A poem for Odin

When resorting to Galina’s monthly oracular sessions to contact Freyr a couple of months ago, I promised Odin I would give Him food offerings should be He willing to act as an intermediary. I also promised a poem, which took me a while to write (poetry doesn’t always come easily to me), but I eventually finished it and read it out loud as an offering to Him. And now that the vow is fulfilled, I’m making the piece public.

The wind outside
The chair is soft and the fire warm,
the sun of houses shining in my hall.
There’s food on the table
and wine in my cup,
boar, bread and butter
and the sweat mead of grapes.
The storm rages and the rain falls,
yet in comfort I sit, the lord of my home,
while the wind blows outside.

I heard the unspoken greeting of the guest,
a knock on the door as I sat by the fire.
I saw a wet cloak on a dry stranger
and a bowed head in salute.
I asked him what he wanted,
he answered shelter from the storm.
For an honourable host is a traveler’s friend
and the mighty gods were once merry guests.
So piously I welcomed him as the wind blew outside.

I pulled a chair and took his cloak,
I brought a towel and took his shoes.
I gave him food and filled his cup,
he raised it high and made a toast:
“Blessed are the hosts”, he said,
“and blessed are their housewights”;
Thus we sat, side by side, host and guest,
a pious tribute to the timeless powers,
and he told me a story as the wind blew outside:

“Before the first dawn, before the first dew,
the suckler of Audhumla lived his life-ban.
Enormous, his raven food fed the gaping void
and made the common seat of men:
the sea of wounds filled the land of whales,
the rock of arms pilled the paths of giants,
his helmet-stand raised the hall of clouds.
Then came the shield of heaven and her sister
and thus the kingdom of land was born.”

“Ymir’s flesh begat Durinn’s kin,
the crafty dwellers of Jord’s womb.
Makers of limb bands,
their halls of dwarf house are ever busy.
There the folk of Thorin made man-forms,
images of trees of neck-rings
skillfully carved from forest towers.
And the rulers of stone kept their work,
untouched by life, untouched by law.”

“Then came the sons of Bestla,
three wanderers in the bottom of heaven,
and met Dvalinn’s men by the wide plain of the gull.
In a salt-beaten earth’s bone they entered,
people of Bifrost invited by people of Durinn,
the world’s first welcomed guests.
There the proud shapers of Ymir’s corpse
saw two wooden trees of gold,
untouched by fate, untouched by force.”

“Crafty and caring,
the offspring of Bor dispensed their gifts
and blessed the ash trees of arm-rings:
Vili’s brother gave them breath,
Vé’s brother gave them will,
Odin’s brother gave them senses.
Thus they were born, sons of hospitality,
the dwellers of the kingdom of land,
touched by life, touched by fate.”

He finished his story and smiled,
the guest I’d welcomed in my hall.
He drank his fill and ate his share
and told other tales of time-lost ages.
He never said his name, the Raven-god;
I never asked him, the Spear-Lord.
Yet I knew it, deep down I heard it:
a pious man feels that grim
when One-Eyed looks into your soul.

The chair is soft and the fire warm,
and I sit in comfort, an elder at the table,
joined by sons and their sons as well.
The years have passed, strength has faded,
yet memory endures, the nurturer of men’s souls.
Outside, the wind blows; inside, children gather.
A story is asked by the young scions of Heimdall,
a story is told by the old offspring of Vindhlér:
“Let me tell you of when Odin visited this house…”

For those of you wondering, yes, the poem deals with the creation of the world and the first humans. It’s largely based on Snorri’s work, but the story on the first man and woman is inspired by stanzas 10 and 17 of Völsupá, which may contain an alternative version where mankind is created not from logs on the shore, but from the man-forms crafted by dwarfs and perhaps found in a house by three gods.

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