Hymiskvidha
The Lay of Hymir




Much game had gathered the Gods, of yore;
on wassail bent the wands they shook,
the blood they scanned for brewing kettle,
and found that Aegir full many had.

Sate the sea God, smiling blandly,
Mistarblindi's mighty offspring.
With threat'ning eye Ygg's son him faced:
"To Aesir ever thou ale shalt brew."

Quick to quarrel he quelled the thurse--
he vengeance vowed on Vanir thereafter;
bade Thorr fetch him a fit caldron.
"in which for all ale I shall brew."

Nor did they know, the noble gods,
the glorious ones, where got it might be;
till, true-heartedly, Tyr did give
a helpful hint to Hlorrithi.

"There lives eastward of Elivagar
wisest Hymir, at Heaven's end;
a kettle keeps there my kinsman mighty,
a league around is the roomy caldron."

"Knowest thou if we may win that boiler?"

"Aye, friend, if wily we work this deed."

Then forth they fared, a full day's ride,
Etin-homeward, till to Egil they came--
to the horn-fair goats he gave shelter--
then fared to the hall where Hymir dwelled.

His grandam loathly there greeted Tyr:
Swart heads she had a hundred times nine;
but another dame, all dight in gold,
and brow-white, bore the beer to her son.

"Sib-of-the-Etins, I shall set you twain
'neath Hymir's kettles to hide you from him:
my wedded mate many a time
is grudging with guests, grim in his mind."

The lubberly fiend was late in coming
home from hunting, heavy laden.
The icicles clinked as in he strode:
the churl had his chinbeard frozen.

"Welcome, Hymir, my well-beloved:
thy kinsman is come, and crossed thy threshold,
him we looked for from long wayfaring.
With him he has Hrothr's foeman,
man's well-wisher, who is Veur hight.

"They hide them here 'neath the hall's gable,
back of stone post standing, to withstand thy glance."
The beam did burst and brake asunder,
straight as struck them the stare of the Etin.

And shattered rolled from their shelf eight kettles--
but hard-hammered, one whole stayed of all.
Then forth they came. The fell Etin
grimly eyed then his old foeman.

Forebodings had he to see in his hall
who oft had smitten the sib  of Etins.
Three stout steers then from their stalls were fetched:
to broil he bade the beeves together.

To death were done the doomed bullocks.
Then on the spit they speared the three.
Ate Sif's husband, ere to sleep he went,
twain of the oxen all by himself.

A mighty mouthful Thorr's meal did seem
to hapless Hrungnir's hoary playmate.

"Another evening, when out we row,
what we bag shall be our bellies' fill."

Ready was Thorr to row out to sea,
if the blustering thurse a bait gave him.

"Turn to the herd if thou trustest thee,
breaker-of-thurse-heads, a bait to find;

"I ween that there, wielder-of-Mjollnir,
a bait from my bull best thou fetchest."
To the woods wended his way swain;
a black bull there bellowing stood.

Wrenched from the ox the etin's slayer
the high head-castle, horny guarded.

"Thy work meseems much worse by far,
steerer-of-ships, than when still thou sittest."

Threat'ning him, Thorr bade the thurse to row,
offspring-of-apes, farther out to sea;
but little he listed longer to row
the roller-horse for the reiner-of-goats.

Up with his angle the etin drew
from midmost main two mighty whales;
but aft in the stern did Odhinn's son,
wise Hlorrithi, hook strong bait.

To the hook fastened the head of the ox
the Serpent's slayer and savior-of-men:
gaped on the angle the all-engirding
mighty monster, the Midgardhr-Wyrm.

Doughtily drew undaunted Thorr
on board the boat the baneful wyrm;
his hammer hit the high hair-fell
of greedy Garm's grisly brother.

Then screeched all scars and screamed all fiends,
then shook and shivered the shaggy hills.
in the sea than sank that serpent again.

Downhearted was Hymir as homeward they rowed;
nor at the oar would aught he speak,
when back the twain brought the boat to shore.

"Wilt thou still win half the work with me,
and help to hoist homeward the whales,
or fetter and fasten firmly our sea-buck?"

Stem and stern raised, unstaggered, Thorr;
both boat and bilge he bore up amain,
alone lifted the laden sea-horse,
hualed the surf-hog to the home of the thurse
through wild gorges, o'er wooded ridges.

But still stubbornly in strength vied
the uncouth etin with Odhinn's son:
said a man not proved though he pulled an oar,
if the crystal cup he could not shatter.

In his hand when he had it, Hlorrithi threw
the gleaming glass through the granite walls--
sitting, struck through the stone pillars;
yet whole they handed to Hymir it back.

Till that his lovely leman did give
a helpful hint to Hlorrithi:
"Strike Hymir's head! that harder is,
the slothful etin's, than any cup."

Then rose in wrath the reiner-of-goats,
on his knees standing he strongly hurled it:
whole stayed Hymir's headpiece above,
but the shock shattered the shining winecup.

"A treasure great is gone from me
since I lost from my lap my lief goblet."
And quoth also: "Nor, either, can I
unsay the word which unwitting I gave.

"Ye may keep the caldron if carry ye can
the ale-kettle out of our hall."
Twice did stout Tyr try to budge it:
stood without stirring, though he strained, the kettle.

The goats-reiner then grasped the rim,
from the dais striding down through the hall,
heaved on his head the heavy kettle:
hard on his heels the handles rang.

Nor long they fared ere looked behind him
Odhinn's offspring toward Jotunnheim:
beheld out of the hills with Hymir rush
a many-headed host of etins.

Standing, he lowered the lifted caldron,
swung murderous Mjollnir with mighty hands:
the whales-of-the-waste he whelmed altogether.

Nor long they fared ere lay in the traces
half-dead, one of Hlorrithi's goats.
Was the harness horse halt on one leg:
brought this about baleful Loki.

And heard ye have-- or who of you can,
more learned in lore, enlightened us better?--
what amends did make for the maimed one the thurse,
who begged Thorr take both his children.

Thus did Thorr come to the Thing of the Gods,
hauling the kettle Hymir had owned.
Now the Aesir shall every winter
drink their ale at Aegir's beer hall.