The Lay Of Hymir

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Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English BY BENJAMIN THORPE,


1. Once the celestial gods had been taking fish, and were in compotation, ere they the truth discovered. Rods they shook, and blood inspected, when they found at Oegir's a lack of kettles.

2. Sat the rock-dweller glad as a child, much like the son of Miskorblindi. In his eyes looked Ygg's son steadfastly. "Thou to the Æir shalt oft a compotation give."

3. Caused trouble to the Jotun th' unwelcome-worded As: he forthwith meditated vengeance on the gods. Sif's husband he besought a kettle him to bring, "in which I beer for all of you may brew."

4. The illustrious gods found that impossible, nor could the exalted powers it accomplish, till from true-heartedness, Ty to Hlorridi much friendly counsel gave.

5. "There dwells eastward of Elivagar the all-wise Hymir, at heaven's end. My sire, fierce of mood, a kettle owns, a capacious cauldron, a rast in depth."


6. "Knowest thou whether we can get the liquor-boiler?"


"Yes, friend! if we stratagem' employ." Rapidly they drove forward that day from Asgard, till to the giant's home they came.

7. Thor stalled his goats, splendid of horn, then turned him to the hall that Hymir owned. The son his granddam found to him most loathful; heads she had nine hundred.

8. But another came all-golden forth, fair-browed, bearing the beer-cup to her son:

9. "Ye Jotuns' kindred! I will you both, ye daring pair, under the kettles place. My husband is oftentimes niggard towards guests, to ill-humour prone."

10. But the monster, the fierce-souled Hymir, late returned home from the chase. He the hall entered, the icebergs resounded, as the churl approached; the thicket on his cheeks was frozen.

11. "Hail to thee, Hymir! be of good cheer: now thy son is come to thy hall, whom we expected from his long journey; him accompanies our famed adversary, the friend of man, who Veor hight.

12. See where they sit under the hall's gable, as if to shun thee: the pillar stands before them." In shivers flew the pillar at the Jotun's glance; the beam was first broken in two.

13. Eight kettles fell, but only one of them, a hard-hammered cauldron, whole from the column. The two came forth, but the old Jotun with eyes surveyed his adversary.

14. Augured to him his mind no good, when he saw [Pg 50]the giantess's sorrow on the floor coming. Then were three oxen taken, and the Jotun bade them forthwith be boiled.

15. Each one they made by the head shorter, and to the fire afterwards bore them. Sif's consort ate, ere to sleep he went, completely, he alone, two of Hymir's beeves.

16. Seemed to the hoary friend of Hrungnir Hlorridi's refection full well large: "We three to-morrow night shall be compelled on what we catch to live."

17. Veor said he would on the sea row, if the bold Jotun him would with baits supply: "To the herd betake thee, (if thou in thy courage trustest, crusher of the rock-dwellers!) for baits to seek.

18. I expect that thou wilt bait from an ox easily obtain." The guest in haste to the forest went, where stood an all-black ox before him.

19. The Thursar's bane wrung from an ox the high fastness of his two horns. "To me thy work seems worse by far, ruler of keels! than if thou hadst sat quiet."

20. The lord of goats the apes' kinsman besought the horse of plank farther out to move; but the Jotun declared his slight desire farther to row.

21. The mighty Hymir drew, he alone, two whales up with his hook; but at the stern abaft Veor cunningly made him a line.

22. Fixed on the hook the shield of men, the serpent's slayer, the ox's head. Gaped at the bait the foe of gods, the encircler beneath of every land.

23. Drew up boldly the mighty Thor the worm with venom glistening, up to the side; with his hammer struck, on his foul head's summit, like a rock towering, the wolf's own brother.

24. The icebergs resounded, the caverns howled, the old earth shrank together: at length the fish back into ocean sank.

25. The Jotun was little glad, as they rowed back, so that the powerful Hymir nothing spake, but the oar moved in another course.

26. "Wilt thou do half the work with me, either the whales home to the dwelling bear, or the boat fast bind?"

27. Hlorridi went, grasped the prow, quickly, with its hold-water, lifted the water-steed, together with its oars and scoop; bore to the dwelling the Jotun's ocean-swine, the curved vessel, through the wooded hills.

28. But the Jotun yet ever frowned, to strife accustomed, with Thor disputed, said that no one was strong, however vigorously he might row, unless he his cup could break.

29. But Hlorridi, when to his hands it came, forthwith brake an upright stone in twain; sitting dashed the cup through the pillars: yet they brought it whole to Hymir back.

30. Until the beauteous woman gave important, friendly counsel, which she only knew: "Strike at the head of Hymir, the Jotun with food oppressed, that is harder than any cup."

31. Rose then on his knee the stern lord of goats, [Pg 52]clad in all his godlike power. Unhurt remained the old man's helm-block, but the round wine-bearer was in shivers broken.

32. "Much good, I know, has departed from me, now that my cup I see hurled from my knees." Thus the old man spake: "I can never say again, beer thou art too hot.

33. "Now 'tis to be tried if ye can carry the beer-vessel out of our dwelling." Ty twice assayed to move the vessel, yet at each time stood the kettle fast.

34. Then Modi's father by the brim grasped it, and trod through the dwelling's floor. Sif's consort lifted the kettle on his head, while about his heels its rings jingled.

35. They had far journeyed before Odin's son cast one look backward: he from the caverns saw, with Hymir from the east, a troop of many-headed monsters coming.

36. From his shoulders he lifted the kettle down; Miollnir hurled forth towards the savage crew, and slew all the mountain-giants, who with Hymir had him pursued.

37. Long they had not journeyed when of Hlorridi's goats one lay down half-dead before the car. It from the pole had sprung across the trace; but the false Loki was of this the cause.

38. Now ye have heard,—for what fabulist can more fully tell—what indemnity he from the giant got: he paid for it with his children both.

39. In his strength exulting he to the gods' council came, and had the kettle, which Hymir had possessed, out of which every god shall beer with Oegir drink at every harvest-tide.