Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 19

Drew for drink to its gleam,

Where he left in endless

Payment the light of an eye.

From the world-ash

Ere Wotan went he broke a bough;

For a spear the staff

He split with strength from the stem.”

Dusk of the Gods, Wagner (Forman’s tr.).

But although Odin was now all-wise, he was sad and oppressed, for he had gained an insight into futurity, [32]and had become aware of the transitory nature of all things, and even of the fate of the gods, who were doomed to pass away. This knowledge so affected his spirits that he ever after wore a melancholy and contemplative expression.

To test the value of the wisdom he had thus obtained, Odin went to visit the most learned of all the giants, Vafthrudnir, and entered with him into a contest of wit, in which the stake was nothing less than the loser’s head.

Odin rose with speed, and went

To contend in runic lore

With the wise and crafty Jute.

To Vafthrudni’s royal hall

Came the mighty king of spells.”

Vafthrudni’s-mal (W. Taylor’s tr.).