The road to Hel is long and hard;
cold is the road to Helheim,
the way rocky and long.
When you ride to Hel’s hall,
your fears ride with you,
your ghosts ride with you.
With Sleipnir beneath me
I ride to Hel, and to Hel’s hall,
and though swift are the steps
of Loki’s son,
still the road is long and weary.
The journey to Hel lasts a lifetime.
The road that leads to Hel is not empty;
there are others traveling along this road,
others I find going this way.
The souls of the dead travel the road to Hel,
those that do not go elsewhere.
I go at the behest of the All-Father;
I go at the will of the Fetter-God;
I go at the command of the sire of Baldr,
sent to entreat Hel herself,
sent to ask for the return of the soul of Baldr,
to beg back the life of Baldr.
Móðguðr guards the bridge,
the bridge that crosses the noisy river
into the vast lands of Hel;
she admits none into Helheim
save those who have the right to be there.
Who would not fear riding through
those gates into Hel’s hall?
I am accounted brave,
and brave some say I must be,
to ride a brother’s back into a sister’s hall,
and demand back Baldr from the ruler of that place,
but I confess: I feared.
But I stood fast and made my plea,
and she answered.
That it was not the answer I might
have wished for, that Odin might have wanted,
was of no consequence:
it was the answer that she gave us,
and when the queen of Helheim
has made up her mind,
nothing in all the nine worlds will shift it.
Back I went, along the way,
that cold and winding way,
that hard and lonely way,
that longest of long ways,
the road that led back from Hel.
They call me a messenger, for that ride,
but it was no message I carried down the road from Hel:
in my hands, I carried
the bloody hearts of two parents,
grieving for their son.