him bear on his breast        bridal jewels,

a hood on his head,        as behooves a bride."



17. Then this spake Thor,        the thewful god:

"A craven wretch        may call me the gods

if I busk me        in bridal linen."



18. Then quoth Loki,        Laufey's offspring:[17]

"Hush thee now, Thor,        and heed these words"

soon will the etins        in Asgarth[18] dwell,

but thou fetch home        the hammer from them."



19. Busked by Thor then        in bridal linen,

buckled on him        the Brisings' necklace,

let a housewife's door keys        dangle about him,

and women's weeds        be worn by him:

on his breast he bore        bridal jewels,

a hood on hie head        as behooves a bride.



20. Then quoth Loki,        Laufey's offspring:

"With thee I will,        to wait on thee;

we twain shall wend        to the world of etins."



21. Then home the goats[19]        to the hall were driven,

haltered with ropes        to run with the wain:

the mountains brake,        the earth burned with fire,

rode Othin's son[20]        to etin-world.



22. Said Thrym these words,        the thurses' lord:

"Stand up, etins,        put straw on benches:[21]

to be my bride        they bring me Freya,

Njorth daughter        ftom Noátún.[22]



23. "In my garth there graze         golden-horned kine,

oxen all black,        for etins a joy;

many rings have I,        many riches have I,

Freya alone        I lack, methinks."



24. Soon had the sun        set in that land;[23]

then ale was borne        on the etins' table;

ate there an ox        and eight salmons,

bolted all dainties        dealt for women,

three measures of mead        drank Mjolnir's wielder.



25. Said Thrym these words,        the thurse' lord:

"Where sawest thou bride        bite more sharply?

never saw I bride        bite more broadly,

nor more of mead        a maiden drink."



26. The waiting maid wise        these words then found,

to the etin this        she answer made:

"Naught ate Freya       for full eight nights,

so eager was she        for etin-world."



27. He looked 'neath the veil,       longed to kiss her:

back reeled the rash one       through roomy hall:

"Why are so fearful        Freya's eyes?

Methinks that fire        flames in her eyes."



28. The waiting maid wise       these words then found:

to the etin thus        she answer made:

"Slept not Freya        for full eight nights,

so eager was she        for etin-world."



29. In stepped the ettins'        starveling sister,[24]

a bridal gift she        dared beg from her:

"Rings of red gold      give thou to me,

if fain would'st have        my friendship and love,

all my friendship        and fondness too."



30. Said Thrum these words,        the thurses' lord:

"Bring the hammer        the bride to bless;

on the maiden's lap        lay ye Mjolnir;[25]

in Vór's[26] name then        our wedlock hallow!"



31. Laughed Hlorrithi's        heart within him

when the hammer beheld        the hardy one:

Thyrm he slew first,        the thurses' lord,

then crushed he all        the etins' kin,



32. Slew eke the old        sister of etins,

her who had begged       for bridal gift.

For shillings she gor        a shock of the hammer,

a grinding blow        for golden rings.



Thus Hlorrithi       his hammer got him.

[1] “Consecration-Thór” see St. 30.

[2] “The Crusher” (?); or, possibly, related to Russian molnya, “lightning.” It never misses its aim and always returns into Thór’s hands.

[3] Thór. See “Hárbarzljóð,” Note 4.

[4] The goddess of fertility and love. See “Grímnismál,” St. 14 and Note 21.

[5] “The Noisy”

[6] A Homeric situation. The action (like the fashioning of bow and arrow—see “Rígsþula,” St. 28) is one typical of the lord; so is sitting on a mound.

[7] See “Völuspá,” St. 47 and Note 67.

[8] Supplied by all editors.

[9] Thór’s..

[10] Leagues.

[11] That is, however long they be.

[12] The meaning of these curious lines may be that the longer the delay, the less accurate the report—a night’s sleep may pervert it utterly—out of regard for the host? The pun exists in the original.

[13] The Bringa men (“the shining Necklace”) was a torque fashioned (according to the late Sörla þáttr) by four dwarfs. It is no dobt identical with the precious Brosinga mene in Beowulf (Line 1199)

[14] As to Heimdall, see “Völuspá,” St. 1 and Note 2.

[15] We are not told elsewhere that the Vanir gods were prophetic (as were some of the Æsir, Óthin, Frigg, Gefjon, for instance)

[16] See “Rigsþula,” St. 23

[17] See “Lokasenna,” St. 52 and Note 48.

[18] The habitation of the Æsir. See “Völuspá,” St. 24 and Note 23.

[19] They draw Thór’s wain. See “Hymniskviða,” Note 30.

[20] Thór, by the giantess Fjorgyn or Hlóthyn. There is a definate resemblance between lines 3 and 4 of the original and Stanzas 15 and 16 of the poem “Haustlong” by the skald Thjóthólf ór Hvini (ninth century)

[21] This was done on festive occassions. See “Baldrs draumar,” St. 6, and St. 1 of the (anonymous) skaldic poem Eiríksmál.

[22] See “Grímnismál,” St. 16.

[23] Because of the location of the frost-giants in the far North (east); but the line is susceptible of the translation: Early at eve  they had come in.

[24] “The etin’s sister” is probably a kenning for “giantess.”

[25] A consecration with the hammer is known from elsewhere. The hammer is a phallic symbol of fertility, like the lingam of the Hindus.

[26] “Vow,” “pledge,” a goddess, probably a hypostatis of Frigg, goddess of marriage.