The Mead Quest

Here is one of my favorite early poems, based on the tale of Odin’s winning of the poetic mead from Snorri’s Edda. A version of the tale exists in the Havamal, but it clearly has some differences. I have written it as a lore poem in eight stanzas of ljóðaháttr. In this one, the spelling has been completely anglicized. Since mead is strongly identified with poetry in the Old Norse tradition, this tale allowed for a tight interweaving of the two concepts, especially in the first and last stanzas. (As a change, I have now put the first stanza prior to the break.)

The poem is called “The Mead Quest.”

Honor I Odin
by eagerly pouring
that precious and potent mead.
How he won
that wynnful draught:
that spell I speak in verse.

Slaves all nine
were slain with greed
in lust for a worthy whetstone.
Thus Bolverk served
Baugi a summer;
he labored long and hard.

Bölvek had bargained
with Baugi for Mead,
at Hnitbiorg his hire they sought.
But flatly Suttung
refused that draught;
to a skillful scheme they turned.

Baugi with Rati
then bored through rock
and gnawed a narrow path.
The sly snake
then slithered fast
beyond his stinging stab.

Gunnlod he met
and gained her love;
for three of nights he knew her.
The draughts he drank
and drained were three —
that mighty mead he stole.

The eagle flew
to Asgard fast
with Suttung swiftly chasing.
An amount of mead
as mud of eagle
for poetry poor was spilt.

But the greatest bounty
he brought to the gods —
a gift for the favored few.
Odin poured
that potent brew
for skalds and scholars alike.

For Man in Midgard
the Mead is real:
seek to win it yourself.
Drink well
and deeply enjoy
the portion I poured tonight!

Copyright © 2012 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

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3 thoughts on “The Mead Quest

  1. Pingback: Valhalla | Eirik Westcoat

  2. Pingback: Audio for The Mead Quest | Eirik Westcoat

  3. Pingback: Gunnlaðarljóð | Eirik Westcoat, Skald

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