Gróttasöngr – The Lay of Grotti, or The Mill-Song

Fenia and Menia . Click on the image to go to the wiki .

aka The Mill’s Song, The Song of Grotti

Though not originally included in the Codex Regius, Gróttasöngr is included in many later editions of the Poetic Edda. Gróttasöngr is the work song of two young slave girls bought in Sweden by the Danish King Frodi (cf. Fróði in the Prose Edda). The girls are brought to a magic grindstone to grind out wealth for the king and sing for his household.

The girls ask for rest from the grinding but are commanded to continue. Undaunted in their benevolence, the girls proceed to grind and sing, wishing wealth and happiness for the King. The King, however, is still not pleased and continues to order the girls to grind without interruption.

King Frodi is ignorant of their lineage and the girls reveal that they are descended from mountain giants. The girls recount their past deeds, including moving a flat-topped mountain and revealing that they had actually created the grinding stone they are now chained to. They tell him that they had advanced against an army in Sweden and fought “bearlike warriors”,had “broken shields”,supported troops, and overthrown one prince while supporting another. They recount that they had become well known warriors.

The girls then reflect that they have now become cold and dirty slaves, relentlessly worked, and living a life of dull grinding. The girls sing that they are tired, and call to King Frodi to wake up so that he may hear them. They announce that an army is approaching, that Frodi will lose the wealth they’ve ground for him, that he will also lose the magic grindstone, and that the army will burn the settlement and overthrow Frodi’s throne in Lejre. They are grinding this army into existence via the magic stone. They then comment that they are “not yet warmed by the blood of slaughtered men”.

The girls continue to grind even harder and the shafts of the mill-frame snap. They then sing a prophecy of vengeance mentioning Hrólfr Kraki, Yrsa, Fróði and Halfdan:

Introductory Note:

Bellows for what ever reason decided not to include the Gróttasöngr in his rendition of the Poetic Edda. The translation used comes from Edda Sæmundar hinns frôða – The Edda of Sæmund the Learned. From the Old Norse or Icelandic with an Index of Person and Places. Part II by Benjamin Thorpe.

Gróttasöngr, the Song of Grótti, appears in some manuscripts that are later than the Codex Regius, so it is later than the Codex Regius poems. The story has survived relatively well in the form of Fairy Tales in Scandinavia, for example ‘Why the Sea is Salt’ by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe from the tales they collected and published in Norske Folkeeventyr. The story has also survived in the Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturluson. In the 20th century the story played an important role in shaping political and social environment in Sweden when it was modernized by Viktor Rydberg in the form of “Den nya Grottesången”.