The Earliest English
Translations of Individual Poems
of the Poetic Edda
Historic Translations of Individual Eddic Poems
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
För Scirnis
Freyr, the son of Niord, sat one day on Hliðskialfa* and contemplated all regions; casting his eye towards the land of giants, he saw a virgin passing from her father's house to her bower, and, smitten by her form, refused from that moment to associate or discourse with his parents. Niord, his father, one of the Asi, or gods of Odin, desires Skirner, his arm-bearer, to find out the canse of his silence; and Schadea, the wife of Niord, thus opens the poem.

*Hlidskialfa was a throne in one of the palaces of Odin, from which, whoever sat on it, discovered in an instant what passed in the world.
I. Schadea.* [Skadi]
Skirner, arise.
Go and intreat
The voice of our son:
Go and inquire
Whom, wayward, thus he seeks
With solitary look?

*Niord's wife, and Freyr's stepdame, of giant-race.

II. Skirner.
Of evil words
My heart bodes the reply,
If I disturb
Your son's repose, or ask
Whom wayward thus he seeks
With solitary look?

Tell, O tell me, Freyr!
Leader of hosts divine!
Tell me, I long to know
Why dwells my king
The live-long day
Alone in roomy hall?

IV. Freyr.
How shall I tell thee,
Thou herald bold,
What gnaws this heart?
The beam of gods
Irradiates the long day,
But sheds no light on me!

V. Skirner.
Thy woes, I ween,
Lie not too deep
For thy friend's ear :
Our infancy was one;
Our manhood should
Be fellowship of trust.

VI. Freyr.
In Gymer's house
I marked the gait
Of her I love:
Her lucid arms
Shed a bland light
On air and sea around!

My heart pants for the maid
More fiercely than
E'er youth for virgin throbb'd ;
Yet fay of Asa race,*
Or of the Alfi, who
Cares to unite us two?

*Asa, Alfi, vani: gods, demigods, heroes, or wise men; the Alfi it is probable, were the powers afterwards called Elf's, or Elfins.

VIII. Skirner.
Give me yon steed,
That through the flame-girt path
Of darkness bears me:
The faulchion give
That wields itself against
The giant-brood.

IX. Freyr.
Lo, here, the steed
That through the flame-girt path
Of darkness bears thee.
The sword behold,
That wields its willing edge
In the bold bearer's grasp.

X. Skirner to the Horse:
Night is abroad!
"Tis time, o'er hill, o'er dale,
The murky road to trace!
We, either both return,
Or both together sink
Beneath the giant's arm!

Skirner passes through Jöttunheima to the house of Gymir guarded by savage dogs chained to the wall that surrounds the bower of Gerda ; he rides up to a herdsman seated on a hill and bespeaks him thus:

Say on, thou herdsman,
Guardian from this hill
Of every path around;
How shall I find a way 
Through Gymer's gore-flesh'd pack
To her my message seeks?

XII. The Shepherd.
Yawns hell for thee, or art
Thou from the dead returned?
No tale of thine shall reach
The ear of Gymer's maid!

XIII. Skirner.
Away! for him, who dares to die,
'Tis better far to act,
Than idly to lament:
Fix'd is my destiny;
And from my sum of life
No moment can be torn!*

* Skirner is now supposed to pass the opposing flames and dogs, and to arrive at the bower of Gerda.  

XIV. Gerda.
What sound rings in my ear?
What new terrific noise
Rolls the high roof along?
Earth shakes!
And Gymer's wide abodes
Tremble through all their halls!

XV. Attendant Maid.
A man is at the door,
Dismounted from his horse,
And tends the grazing steed!

XVI. Gerda.
Intreat him, then,
The hall to enter,
And quaff the sparkling mead:
Though much I bode,
That he who stalks without,
Was flayer of mv brother.


Who of the Alfi he?*
Is he of Asa-race?
Of the wise Vani one?
That thus alone
Passed the fierce guardian flame
To seek this house ?

* Skirner enters.

XVIII. Skirner.
Though Elfin I be none,
No son of Asa-race,
Nor of the Vani wise;
Yet am I come alone,
Through the fierce guardian flame,
To seek your house.

Apples of gold all pure
Eleven here behold
Gerda! a gift for thee!
To wooe thy love for Freyr
I come; to hear thee say.
Let Freyr for Gerda live!

XX. Gerda.
Though gold thy apples be,
On me prevail'st thou not
To take them from thy hand:
Nor shall, whilst life remains,
Gerda and Freyr
Unite, in mutual bands!

XXI. Skirner.
Then take this ring,*
Burnt on the pile
Of Odin's blooming son;
Eight, of the self-fame weight,
Drop from its orb
Each ninth revolving night!

* When Ballder, the son of Odin, was laid on the funeral pile, his father dropt this ring on it, which instantly acquired the power of fecundity. Ballder sent the ring back to Odin from hell.

XXII. Gerda.
Take back the ring,
Though once burnt on the pile
Of Odin's blooming son!
Of golden store
I feel no want
In Gymer's halls.

XXIII. Skirner.
Seest thou, virgin, this blade
Of glitt'ring steel
That arms my hand?
Thy forfeit head
Sinks under it,
If thou refuse thy love.

XXIV. Gerda.
No man shall boast
To have enslav'd
My will by gifts or threats;
But this I guess,
If thou and Gymer meet,
Thou shalt give proof in arms!

XXV. Skirner.
Seest thou, virgin, this sharp
Clear-founding blade
That arms my hand?
Under its edge
The hoary giant falls!
Death tramples on thy fire!

With this taming wand I charm thee!*
With thy wand I tame thee thus,
Virgin, to my will!
Waft thee far,
Where human eye
Never see thee more!

* He now waves his wand, and enchants her.

With the dawn shalt thou be fix'd
In the eagle's nook;
Turn'd from earth thy eye shall gaze
On the gates of hell.
Far more shalt thou loath thy food
Than the race of man
Loaths the scaly worm.

Shudd'ring in the giant's hall,
Anguish lha!l embrace thee:
Naked, age-bent, shalt thou haunt
The fell prison-house;
Weep and scorn shall mock the tear
On thy channell'd cheek !

Amid the three-skull'd race
Drag thou a weary life!
Drag thou thy hermit-day!
With mind for ever torn!
A sapless thorn
Stuck in the elder's head!

To the wood I came,
To the greenwood forest :
The wand of charms to win,
The wand of charms I won

Odin hates thee!
Braga hates thee!
Freyr loaths thee!
Yet e'er the wrath of gods
Seize thee
Devoted maid.

Let the giants hear!
Hear ye ice-burnt race,
That I forbid this maid,
That I ban from this maid
The joys of man!
The fruit of man!

Hhrimgrimner is the giant's name
Tho shalt serve!
Below the gates of death
The spawn of Mandrakes vile,
Shall, under sprawling roots,
With urine feed thee.*

*Who dwelt in the cliffs of the valleys, in holes of the earth, and in the rocks; among the bushes they brayed, under the nettles they were gathered together. Job xxx. 6, 7.

This virgin is thy doom!
Lust! impotence! and rage!
This wand can set the mark!
This wand can blot the mark!

XXXV. Gerda.
Forbear dread youth!
And taste the icy cup
Of generous mead.
I yield—though until now
I spurn'd the thought
Of loving Asa-race.

XXXVI. Skirner.
The issue of my embassy
I will know all,
Before I seek my home.
Decide what night
Thy arm shall meet
The arm of Niord's son.

XXXVII. Gerda.
Within the silent lap
Of Bary wood,
When nights nine have tript round,
Shall Gerda yield
The joys of man
To Niord's godlike son!

Skirner returns, and Freyr, at his door demands news of his embassy.

Tell, Skirner, tell,
Ere thou disarm thy steed,
Ere thou proceed a step,
What hast thou done
In giant-land,
To please thy mind and mine?

XXXIX. Skirner.
Within the silent lap
Of Bary wood,
When nights nine have tript round,
Shall Gerda yield
The joys of man
To Niord's godlike son*
at his doors, demands the news

One night is long!
Ah! how long two!
Say, who can tear the third?
Shorter a month
Than half a night
Of unenjoy'd desire!