Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Odin's Mead


 Odin's Mead

 I am not a jewel
fashioned for your collection
nor the paint-pot
for your ever-moving lips,
not the fertility
to your futility
not assumed erudition
to your chosen perdition.

I am not meant for
your wound of a mouth
bleeding hate-kindling for fire-hags
flaming sweet summer-country, 
not the heart-stake
vitriol will make,
not victory to be claimed
in a war too dirty to name.
I'm only the last
taste in the drinking horn
of some bright thing Other
a soft-foot step and fleet hand
pouring drunken snow
brewed by Ones who go
on spirit bones far stronger
but here walk free no longer.
I am only the bite
of the berry
dropping seeds from the bramble,
a tart taste in a season
of falling farewells,
a sapphire flicker
brief in the blue mirror,
 a gesturing ghost's fever
behind you forever;
a thrum too low to be clear
that only the silenced can hear. 

October 2022


 posted for earthweal's
Note: I've recounted this myth before, but briefly to recap, in Norse mythology, the Poetic Mead or Mead of Poetry is a magical beverage made from the murdered body of a being created from the gods' spit which sealed the truce of the Aesir-Vanir war, and was stolen from the  jötnar guarding it by Odin in eagle form, who spits it out into sacred  golden vessels for those chosen by the gods. Whoever drinks from these is given the gifts of poetry and knowledge, and is transformed into a skald and scholar. Odin also releases some of the mead in his droppings as he flies. This anyone can drink, and is called 'the rhymester's share." 
Images: One of the golden horns of Gallehus, public domain
"The Gotlandic image stone Hammars (III). It is held to depict Odin in his eagle fetch (note the eagle's beard), Gunnlöð (holding the mead of poetry) and Suttungr." public domain 


  1. Dregs the skald begs, or steals on the Eagle: How could drippings and droppings spit us all the way into the third room of the dream? Maybe such barriers distinguish the worth of the task; we climb many branches of this tree of a poem to get to "some bright thing Other," small though it seems -- "the bite of the berry dropping seeds in the bramble." Whatever its size, it's something we must forage and we travel far into Odin's drinking horn of a forest to get to the good litter. Our unworthiness exceeds us, the purest distillate -- that "sapphire flicker" -- is fleeting for eternity. But lookee here - some bodacious faggots for the fire.

    1. I hope so,B. This seems to wander a bit from the forest path into a more inner place of light and shadow--but I don't have as much power to choose what I write these days--I can only write what comes. Your own offerings to this prompt are straight from the golden horn.

  2. So much to love here and in reading I am flown through other myths, where Taliesin comes into being by a scalded ( Skald??) finger sucked as does Finn MacCoul come into receipt of his poetic genius from a blister of Salmon. I am reminded that the spirit which leaves the whisky cask is the 'Angel's share' and wonder at the threads that might bind all of this. It is clear that some of the Eagles drops were imbibed here dear rhymester. Fabulous.

    1. I've written to that cauldron of Taliesin before, too, somewhere Paul--these images of our origins, of our predecessors in transcribing these mysterious alphabets, the first skalds, bards and ollaves, are a rich finding-ground, and the deep dig of myth even more so. Thanks so much for reading--and for writing the response you did as well. It made my morning.

  3. What a glorious read this is, each stanza adding to the force of the whole........I especially love "I'm only the last taste in the drinking horn of some bright thing Other".....Wonderful writing, Joy. Looking forward to your challenge next week. So glad you are here at earthweal.

    1. Thank you Sherry. I loved your two poems as well.

  4. An ambitious and layered poem here, Joy, and certainly a whole new notion of where our inspiration comes from--to me at least. I had never heard this myth before. Also, I love that image of the golden horn at top. That's marvelous.

  5. Your poem took me into the realms of myth. Although I don't know the stories behind your layered words their meanings speak to me. Suzanne - Wordpress blog - Mapping Uncertainty

  6. The din of useless and destructive words in this world is overwhelming sometimes. We must turn to the overlooked, the silent, the "only" to hear the true ones.

    1. Exactly. Thanks for reading, and for getting it, K.

  7. the final couplet rings and echoes like a struck gong. when will we listen to the silent? ~


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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