Hyndluljóð – The Poem of Hyndla

Hyndla spake:

21. “Isolf and Osolf, | the sons of Olmoth,
Whose wife was Skurhild, | the daughter of Skekkil,
Count them among | the heroes mighty,
And all are thy kinsmen, | Ottar, thou fool!

22. Gunnar the Bulwark, | Grim the Hardy,
Thorir the Iron-shield, | Ulf the Gaper,
Brodd and Hörvir | both did I know;
In the household they were | of Hrolf the Old.

23. Hervarth, Hjorvarth, | Hrani, Angantyr,
Bui and Brami, | Barri and Reifnir,
Tind and Tyrfing, | the Haddings twain,–
And all are thy kinsmen, | Ottar, thou fool!

24. Eastward in Bolm | were born of old
The sons of Arngrim | and Eyfura;
With berserk-tumult | and baleful deed
Like fire o’er land | and sea they fared,
And all are thy kinsmen, | Ottar, thou fool!

25. The sons of Jormunrek | all of yore
To the gods in death | were as offerings given;
He was kinsman of Sigurth,– | hear well what I say,–
The foe of hosts, | and Fafnir’s slayer.”

21. Olmoth: one of the sons of Ketil Hortha-Kari. Line 4: here, and generally hereafter when it appears in the poem, this refrain-line is abbreviated in the manuscript to the word “all.”

22. An isolated stanza, which some editors place after stanza 24, others combining lines 1-2 with the fragmentary stanza 23 In the manuscript lines 3-4 stand after stanza 24, where they fail to connect clearly with anything. Hrolf the Old: probably King Hrolf Gautreksson of Gautland, in the saga relating to whom (Fornaldar sögur III, 57 ff.) appear the names of Thorir the iron-shield and Grim Thorkelsson.

23. Stanzas 23 and 24 name the twelve Berserkers, the sons of Arngrim and Eyfura, the story of whom is told in the Hervararsaga and the Orvar-Oddssaga. Saxo Grammaticus tells of the battle between them and Hjalmar and Orvar-Odd. Line 1 does not appear in the manuscript, but is added from the list of names given in the sagas. The Berserkers were wild warriors, distinguished above all by the fits of frenzy to which they were subject in battle; during these fits they howled like wild beasts, foamed at the mouth, and gnawed the iron rims of their shields. At such times they were proof against steel or fire, but when the fever abated they were weak. The etymology of the word berserk is disputed; probably, however, it means “bear-shirt.”

24. The manuscript omits the first half of line I, here supplied from the Orvar-Oddssaga. Bolm: probably the island of Bolmsö, in the Swedish province of Smaland. In the manuscript and in most editions stanza 24 is followed by lines 3-4 of stanza 22. Some editors reject line 5 as spurious.

25. In the manuscript line 1 stands after line 4 of stanza 29. Probably a stanza enumerating Jormunrek’s sons has been lost. Many editors combine lines 3-4 of stanza 22 and lines 2-4 of {footnote p. 226} stanza 25 into one stanza. Jormunrek: the historical Ermanarich, king of the Goths, who died about 376. According to Norse tradition, in which Jormunrek played a large part, he slew his own sons (cf. Guthrunarhvot and Hamthesmol). In the saga Jormunrek married Sigurth’s daughter, Svanhild. Stanzas 25-27 connect Ottar’s descent with the whole Volsung-Sigurth-Jormunrek-Gjuki genealogy. The story of Sigurth is the basis for most of the heroic poems of the Edda, of the famous Volsungasaga, and, in Germany, of the Nibelungenlied. On his battle with the dragon Fafnir cf. Fafnismol.