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.

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The Duel, Part 1

I present another poetic rendering of a prose tale from the lore. It is the story of the first (and probably last) giant to challenge Thor to a formal duel, and it has several things in common with the last Thor story I posted three months ago about his visit to Geirrod (part 1 and part 2). Just like that tale, Snorri presents in it prose with many details, and he also quotes from a difficult skaldic poem that mentions the story as well. (The skaldic poem is Haustlöng by Þjóðólfr of Hvinir.)

Rather than a difficult skaldic meter, I have written my retelling in 20 stanzas of my usual and more accessible fornyrðislag. The spellings have been anglicized throughout. It is well known that Odin has many different names in the lore; less well known is that Thor also has many names, although not as many as Odin, of course. The reader will see quite a few of those names in this poem. Like the previous Thor tale, I present the first half here today, and the second half will follow next Wednesday. The poem’s title is simply “The Duel.”

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