The dwarves killed me.
But they could not make me stay dead.
Fjalar and Galar carried only a candle
each as they led me
into the darkest room in the depths of
their house. The knowledge
that I shared to all was an affront to
the dwarves, who keep
their secrets for themselves; perhaps
that I had somehow found out what they
knew, as well,
and would share it far and wide with the rest of the world.
And perhaps I did,
And perhaps I would have done.
They thought I did not know what they
planned in that darkness,
the clubs they had waiting to crush my
Maybe that was why they hurried so.
I went into the darkness of that
unafraid and calm.
I know that death is not the end.
Not for man, not for dwarf, not for alf
not for troll or Van,
not for the Aesir or the Jotun–
and not for those born of magic and
circumstance, like me
–who rose up whole from chewed berries
fermented with the spit
of the Vanir and the Aesir after they
me, who was born in a way no creature
was ever birthed.
Men themselves know this; they know
things live beyond their allotted
of the gravewights, the draugr buried
in their barrow-tombs,
moving uneasily under the weight of
soil and stones,
and some nights coming out to walk.
It takes no special wisdom to know that
life springs again
after death, for each creature in its own way.
And I knew that when they killed me
–(yes, I knew they planned to kill
that I would go on to visit with my
to many, many others than I could ever reach on foot.
When my limp body had stopped
they hoisted me up onto a high shelf,
under my head,
and cut my throat to drain my blood, my
into vats and a single pot, catching
Every drop, every mote of me lived in
that flood of red,
Though the empty vessel I left behind
was of no import.
Then they stole bee’s gold from the
(Bygul they would have called it, as
might have called one of her cats),
and mixed that golden sweetness into the vessels.
It was there that the power of my life
making something richer and better than
an ugly mixture
of thin red and thicker gold,
mixing, mingling, melding together,
and yes, making magic.
The dwarves did not fare well after my
they felled the giant Gilling and his
Gilling’s son Suttungr learned of their
and went to visit; through threats and
violence and fear of death,
they at last convinced him
to take the wergild of the mead I had
the deaths of his parents.
Suttungr took the vessels to Hnitbjörg,
daughter Gunnlöð guarded over it;
this is where Odin came
crafty, most wise—to take me away.
have been questions about how he found me:
Mimir’s head told him of me,
perhaps he learned of me in a view from Hliðskjálf,
or of me was by Heimdall told.
perhaps he just knew;
calls to like, after all,
he was the Highest of Aesir,
of the spittle in that cauldron
they made peace with the Vanir,
was the most;
Heimdall is said to have had nine mothers,
could be said that I had mothers and fathers alike
the dozens, the hundreds;
but of them all, he was chiefest.
came upon nine workmen in a meadow,
disguised, new-named, cleverly deceiving,
did them a service, pleasing them so well by it
he tricked them with the tool of that service
their master Baugi—
brother, Gunnlöð’s uncle—
the toil of those thralls
the rest of his need.
Odin—most crafty, most wise—
his own labor to toil
he as Bölverk had done for Baugi,
he as Bölverk had orchestrated the need for;
named his price:
swallows of the draught from his brother’s vats,
And Baugi agreed.
the season’s strivings were seen,
asked for the price he had been promised by Baugi—
and Suttungr refused to pay.
Odin—most crafty, most wise—came, instead,
long way, through a hole drilled into
mountain Hnitbjörg in the form of a serpent,
she was, and sweet she was, and welcoming she was.
naive she was,
she, who guarded over those vats,
he charmed her with his smile,
and took her for three nights to her bed.
And so when Odin had seduced Gunnlöð,
let him have three drinks;
drink for each night;
Odin drank deeper than any,
with each drink he drained
of those three vessels,
them dry as old bone.
father came to son,
when an uproar rose,
took another form
Bölverk, not serpent, but eagle—
now I rest rightly in Asgard,
Odin gives of me to Aes and man,
the inspiration for poetry to those he gifts,
and if you have ever tasted of me
a sip so small that only one tiny drop of me
one smallest of motes—
then that one tiny glittering gold and ruby drop—
swims still through your flesh and blood,
even if you tasted it years ago,
for I am with you always,
I have shown you here today.