Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 101

By Odin’s fierce embrace comprest,

A wondrous boy shall Rinda bear,

Who ne’er shall comb his raven hair,

Nor wash his visage in the stream,

Nor see the sun’s departing beam,

Till he on Hoder’s corse shall smile

Flaming on the fun’ral pile.”

Descent of Odin (Gray).

When the reluctant Vala had thus spoken, Odin next asked: “Who would refuse to weep at Balder’s death?” This incautious question showed a knowledge of the future which no mortal could possess, and immediately revealed to the Vala the identity of her visitor. Therefore, refusing to speak another word, she sank back into the silence of the tomb, declaring that none would be able to lure her out again until the end of the world was come.

“Hie thee hence, and boast at home,

That never shall inquirer come

To break my iron sleep again,

Till Lok has burst his tenfold chain;

Never, till substantial Night

Has reassum’d her ancient right:

Till wrapt in flames, in ruin hurl’d,

Sinks the fabric of the world.”

Descent of Odin (Gray). [202]

Odin having learned the decrees of Orlog (fate), which he knew could not be set aside, now remounted his steed, and sadly wended his way back to Asgard, thinking of the time, not far distant, when his beloved son would no more be seen in the heavenly abodes, and when the light of his presence would have vanished for ever.

Loki and Hodur

Loki and Hodur

C. G. Qvarnström

On entering Glads-heim, however, Odin was somewhat reassured by the intelligence, promptly conveyed to him by Frigga, that all things under the sun had promised that they would not harm Balder, and feeling convinced that if nothing would slay their beloved son he must surely continue to gladden gods and men with his presence, he cast care aside and resigned himself to the pleasures of the festive board.

The Gods at Play

The playground of the gods was situated on the green plain of Ida, and was called Idavold. Here the gods would resort when in sportive mood, and their favourite game was to throw their golden disks, which they could cast with great skill. They had returned to this wonted pastime with redoubled zest since the cloud which had oppressed their spirits had been dispersed by the precautions of Frigga. Wearied at last, however, of the accustomed sport, they bethought them of a new game. They had learned that Balder could not be harmed by any missile, and so they amused themselves by casting all manner of weapons, stones, etc., at him, certain that no matter how cleverly they tried, and how accurately they aimed, the objects, having sworn not to injure him, would either glance aside or fall short. This new amusement proved to be so fascinating that soon all the gods gathered around Balder, greeting each new failure to hurt him with prolonged shouts of laughter. [203]

The Death of Balder

These bursts of merriment excited the curiosity of Frigga, who sat spinning in Fensalir; and seeing an old woman pass by her dwelling, she bade her pause and tell what the gods were doing to provoke such great hilarity. The old woman was none other than Loki in disguise, and he answered Frigga that the gods were throwing stones and other missiles, blunt and sharp, at Balder, who stood smiling and unharmed in their midst, challenging them to touch him.