ŽÓRSDRĮPA 7:5-8

Codex RegiusCodex TrajectinusCodex WormianusEmended & Modernized
7 : 5-8 VariantsVariants 
žverrir lętr nema žyRižueriur ; letletŽverrir lét, nema žyrri
žõs barna ser ma/rnaržonsžorsžorns, barna sér mörnar,
sneri bloš til svira snœrisnerriblóš, til, svķra,
salžax megin vaxa.salžacs salžaks megin vaxa.

Here we have a main clause, and a subordinate clause, intricately intertwined:

Žverrir barna mörnar lét sér megin vaxa til salžaks, nema žyrri snerriblóš svķra Žorns, i.e. "the diminisher of Morn's children [Thor] threatened that his power would grow unto the hall's roof [heaven], unless the gushing-blood of Žorn's neck [ocean] would diminish.

In Snorri's prose version of the tale (Skįldskaparmįl 26), he quotes the following stanza, which seemingly contains a paraphrase: "Vaxattu nś Vimur / alls mig žig vaša tķšir / jötna garša ķ! / Veistu ef žś vex / aš žį vex mér įsmegin / jafnhįtt upp sem himinn!", i.e. "Don't rise now, Vimur, when I want to wade across you, into the home of giants! You know that if you rise, then my god-power will rise as high as heaven!" The origin of this stanza is unknown. It may derive from a lost poem, or simply be Snorri's (or somebody else's) interpretation of Žórsdrįpa 7:5-8 in a different meter (Ljóšahįttur).

žverrir barna mörnar ] "the diminisher of the children of the giantess", cp. frumseyrir fljóša (4:1-4). The verbs žverra and seyra are practically synonyms. Žyrri is a subjuntive form of žverra, and seyra (verb) could mean "trickle", while seyra (noun) could mean a "small brook, slowly trickling water". The "diminisher" (žverrir, seyrir) of giants (i.e. Thor) threatens the Ocean that he will grow into his full power, unless the Ocean itself diminishes (žyrri).

Mörn may originally have been a name of Skaši, the daughter of Žjazi. It is, however, frequently used as a generic word, meaning "giantess"; also in the plural mörnir "giantesses", as in Völsa žįttur: žiggi mörnir / žetta blęti.

salžaks ] "the roof of the earth", i.e. heaven. The earth could be called salur "hall", cp. Völuspį 4:6 į salar steina.

snerriblóš svķra Žorns ] "the gushing-blood of the neck of Žorn (= Ymir)". Cp. Žorns nišjum (2:4), Gangs dreyra (4:1-4). From Gylfaginning 7, we learn that the sons of Bor (Bur) slaughtered the primeval giant, and that the ocean was created from the blood flowing from his wounds. The poet's kenning suggests that they cut his throat, which is more than likely. The primeval giant must have been enormous in size, and almost impossible to kill by lesser creatures. The (archetypical) scenario of the giant who gets his throat cut, while asleep, is tempting.

lét sér megin vaxa, nema žyrri... ] Above, I have adopted the usual interpretation: "he said (threatened) that his power would grow, unless [the ocean] would diminish". Such an interpretation assumes that the verb lét here means "said, stated". This is, of course, possible - but the construction lét ... vaxa, where we have to assume a future meaning of the infinitive vaxa, is not very convincing, especially since lét, in the previous half-stanza, has just been used in the more common meaning "let, allowed, made".

I would suggest a different interpretation, based on the poet's tendency towards extreme obliqueness of expression. We can simply read lét as "let, made", resulting in: "Thor made his power grow, unless [the Ocean] diminished". Syntactically, such a statement is puzzling (although quite possible). I suggest that nema žyrri "unless it lessened" should be read as a double negative, resulting in a positive. Common sense dictates that the ocean's force will not lessen, howsoever Thor threatens it. Thus nema žyrri "unless it lessened", actually means "because it did not lessen", i.e. "it grew stronger", i.e. né žyrri. The poet may thus be saying: "Thor made his power grow stronger, because the ocean grew stronger", but couching his meaning obliquely: "Thor made his power grow stronger, while the ocean did not grow lesser."

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