Courtesy of Others ~
Odin didnít have to give it up,
didnít have to pluck out that Nordic orb,
that gob-stopper, whose twin, itís said,
was the sun.
He didnít have to give it up
because he was chief of the gods, you know,
and rank does have its privileges;
but Mimir the dwarf said it
was the least he could do
to drink from the fount of wisdom.
So "plop" it went out of the socket;
and Odin got his drink.
Did he guzzle it down and smack his lips,
or savor it drop by drop?
Or was it, you know,
thick and bitter
and smell all of the grave?
Odin later died, of course;
all the Norse gods did.
The Frost giants got the best of them.
One-eyed Odin was wise by then and saw it coming;
but when your destinyís to be chow for a wolf
isnít it better to own all your parts
in happy incomprehension
than it is to know that all myths are as grass,
that they wither and perish as leaves on the trees?
And what was in it anyway,
in that chalice that made him wise,
beyond grief and pain and patience
and all the loved things we have to fling over
to be as wise as dwarves?
© David Hartman
Image: © Madeline von Foerster 2004,
"Odin Exchanging His Eye for Wisdom", detail, oil on panel.
Used with permission. Print available at
Madeline von Foerster
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