The Earliest English
Translations of Individual Poems
of the Poetic Edda
Historic Translations of Individual Eddic Poems
1788 Anonymous
The Analytical Review
or History of Literature,
Domestic and Foriegn
 Volume 2

Review of Saemundar Edda hins Froða Vol I (1787)
Contains the first English Translations of
Hymis Quitha, För Skirnis, and Vegtams Quitha
Hymis Quitha
Hymis-quida; Or, A Song Of Hymer. Æger, the giant, lord of Hleseya, had been magnificently entertained by the gods of Asgard; and on his departure had invited them all, in return, at the expiration of three months; the gods, discovering by divination that he was not preparing for their reception, send an indignant message by Thor; the giant pleads the want of a vessel large enough to brew a sufficient quantity of beverage for such a multitude; a vessel, however, it discovered in the hall of Hymer, and obtained by the valour of Thor, related in this ode.

Modern verse numbers have been added for reference. Otherwise, the poem is presented as published. 

[1.] Whilom, the gods of slaughter,
On feasting bent,
And foaming cups,
Together shook their wands divine,
And search'd the victim's blood
For Æger's promise,
But cauldron saw they none
In Æger's hall.

[2.] The tyrant of the rock*
Sat and grinn'd horrible
A giant-smile on his new guest;
But Odin's son
Met undismay'd his eye:
"The gods demand
"Speed of thy promis'd feast.

* The poet jumps the delegation of Thor to Æger's hall to inquire into the cause of his delay.

[3.] Displeasure seized
The bristly feature
At his demand:
The giant plans revenge.
" A cauldron, then,
" I ask of Sifia's mate,*
" To brew the beverage meet
" For Asa's jolly race."

*Sifa, or Siva, was the wife of Thor.

[4.] Gods not, not goddesses,
Nor art divine,
Could find a cauldron me;
Till Tyr;* to Thor,
In whispers told,
The gladsome words:

*Hymer's son, at that time a guest of the gods.

[5.] " What way the icebrook meets
" The orient beam,
" At heaven's utmost verge,
" My father's might
" Grim Hymer dwells,
" Lord of a cauldron's
" Mile-wide orb*."

* The Norse word is ravst, rastar; from which probably the Ruffian verst.

[6.] Knowst thou how to obtain*
This boiler of the lymph?
"I know, my friend, if Craft
"Unite us both."
[7.] From Asgard strait
The mighty drove
To seek the giant's hall.

*Thor's question.

In went the gold-horned rams,
Stabl'd by Thor's own hand:
In went the guests
At Hymer's lofty door.
[8.] His grandam, dread,
Tyr soon espied,
Nodding dismay from heads
Full hundred nine. *

*Compare this with the Læstrygonian queen. Homer's Odyssey. 1, x.

But soon another came
Gold-clad, with eyebrows fair,
A sparkling cup she bore.
And welcome for her son:
[9.] "Heroic two, (she said)
"The giants friends or foes
"Behind the cauldron's roof

 "Come, let me place you both;
"For oft my lover darts
"The niggard's blasting glance
"Against his sudden guest."
[10.] Eve flitted on,
Ere from the chace
Stern Hymer found his hall.

As he bestrode
The threshold,
The ice-rocks thunder'd round:
The forest of his cheeks
Was hoar with sleet.

[11.] "Hymer all hail!
"Rejoice! for to thy hall
"Thy son is come
"From his long pilgrimage :
"With him is come
"A foe far-fam'd,
"A friend of human race,
" Nam'd Veorr.*

*Another name of Thor, of doubtful explication.

[12.] "See where they wait
"At coy distance,
"Beneath the pillared fir
"Thy aspect dread."
The giant shot his glance ;
The pillar burst,
And with it burst
The topmost beam.

[13.] Down-dashed rolled cauldrons eight;
But hammered unto proof,
One cauldron rolled uubruised ;
Forth came the strangers.
But the gray fiend
Eyed only his new foe.

[14.] Fell boding cowed his heart
As bold before him stood
The giant-queller.
Three bulls select
Were placed before the hall;
The giant bade his son
Prepare the meal.

[15.] Their heads sunk under the blade.
Their limbs were spread to the flame;
But Sifa's mate
Devoured two alone
Of Hymer's bulls
Before he sought his couch.

[16.] The eater of yore
Thought no scorn
Of Thor's repast :
"Yet swims, I ween *
"The food that shall suffice
"To feed us three again."

*The giant's words

[17.] To seek the sea
Veorr agreed.
And launch the fishy bait;
"Then seek the herdt,
"If thy heart dare,
"Thou giant-bruiser,
"The herd seek for a bait."
[18.] "Mv mind foretells
"The bull will yield
"A ready bait for thee*"
Off to the wood
The hero went,
And soon there seized
A swarthy bull.

*By this it appears that the bulls of Hymer were savage, and his advice insidious.

[19.] The seat sublime
Of his two horns
The giant-bruiser wrench'd
Sheer from his neck.
"Thy deeds are worse*
"Then erst was thy repose!"
Exclaimed the lord of rocks.

*The words of Hymer, when he saw Thor return with the bull's head.

[20.] Boldly to spread the ships
Full wing and seek the main
The king of rams proposed
Now to his shaggy host;
But the main sea
The giant would not seek.

[21.] Up drew Hymer's might
With angle bold
Single two whales at once;
But in the stern
Odin's great son
Prepared his crafty line.

[22.] Among the roaring rocks
The serpent-queller
Baited his hook
With the bull's massy head:
Yawning snapt
At the sly bait
The worm,* curse of the gods,
Girdle of earth's abyss.

1790 Henry Fuseli

* An epithet, which always marks the serpent of Midgard. See our last number, p. 340. The giant-snake, supposed to inhabit the Northern Ocean, seems to have given origin to this enormous image.

[23.] Up drew Thor
With mighty arm
The glistering snake
Up to the ship's high side:
His hammer smote
The rocky crest;
Slow battery stunned
The wolf's dire brother*

*By this is meant the wolf Fenrir.

[24.] Down rushed the rocks!
Wide howled the dens around!
Together shrunk
Old  stedfast earth!
Till in the wave
The serpent plunged.

[25.] Dejected sat
Hymer, and mute,
As they rowed back,
And wayward moved
His solitary oar.

[26.] "Wilt thou, he said,
"Share half my work?
"Bear home these whales*
"Or the flood-bruising bark
"Moor to its post!"

* The giants words. 

[27.] Thor seized the prow
Rapid, and lodged the ship ;
Nor oar forgot,
Nor Pump:
Then homeward bore
The finny load,
Up the steep rock
To Hymer's hall.

[28.] The giant still
In stubborn mood
Provoked the strength
Of Thor:
"Call him not strong,
Though firm he move
"The restless oar, 
"Unless he break 
"This cup."

[29.] Thor seized the cup,
And sitting, dash'd
Its orb against
A pillar's rocky mass:
The marble snapt,
The rummer passed,
And without bruise
Returned to Hymer's hand.

[30.] Still it had passed,
Had not that friendly fair
Revealed the secret dread
Which she alone possessed:
"Dash it at Hymer's head
"When sated with the feast,
"He nods."

[31] Firm on his outstretch'd knees,*
Arose the lord of rams,
And threw with strength divine :
Unbruis'd resounded
The giant's helm;
In fragments flew
The shattered cup!

*The attitude of Hector, Iliad XII, when forcing the Grecian wall.

[32.] "No loss of former days
"I rue, quoth Hymer gray,
"Since this thy arm atchiev'd:
"My word once past
"I never shall reclaim;
"Though fired by cups profane,
"Thou hast not spared thy host!

[33.] "One tryal still remains,
"To carry from this hall
"Yon Cauldron's ample round:
Twice strove Tyr
To lift the orb!
The cauldron stood unmoved.

[34.] The sire of Modi* grasped
The cauldron's brim ;
Down stamped his foot
The crumbling floor;
Lifted on high,
Hff placed it on his head,
Whilst round his heels
Its handles rang.


[35] Far on they went,
Till Odin's son
Threw back his eye,
And from their eastern dens
In fell pursuit descried
A many-headed host,
By Hymer led.

[36] Down at his side, he placed
The orb immense, and stood,
And Miollner swung
His thund'ring mace:
The rocky features crashed
Beneath its horrid sway!
Nor one returned
To howl in Hymer's hall!

[Verses 37, 38 omitted]

[39] Elate with victory
Thor entered now
The Synod of the gods;
And in their midst
Placed his refulgent load,
Which soon in Æger's hall
Should foam with harvest-store.
And floods of mead!