Íðunn’s abduction: Haustlöng stanzas 2-13


Þjóðólfr úr Hvíni (~ 855-930)


Plan: Introduction

1. List of kenningar and the information they bring forth

2. kenningar and their context in stanzas 2-13


APPENDIX: translation notes


HERE you find a complement to this text, explaining how Þjazi helps understanding who Hræsvelgr is




This poem describes the myth of Íðunn’ abduction in s. 2 to s. 13. She is the guardian of the golden apples that are the ‘shapings’ (translating the plural of Old Norse sköp meaning ‘shaped’), that ensure a long life to the ancient Scandinavian gods, named Æsir in Old Norse. These gods have the striking feature of being submitted to fate. Thus, when their fate will be completed, they will die as any other component of our universe. It nevertheless seems that the deciders of destinies, the three Norns, did not impose ageing to the Æsir and they thus have been able to work out some magic shapings (sköp) by which they are able to endlessly delay their ageing. These shapings are golden apples and elf-goddess Íðunn, wife of the god of poetry, Bragi, is in charge to sustain their magic. In order to counter these shapings, a powerful giant called Þiazi will force Loki to deliver to him Íðunn and her magic, and he then installs her in giants’ residence. The gods indeed start to age and they threaten Loki of death if they do not recover both Íðunn and her magic. Loki succeeds in recovering Íðunn and Þiazi, who at once started to chase them, is killed thanks to a trick devised by the Æsir.

The story told by these Haustlöng stanzas is well-known, since Snorri Sturluson minutely described it in the first chapter of his Skáldskaparmál. This poem abounds in kenningar difficult to interpret because they refer to a large amount of lore, that has obviously been well-known to an audience living at the beginning of the 10th century. These stanzas have been quoted by Snorri Sturluson and Faulkes’ translation (1987, p. 86-88) of Snorri’s Edda provides one translation[1]. The text below gives you the list of the kenningar contained in the poem which appeared to me most probable in the context of Norse paganism such as I seek to discover within the literature Norse and of the innumerable academic comments which it caused. These kenningar are interesting by the particular light as they throw on the major characters of the poem.


1. A list of kenningar and the hidden information they contain



This poem uses a considerable number of kenningar and our comments on them will reveal secret or unexpected aspects of the characters they name. The exact role of Giants in Norse mythology appeares somewhat mysterious and illogical since their only role seems to survive and destroy. The kenningar in this poem will enable us to understand their role as collectors of crowds of anonymous corpses (and/or shipwreck).

Note that this question comments only the kennings bringing some new information.




He is called “Meili of the light foot” in s 4. I do not think that this kenning carries much significant knowledge. De Vries suggests, among others, to link this name to the substantive hani, a rooster, and to its song. Richard North’s eccentric assumption making of Hœnir a ‘coquerel’ in order to underline his supposed boasting feature is at best useless to understand the poem. The truth is that Hœnir appears somewhat neutral here but he never ‘sings’ out of place.




He is called in

s. 3: (snytrir hjalm-faldinn hapta) adorner helmet-hooded [Óðinn] of the chains [the gods] ,

The nominative  snytrir can be a problem since C-V and deVries give only snyrtir (polisher, cleaner). Lex.Poet. gives also snytrir “who decorates, who adorns”. This word includes also the idea of a careful craftsman or a person who adorns his land as does a good gardener. Óðinn is already endowed with many functions in Scandinavian mythology but this function of careful leader who adorns his family, to the best of my knowledge, appears only in this poem. As long  as it has been created in a still harshly Heathen Scandinavia, it is difficult to see here a Christian influence.  Christ does also presents this aspect of ‘careful shepherd’ but he obviously protects some human ones but not other ‘un-existing’ gods.

Óðinn is also said to wear a helmet, which defines a warrior (or a she-warrior in Sigrdrífa’s case) and introduces a benevolent war leader who is friendly with his troops, as certainly were the many Scandinavian chieftains  who had been said to “waste gold” in order to highlight their generosity.


Hapt or aftr means shackle but it can also any kind of binding device. It is here in the genitive plural. It is a traditional way to speak about the gods in general. This way of speech obviously underlines the ‘binding power’ of the gods.


s. 4: raven – Æsir is a classical kenning pointing at Óðinn.


s. 5: (þekkiligr dróttinn foldar) pleasant/beautiful Master of the earth.

Adjective þekkiligr means handsome and pleasing, it is in line 3, whereas foldar dróttinn appears in the first one. It happens here that the only other nominative that þekkiligr could perhaps qualify is another adjective in line 6, bragðvíss (cheating, crafty one), that points at Loki. This is why there no other solution than associating þekkiligr to dróttinn (prince, leader), although Óðinn is not qualified in this way in mythological texts.

Here again,  we meet the image of a pleasant Óðinn, which is not at all traditional and he never is called ‘handsome’. There also, this attribute evokes a war chief who likes his troops.



Him as a ‘pleasing’ character (as in s. 5) is more than unusual, to say the least. It seems that Þjóðólfr tries to mellow Óðinn because he (Þjóðólfr) will now tell a story in which Óðinn should have behaved more carefully in order to prevent Loki’s irresponsible behavior. Moreover, when we will tell the “Tale of Íðunn’s abduction,” we will also see that the present poem exposes Óðinn’s first defeat, his first step towards death because the “long-life goddess” cannot come back unharmed from her stay with the giants. This is very similar to the idea that Hervör (see her tale at http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/HervorsMyth.htm ) cannot come back unharmed of a stay in a burial mount, as it is three times stated in the saga.




He is called:

s. 4: friend of the raven of the Æsir = Óðinn’s friend,

s. 5: Farbauti’s son and the crafty one who disturbs the Æsir,

s. 6. deep minded (wise) god-keeper of the prey,

s. 7: burden of Sigyn’s arms,

s. 8: a good catch, and Þórr’s ‘over’-friend (large friend), and the “dislocated heavy airy one,”

s. 9: fussy saga-stirrer (who is mad with grief – see comments relative to Íðunn) and girdle-thief of gods’ Brising,

s. 11: annoying servant, and spirit of fraud of Gefn, the beer waitress (Íðunn),

s. 12: test of Hœnir’s mind, and hawk’s son.


Almost all the kenningar depicting Loki are ironic. He has perhaps been in the past Óðinn’s friend and never was he Þórr’s. That he is Farbauti’s son recalls us that he belongs to a family of giants. According to some legends, he would be responsible for the earthquakes each time his wife, Sigyn, goes away in order to empty the basin where she collects the venom of the snake that stays above him. He is certainly intelligent though not ‘deeply minded’, since this poem illustrates some silliness in his behavior with Þiazi. The kenning ‘burden of Sigyn’s arms’ might be the only non pejorative kenning about him since it carries the idea that Sigyn cares for her Loki.

A “good catch” makes of him some kind of captured game or else, by allegory, a woman since a Norse way of speech expresses that when she marries, a woman is “caught,” as game is. This plays with the impression of undecided sexuality that he gives off. “The heavy airy dislocated one” is a humorous way to describe Loki whose shoulder is dislocated under the effect of its own weight while he is very often called the airy one in Norse literature. That Loki is a “saga-stirrer” means that he provokes sagas – usually not for the best, instead of being the creator of beautiful sagas. The theft of Freyja’s necklace episode shows him as pettily jealous of female power, and as unable to keep his booty. Calling him an “infuriating servant” shows him in a subordinate condition he is not even able to properly take on. Calling him “spirit of fraud of Íðunn” underlines that the abduction of Íðunn happens through Þjazi’s intelligence who nicely traps Loki and through Loki’s stupidity for seeking a petty revenge by striking Þjazi with a stick. The kenning “test of Hœnir’s heart” underlines his ‘infuriating saga-stirrer’ feature, and the “hawk’s son” shows him a kind of hawk ‘coquerel’ by playing on his tiny size as compared to Þjazi’s.




She is called in

s. 9: (sorgœran [understood here as reading sorgeyran] mey) ‘pain alleviator maid’, and ‘goddess of the brooks of the source of harvest’.

Discussion of sorgœran mey.

It appears that sorgœran can be applied to Íðunn with the meaning of ‘who alleviates pain’ and also to Loki with the meaning of ‘mad with pain’. How Þjóðólfr’s poetic skill could produce this small miracle is understood at the price of very technical explanations that I rejected to the box just below.


Grammatical explanations for refusing to choose between the two meanings of sorgœran


The meaning of the word sorgœran has been disputed. At first, we know that œr is sometimes equivalent to eyr. This is illustrated by the noun of mead of poetry container, spelled as óðreyrir or óðrœrir. One can thus read either sorg-œran, or sorg-eyran. The sorg part means ‘pain’.

The problem lies in the second part that can be understood as a classical nominalization of a verb with a –a ending to a substantive in –an. An example among many others is the one of verb drottna (to command) which produces the feminine substantive drottnan (a command), that does drottnan in the accusative and the dative singular.

Thus, sorgœran can as well be associated to the dative just before it (hrœri, ‘fusser’ - indicating Loki) or with the accusative just after it (mey, girl - indicating Íðunn), since a feminine substantive can qualify as well a male being as a female one. If it were an adjective, the termination in -an indicates a masculine accusative which can qualify neither feminine Íðunn nor Loki (a dative). My assumption of a verb-noun transformation of œra and eyra makes it possible to solve this problem.


The problem further complicates  because of the different meanings of verbs œra (to make insane) and eyra (to alleviate). In such a way, sorg - œran means ‘mad with pain’ and than sorg-eyran means ‘pain-alleviating’. The version sorg - œran aptly qualifies Loki who is hooked in the air to the stick with which he tried to strike Þjazi.  The version sorg-eyran aptly qualifies Íðunn. The ambiguity between the two versions is perfect.

The dictionary Lex. Poet. translates sorgœra as an adjective qualifying ‘who alleviates pain’ and thus hints at the solution that I chose ‘the girl who alleviates pain’. Conversely more modern commentators chose to preserve the version that is nearest to the text, ‘œra’ and not ‘eyra’, which leads them to add ‘mad with pain to the kenning describing Loki. You will find this last version in all modern translations of this poem.


This explains why I needed to provide all these complex explanations. They nevertheless interesting since they provide to the poem a worth which is lost when one chooses only one of the two solutions.


Discussion of dísi (dis, goddess) bekkjar (brook, gen. plur.) brunn-akrs (source-harvest, gen. sing.)

The word dísi itself brings a problem. The ‘canonical’ plural of dís is dísir which does dís in the singular accusative which is imposed by the structure of the sentence (since Þjazi takes along Íðunn). We can then suppose that Þjóðólfr chose a plural in –ar, one of the forms of which can do its singular accusative in -i, dísi.

That Íðunn is a goddess of the fertility of harvests is not one of her known attributes. It is however reasonable to trust Þjóðólfr (see also the comments of stanzas 10 and 11, just below).


 s 10: (Ið - unnr) wave-swirl [from iða = swirl et unnr = wave], or provider [iðja = to act] of peacefulness and love [unna = to bestow, to love]

That Íðunn be a goddess of a kind of love producing rather harmony than children is also a function which is not usually allotted to her. A swirl carries towards bottom, a wave carries far away, that the meaning based  on iða - unnr does not seem to be very meaningful.  The explanations of stanza 11 will disclose its deep meaning.


s. 11: (öl-Gefnar) Gefn, the beer waitress, and (mun stœrandi) [love increasing] mæra mey [famous maid] hapta [of the chains– the gods]), that is the famous maiden who increases the Æsir’s love.

The indirect role of a beer waitress is to create an environment favoring  harmony among drinkers, which confirms that Íðunn is “the one who works at bringing harmony" as claimed by  the second kenning in stanza 10.

Stanza 11 of the poem also explains why she is the wave carrying away the gods towards the ‘swirl’ of sexual love, which now explains the “wave-swirl” in stanza 10.


All Íðunn’s kenningar are strongly laudatory and nothing but latent Christocentrism can frown at a presumably exuberant sexuality. Besides, this Íðunn’s sexual exuberance might be possible but this is not what the poem states: her role is of creating an euphoric environment, just as a cabaret hostess. Moreover,  it seems that many fake forgetting one of  main  youth features which can summarize in intellectual, physical and genetic power.


That she is protective to the Æsir is illustrated by several kenningar: she is the young woman who “alleviates pain,” who “works to protect’, who is called “Gefn, the beer waitress and Æsir’s delight. All this strengthens her aspect of keeper of the golden apples of youth. It is also clear that organizing games and bringing delight may possibly hint at a role that Christian morals reprobate.

On the other hand, two kenningar are out of this scheme. An “eddy of the wave” brings down to sea floor and drowns imprudent ones who let waves carry them. With a some skill, it is easy to escape from this situation, though not without fright. The ‘goddess of the brooks of the source of the harvest’ puts her divine functions under a new light. Since Freyr became the symbol of the earthly fertility in addition to his role in male fertility, we all tend to associate also his female counterpart, Freyja, with earth fertility. Þjóðólfr throws a doubt on this assertion and reminds us that there is not ground-fertilizing goddess in our mythology. Now, he allots this role to Íðunn, and this in turn implies that when she will leave Ásgarðr, as the poem “Galdr of Óðinn’s raven” tells us, earth itself will lose its fertility as Ragnarök draws closer.


Þjazi (and Hræsvelgr)


They are called

S 2: (ulfr snótar) wolf/monster of the lady and (byrgi-Týr bjarga) fence-Týr of the cliffs.


S 3: (margspakr már báru valley-kastar) very-wise seagull of the wave of the ‘caught’ by death.

Bára, a wave, is a ‘weak declension’ feminine that does báru in the genitive, dative and accusative singular. Here it is often seen as a genitive but could also be looked upon as a dative meaning ‘in the wave’ (dative), which would result in ‘caught in a death vague’. A double meaning is quite possible.


S 4 (Hræsvelgr): (wine-grögnir = vind-rögnir) winddivinity and (Þiazi): Hræsvelgr - (vagna vígfrekr) battle greedy whale.

The word vindr, wind, does many compounds in vind- as in vind-hjálmr (wind-helmet), that is ‘sky’. Rögnir designates a divinity.


S 6: (dólgr) monster and (slíðrliga svangr to faðir Marnar) wildly famished Mörnir’s father.


S 7: (við will fóstra öndurgoðs) foster father of the ski-goddess and (reimuð Jötunheima) ghost of giant-land.

The form öndurgoðs is a typically masculine or neutral genitive. The word goð (god) was indeed neutral in Heathen times and this word can well label a goddess, here thus Skaði.


S 8: (nagr sveita) bird of blood/sweat and (mælunaut miðjungs) Miðjungr’s dear friend.

Here the form mölunaut is understood as málnaut, singular accusative of málnautr (in the text Loki begs Þjazi and the direct object complement is rendered by the accusative).


S 9: (átt-runnr Hymis) the bush of Ymir’s family and (grjóf-Níðaðar) rock-king (who is led by a tragic destiny) '.

Níðuðr (here in the genitive) is the name of the king who kidnapped and disabled ‘Völundr the blacksmith’. He is thus known as a king whose brutality will lead to disaster. The words made up on grjót are never built using the genitive. This form is usually understood as name-adjective transformation. Thus, the canonical meaning of grjót - something is ‘stony something’ and not ‘something of the stone’.

Here grjót-Níðaðar thus means `(a noun complement is rendered by a genitive) ‘of the stone rough king who is of a brutish type and who got a unhappy destiny by his own fault’.


S 11: (hund hrun-sæva hræva öl-Gefnar) wolf of the beachcomber of the corpses and wrecks of beer waitress Gefn (Íðunn).

- hræva is the plural genitive of hræ (corpse, wreck). I will use in the following  the two simultaneous meaning ‘corpse and shipwreck’ because we cannot dissociate one from the other. (In a lecture on the giants, Gunnel made the opposite choice of Cleasby, he rejected ‘corpses’ and only kept shipwreck’, which also mutilates the text, since word hræ has both meanings. See details ant he consequences at http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/TheTwoGiantsEng.htm .

- öl-Gefnar: Gefn is a name of goddess, goddess of öl, beer, qualifies Íðunn.

hund (dog, wolf) and hrun-sæva ‘ruin-sea’, beachcomber, are in the nominative, which can be read like two coupled descriptors (‘wolf and beachcomber of the corpses and the wrecks ').

We could also cut out the complete kenning in two parts: hund öl-Gefnar (Íðunn’s wolf) and, in parallel hrun-sæva hræva (beachcomber of the corpses or of the wrecks). Both kenningar describe Þjazi.


S 12 (lómhugaðr  ern faðir Marnar) evil-spirited king, and (reginn (lagði) arnsúg leikblaðs fjaðrar) the god (produced) an eagle-draught of wind of the play-blade of feathers (Þiazi together with a hint to Hræsvelgr)


Note: in S. 12 both kenningar above could exchange some of their attributes without much  changing the meaning. For example ern (vigorous) can, as here, qualify Mörn’s father or  ‘god’, or any other nominative. On the contrary, it cannot qualify arnsúg because which is an accusative.

- Mörn is a name of giantess, here in the genitive.

- Súgr, gust of wind, is here thus in the accusative. It is necessary thus that a character ‘did’ (lagði in the poem) this gust of wind. I chose to read that reginn was this character.

- Leikblaðs, the ‘play-blade’ evokes a powerful warrior,  which well qualifies Þjazi.


S 13: (sonr biðils Greipar) son of Greipr’s love.


‘Wolf’ or ‘monster’ are two traditional words used for speaking of giants and the ‘fence-Týr of the cliffs’, i.e. the cliff-divinity who puts Íðunn inside a fence obviously point at Þiazi.

The ‘very-wise seagull of the waves of the death-caught ones’ contains a new information about Þiazi. The ‘death-caught ones’ are obviously corpses and ‘wave’ introduces the idea of a moving sea of corpses. The seagull convoys the waves, so that Þiazi seems to be flying above a sea of corpses and he convoys them where the waves takes them along. Lastly, he is very wise, which suppresses the shrill chatter of the seagulls and makes of them wise birds convoying the corpses. It is now useful to remember the kenning for Íðunn in stanza 11, in which he is the ‘the wolf of the beachcomber wave of the corpses. Þiazi thus seems to drive the stream of corpses throughout their shift until a beachcomber wave’ throws them on a mysterious shore.

In stanzas 4 and 12, Þiazi is directly compared to Hræsvelgr and I cut out two longer kenningar to emphasize the part hinting at Hræsvelgr. Both kenningar allude to Hræsvelgr’s role as a producer of winds and storms, and we should not forget the meaning of his name. I know that Simek stated in his dictionary of Scandinavian mythology: “it is absolutely wrong to conclude that Hræsvelgr is a demon of death merely because of his name.” This statement is not quite clear since we hardly know what is a “demon of death” and carrying a name a “corpses-swallower”, at the very least, connects him to the dead ones. What partly justifies Simek’s remark is that neither Snorri nor Þjóðólfr, nor VafÞrúðnismál 37, connects him directly to the dead ones: all we know is that he creates the winds and “er sitr á himins enda (he sits at the end of the sky - or of Yggdrasill’s crown). This supports Simek’s opinion. Conversely, we have just seen that Þjóðólfr gives to Þiazi a very clear role of guiding crowds of corpses - undoubtedly produced by a slaughter or a natural disaster. This role is very different from the one of a psychopomp for selected individuals as Óðinn and Freyja are, though it does not at all opposes the existence psychopomp gods. It is therefore not absurd to think that this role might have been the one of giants or of some giants. Thus, with such a name as Hræsvelgr, this last being compared to Þiazi, both might be taking part in this task. This moderates Simek’s assertion without contradicting it since, on the one hand, Þiazi nor Hræsvelgr are “demons of dead ones” as he claims, though they are looked upon as kinds of “waste collectors” for heaps of anonymous corpses.

Stanza 7 calls him a ‘ghost of giant-land’ so that he can be looked upon as a ‘living-dead’ one, called a draugr in the sagas that describe the behavior of such individuals (refer also to http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/DraugarQuietOnes.htm and Hervör’s myth at http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/HervorsMyth.htm ). Obviously, this kenning can be used here in a purely allegorical way, it does not prevent that it draws yet another link between Þiazi and death.

 We have just seen that Hræsvelgr is known as a wind-god and that Þiazi is compared to him. In stanza 12, “eagle of the play-blades of feathers” expresses in a picturesque way how very strong winds can be felt as a “set of play-blades" that slices what it meets.

As for stanza 13 kenning, that Þiazi’s father had been Greip giantess’s lover provides a lone branch of ‘Ymir’s family bush’ (s. 9) of which we know very little, except some of its branches gave rise to the Æsir.


2. The context of the kenningar in stanzas 2-13


The Old Norse (ON) version given below is due to Koch, found as “unpublished” though available, in Skaldic base at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/skaldic/db.php?id=1438&if=default&table=text


Stanza 2 (the only translated stanza in this presentation)


Koch’s ON version



Segjöndum fló sagna

snótar ulfr at móti

í gemlis ham gǫmlum

glammi ó fyr –skǫmmu;








settisk ǫrn, þars æsir,

ár (Gefnar) mat (or mar) bôru

(vasa byrgi-Týr bjarga

bleyði vændr) á seyði

Almost literal translation facing the VN version



Towards the tellers, flew (took his flight), of sagas

of the lady the wolf, to meet,

in, of an old eagle, the old shape

noisily not- little-time-ago;

(Slightly changing the word order)

Towards the tellers of sagas, it flew

the wolf of the lady, to meet them,

in the old shape of an old eagle

noisily, long ago.


sat down the eagle, where to Æsir,

of harvest-Gefjon meat/horse had installed


(was the Týr fence of the chasms

fear lessened) on the hearth.

(Slightly changing the word order, and “fear lessened” understood as “insensitive to fear”)

The eagle sat down where to Æsir

had installed the meat/horse of harvest Gefjon on the hearth.

(the fence-Týr of the fells

was insensitive to fear)

Prose interpretation



The wolf of the lady flew, long ago, to the meeting of the tellers of sagas, in the shape of an immensely old eagle.








The eagle sat down where to Æsir had installed ox on the hearth in order to cook it.

(the giant who was going to imprison Íðunn was insensitive to fear)





Comments on stanza 2 vocabulary


 - tellers of sagas = those who transmit knowledge, the Æsir.

- fló: the three verbs flýja, to flee, and flá, to fly (to strip), fljúga, to fly (to take its flight) can have the same preterit fló.

 - the wolf of the lady = Þjazi.

- hamr, masc. plur. hamir, the skin, the form, can make its singular dative in ham instead of traditional hami.

- vændr, here undoubtedly an irregular form of the last participle of vana, to decrease. Vandr may mean decreasedand being “fear decreased” qualifies either “someone who is without fear” or someone who not very courageous since he approaches the Æsir in such a disguise. In any case, the other possible meaning vændr are also ambiguous regarding Þjazi’s courage.

- Gefjon’s ‘meat’ or horse alludes to Gefjon’s myth (see http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/GylfiGefjonTale.pdf ). It is either an ox or its flesh, which amounts to the same here. Its abundance (ár) stresses that it is an enormous ox.

- a “Týr of the fells” is a giant and he “builds a fence” around Íðunn and thus these kenningar announce of Þjazi’s future actions. This wink to the reader shows that Þjóðólfr is addressing an audience quite aware of the myth and only the rhythm of his poetry and its kenningar will be able to surprise them and attract their interest.


Kenningar and descriptions of stanza 2


- saga tellers = the Æsir who maintain the tradition while telling their adventures to mankind, also called ‘myths’.

- wolf/monster of the lady = the giant Þjazi who carries Íðunn as a wolf seizes his prey.

- an old eagle of old form = doubling ‘old’ insists on giant Þjazi’s great age.

- the abundance of the meat (or horse) of Gefjon = an ox which will become a topic of conflict between Þjazi and the Æsir and will enable Þjazi to force Loki to betray the Æsir.

 - the fence-Týr of the cliffs = the giant Þjazi who will retain Íðunn captive in Giant-country, a country of cliffs.


Stanza 3

(Stanza 2 only is translated. We will provide summaries of the stanzas that are only intended to indicate the context in which the kenningar are stated).


The parts underlined here and in the appendix are kenningar or one word giving an indication of another word (i. e. one word metaphors called heiti).

 The ‘notes’ technical explaining my choices are intended to the readers interested by the language Norse. It are rejected at the end of section 2.




The gods do not manage to bone the decoy-reindeer, so that the adorner helmet-hooded of the chains says that there is some fraud here. The very-wise seagull of the large wave of the death-caught ones spoke from the ancient tree - the friend of Hænir did not like it.


Kenningar and descriptions


- ‘decoy-reindeer’ is the ox that will be used to trap Loki.

 -‘wise-adorner-farmer helmet-hooded-of-the-chains (Óðinn)’. The polysemic Norse word snytrir, rendered here by ‘adorner’ stands for an artist who decorates places and it describes also a tidy farmer or craftsman. This word is also linked to the adjective snotr, meaning ‘wise’. These meanings are given in Lex. Poet. only (thus in Latin). The word hapt (or haft) means a chaining device and means also ‘the gods’. The helmet-hooded-of-the-chains points at a warrior god, here Óðinn. This kenning provides us two images associated with Óðinn: one, very well known, is the one of a warrior; the other, almost ignored, is the one of a wise and tidy craftsman or farmer.

 - ‘very-wise seagull of the wave of the ‘caught’ by death’. The very-wise gull is Þjazi in the form of an eagle. The wave of the caught by death is the moving crowd of the dead ones.. We will find further this image of the crowd of corpses that evokes a liquid mass.

 - the ancient tree = Yggdrasill which is the tree par excellence of Scandinavian mythology. Note that Þjazi is said to be located in Yggdrasill while he speaks, which hints at Hræsvelgr, the eagle perched at Yggdrasill’s top.

- the friend of Hænir could as well be Óðinn as Loki. The following will show us that it designates Loki who hates this very-wise seagull.


Stanza 4



The cliffs wolf/monster requires of Meili of the light foot to serve a share of the bait-reindeer to him. The friend of the Æsir raven had to blow the fire. The battle-greedy whale wind divinity landed near the gods’ safeguard.


Kenningar and descriptions


- cliffs wolf/monster = Þiazi. This is a very traditional kenning to designate a giant.

- bait-reindeer = the ox being cooked.

- Meili of the light foot. Mieli is one of Óðinn’s sons. He is called the ‘Þórr’s brother’ elsewhere but without any more details. Although Hœnir is not Óðinn’s son, the context to see here a kenning for Hœnir, since Loki ‘still less an Óðinn’s son.

 - friend of the Æsir raven = Óðinn’s friend = Loki. In these ancient times, Óðinn and Loki were certainly still friends as long as they have been blood brothers. Note that the two kenningar be read reverse by making of Loki a ‘Meili of the light foot’ and of Hœnir ‘the friend of the Æsir raven’. That would hardly change the meaning of the poem.

- the divinity of the wind (vind-rögnir) has been twice underlined since it is a double kenning. This is Hræsvelgr, the eagle perched on the top of Yggdrasill, whose name means “corpse swallower” and who creates the winds while beating his wings. Another interpretation is possible because the name Vinþórr is known to speak of Þórr about to fight. The two assumptions point both at Þiazi. It is useful in itself to meet Hræsvelgr as a heiti for Þiazi, revealing unknown et deep links between the two beings.

- the complete kenning is “vígfrekr vind-vagna rögnir” = battle-greedy wind-whale divinity, which describes a vind vagna rögnir, that is an enormous divine eagle, correctly describing Hræsvelgr.

- safeguard of the gods: the three Æsir participating to this adventure. Note the irony of this kenning since they will not be able to prevent Íðunn’s abduction and will rather become the gods’ Achilles heel.


Stanza 5




The good-looking and pleasant Master of the ground asked Farbauti’s son to cut out for the free men the whale of springtime creaking belts. The Æsir’s tricky disturbing one laid on the table four shares.


Kenningar and descriptions


- good-looking and pleasant Master of the ground: Óðinn.

- Farbauti’s son is Loki, a traditional kenning.

- free men. A classical metaphor, when a human person is described, is to give him/her the name of a god or a goddess. Even the giant Þjazi is called Týr in stanza 2. Here we meet an example of the opposite where the gods who are designated as “free men.”

- whale of the belts squeaking during spring. The context says that this complex kenning indicates the same ox as above. Authors do not agree on the meaning of this kenning. Here is my proposal: It is obviously a large animal (‘whale’) which is described as fastened to heavy loads it has to pull. At springtime, oxen are put to work. Leather belt straps emits characteristic crackings well-known to anyone who has carried loads fastened by leather straps.

- the tricky one disturbing the Æsir: Who better than Loki can be both tricky and disturbing to the Æsir?


Stanza 6




Wildly famished Mörnir’s father gobbled the bear of the tree-roots yoke furiously and the deep minded guardian-Týr of the prey violently struck the monster between its shoulders with a stick.

(Þiazi furiously devoured the ox and (supposedly) wise Loki violently struck him between the shoulders with a stick.)


Kenningar and descriptions


- slíðrliga svangr to faðir Marnar = wildly famished father of Mörnir i.e. Þjazi whose voracity is underlined here.

- okbjörn eiki-rótum = yoke-bear of oakwood roots= bear of the oaktree-roots yoke. We note Þjóðólfr attribute the most complex kenningar to this ox, though it is a very secondary character.

- dólgr = monster, a word pointing at Þjazi throughout this poem.

- djúphugaðr hirði-Týr herfangs = deepminded (wise) guard-god of the preyi.e. the deep minded god, guardian of the prey, what Loki is supposed to be. He keeps on eye on the ox, the prey, but to qualify him as being ‘deep minded’ appears quite ironic here.


Stanza 7




All the gods could observe that the burden of Sigyn’s arms remained stuck to the stick and to the foster father of the ski goddess .The stick was stuck to the Giant-country ghost as well as the hands of Hœnir’s friend.


Kenningar and descriptions


- burden of Sigyn’s arms: Sigyn is Loki’s wife and the ‘burden of her arms’ is Loki.

- foster-father of the ski goddess (goddess of the ski = Skaði, a giantess). Her foster father is Þjazi.

- Giant-country ghost is Þjazi. This kenning is particularly striking, it speaks of Þjazi as if he was dead.

- the context tells that ‘Hœnir’s friend’ is stuck to the stick, thus the kenning points at Loki.



Stanza 8




The bloody bird [or, ‘sweating’] flew a long time with the learned god, a good catch. The heavy airy one and Þórr’s ‘over’-friend was ready to dislocate. The father of the wolf had to beg from Miðjung’s friendly companion.

 (Þjazi, with his good catch, flew a long time with Loki, so that Loki was ready to dislocate. Loki was thus forced to beg peace from Þjazi.)


Kenningar and descriptions


- bird of blood (or of sweat) is Þjazi.

- learned god (or ‘the god of dubious sexuality and disorganized wisdom’) is Loki, described here in a way as ambiguous as himself. (“learned god” is the traditional translation which will be discussed in note 1, at the end of this section 2).

- a good catch (fangsæll) indicates Loki. A woman may also be called a ‘catch’ by her husband. This fangsæll carries also inuendos on the fact that Loki is a ‘catch’, ridiculously stuck to Þjazi as he his.

- father of the wolf: the wolf is Fenrir, one of Loki’s sons.

- Þórr’s ‘over’-friend = a humorous way to call Loki as long as Þórr obviously hates him.

- þungr Loptr of sprungin = ‘heavy airy dislocated one (torn appart) = still a way of making fun of Loki who is often called a “lofty one.” Here, his joints dislocate while being hung to the stick attached to Þjazi’s back.

- ‘málunaut miðjungs’ = Miðjungr’s dear friend. Miðjungr is the name of a giant and there exist several assumptions trying to interpret this two words (of them, the simplest: ‘the half-young person,’ pointsd at Þjazi) though all fail to be a valid kenning. We miss some information about Miðjungr.


Stanza 9




The bush of Ymir’s family asked the fussy saga-stirrer to bring him the pain-alleviator maid who knows the Æsir’s herbs of great age.

The girdle-thief of the gods’ Brising brought then the goddess of the brook of the source of harvest to the home of the rock-king.


Kenningar and descriptions


- bush of Ymir’s family: Þjazi. The concept of family tree is familiar for us, and this ‘bush’ is a family tree. Remember that a tree, Yggdrasill, is an essential piece of Norse spirituality thus speaking of tree for a particular family would be quite grandiloquent, and a bush is enough!

- fussy saga-stirrer: Loki’s various fussy interventions force the Æsir into adventures that will become matter of sagas. ‘Creator of sagas’ would be too much laudatory for such a behaviour.

- the pain alleviator maid is Íðunn. This is far from obvious and the problem is discussed above when dealing with sorgœran and below, from a more historical perspective, in Note 2.

- Æsir’s herbs of great age: the word ‘herbs’ is used here to summarize the magic ‘shapings’ (sköp) that make it possible to delay ageing. In Norse mythology, they are more usually represented as golden apples of which Íðunn is in charge, and that allow the Æsir to avoid aging, in spite of the fact that their destiny dooms them to die on one remote day, of unspecified date.

- girdle-thief of gods’ Brising. Loki has “stirred a saga” in order to humiliate Freyja who was undoubtedly very proud of her necklace Brisingamen, which displayed her female power. See a paganized version of the myth at http://www.nordic-life.org/nmh/BrisingamenTale.htm

- goddess of the brooks of the source of harvest: harvests are regarded as a manifestation of earth magic, and this magic has a ‘source’ whose benefits are spread like brooks all over the country. Íðunn, often called a pleasure giver, as it happens also in this poem, is clearly described as a fertility goddess what brings her closer to Freyja and of Freyr - who is also the god of agricultural fertility.

- the house of the rock-king: the house of the stony king. The translation “home of king of the rock” would allude to Þjazi’s place of residence while this kenning evokes the house of someone who is ‘rocky’, that is without softness (see a grammatical explanation in Note 3). It is a constant of the Norse civilization to describe any woman’s feeling of horror if she has to closely mix with giants.


Stanza 10




Dwellers of the sloping (or shiny) edges were not afflicted by the arrival of wave-swirl (or protection provider) coming from the South; Freyr’s whole family became old and gray; the ‘holly ones’ were rather ugly.


Kenningar and descriptions


- Dwellers of the sloping (or shiny) edges. Sloping or shiny, edges are cliffs and calling the giants ‘cliff dwellers’ is a traditional kenning.

 - Wave-swirl of the vague (or ‘protection provider’]): Þjóðólfr presents Íðunn’s name in such way that it becomes a kenning - Íð með jötnum unn - [unn is the accusative of unnr and, precisely, Íðunn is in the accusative case in this sentence] which it thus read as iðu-unnr (vave-swirl). The words með jötnumin the middle nicely split the two parts of this kenning. De Vries’ etymological dictionary provides the following etymology: “= an action” followed by “unna = to offer, to love,” more probable but less in agreement with the aqueous kenning for Þjazi “wolf of the vave beachcomber of the corpses” met in the following stanza. Thus, Íðunn, a “swirl” is tightly associated to Þjazi, a “vave beachcomber.” This association hints at the fact that, once brought to Giantland, Íðunn will be integrated to this world and treated as a giantess is.

- the whole family of Freyr: Freyr’sclan, that is all the Æsir.


Stanza 11




Until the wolf, beachcomber wave of the corpses of Gefn, the beer waitress is found, and that the annoying servant and Gefn’s fraud spirit, Gefn, the beer waitress.

The angry leader spoke as follows: you will be excluded Loki except if, by trick, you bring back the famous maiden who increases love among the chains.


Kenningar and descriptions


- the wolf of the wave beachcomber of the corpses of Gefn, the beer waitress.

Gefn is a goddess name and Íðunn is said to provide pleasure. The “goddess provider of pleasure” is thus Íðunn. We know that “Íðunn’s wolf” is Þjazi and he is described as a “wave beachcomber of corpses.” All this evokes a sea of corpses whose waves break under the influence of Þjazi. He is not a kind of universal killerbut rather a kind of universal undertaker’: He is in charge of carrying the corpses, whose waves break on the shores of Hel, somewhat similar to Charon in Greek mythology. He is called however here a wolf, which means also monsterand this makes of him a monstrous conveyor – similar to a inhuman machine - of corpses.

- the annoying servant and the spirit of fraud of Gefn, the beer waitress. We have just seen that this last expression indicates Íðunn and the “annoying servant” who cooks the meat is Loki. Snorri tell us how he cheated on Íðunn’s freedom to deliver her to Þjazi.

-  the leader in anger. Ingvifreyr is often believed to be this leader because his familybecame old as stanza 10 states it. Usually, Þórr is the god who gets angry and often threatens Loki of death, and Óðinn is the leader of all. Thjoðorlfr might be alluding to these gods, each of them being personaly angry.

- a famous maiden who increases gods’ love. The proper meaning of the word haft / hapt is the one of shackles. By metaphor, this word names the powers’, thus the gods. This way of speech stresses that the powerful onesfetter us, a still very modern opinion. Here, there is a possibility that the ‘powerful ones’ are the giants who fettered Íðunn for their own delight. In both cases, this kenning points at Íðunn who is always a source of pleasure provider for the powerful ones.


Stanza 12




I heard (to say) that the test of Hœnir’s mind (Loki) recovered by a trick Æsir’s delights/games, he flied increasedby a hawk skin, and the vigorous evil-spirited king Mörn’s father (Þjazi) caused towards the hawk’s son (Loki) a gale of an eagle of the blades-play of the feathers (Hræsvelgr).

(Snorri tells us that he borrowed Freyja’s hawk-skin, by which is power has been ‘increased’.)


Kenningar and descriptions


- test of Hœnir’s mind. Loki and Hœnir are friendly in this poem but we cannot imagine a Loki who would not try even his friends.

- Æsir’s delights/games . Íðunn is clearly described here as someone who contributes to the Æsir’s pleasures. In fact, The meaning of leikroscillates between the ones of ‘games organizer’ and sexual toy’.

- ‘king, Mörn’s father’ is a giant king, and an evil-spirited one is Þjazi.

- hawk’s son. Here Loki is in a hawk shape and the poet wishes to underline his small size in front of Þjazi’s enormous one. Obviously, Þjazi’s strength seems to dominate the Æsir and they are all frightened when seeing this immense monster swooping down on them.

- the eagle of the blades-play of the feathers. We can obviously see here a kenning for Þjazi there but it has been just pointed at by long a kenning (king, etc.). It might then be sensible to see here a kenning for someone else. The eagle Hræsvelgr who “swallows the corpses” (as means his name) perched at the top of Yggdrasill is well-known for creating the winds and the storms with his wings. It uses its feathers as gigantic blades to generate storms. This last kenning would then specificlly point at Hræsvelgr whose name becomes a heiti for Þjazi The two giants become somewhat identical at this point.


Stanza 13 (four first lines)


Summary (four first lines)


The ginnregin (holy powers) quickly start to burn shafts and wooden scraps and the son of Greip’s wooer is singed, here ends his travel.


Kenningar and descriptions


 - Ginnregin (ginn-regin). Regin means ‘divine powers’ and prefix ginn- qualifies what is holy, ‘valuable’. The Æsir are called here ginnreginwhile other poems seem to place the ginnregin higher than them in the divine hierarchy (as far as there is one).

 - Greip’s love son: Þjazi. The kenningar related to Þjazi suggest that he belongs to the very first generations of giants. Independently, Greip is the name of a giantess in the poem called Þórr’s praise(Þórsdrápa) but we know nothing of the relationship between her and Þjazi’s father beloved one. They may be two different characters bearing the same name.


Explanatory notes for section 2


Note 1 on the expression með fróðgum tívi (s. 8, l. 1) usually translated as “with the learned god. ”Preposition með can be followed by a dative or an accusative. The usual translation « wise deity » supposes that ‘fróðg’ is equivalent to fróðr and that tívi is an irregular dative, which normally reads tiva. Besides, Loki has just before been acting foolishly by striking an obviously combative supernatural being. He thus cannot be a ‘wise deity’, fróðr must here be ironical. All this is very puzzling and I suggest that Þjóðólfr’s intention has been to mock Loki by recalling that he is not a really masculine deity but a neutral one. He thus uses tívi as a neutral noun of the 2nd declension instead of the normal weak masculine, which provides a dative and an accusative tívi. This would enable us to read fróð-gum as ‘wise-fuss’ in the accusative, as if he, Loki, was carrying away, or ‘treating’ Þjazi [Since the one actually carrying is Þjazi, gumr should be a dative. The classical translation avoids this ‘error’ but an ironical meaning is quite possible]. In that case með (+ acc.) fróðgum tívi would take the meaning of : « with the sexually undefined deity wise in fuss, » which qualifies Loki to the point.

I kept above the classical translation because both are plausible and mine is more complex.


Note 2: An almost non-grammatical explanation on the choices made for translating the word sorgœran (s. 9, l 2)

This word qualifies usually Loki as being “howling with pain” while I chose to write soreyran and it then qualifies Íðunn as a “pain-alleviator.”

The on line version of Skaldic basegives the spelling sorgœran what makes of this word an adjective in the masculine accusative case (remember that we chose to read it as a substantized verb). As an adjective, it thus would then qualify Loki, called a stirrer(hrœrir) whose masculine accusative does hrœri and œran , understood as a derivative of verb æra, to make insane. The translations which qualify Loki of “insane with pain,” are certainly also possible within the context and it results from this interpretation.

Finnur Jónsson’s volume A of “Den Norsk-Islandske Skjadedigtning, p. 18” (1912), though, gives the verbatim content of the manuscripts. Here, we see two possible forms “sorg eyra and “sorg eura. The form “sorgœran” appears only in volume B, showing that Finnur wanted to relate this adjective to Loki.

It could have been also possible to respect the original version eyraand modify eura’ in ‘eyra’ rather than adding an ‘n’ to these adjectives. In this case, this adjective would apply to Íðunn, here called mey, the accusative feminine case. One can then bring closer (just as did Svenbjörn Egilsson in his Lexicon Poëticum) eyra and verb eira, to save, and sorg eyra becomes an accusative feminine as it is in the originals and calls Íðunn a pain alleviator. Stanza 11 will call her “munstœrandi mey,” the delight increaser, which stresses her capacity to alleviate pain.

Both are possible and require a emendation, but I prefer to choose one respecting the original grammar of the manuscripts.


Note 3 on grjót-Níðaðar: Níðuðr is the name of a giant and it thus designates Þjazi. The words composed on grjót are never built by putting grjót in the genitive, which is usually regarded as a adjectivisation of the word. Thus, the canonical meaning of ‘grjót-’something is stony-something.



APPENDIX: notes related to the translation of stanzas 3 - 13


3, 4 and 5.



3. Tormiðluðr (difficult-sharer) vas tívum

-tálhreinn (decoy-reindeer) meðal (among + gen.)- beina (the bones).

Hvat kvað hapta snytrir (soigneux – (Lex. Poet.))

hjalm-faldinn (helmet-hooded) því valda.

Margspakr (Margspakr =very wise) of nam mæla

már (már=seagull) val-kastar (morts-attrapés , caught-dead=heap-dead) báru (bára=billow)

(vara Hœnis vinr (Hœnir’s friend = Loki) hánum

hollr) af fornum þolli (ancient (fir)-tree = Yggdrasill).



4. Fjallgylðir (Fjall-gylðir=mount-wolf, fall-wolf) bauð (bid) fyllar (fills)

fet-Meila (fet-Meila=step-Meili=light-foot - Óðins son = ? Hœnir) sér deila

(hlaut) af helgum skutli

(hrafnásar (raven-áss = Óðinn) vinr (friend) (friend of Óðinn = Loki) blása (blew) ).

vin-grögnir (vind-rögnir [see NB below] = vind-divinity - ) lét vagna (vagna, nom. sing. OR gen. plur vagna = dolphin or porpoise [small whale])

vígfrekr (víg-frekr=battle-greedy )

[“vígfrekr vind-vagna rögnir let sígask ofan]

ofan sígask,

þars vélsparir (well-sparer) vôru (váru : pret. plur.)

varnendr (safegard) goða (of the gods) farnir.




5. Fljótt (swiftly) bað foldar (of earth) dróttinn (master)

Fárbauta mǫg (Fárbauti’s son) várar (de Vár [vára= the spring-times])

þekkiligr (handsome, pleasant) með þegnum (þegn=homme libre)

þrymseilar (noise-line= poet. warrior) hval (whale, acc.) deila (to deal, divide + acc.).

En af breiðu (breiðr = broad) bjóði (bjóðr = table, sol, qui invite)

bragðvíss (quick-wise = tricky) at þat lagði

ósvífrandi (ósvífrandi = (Lex. Poet) hostis (stranger,ennemy) THOUGH svífr = quiet ; ósvífrandi could render ‘unquietening, disturbing’ = Loki) ása

upp þjórhluti fjóra.





NB : Ving-þórr = ‘battle-þórr’ ‘hence’ Ving-rögnir = battle divinity. OR ELSE : land-rögnir = land-divinity = a king. Vind-rögnir = wind-divinity = Hræsvelgr


5. Commentary on várar/vara

Finur Jonsson’s version says ‘várar’ which calls to the goddess Vár. The word is thus a feminine doing várar in the sing. gen. Vár would then be a heiti for Skaði. Manuscripts rather provide vára that can be plural genitive of

 vár, n., (= of springtime). Hval þrymseilar vára = “whale of the noise-lines of springtime.” During springtime oxen start working again and the belts of these ‘big animals’ start cracking again. [A translator alluded to whip cracking. I have a limited experience in oxen handling. I nevertheless can witness that I never saw someone whipping an ox)]


 6 -7 - 8



Ok slíðrliga (savagely) síðan

svangr (hungry) - vas þat fyr lǫngu - vas þat fyr löngu: it was very long ago (langr, n. löng, dat. sing. löngu)

át af eikirótum (eiki = oak timber, oaken. eiki-rótum = with oaken-roots)

okbjǫrn (yoke-bear = ox) faðir Marnar,

áðr djúphugaðr (djúphugaðr: djúpr=deep, hugaðr=minded) dræpi

dolg (dólgr = fiend/monster, acc.) ballastan (ballastan = most hard) vallar (vallar=gen. sing. völlr (of the) field)

hirði-Týr (gardian- Týr) meðal herða

herfangs (Lex.Poet herr-fáng=prey) (“deep minded god gardian of the prey”) ofan stǫngu (dat. stöng, pole).




Þá varð fastr við fóstra (við fóstra : with the fore-father…)

farmr Sigvinjar arma,(armr Sigynjar arma = cargo of Sigyn arms, a classical way of speech to speak of the wife of the ‘cargo’)

sás ǫll regin eygja, 

ǫndurgoðs (… of ǫndurgoðs of the ski-god. In Heathen times, god was neuter : it can point at Skaði) , í bǫndum; 

loddi rô við ramman 

reimuð, (reimt= haunted, remuðr = ‘haunter’, ghost) Jǫtunheima, 

en holls vinar Hœnis (vinar Hœnis, Loki) 

hendr við stangar enda.




Fló með fróðgum tívi (með fróðgum tívi ?= with the learned god (Loki) (who just behaved foolishly)

? fróðgum=fróðr-gum= learned-fuss

fangsæll (grasp/catch-well = a good-catch) ) of veg langan 

sveita (sveiti = sweat, blood) nagr, (nagr=unknown bird (Lex. Poet. :‘avis nescio quæ’)) svát slitna 

sundr ulfs faðir mundi; 

þá varð Þórs of-rúni (of-rúni = over-friend) 

(þungr (þungr=heavy, may allude pregnancy. Lex. Poet: þungra=nomen Freyæ) vas Loptr (Loki’s name = the airy one) of sprunginn. (sprunga = chink,fissure) 

môlunaut, hvat's mátti, 

miðjungs friðar biðja.

(málunaut ?= máli-nautr [máli used as an adjective]= friendly-mate (acc.). Miðjung name of a giant).



Note on ‘Marnar’ (s. 6)

In Þórsdrápa 7 Eysteinn Björnsson’s translation (https://notendur.hi.is//~eybjorn/ugm/thorsd00.html) Þórr is “þverrir barna mörnar” = a diminisher of Mörn’s children.


Note on með fróðgum tívi. (s. 8)

Preposition með can be followed by a dative or an accusative. The usual translation « wise deity » supposes that ‘fróðg’ is equivalent to fróðr and that tívi is an irregular dative, which normally reads tiva. Besides, Loki has just before been acting foolishly by striking an obviously combative supernatural being. He thus cannot be a ‘wise deity’, fróðr his here ironical. All this is very puzzling and I suggest that Þjóðólfr’s intention has been to mock Loki by recalling that he is a not a really masculine deity but a neutral one. He thus uses tívi as a neutral noun of the 2nd declension instead of the normal weak masculine, which provides a dative and an accusative tívi. This would enable us to read fróð-gum as ‘wise-fuss’ in the accusative, as if he, Loki, was carrying away, or ‘treating’ Þjazi [Since the one actually carrying is Þjazi, gumr should be a dative. The classical translation avoids this ‘error’ but an ironical meaning is quite possible]. In that case með (+ acc.) fróðgum tívi would take the meaning of : « with the sexually undefined deity wise in fuss, » which qualifies Loki to the point.


Note on málunaut miðjungs.

The text states that Loki is forced to biðja friðar málunaut miðjunsg « beg peace from Miðjung’s dear friend. » In Norse, to beg something (genitive, here friðar) from someone (dative, here málunaut which actually is an accusative).


9 - 10 - 11




Sér bað sagna (of sagas) hrœri (stirrer)

sorgœran (sorgeyra)

mey fœra,

þás ellilyf (elli-lyf = old age-herb) ása,

áttrunnr (átt-runnr = family-bush) Hymis, kunni;

Brunnakrs (of brunnr = spring – akr = crop) of kom bekkjar (brook’s)

Brísings-goða dísi (dat. ?)

girðiþjófr (girdle-thief) í garða (home)

grjóf-Níðaðar (rock-Níðuðr -> in the home of the rock-king) síðan.




Urðut (‘t’ negation) brattra (or bjartra) (steep (or bright)) barða (edge)

byggvendr (inhabitant) at hryggvir (= grieved);

þá vas Ið- (iða = eddy) með jötnum

-unnr (the waves) nýkomin sunnan ;

gættusk allar áttir (whole family)

Ingvifreys (of Ingvifreyr) at þingi

(váru heldr (rather) ) ok hárar

(hamljót (ugly) regin) gamlar.



(unz hrunsæva (hrun-sæva ruin-sea – breaker wave)) hræva (of the corpses/fragments)

hund (dog, wolf.) öl-Gefnar (of ale-Gefn) fundu

leiðiþir (leiði = irksome/tomb/fair wind. þirr = servant) ok læva (fraud, craft)

lund (mind, temper) öl-Gefnar bundu").

"Þú skalt véltr (pushed away), nema vélum (except with tricks)

- vreiðr (angry) mælti svá – leiðir (leader),

mun stœrandi mæra

mey (delight-swelling famous girl) aptr, Loki, hapta (gen. of ‘chains’ = gods)".


Note on ið-unnr (s. 10, l. 3-4)

Þjóðólfr makes a kenning out of Íðunn’s name. He reads it as iðu-unnr (waves of the eddy). By putting “með jötnum” in between, he states this is a kenning, and not an etymology. De Vries etymological dictionary provides the etymology: “ið = a doing” followed by “unna = to grant, to love.”


12 - 13



Heyrðak svá, þat (síðan 

sveik (betray)  opt ôsu leikum (ása leikum with the games of the æsir)  

hugreynandi Hœnis 

(Hœnir’s soul-trying) hauks fló bjalfa (bjálfi, skin) aukinn, 

ok lómhugaðr (meanness-spirited) lagði (leggja, laid, placed,) 

leikblaðs (of blade’s play) reginn fjaðrar (feathers gen. or nom. plur.)

ern (vigourous, ?) at ǫglis barni (hawk’s child)

arnsúg (eagle-draught of wind),  faðir (father  nom.) Marnar (of Mörn).



Hófu (hefja = begin) skjótt (speedily), en skófu(m) (scraps), 

skǫpt (skapt = shafts, n. nom./acc. plur.), ginnregin, brinna (flames), 

en sonr biðils sviðnar  (he is singed)

- Sveipr varð í för - Greipar.

Greip’s wooer


[1] - the reference is Snorri Sturluson, Edda, translation Anthony Faulkes, Everyman 1987.

An old translation is also available here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/pre05.htm

The poem itself was recently translated into English by Richard North, The Haustlöng of Þjóðolfr of Hvinir, Antony Rowe Ltd, 1997.

Note that I did not try to translate the poem (except stanza 2) though I put all my care in spotting and translating its kennings and their context.