Hymn to Sif

For Johanna

To Sif

Hail to you Sif, who brings the golden ale round at the feast of the Gods,
and can quench the quarrelsome coal with but a touch
of your sun-kissed hand, and a gentle word whispered
in the ear of your hot-blooded guests, before it blazes forth
causing untold misery to one and all in attendance.
You, Goddess, have eyes pale as the pristine snow
beloved by your son Ullr, and hair that gleams
as bright as Allfather’s dwarf-crafted spear Gungnir,
though neither is as radiant as your grin
when you glimpse your husband Þórr returning
from slaying some ferocious Jötunn or a pestilential serpent
afflicted with Fáfnir’s disease.
Though you are desirable as Freyja
to Hrungnir who would have you as his lawful bride,
and Loki who would make you his bed-mate
and breed more monstrous brood,
and Njörðr who would ride with you on the gently rocking, foamy sea
in his swift skiff the equal of Skíðblaðnir,
you Sif, desire most to show clever little Þrúðr
how to keep a well-managed household,
how to spin the finest thread with which to work the tireless loom,
and how to bake sweet-smelling bread the color of bee-wealth.
Far beyond the domestic sphere ranges
your unconquerable curiosity, so that in knowledge
you are second only to the Ásynjur Queen Frigga;
thus men call you Sibyl, and consult you
on sundry matters past, present and those yet to come.
Though learned skálds call you rival-of-Járnsaxa —
I believe it not, for never should the lesser
be compared to the greater (even for the sake of meter)
and you, helpmeet of Hlóðyn’s son,
are her superior in every way that matters
and then some. If these praises prove pleasing to you
look kindly upon me in future days,
and in return I shall heap up plenty more
until they reach high as the walls
which Svaðilfari’s master built,
and higher still,
and I shall consider it no labor at all.

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