Building Asgard’s Wall

Today I present the tale of the building of Asgard’s wall in a lore poem of eleven stanzas of fornyrðislag with completely anglicized spelling. It is based on the story as found in the Gylfaginning of Snorri Sturluson’s Edda. It tells how Asgard got a defensive wall and of the origin of the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. The opening stanza in my poem includes a feature that is found in many skaldic poems — a reference to poetry through one of the many kennings for it. The poem’s title is simply “Building Asgard’s Wall.”

Silence I seek
for saying my tale
of the master mason
who meant to build
for the garth of gods
the greatest of walls;
with Ygg’s ale now
I utter my words.

Midgard was made
and mighty Valhalla;
for proof against
the passage of etins
the Aesir sought
a solid defense;
a builder offered
the best of walls.

The sun and moon
he sought as payment
and Freyja to wed
as fairest wife;
the Aesir allowed
only a winter —
if unfinished the fort,
then forfeit his wage.

Alone must he labor,
allowed no help;
an exception he sought
— Svadilfari his horse —
and Loki arranged
that the right be granted.
With winter’s start
the work was begun.

The stallion’s work
startled the gods;
he steadily hauled
the heavy stones
— always at night —
and every day
the builder labored
to lay the walls.

Fast proceeded
the fort’s assembly;
by summer’s start
it would stand complete.
The Aesir assembled
on seats of judgement
to moot on their doom
and deem a response.

It was soon decided
that the son of Laufey
should bear the blame
for the blight approaching.
Thus Loki must manage
that the mason forfeit,
or Loft would lose
his life for failing.

When evening came,
out ran a mare
who neighed to distract
the stallion from work.
Away he wended,
towards the mare
with the hapless builder
hurrying after.

The chase continued,
taking all-night;
the stallion’s running
had stopped the work.
With day’s dawning
deduced the mason
that for certain his fee
forfeit would be.

With wrath of etins
raged the mason
for all to see;
the Aesir summoned
Thor from the East
to thrash the etin —
with Mjollnir’s power
he paid his wage.

But Svadilfari had sated
himself on Loki,
and some time after,
Sleipnir was born.
Eight-footed and grey,
an awesome steed —
amongst the gods
and men the best.

Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.


2 thoughts on “Building Asgard’s Wall

  1. Pingback: Audio for Building Asgard’s Wall | Eirik Westcoat, Skald

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