Vafthrudnismal
The Lay of Vafthrudhnir



Give rede now, Frigg, as to fare me listeth
to wise Vafthrudnir.
Much I wonder if in wisdom my like
the all-wise Etin be.

At home had I Herjafadhir rather,
in the gardhr of the gods;
There's no match in might among thurses
to that all-wise Etin.

Far have I fared, much afield have I been.
and have striven in strength with gods;
to view me listeth how Vafthrudhnir
lives in his high-timbered hall.

All hail to thy going! all hail to thy coming!
all hail to thee, hence and hither!
may thy wit not fail thee, Father of Men,
when with words ye war.

Went then Odhinn, his wisdom to match
with the all-wise Etin:
fared to the hall of Im's father.
In went Ygg forthwith.

Hail, Vafthrudhnir! to thy hall I am come
to see thee, Etin, myself;
to know me listeth if lore thou hast,
or art all-wise, Etin.

What wayfaring wight such words dareth
hurl at me in my hall?
Alive shalt thou never leave this hall
if thou showest thee lesser in lore.

Gagnrath my name; as guest I come
to thy threshold thirsty, oh thurse!
Needful of welcome I wandered long;
to thy hearth hither I fared.

Why then, Gagnrath, greet me from floor?
in the hall seat thee on settle!
Moot then may we who most knoweth,
whether guest or grizzled thul.

In want who comes to a wealthy man,
let him say what is needful, or naught!
Too much babbling is bad for him
to cold-hearted host who comes.

Say then, Gagnrath, since unseated thou wilt
match thy lore with mine:
how the horse is hight on high which draws
every day at dawn to mankind?

He is Skinfaxi hight which skyward brings
every day at dawn to mankind;
of horses best he to heros seems,
his mane glistens like gold.

Say then, Gagnrath, since unseated thou wilt
match thy lore with mine:
how the horse hight which the hallowed night
brings to the blessed Gods?

He is Hrimfaxi hight which the hallowed night
brings to the blessed Gods.
As he fares, foam doth fall from his bit;
thence cometh the dew in the dales.

Say then, Gagnrath, since unseated thou wilt
match thy lore with mine:
how the flood is hight which flows between
the gardh of the Gods and the Etins?

Is hight Ifing the flood which flows between
the gardh of the Gods and the Etins;
will it ever and ay open remain:
on it never is ice.

Say then, Gagnrath, since unseated thou wilt
match thy lore with mine:
how the field is hight where as foes will meet
Surt and the sacred Gods?

Is hight Vigrith the field where as foes will meet
Surt and the sacred Gods;
a hundred leagues in length it is;
was that plain appointed to them.

Wise art, wayfarer! welcome to bench!
let us sitting on settle hold converse.
Our heads be stakes, my hall within,
and wins he whose wisdom is greater.

Say thou firstly, for sage thou art
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
Whence came the earth and heavens above,
at the outset, Etin?

Of Ymir's flesh the earth was shaped,
the barren hills of his bones;
and of his skull the sky was shaped,
of his blood the briny sea.

Say thou this second, for sage thou art
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
whence the moon did come who rides men above,
and the sun also?

Mundilferi is hight the Moon's father,
and the Sun's also;
the must daily wander the welkin about,
to tell the time for men.

Say thou this third, in thy thought if it dwells
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
whence the day springeth, in the dales which shines,
and eke the night and the new moon?

Is one Delling hight, he is Day's father;
but Night was born to Nor;
Waxing and waning moon the wise Gods made
to tell the time for men.

Say thou this fourth, if thou fathom it,
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
whence winter came and warm summer,
in the beginning, for Gods?

Is one Vindsval hight, he is Winter's father,
and Summer is Svasuth's son;
(but Vindsval was to Vasuth born:
cold-hearted all that kin.)

Say thou this fifth, if sage thou art
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
who the oldest Etin of Ymir's kin
was in the world's first days?

Ages before the earth was made,
Bergelmir came to be;
Thruthgelmir was that thurse's father,
but Aurgelmir oldest of all.

Say thou this sixth, if sage thou art
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
whence Aurgelmir and all his sib
at the outset, wise Etin?

Out of Elivagar spurted vemon drops,
and waxed till there was an Etin;
'tis thence our kin came altogether;
hence frightful and fierce our ways.

As a seventh say, if sage thou art
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
how children gat the grim Etin,
as misshapen she-thurse none was?

'Neath the Ice-Etin's arms, say they,
there grew both girl and boy;
one with the other, the wise Etin's shanks
begat a six-headed son.

Say as an eighth, if sage thou art
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
what oldest of eld the earth above;
for all-wise, Etin, thou art.

Ages before the earth was made,
Bergelmir came to be;
that first I wot that the wise Etin
lifeless was laid in the burial mound.

Say as a ninth, if sage thou art
and thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
whence the wind cometh o'er the waves which blows,
yet is never seen itself?

One Hraesvelg hight sits at heaven's end,
an Etin in eagle's shape:
from his wings is wafted the wind which blows
over all who live.

Say as the tenth, since the sacred God's fates
thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot:
Whance came wise Njordh among holy Gods
[temples and fanes full many hath he]
yet was not begot among Gods?

In Vanaheim, Vanir begat him,
and gave him as hostage to Gods;
At the worlds last wyrd he will wend again
home to the wise Vanir.

Say as eleventh where e'erliving men
slay each other with swords;
Fighting they fall, then fare from battle 
and drain goblets together.

All the Einherjar in Odhinn's gardhr
slay each other with swords;
Fighting they fall, then fare from battle 
and drain goblets together.

Say as the twelfth, how the sacred God's fates
thou, Vafthrudhnir, dost wot?
Of the Etin's lore, and of all Godheads,
Thou sayest but sooth,
Thou all-wise Etin!

Of the Etin's lore, and of all Godheads,
sooth, and but sooth, I say,
for I have seen all the worlds 'neath the heavens,
Niflhel beneath nine worlds I saw,
to which the dead are doomed.

Far have I fared, much afield have I been,
hav oft striven in strength with Gods:
what wights will live when that winter is over,
to the earth dwellers awful?

Lif and Lifthrasir, in the leafage they
will hide of Hoddmimir;
The morning dews their meat will be,
they will rear the races of men.

Far have I fared, much afield have I been,
hav oft striven in strength with Gods:
How soars the Sun on the smooth heavens'
when snatched by Fenrir's fangs?

A daughter orb was to Alfrothul born
ere that snatched her Fenrir's fangs;
On her mother's path will the maiden fare,
the time the fair Gods fall.

Far have I fared, much afield have I been,
hav oft striven in strength with Gods:
What wise maidens, the wide sea over,
full many swiftly fare?

Three throngs of maidens over Mogthrasir's
village do throw themselves:
good hap they bring where to homes they fare,
though of Etin kin they are.

Far have I fared, much afield have I been,
hav oft striven in strength with Gods:
of Gods that were who will wield the sway,
when Surt's fire is slaked?

Vidhar and Vali will war the God's fanes,
when Surt's fire is slaked;
Modhi and Magni will Mjolnir have,
When Thorr has thrown it last.

Far have I fared, much afield have I been,
hav oft striven in strength with Gods:
What wight will end Alfadhir's life,
when draws near the dreaded doom?

Will the Wolf swallow Valfadhir then;
Will Vidhar avenge him:
He will sunderr the savage jaws
of fearsome Fenris.

Far have I fared, much afield have I been,
hav oft striven in strength with Gods:
What did Odhinn whisper in the ear of his son,
ere Baldr on bale was laid?

No dweller on earth knows what in days of yore
thou said'st in the ear of thy son:
with fey mouth fondly I flaunted my lore
and spoke of the day of doom.
With Odhinn now my insight I matched:
of all beings thou art born wisest.