From Iceland — Edda Recap: The Poem of Hymir

Edda Recap: The Poem of Hymir

Published June 14, 2019

Edda Recap: The Poem of Hymir
Grayson Del Faro
Photo by
Elín Elísabet

In this series, I illuminate the individual poems of the Edda—that most famous, epic masterpiece of Icelandic literary tradition—with humour, vulgarity and modern realness. Are you reading this and thinking, “what the fuck is the Edda?” If so, you should start by reading my first recap of the Edda, chock-full of helpful context and shameless attitude. Or you can just shut up and read on.

Although it’s named after a giant, this poem is about Þórr. That means it has a very different tone from the more famous, more whiney poems of the Edda. The ones about Óðinn are melodramatic and self-important, whereas anything having to do with Þórr is literally a joke. As any neckbeard who might fancy themself an amateur Old Norse scholar because they’ve seen all three of Marvel’s ‘Thor’ movies might already know, Þórr is not a godly character so much as a slapstick buffoon. That’s about the only thing that’s accurate about them, so here is the real talk.

Party like it’s 999

Just like the elite of today, the gods known as the Æsir had nothing to do and decided to throw a party. God forbid they do it for themselves, so Óðinn gets Ægir, the giant of the sea, to do it for them. Ægir thinks (with good reason) that Óðinn is a pretentious douchebag, so he says, “Fine, I will. But if you want enough beer for a proper fucking kegger, you’re gonna have to get a cauldron at least three miles deep.”

Luckily, the god Týr knows just the giant who has that much, uh, pot. (It’s his dad.) So he hops into Þórr’s goat-powered Bentley and off they go to steal it. They are welcomed by Týr’s nameless mother and Hymir serves them dinner, even though he hates Þórr. Þórr eats so much that Hymir complains they’ll have to go fishing tomorrow.

Gone pissin’

Fishing is one of many varieties of masculinity pissing contests amongst the Norse gods and giants. Hymir catches two whales but is emasculated when Þórr pulls up his arch-nemesis Jörmungandur, a sea serpent so large it encircles the entire Old Norse universe. Game over!

Of course Hymir is a sore loser, so he challenges Þórr to break his magically unbreakable goblet. It proves difficult at first until Hymir’s wife slips him a tip, “My husband’s head is thicker than any goblet!” (And she ain’t talkin’ about down there, amirite giant ladiezzz!) So Þórr smashes it against Hymir’s head, winning the cauldron of their choice.

Þórr low-key massacres a bunch of giants on their way out, just for fun. Then his goat gets a flat tire, so they stop and kidnap the children responsible for the inconvenience, making them his child-slaves. Finally, the gods can get properly fucked up. Typical rich people.

Moral of this Edda poem:

1. Marvel movies are not historically accurate.
2. Beer is good.
3. Child-slavery is bad.
4. Actually, while we’re at it, all slavery is bad.

Read more Saga and Edda Recaps here. Buy Grayson’s “The Sagas And Shit” book—all the TL;DR Icelandic sagas crudely abridged for your amusement—here

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