Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.



Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

Menu Search

Gestumbl Heiðr 37VIII (Heiðr 84)

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.

GestumblindiHeiðreks gátur

text and translation

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?

notes and context

Before reciting the riddle, Gestumblindi says: segðu þat þá fyrst, ef þú ert hverjum konungi vitrari ‘say first then, if you are wiser than every king’.

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?’. — 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’. — 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.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

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.


Log in

This service is only available to members of the relevant projects, and to purchasers of the skaldic volumes published by Brepols.
This service uses cookies. By logging in you agree to the use of cookies on your browser.


Stanza/chapter/text segment

Use the buttons at the top of the page to navigate between stanzas in a poem.

Information tab

Interactive tab

The text and translation are given here, with buttons to toggle whether the text is shown in the verse order or prose word order. Clicking on indiviudal words gives dictionary links, variant readings, kennings and notes, where relevant.

Full text tab

This is the text of the edition in a similar format to how the edition appears in the printed volumes.

Chapter/text segment

This view is also used for chapters and other text segments. Not all the headings shown are relevant to such sections.