The Duel, Part 2

Concluding from last week, here are the final ten stanzas of “The Duel.”

Some of you may be wondering what Mokkurkalfi is doing in this tale. His presence probably strikes modern readers as a bit weird. Also peculiar is the emphasis that Snorri seems to put on the hearts of Hrungnir and Mokkurkalfi. There are perhaps some initiatory themes at work here, but whatever such strange details might mean, I prefer to keep them in rather than remove them out of a lack of understanding. The lore contains many mysteries, and we cannot learn from them if we start throwing them out simply because they don’t make sense at our current levels of understanding. But enough of the soapbox, here’s the rest of the poem.

But prior to Thor,
Thjalfi arrived —
he advised the etin
that from underground
Veurr was advancing
to avoid his shield;
on the wheel of Hild,
Hrungnir then stood.

Water was made
by Mokkurkalfi
when furious Thor
in thunder appeared.
The clay coward
was killed by Thjalfi
with little of fight
and less of fame.

Arriving in rage,
Rym then quickly
hurled his hammer
at Hrungnir’s bulk;
his whetstone-weapon
he whirled in return,
but through the hone
the hammer smashed.

The rock ruptured,
rammed by Mjollnir;
into Hlorridi’s head
then hied a shard.
The other fragment
fell to the earth
and became the world’s
whetstone supply.

Into Hrungnir’s head
the hammer continued
and smashed asunder
his source of thoughts.
He fell forward then,
fettering Sonnung;
under his feet
he was firmly held.

Then came to Thor
Thjalfi and the Aesir;
the limbs of the troll
they tried to lift.
But the heavy bulk
of Hrungnir’s body
remained immobile
til Magni arrived.

Though three years old,
the Asa-strength
of Jord’s grandson
— Jarnsaxa’s boy —
quickly lifted
those legs of stone;
Gullfaxi he got
as a gift from Thor.

Stuck in Thor’s head
the stone remains,
though loosened a little
by the lays of Groa;
By news of Aurvandil’s
nearing to home
and his toe as a star,
he distracted her spells.

The stone that’s stuck
still has an effect —
thus it is ill
that over the ground
you throw a hone,
for in Thor’s head then
the stone is stirred,
distressing Ennilang.

Savor these sips
of sweetest mead,
and remember well
in mind this tale
of Vingthor’s victory
in valiant combat
at Grjottunagardar,
the greatest of duels!

Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.


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