adapted from the norse edda Odin & Billingsdottir

a poem by RICHARD DEAKIN from the book WAYLAND SMITH

A groaning bow, a growling flame,

a snarling wolf, a croaking raven,

a shallow-rooted tree, piling-high waves,

a boiling kettle, an arrow in flight,

an ebb tide, new ice, a coiling snake,

a bride’s sweet talk on the first night,

a sword with a crack in it,

a playful bear, a king’s sons,

a sick calf, a stubborn slave,

the flattery of witches, a freshly-killed corpse,

a brother’s murderer ill-met upon the road,

a half-ruined House, a racing stallion,

are not safe.   No man should trust them!

To love a faithless woman is as dangerous

as setting out over new ice on an unbroken colt,

as sailing a rudderless ship through raging storm,

as hunting reindeer over ice-crusted rocks

with a pulled hamstring. 

Let no man mock another about his love!  

Time out of mind the Wise will be snared by Beauty,

enslaved by Love while fickle fools remain free.

I tried to make love to Billing’s daughter.

I saw her first in soft sleep.

The world seemed all a waste land till I could have her.

“Come back after dark,” she said,

“if you want this woman, Odin.

Bad it would be for both of us to be found out.”

I went back after dark, when warriors are weary.

But all the armoured warriors in that keep

were up and about, packing blades,

a torch blazing in each man’s hand.

Thus was I lured to danger by that young woman!

But I would not lose my Will for the World…

I went back at dawn, when weary warriors slept.

Nothing I found in her bed but the bitch-dog she tied there.

Many a fine female proves fickle at the finish!

This I learned from Billing’s daughter.

That treacherous creature gave back only contempt,

foul contempt she gave for Odin’s love, and nothing but!

- Richard Deakin  (from: “Wayland Smith”)


...sacrificed himself to himself when he hung nine nights on the World Ash Tree Yggdrassil in pursuit of knowledge through pain, traded one of his eyes for a draught from Mimir’s well so he could see further, doles out (sparingly) the mead of poetry,  has the ravens Huginn and Muninn (“Thought” and “Memory”) sitting one on each shoulder, an anonymous middleaged man in a widebrimmed hat, the Lord of the Nine Worlds...

Somebody once asked Him if He ever used another name, and He said:

“I will tell you all my other names.  I am Grim, I am Raider, I am Helmeted Man, the Pleasant One, the Third.  I am the Blinder by Death; I am the High One, the Sad One; I am Happy War and Spear Thruster; I am one-eyed Flame, Worker of Evil; I am the Hooded Man.  I am Deep Hood and Long Beard; I am Sigfod and Hnikud; I am Allfather; I am the Atreides and the Cargo God.  I have never been known by one name since first I came to Middle Earth.”