Cite as: Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 55 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 8)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 417.
|Hvat er þat undra, er ek úti sá
fyrir Dellings durum?
| vísar á helvega, |
en fótum til sólar snýr.
Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.
Hvat undra er þat, er ek sá úti fyrir durum Dellings? Vísar höfði sínu á helvega, en snýr fótum til sólar. Heiðrekr konungr, hyggðu at gátu.
What is the wonder that I saw outside before Dellingr’s doors? It points its head towards the roads to Hel, but with its feet turns towards the sun. King Heiðrekr, think about the riddle.
Mss: 2845(71r) (ll. 1-2, 4-8), 281ˣ(99v), 597bˣ(49v), 203ˣ(102va-103ra), R715ˣ(27v) (ll. 1, 4-6) (Heiðr)
Readings:  þat: om. 203ˣ; undra: ‘vÿ’ R715ˣ  sá: so 281ˣ, 597bˣ, 203ˣ, om. 2845  Dellings: döglings 281ˣ, 597bˣ, 203ˣ  á helvega: helju til 281ˣ, 597bˣ  fótum: fótum sínum R715ˣ [7-8] so 203ˣ, abbrev. as ‘h k h’ 2845, abbrev. as ‘h: kr. h:’ 281ˣ, abbrev. as ‘h: K: h þu ad g’ 597bˣ
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], D. 5. Heiðreks gátur 7: AII, 222, BII, 241, Skald II, 125; Heiðr 1672, 146, FSN 1, 469, Heiðr 1873, 241-2, 335-6, Heiðr 1924, 62-3, 133, FSGJ 2, 40, Heiðr 1960, 35; Edd. Min. 109.
Context: In the H redaction, before propounding the riddle Gestumblindi says (Heiðr 1924, 63): Vandaz mun nú … ok veitka ek nú, hvat fyrir verðr ‘It will get difficult now … and I do not know now what will happen’.
Notes: [All]: Heiðrekr’s response reads (Heiðr 1960, 35): þat er laukr; hǫfuð hans er fast í jǫrðu, en hann kvíslar, er hann vex upp ‘That is the leek; his head is fast in the ground, but he branches out when he grows up’. The H redaction’s version (including 203ˣ) corresponds more closely to the riddle itself, however (Heiðr 1924, 63): þat er laukr; hǫfuð hans horfir í jǫrð, en blǫðin í lopt ‘that is the leek; his head turns into the earth, but his leaves into the sky’. On the use of leeks as a food and medicinal plant in medieval Scandinavia, see Guðrún P. Helgadóttir (1981). — [1-3]: These opening lines also occur in Gestumbl Heiðr 9-16 (Heiðr 56-63). Although this is the first occurrence in the H redaction, because of the different arrangement of the riddles in the other redactions, the present stanza is the third occasion on which this formula is used in 2845 and the second in R715ˣ, hence the heavy abbreviation in those mss. — : Cf. l. 104 of the Old English poem Solomon and Saturn II (Anlezark 2009, 84): Ac hwæt is ðæt wundor … ‘But what is that wonder …’. The Old English passage has a riddle-like structure and describes old age. Such abstract concepts are not represented among the Heiðr riddles. —  hvat undra er þat ‘what is the wonder that’: Lit. ‘What of wonders is it’. Cf. Gestumbl Heiðr 3/1 (Heiðr 50) and Note. — : See Note to Gestumbl Heiðr 1/2 (Heiðr 48) above. — : The same line is found in Hávm 160/3 (NK 140), where the dwarf Þjóðreyrir is said to sing fyr Dellings durom. The pers. n. is also that of a dwarf in Fj 34/5. In Vafþr 25/1-2, however, Dellingr (lit. ‘the shining one’) is said to be the father of Dagr ‘day’. Snorri gives further information in Gylf (SnE 2005, 13), which says that Dellingr var … Ása ættir ‘was of the family of the Æsir’, and was married to Jǫrð (lit. ‘Earth’), mother of Dagr, the latter of whom var … ljóss ok fagr eptir faðerni sínu ‘was light and fair according to his father’s nature’. Dellingr also occurs as a dwarf-name in the þulur, where it might represent a misinterpretation of the Hávm stanza: see further Note to Þul Dverga 3/7III. The H-redaction mss read döglings here; this derives from the name of another Dagr, not the personification of day but a legendary king, son of Hálfdan gamli ‘the Old’ and, according to Skm (SnE 1998, I, 103), er Daglingar eru frá komnir ‘from whom the Daglingar [Dǫglingar] are descended’. Dǫglingr is frequently used as a poetic word for ‘king’, and it could be that receivers of the H redaction understood the line thus, perhaps in reference to Heiðrekr himself. This reading is given some extra credence by the witness of 203ˣ, which has independent value here; however, 203ˣ reads Dellings in every other instance of this line, and the agreement of 2845 and R715ˣ, and the correspondence with Hávm 160/3, point decisively to the conclusion that Dellings is the correct reading. It is favoured by almost all eds (including Edd. Min., which otherwise often prefers the text of the H redaction). The sense, however, remains somewhat obscure. Finnur Jónsson (LP) and Tolkien (Heiðr 1960, 34 n. 1) surmised that the phrase must mean ‘at sunrise’, apparently based on the Hávm instance, a suggested interpretation of which is that the dwarf is singing to warn his people of the impending sunrise which would turn them to stone (idem). ‘Dwarfs turn to stone at sunrise’ is a folklore motif (Thompson 1955-8, F4184.108.40.206), but for discussion and problematisation of the assumption see Acker (2002, 219). A spatial rather than temporal location seems more likely, perhaps in front of rocks or mountains (i.e. úti ‘outside’, as in l. 2), the traditional dwelling-places of dwarfs (Simek 1993, 68). The meaning of the line is not crucial to the interpretation of the riddle. — [4-5]: Skald construes Hǫfði sínu | vísar á helvega, while Edd. Min., following Heiðr 1873 (241), prefers the H-redaction text hǫfði sínu | vísar heliar til (with emendation from ms. ‘heliu’) ‘its head points towards Hel’. —  helvega ‘the roads to Hel’: The few other instances of this cpd in poetry are all also in eddic-style verse: see Vsp 47/6, 52/7; Ǫrv 122/8. There the word is used rather more literally, describing men travelling to the world of the dead.