ŽÓRSDRĮPA 5:5-8

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mioc leiš or staš stavckvirstokun mjök leiš śr staš stökkvir
stikleižar veg breižanstig-[sti]g-stikleišar veg breišan
vržar žriotz žar er eitri žauršar žrjóts, žar er eitri,
ęstr žiošįr fnęstv.østr ; fnausto ęstr, žjóšįar fnęstu.

In this half-stanza, we have a main clause followed by an auxillary one:

Ęstr stökkvir uršar žrjóts leiš mjök śr staš breišan veg stikleišar, žar er žjóšįar fnęstu eitri, i.e. "the furious scatterer of the scree-villain [Žórr] made fast progress over the broad way of the stick-path [ocean], where mighty streams spewed poison".

Ęstr ] i.e. "excited, furious". A poetic pun may be suspected, based on a similarity with Ęsir (Aesir gods). Odin is the father of Thor, and the name Óšinn can be interpreted as "furious, mad, excited".

stökkvir uršar žrjóts ] "he who puts the scree-villain to flight". Uršar žrjótur is, of course, a giant.

leiš mjök śr staš ] Kiil preferred to read mjök with ęstr ("very furious"), but I can see no reason to doubt Egilsson's reading "made fast progress".

breišan veg stikleišar ] The expression is in the singular, and may be read as support for my interpretation that Thor is here crossing an ocean (see 5:1-4), not multiple rivers. Egilsson, I believe correctly, interpreted stikleiš as "ford, wading-place". The word stik (n. pl.) is a term for wooden poles or posts, driven into the ground, in order to show the way. This was commonly done in order to show a traveller the best way to cross a difficult river. He would then follow the path (leiš) of the poles (stik). The stik would also allow him to rest on his arduous journey across the river. When wading across a powerful river, it can be quite dangerous to stop, unless you have something to hold on to (stik); otherwise the river will sweep you away. The stikleiš is therefore a "ford, wading-place, marked by poles". The "broad road" (breišr vegr) of the stikleiš must be interpreted as the ocean "the broadway of the ford". The ford itself cannot possibly be described as "broad" - the wading-place of a violent river is usually quite narrow, and thus needed to be marked by stik.

Webmaster's personal footnote:

During the winter of 1974-75, I lived on an isolated sheepfarm in North-Western Iceland. My main job was to care for and feed 300 sheep. The sheephouse was situated unusually far from the farmhouse, perhaps a five minute walk on a clear day. The way from the farmhouse to the sheephouse was marked with stik: at regular intervals wooden poles had been driven into the ground. When deep winter arrived, I realized the reason for this: During frequent snowstorms, it was easy to get lost on the short walk from the human residence to the dwelling of the sheep. The stik were absolutely necessary - I would clutch one (trying not to get blown away) and peer into the snowstormy gloom. As soon as I glimpsed the next stik, I would run for it, hoping to catch hold before being overcome by the force of the wind. I can happily inform the reader that I always made it, and was loudly, and cheerfully, welcomed by the sheep.

žjóšįar ] The emendation is purely metrical.

žjóšįar fnęstu eitri ] The "mighty streams (rivers), snorting (spewing) venom" furthermore support my reading, which assumes that Thor is crossing an ocean (rather than rivers). The expression fnęstu eitri "snorted/spewed poison" immediately brings a serpent to mind. The serpent can only be Jörmungandr himself, the Midgard worm, who lay on the bottom of the sea, surrounding the earth, and was, in kennings, synonymous with "sea, ocean" (see um ver gaupu in the previous half-stanza, and gjaršvenjušr in 2:5). Eitr (venom) is sometimes used to mean "deadly cold"; thus, here we have an extremely good example of the poet's art: the icy Arctic Ocean, which tumbles forth with waves of hail, is likened to the Midgard serpent, who spews (snorts) a venom of deadly cold. It can be assumed that the great serpent's head was placed in the North, since his eitr is equivalent to the power of ice, which Thor braves during his crossing.

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