Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar I – The First Lay of Helgi the Hunding

Hothbrodd spake:

51. “Bid the horses run | to the Reginthing,
Melnir and Mylnir | to Myrkwood now,
(And Sporvitnir | to Sparinsheith;)
Let no man seek | henceforth to sit
Who the flame of wounds | knows well to wield.

52. “Summon Hogni, | the sons of Hring,
Atli and Yngvi | and Alf the Old;
Glad they are | of battle ever;
Against the Volsungs | let us go.”

53. Swift as a storm | there smote together
The flashing blades | at Frekastein;
Ever was Helgi, | Hunding’s slayer,
First in the throng | where warriors fought;
(Fierce in battle, | slow to fly,
Hard the heart | of the hero was.)

54. From heaven there came | the maidens helmed,–
The weapon-clang grew,– | who watched o’er the king;
Spake Sigrun fair,– | the wound-givers flew,
And the horse of the giantess | raven’s-food had:–

55. “Hail to thee, hero! | full happy with men,
Offspring of Yngvi, | shalt ever live,
For thou the fearless | foe hast slain
Who to many the dread | of death had brought.

56. “Warrior, well | for thyself hast won
Red rings bright | and the noble bride;
Both now, warrior, | thine shall be,
Hogni’s daughter | and Hringstathir,
Wealth and triumph; | the battle wanes.”

51. The manuscript does not indicate the speaker, and a few editors assume the loss of one or two lines embodying the phrase “Hothbrodd spake.” In the manuscript line 3, which many editors have suspected of being spurious, stands before line 2. Possibly lines 4-5 are the remains of a separate stanza. Reginthing (“The Great Council”): apparently the council-place for the whole country, as distinct from the local council, or “herathsthing.” Melnir (“Bit-Bearer”), Mylnir (“The Biter”) and Spornvitnir (“Spur-Wolf”): horses’ names. Myrkwood: a not uncommon name for a dark forest; cf. Lokasenna, 42, and Atlakvitha, 3. Sparinsheith (“Sparin’s Heath”): nothing more is known of Sparin or his heath. Flame of wounds: sword.

52. Hogni: the father of Sigrun; cf. Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II, 18. Of Hring and his sons nothing further is known. Volsungs: here for the first time the poet gives Helgi and Sinfjotli the family name to which, as sons of Sigmund Volsungsson, they are entitled.

53. The manuscript indicates line 5 as the beginning of a new stanza, but many editors have rejected lines 5-6 as spurious, while others regard them as the first half of a stanza the last two lines of which have been lost.

54. Wound-givers: probably this means “Valkyries,” but there is considerable doubt as to the original word. Horse, etc.: i.e., the wolf (because giantesses customarily had wolves for their steeds) ate corpses (the food of birds of prey).

55. Yngvi: one of the sons of Halfdan the Old, and traditional ancestor of the Ynglings, with whom the Ylfings seem to have been confused (cf. Hynduljoth, 11 and note). The confusion between the Ylfings (or Ynglings) and Volsungs was carried far enough so that Sigurth himself is once called a descendant of Yngvi (Reginsmol, 14). Gering identifies the name of Yngvi with the god Freyr, but the Volsungs certainly claimed descent from Othin, not Freyr, and there is nothing to indicate that Helgi in the Danish tradition was supposed to be descended from Freyr, whereas his descent from Yngvi Halfdansson fits well with the rest of his story. However, cf. Sigurtharkvitha en skamma, 24 and note.

56. This entire stanza may be an interpolation; nearly every edition has a different way of dealing with it. Hringstathir: as this place had been given to Helgi by his father (cf. stanza 8 and note), the poet has apparently made a mistake in naming it here as a conquest from Granmar’s sons, unless, indeed, they had previously captured it from Helgi, which seems unlikely.


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