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Runic Dictionary

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Gestumblindi (Gestumbl)

volume 8; ed. Margaret Clunies Ross;

Heiðreks gátur (Heiðr) - 37

Heiðreks gátur (‘Riddles of Heiðrekr’) — Gestumbl HeiðrVIII (Heiðr)

Not published: do not cite (Gestumbl HeiðrVIII (Heiðr))

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37 

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII]: D. 5. Heiðreks gátur, Gestumblindes gåder (AII, 221-8, BII, 240-7); stanzas (if different): 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38

SkP info: VIII, 417

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — Gestumbl Heiðr 8VIII (Heiðr 55)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


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
fyrir Dellings durum?
Höfði sínu
vísar á helvega,
en fótum til sólar snýr.
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.

context: In the H redaction, before propounding the riddle Gestumblindi says (Heiðr 1924, 63): Vandaz mun núok veitka ek nú, hvat fyrir verðr ‘It will get difficult now … and I do not know now what will happen’.

notes: 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]: 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. — [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. — [2]: See Note to Gestumbl Heiðr 1/2 (Heiðr 48) above. — [3]: 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 varÁsa ættir ‘was of the family of the Æsir’, and was married to Jǫrð (lit. ‘Earth’), mother of Dagr, the latter of whom varljóss 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, F451.3.2.1), 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’.

texts: Heiðr 55 (47/38)

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.


GKS 2845 4° (2845) 71r, 10 - 71r, 11 [1-2, 4-8] (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 281 4°x (281x) 99v, 4 - 99v, 5 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
AM 597 b 4°x (597bx) 49v, 14 - 49v, 15 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
AM 203 folx (203x) 102va, 11 - 103ra, 2 (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
UppsUB R 715x (R715x) 27v, 16 - 27v, 18 [1, 4-6] (Heiðr)  transcr.  image  
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