Odin on the Tree


Lauren as Odin

Light flick, leaf flash
Words well, wonder…

Light flick, leaf flash,
Words well, wonder…

I wonder what wisdom I came here to gain
In this flicker of light, on this tree, in this pain,
As my sacrifice made to myself in my pride,
Hung here and given whole.

Light fails, blood price
Death, war, fire, ice.

Here is memory’s price, that I killed and I lied
And I pondered death’s price as I lived, I denied
The dominion of death for the races I shaped
And gave my breath to draw them through the dark.

Throne, price, hang tree,
Fire, ice, you, me

W.G. Collingwood (1854 - 1932)

Collingwood’s Odin

(Mystery, mystery, teach us our history)

So the visions I see are the price of a throne
Where I hang from this gallows and always alone,
With the runes I can read and my worlds lying free
With no more mystery.

Ash tree, world fruit,
Leaf, light, well root.

And the sight that I gain is the price of an eye
As the wind shakes the branches and passes me by
And the raven-swift rustlings of thought and desire
Become the price of all that I require.

Times branch, winds blow
Words well, you know.

By Haukurth at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Odin in an eighteenth century Icelandic manuscript

I am I as I hang in the heart of this tree
And there are no directions in all I can see
And I bind myself fast to the duty I owe
With all my mastery.

Suns rise, wind shakes
Dream sons, hope wakes.

No up and no down and no start and no end
And the worlds are all mine, with no equal, no friend,
Just the dream of a father that sons may surpass
And the hope to guide them forward, through the dark.

Nine worlds, ice, sire,
Best worlds, desire

I shaped the nine worlds from the wreck of the war
And the fragments of all that had stood there before
And I stood as the father of all I had made
Alone as I have stayed.

By Berig (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Viking era stone from Tjängvide, Alskog

Light comes, wind near,
Words well, dreams fear.

With my strength and my cunning and all I can lend
And the wisdom of runes that no price can amend
And the choice that I made when I bound myself here
They all lie bare before me, free and clear.

Fire, ice, wait breath
Wind knows, life, death
Wonder, I wonder, I wonder…

For nine nights open-eyed with the Norns and the tree
In the wind, until everything’s speaking to me
And the future lies open, with my mystery
But bound by prophecy.
So I dream of a fire to make me feel warm
And a friend who would stand by my side in the storm
And a son who could teach me a new way to be,
As my wonders keep revolving, through the dark.

(Built such wonders, and lost them again to the dark)

May 2013.

I wrote this as the first stretch goal for the Sassafrass Sundown kickstarter. It is available as part of the libretto, and may one day be recorded. I think of this as a duet between Odin and Yggdrasil,when he hung himself on the tree for nine days and nights to gain wisdom of the runes, and so before he meets Loki and before Baldur is born. Odin is the god of breath and wind, and in the bit about this in the Havamal it’s all wind. I’m playing with a lot of themes and imagery from Sundown here, as well as from the orignal myth, and my old Norn poem “Keeping an Eye Out“. I was also playing with the music, which isn’t something I usually get to do. The Odin part of this goes to Odin’s Theme.

(If you like my poetry, and especially if you like this one, it seems very likely you will also like Sassafrass.)