Today brings my tenth audio recording to this blog. This time, it is Gunnlaðarljóð, which was posted as text last November. My recitation uses the original Norse pronunciations of the names instead of the anglicized versions.
Today’s poem is a lore poem, but one rather different from others posted here. It is a retelling of Odin’s winning of the poetic mead, but instead of following Odin’s point of view (as my poem The Mead Quest did), my poem today follows Gunnlod’s point of view. However, any such tale must necessarily be somewhat speculative. All that Snorri’s Edda tells us about Gunnlod is that her father Suttung put her in charge of guarding the mead (after he got it from the dwarves), and that: “Bolverk went to where Gunnlod was and lay with her for three nights and then she let him drink three draughts of the mead.” (The quote is from the Anthony Faulkes translation.) The Hávamál scarcely tells us more, but there seems to be some implication that Gunnlod helped Odin escape. (See stanzas 13-14 and 104-110 for the somewhat cryptic talk about it all.) The modern day poet must necessarily invent some motivation or other for Gunnlod in this story. We can probably assume she’s unhappy with her father. (A possibly similar father-daughter antagonism seems to be at work in the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen.) She may also have been spell-bound, figuratively or literally, by Odin. Probably other things must be invented as well to finish the story, but I won’t try to make an exhaustive list of it. Suffice it to say that my story here should *not* be thought of as authoritative or canonical. Other Asatruar will probably have different ideas about what Gunnlod’s motives were.
I now present an audio recording of my poem The Mead Quest, which is a short poetic rendering of Óðin’s winning of Óðrerir, the poetic mead. For aspiring skalds in modern Asatru, this tale is perhaps the most important part of the mythology.
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.