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"What man so fearless the fells to cross,
And boldly step foot on Bifrost way?"
"No man so fearless, a maiden instead
Has boldly set foot on Bifrost way."
"Your eyes grow weak from watching long;
Surely no maid of Emblas line,
No Jotun or Vane would venture thus
Boldly to fare so far alone?"
"Maid in truth, but tall of frame,
Lath-slender, long of stride.
She comes apace across the fields,
And neither looks to left or right.
"Like raven’s wing her wavy hair,
Skin as fair as frost at dawn,
Eyes bold, blue as sky,
As sheen that glows in glacial ice.
"Weapons she bears, and bow of yew,
But hunting I doubt has drawn her here."
"Wergild, not game, I’d guess she seeks.
Far she comes some claim to press."
"Some evil deed has drawn her here,
A brother killed, or cunning theft.
Wicked your ways, your wiles well-known--
Loki should bear the blame alone."
"A lot you say, but little know;
For Thiasse’s bane, that blaze you lit,
All the gods some guilt must bear.
Loki of all is least to blame.
"My wiles I used your wills to serve,
When wide I flew in falcon cloak,
Freya’s gift, grudgingly given,
To steal Idun from Stormhome back.
"By cunning I found, and carried her off;
Thiasse came after in eagle’s form.
Hard the race we ran that day;
Many the dangers for the maid I bore."
"Proudly you speak, praise you demand,
Undoing the deeds you did at first,
But wiles will not unweave your fate;
This maid your bane will be one day."
The traveler approached and told them that she was Skadi, the daughter of Thiasse,
and that she had come to Asgard to seek compensation for the death of her father.
Loki and Heimdal led her to where the gods were gathered.
"Far have you come; fair be your welcome;
You shall not go ungifted hence.
Rings and red gold gladly we’ll pay;
All that you ask the Æsir will give."
"Rings I own, gold-roofed my hall;
Other than these you owe for the slain.
Little you guess my greatest wish.
A different payment promise me now."
"Rashly offered, after rued;
Tell me first what fee you seek.
If it gladden not the grey wolf’s kin,
Maiden, I promise what payment you will."
"Little the wolf by my wish will gain.
Grant me this-- a god as mate."
"Wisely spoken, a woman alone
A man should get to gladden her hall."
"A second gift of the gods I ask.
I’ve sorrowed much, a maiden alone;
No laughter or song fills Stormhome now;
Before I leave a laugh I want."
"A laugh you’ll have, but who do you want?
Which of the gods shall go with you?"
"Baldr of gods is best of all,
The shining god who gladdens all things.
"His beauty’s fame bourne on the wind
Through worlds nine to the north was blown.
All that I heard my heart has won;
First among gods is Frigga’s son."
"My son is yet too young to wed;
Full soon it is to seek a wife.
The choice besides, should be his own;
It is not yours, Jotun maid."
"You promise much, perform far less;
Too few the oaths Odin has kept."
"Blame me not before I speak;
I’ve not denied aught due to you.
But I require one rule alone--
Choose by feet, the face concealed."
Skadi agreed; the gods lined up
Behind a hanging hid themselves,
Feet bare beneath the hem,
While Skadi stood and studied long.
Well-formed she thought the feet all were,
But stopped at last, and laughed with joy.
"Here", she said, "must stand my love.
Here stands Baldr best of gods.
"These are finest, most fittingly shaped,
Clean as bone, bright as morn,
White as ermine’s coat on snow.
Surely no other owns the like."
Freya stepped forward and drew the hanging aside, and all saw that it was not Baldr
who had been chosen, but Njord. Skadi was not greatly pleased.
"False my eyes, foolish my words,
Boasting my prize ere bow was strung..
Crooked my arrow, aim amiss,
Reckless my choice, most wretched of maids."
"Maiden, be cheerful; your choice was good;
Wrongly you scorn the richest of gods.
Great his treasure, giver of rings;
Bringer of peace and prosperous lives."
"In feature and form flawless of line,
He rules the wind, the waves makes calm,
His blessing is sought by sailors all.
Bountiful the field his breath has touched."
"Subtle the weave our wyrd has wrought;
In sleep I did not dream of this,
Nor waking think a wife to find,
But welcome to you, bold Jotun maid."
"Hard is fate; my heart was set,
And yet I find no fault in you."
"What is your will; I wait your choice;
Have my hand, or have it not."
"I’ll take your hand, though heart still lags,
Still backward looks on Baldr’s form.
The Norns alone know what will be,
What luck lies in the lot I cast.
"But though I have a husband now,
One promise owed by Odin yet,
May prove for him a harder task;
My mind is not to mirth inclined."
Then Loki came, leading a goat,
Into the crowd, capering about,
One rope end tied around the horns,
The other wrapped around his balls.
Loki would give, the goat would pull,
Then Loki turn tables around,
Bleating and squealing, bouncing about,
Till loud the hall with laughter rang.
Then Loki with a leap and cry,
In Skadi’s lap lit with a thump,
And she, surprised at such an end,
Loudly laughed at Laufey’s son.
So Skadi wed, and weeks flew past,
Gladly feasting gods among,
With mirth and mead, and many games,
Of chance or skill or subtle mind.
Loud rang the harp in high-roofed hall,
Songs of laughter, love and war,
Of Jotun schemes to steal Od’s bride,
Or bright Iduna, Bragi’s joy.
Of Freya’s loves and Loki’s pranks
Of mighty Thor, the thurses’ bane,
And Odin wandering worlds through.
But then at last leave-taking came.
And Skadi, proud, much praised her home
Among the steeps and snowy crags.
Njord preferred more pleasant scenes,
His shining hall the shore beside.
So each would stay at either home
Nine nights. Njord complained,
“Mountains I hate; howling of wolves
Is harsh compared to cries of swans.”
Then Skadi cried, “How can I sleep
Beside the shore; the shriek of birds
Keeps me awake,” and went, therefore,
Back to the fells, her father’s home.
Thus Njord and Skadi parted, though on friendly terms, but ever after she was accepted
among the Aesir. It is said by some that after parting from Njord she wedded Ullr.
Poetic form: Fornyrðislag (Old Meter)
site, including the
medieval rune poems and modern
rune poems by various authors.
Skadi's choice by ~pieterjansens.
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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.
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