Skírnismál – The Ballad of Skirnir

Freyr spake:
6. “From Gymir’s house | I beheld go forth
A maiden dear to me;
Her arms glittered, | and from their gleam
Shone all the sea and sky.

7. “To me more dear | than in days of old
Was ever maiden to man;
But no one of gods | or elves will grant
That we both together should be.”

Skirnir spake:
8. “Then give me the horse | that goes through the dark
And magic flickering flames;
And the sword as well | that fights of itself
Against the giants grim.”

Freyr spake:
9. “The horse will I give thee | that goes through the dark
And magic flickering flames,
And the sword as well | that will fight of itself
If a worthy hero wields it.”

Skirnir spake to the horse:
10. “Dark is it without, | and I deem it time
To fare through the wild fells,
(To fare through the giants’ fastness;)
We shall both come back, | or us both together
The terrible giant will take.”

6. Gymir: a mountain-giant, husband of Aurbotha, and father of Gerth, fairest among women. This is all Snorri tells of him in his paraphrase of the story.

7. Snorri’s paraphrase of the poem is sufficiently close so that his addition of another sentence to Freyr’s speech makes it probable {footnote p. 110} that a stanza has dropped out between 7 and 8. This has been tentatively reconstructed, thus: “Hither to me shalt thou bring the maid, / And home shalt thou lead her here, / If her father wills it or wills it not, / And good reward shalt thou get.” Finn Magnusen detected the probable omission of a stanza here as early as 1821.

8. The sword: Freyr’s gift of his sword to Skirnir eventually proves fatal, for at the last battle, when Freyr is attacked by Beli, whom he kills bare-handed, and later when the fire-demon, Surt, slays him in turn, he is weaponless; cf. Voluspo, 53 and note. Against the giants grim: the condition of this line makes it seem like an error in copying, and it is possible that it should be identical with the fourth line of the next stanza. 10. Some editors reject line 3 as spurious.

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