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~ By Courtesy of Others ~


Odin’s Lament          Poetic form: Ljóðaháttr (Song Meter)

All gathered ‘round, as gods and giants gazed
Looking in sorrow and silence
Bold Balder prone, in his father’s arms fallen
As wise witenagemot watched                                          [witenagemot = council]
Deep brooded Allfather, with dread-dark thoughts            [Scyld-ship = funeral of legendary king Scyld from Beowulf]
He stood before the Scyld-ship weary:
“At your birth I yearned, to share a life long
Celebrated your form fair and strong
A son promise-gilded, your golden-glow shining
The bold sunshine boy you were born.
Wise disir gathered, girded you with gladness                     [disir = female spirits]
Smiled on your youthful years
Balder, I sired you, bairn-pride of Allfather
The valkyrie-breath dream doom-distant
It mired your mind, as man-child you grew
Until one day I glimpsed grief to come.

“I peered into Wyrd-chasms, through wilds and wrath-storm
Wyrd churned and groaned grey-grim
I learned your fate, and feared for our bonds
Your mother’s lore-lyre learned too
She spoke of it not, so deep was her sorrow
Refused that sad soul-corner inside
I stood before Wyrd-storm, chanting stolid and strong
And hung Hel-bent on hoary tree
Of your purloined fate, in play of prophecy
And where you might stand in silent summons
I learned late lore, a terror-choice loomed
I knew that narrow sacrifice now needed
My blood-brother’s plans, I brutally let play                              [my blood-brother = Loki]
His sad-riven soul did not surprise
Such powerful pain, I was so loathe to prove
But I chose that curse-cry before Wyrd.                                    [Wyrd = inexorable flow of events]

“Looking on tiny limbs, you hale and strong
I knew your heart yearned each year
It was death-bound and dark, fated to fall
Your mother closed her eyes to that curse-crime
She spoke on it not, so sad its song
And blocked out that blackness forever
But I bore it low, where it bit me but often
And reminded me of rage-ruin to come
But in gold pride-gaze, I watched you grow great
Fair-form, bold-deed, keen-mind
Feast we fared, fought einherjar’s flames                                   [einherjar = valiant dead warriors of Valhalla]
We coursed wide-worlds sire and son
You knew not your fate, so grim and fire-fraught
But I glimpsed grim dreams yet-grown.
I knew your foul fate, yet felt a strange glimmer
A way showed true but blood-terrible.

“A way perched perilous, in whirling Wyrd-depths
A golden ring gleamed through grey-glow
In murky mere-storm, monsters raged wild
I wended beyond unknown drear-worlds
I am loathe to relay, those weird shade-lairs
None save me crawled those night-kingdoms
But I found them in fury, troubled eyes well wise
And gathered that lore from gloom-glens
I took it myself, through terrible torment
Those runes still red-burning and rotting
I knew I could share not, your life ne’er with mine
I Lord of Death drowned my dreams
I could not comfort, your perilous passage
Nor enabled am I to exact revenge
But vengeance I vow, and voracious ruin
Soul-sorcery will slaughter your slayer.

“When that dread day had come, with mistletoe maiming
Your heart blood poured harrowing horror
Blood stained my chest, as I cherished you close
You faded as I mourn-clutched you fiercely.”
Then Hangatyr carried him, held glory-high youth        [Hangatyr = “hanged god” = Odin]
Fairest form, boldest deed, keenest mind
He placed him on pyre, within that proud ship
And grieved as gods gifted Nanna’s champion             [Nanna’s champion = Balder]
Each found final words, and bid him farewell
Balder’s mother lingered long in lament
She knelt by her sunshine, singing songs through her tears
And caressed his death-cold countenance.

Then Odin approached, the bold son of Bor
He frowned by his son’s fallen form
Greybeard spoke sooth, the strong son of Bestla            [Greybeard = Odin]
These thews thrice-weaved and thrice-worn:
“I planted power-seeds, and gave proud fame-rings
I did deeds as good fathers should do.
Nevermore now, though Gallows-Lord I am known
Will I look on your like in years long
Remember me, son, so you see me again
I will rise within through love for you
I remember readily, that red-stained Wyrd-choice
Slowly thought wound to word which found deed.”
Then all the universe, fell silent and frozen
Wolves bowed; ravens sunk in black sorrow.

Allfather leaned close, his beloved son sadly
And spoke sacred charms to his son:
“I’ve never known such pain, though I will not cry out now
Surpassing speared nine-night I call
But how fared you young, with your upturned eyes to me?
Did I geld you with my great and grim might?
I would cast it away, like a curse if I could
I would cast it from cliffs if I could.”
Odin pressed to his son, one final fierce time
And bore Balder’s bright head to his breast
He spoke secret words, that no sages know
A Father’s great grief tarnished gold
No sorrow have I heard, not even Hrethel’s for Herebeald        [Hrethel grieved his son Herebeald who was accidentally shot]
Cut more cruelly than that crimson heart-wound
Not even Norns know, those wisest of disir                               [Norns = mighty fate weavers]
What words the grieving father gave his son.

Then Sigtyr stood up, great sire of Thor                                     [Sigtyr = “victory god” = Odin]
And took up his spear and grim sword
War rumbled distant, past bare and bleak peaks
And barren cliffs bade blizzard-fire forth
The Doom of Gods loomed, Draugadrottinn felt dread                [Draugadrottinn = “lord of the undead” = Odin]
Of the world-rending ruin to come
I have heard tell, on that hard harrow-day
That all beautiful in bright-glory will die.
Wolves will feast wild, and ravens glut well
and Runatyr’s eye run red-blaze                                                 [Runatyr = “rune god” = Odin]
Cruel mercy will crumble, and love will burn cold
And Fenrir’s bane, Balder’s brother, will rise                              [Fenrir’s bane = Vidarr]
Redbeard will charge courageous, the great serpent churning       [Redbeard = Thor]
Mjollnir fly fierce; Gjallarhorn sound                                            [Mjollnir = Thor’s hammer] [Gjallarhorn = horn of Ragnarok]
Brother bleed brother, gods and giants grim-slaughter
Until light kisses Yggdrasil’s life-leaves

Then bright Balder, son of Bale-worker                                      [Bale-worker = Odin]
Will rise wounds-mended with wod                                            [wod = inspiration]
Then brothers will gather, on Gimli’s gleaming                             [Gimli = bright plains]
Together with terror-times past
Balder and Hodr, Vidarr and Vali
Strong and sturdy bonds will be displayed
Sons four of Odin, Father of Fury
Sound and solemn oaths will be made
Kinsmen rekindled, though their kind father gone
The memories of Runegod made mighty                                       [Runegod = Odin]
Through blood-wise giving, a bond ring they’ll bring
Such a fame-ring flows riches ninefold
New realms will rise, from sea-gold and rime
Allfather’s life-gift for long times remade
On the gilded burst-green, brothers gather to share
Memories of Hropt’s fame-might and main                                   [Hropt = “moaner” = Odin]
Kings will renew, brothers bold and kin-true
They will sense their father’s sad sacrifice
And time and again, bold Balder will hear
A faint whisper of the crafty one’s word
Made stronger he’ll be, in war-magic and might
Through his father’s sad gifts given grim
He’ll smile and sing, ruling strong with his kin
‘til deep Nidhogg stirs darkly once more.                                       [Nidhogg = dragon of death]

© Erik Goodwyn, 7/2010

Erik Goodwyn´s Webpage

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