Cite as: Hannah Burrows (ed.) 2017, ‘Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks 84 (Gestumblindi, Heiðreks gátur 37)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 451.
|Hvat mælti Óðinn í eyra Baldri,
áðr hann væri á bál hafðr?
Hvat mælti Óðinn í eyra Baldri, áðr hann væri á bál hafðr?
What did Óðinn say into the ear of Baldr, before he was brought to the pyre?
Mss: 2845(72v), 281ˣ(101r), 597bˣ(51r), R715ˣ(30r) (Heiðr)
Readings:  Óðinn: Óðinn corrected from Óðinn í R715ˣ  Baldri: Baldrs 281ˣ, 597bˣ  væri: var 281ˣ, 597bˣ, ‘veri’ R715ˣ; bál: báli 597bˣ
Editions: Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], D. 5. Heiðreks gátur 30: AII, 227, BII, 246, Skald II, 128, NN §3177; Heiðr 1672, 152, FSN 1, 487, Heiðr 1873, 262-3, 344, Heiðr 1924, 81, 140, FSGJ 2, 50, Heiðr 1960, 44; Edd. Min. 120.
reciting the riddle, Gestumblindi says: segðu
þat þá fyrst, ef þú ert hverjum konungi vitrari ‘say first then, if you are wiser than
Notes: [All]: Cf. Vafþr 54/4-6, in which Óðinn asks the same question (differently worded, though the present l. 3 and Vafþr 54/4 are identical) to win a wisdom contest with the giant Vafþrúðnir (NK 55): hvat mælti Óðinn | áðr á bál stigi | siálfr í eyra syni? ‘what did Óðinn himself say into the ear of his son before he ascended the pyre?’. — [All]: This question bears all the hallmarks of a ‘neck riddle’, according to
Taylor’s definition (1951, 1): an ‘insoluble puzzle’ whose answer is known only
to the questioner and with which the protagonist hopes to ‘save his neck’. — [All]: Skj, Skald and FSGJ, with varying levels of emendation (and conjecture, on Kock’s part), attempt to make Gestumblindi’s words of introduction to this stanza (see Context above) part of the verse, but they are not metrical. Skj B places the whole stanza in square brackets. —  hafðr ‘brought’: Edd. Min. gives of borinn ‘borne’, from paper mss, which produces an alliterating line; cf. áðr á bál of bar (Vsp 33/3); áðr á bál um berr (Bdr 11/7). Áðr hann væri á bál of borinn would be a metrical ljóðaháttr full line.