Hymiskviða – The Lay of Hymir

36. Not long had they fared, | ere backwards looked
The son of Othin, | once more to see;
From their caves in the east | beheld he coming
With Hymir the throng | of the many-headed.

37. He stood and cast | from his back the kettle,
And Mjollnir, the lover | of murder, he wielded;
. . . . . . . . . .
So all the whales | of the waste he slew.

38. Not long had they fared | ere one there lay
Of Hlorrithi’s goats | half-dead on the ground;
In his leg the pole-horse | there was lame;
The deed the evil | Loki had done.

39. But ye all have heard,– | for of them who have
The tales of the gods, | who better can tell?
What prize he won | from the wilderness-dweller,
Who both his children | gave him to boot.

40. The mighty one came | to the council of gods,
And the kettle he had | that Hymir’s was;
So gladly their ale | the gods could drink
In Ægir’s hall | at the autumn-time.

36. The many-headed: The giants, although rarely designated as a race in this way, sometimes had two or more heads; cf. stanza 8, Skirnismol, V and Vafthruthnismol, 33. Hymir’s mother is, however, the only many-headed giant actually to appear in the action of the poems, and it is safe to assume that the tradition as a whole belongs to the period of Norse folk-tales of the märchen order.

37. No gap is indicated in the manuscripts. Some editors put the missing line as 2, some as 3, and some, leaving the present three lines together, add a fourth, and metrically incorrect, one from late paper manuscripts: “Who with Hymir followed after.” Whales of the waste: giants.

38. According to Snorri, when Thor set out with Loki (not Tyr) for the giants’ land, he stopped first at a peasant’s house (cf. stanza 7 and note). There he proceeded to cook his own goats for supper. The peasant’s son, Thjalfi, eager to get at the marrow, split one of the leg-bones with his knife. The next morning, when Thor was ready to proceed with his journey, he called the goats to life again, but one of them proved irretrievably lame. His wrath led the peasant to give him both his children as servants (cf. stanza 39). Snorri does not indicate that Loki was in any way to blame.

39. This deliberate introduction of the story-teller is exceedingly rare in the older poetry.

40. The translation of the last two lines is mostly guess work, as the word rendered “gods” is uncertain, and the one rendered “at the autumn-time” is quite obscure.


Bellows Corona Edda Eiriksmal Fb Frigg Goddess Eir Hakonarmal Harald Fairhair Havamal Havamol Heathen Heathens Heimdallr Heimskringla Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar I – The First Lay of Helgi the Hunding Sólarljóð – Songs of the Sun Gróttasöngr – The Lay of Grotti Hymiskviða Hyndluljóð Hárbarðsljóð Hávamál Lokasenna Mimir Nine worlds NNV Odin Othin Petition Poetic Edda Prophecy of the Seeress Ragnarök Reginsmál Sacred text Skaldskaparmal Skírnismál Snorri Sturluson social media Study Toughts Vafþrúðnismál Valhalla Viking Völundarkviða Völuspá Yggdrasil Þrymskviða