Stanza 1 [Sks # 46] [RWTU]|
Sín bjó Sifjar rúni
snarla fram með karli
(hornstraum getum Hrímnis
Sif's spouse quickly prepared his fishing-gear with the old one. We know how to stir the flow of Hrímnir's horn.
1. Sifjar rúni "Sif's spouse" is Þórr. Cp. Sifjar verr "Sif's husband" in Hymiskviða 3, 15, 34.
2. karl "old one" - as in Hymiskviða 10, 31, 32.
3. hornstraumr Hrímnis "horn-flow of Hrímnir" is a kenning for the mead of poetry. "Stirring" this liquid is equivalent to composing a poem. Such phrases are common in the diction of the skalds. This particular one is suspiciously similar to the one found in stanza 3 of the Þórsdrápa of Eilífr Goðrúnarson (also ca. 1000): Þyl ek granstrauma Grímnis "I recite Grímnir's lip-flows".
Snorri comments: "And when Thor had shipped his oars, he got out a line that was pretty strong, and the hook was no smaller or less mighty-looking." [Gylfaginning 48, Faulkes' translation]
Stanza 2 [Sks # 45] [RWU]|
Leit á brattrar brautar
baug hvassligum augum,
œstisk áðr at flausti
öggs búð, faðir Þrúðar.
Þrúðr's father gazed piercingly at the circle of the steep road, as the fish's abode surged against the boat.
1-2. baugr brattrar brautar "ring/circle of the steep road" is obviously a kenning for Jörmungandr. "The steep road" can hardly be anything but a circumlocution for the mountainous earth.
3-4. öggs búð œstisk "the fish's abode raged" - is reminiscent of Ölvir's œstisk allra landa umgjörð "the girdle of all lands became enraged". Both use the same verb œsask, but while one refers to the serpent, the other refers to the ocean. As pointed out in the commentary to Hymiskviða 22, the concepts of Serpent and Ocean commonly merged, and identical or similar kennings could refer to both.
4. faðir Þrúðar "father of Þrúðr" is Þórr.
Stanza 3 [Sks # 47] [RWT]|
Svá brá viðr, at sýjur,
seiðr, rendu fram breiðar,
jarðar, út at borði
Ulls mágs hnefar skullu.
The fish of the earth responded so powerfully, that the broad boat-sides wrenched forward, and Ullr's stepfather's fists slammed against the gunwale.
Finnur Jónsson's interpretation of this stanza has been criticized, but no better solution has been offered. I accept (with Finnur) Konráð Gíslason's emendation of rendi to rendu. The suggestions offered by Faulkes (Skáldskaparmál I, note to verse 47, p. 164-165) may be ignored as grammatically impossible. What Faulkes (echoing Kock) refers to as Finnur's "tortuous syntax" is, in fact, rather a typical and straightforward example of "vertical alignment", thus:
Departing slightly from Finnur's arrangement, it seems natural to construe: Seiðr jarðar brá svá viðr, at breiðar sýjur rendu fram, [ok] hnefar mágs Ullar skullu út at borði.
Svá brá viðr -- at sýjur seiðr -- rendu fram breiðar jarðar -- út af borði Ulls mágs hnefar skullu
1. sýjur, presumably "planks of a boat's sides" (see Lexicon Poeticum, p. 557). In the plural, as here, more or less equivalent to the boat itself.
2-3. seiðr jarðar "fish of the earth" is Jörmungandr. Cp. grundar fiskr "ground's fish" in the helmingr by Gamli gnævaðarskáld, and reistr jarðar "snake of the earth" in Ragnarsdrápa 14.
4. mágr Ullar "Ullr's stepfather" is Þórr. Cp. Haustlöng 15.
Snorri comments: "The Midgard serpent stretched its mouth round the ox-head and the hook stuck into the roof of the serpent's mout. And when the serpent felt this, it jerked away so hard that both Thor's fists banged down on the gunwale." [Gylfaginning 48, Faulkes' translation]