Odens Korpgalder The Lay Of Odin's Corpse Or The Lay Of Odin's Ravens

1. Allfather acts, elves discern,
Vaner know, norns point the way.
Trolls nourish, aeons give birth,
Thurses wait, Valkyries yearn.

2. The Aesir suffered grim forebodings,
Seers mistook the fruit-maid's runes. (2)
Urd's mead she guarded but could not defend it
From the insistence of the great host.

3. Hugin soars high to seek her out.
The Aesir are anxious if he delays;
To Longing-for-life (3) dreams become suffering;
Dim dreams surfeit the dead.

4. Dwarfs grow numb; their powers fall;
Worlds into Ginnung's waning sink; (4)
The Allwise fells beings often,
And again reassembles the fallen.

5. No longer stand fast the earth or the sun;
The stream of destruction stays no more aloft;
Hidden deep in Mimer's well
Lies all wisdom. Know you as yet or what?

6. Dwells in the dells the knowing maiden, (5)
Fallen from Yggdrasil down, from the ash;
The elves named her Idun; she is the oldest
Of Ivalde's younger brood.

7. Unhappy she seemed over this misfortune,
Lying captive under the lofty tree.
She liked it not with the daughter of Night,
Accustomed to having worlds for her dwelling.

8. The victory gods saw the sorrow of Nanna (6);
They sent her in Hel's house a wolf-disguise;
She put it on and changed disposition;
Confused with illusion, altered appearance.

9. Odin selected the watcher of Bafrast (7)
To ask of the dead sun's sorrowing widow
All that she knew of the fate of the world.
Brage and Lopt bore the testimony. (8)

10. Incantations they chanted, they rode on wolves,
The ruler and powers, to the ends of the world.
Odin, listening from Lidskjalf, (9)
Lets them journey far and wide.

11. Wise Heimdal asked if the mead-provider
Knew of the origin, age, and the end
Of the races of gods and her companions,
Of heaven, the void, and the earth.

12. Naught would she say, not a word would she utter
In response to the askers, nor discourse with them;
Her tears fell fast from her brain's shields;
Her power was numbed, exhausted, and dead.

13. Filled with sorrow Jorun appeared (10)
Before the gods, unable to speak;
The more they asked, the less she said;
All their words flowed in vain.

14. Foremost at the questing was Heimdal, the watcher
Of the horn of the father of hosts;
He brought with him Loki, the one born of Nal,
While Brage, the bard, stood guard.

15. The warriors of Odin attained to the Winehall,
Brought to the place by the sons of the past;
There entered Ygg's heroes to salute the Aesir,
And share in the feasting on mead.

16. They wished Hangatyr (11) health and contentment,
With well-being ever to brew his ale;
The drinkers were blissful to joy at the tankard,
Eager to feast with the Ever-young.

17. Each benched by Odin, the rulers together
Eat and are sated with Sarimner; (12)
With the ladle of Nikar (13) Skogul at the tables
Serves mead in the horns of memory.

18. At the feast much was asked by the gods of Heimdal,
By the goddesses of Loki.
All day long until darkness fell
They sought the seeress' wisdom and prophecy.

19. Ill they thought was resolved
This matter, and little commendable.
Cunning was needed to elicit
An answer from the sly witch.

20. Darkening, Odin speaks. All listen:
"Night shall be used for renewal of counsel;
Each one who can shall by the morrow
Find some solution for the Aesir's weal."

21. At the mountains' rim round the wintry earth
The offspring of Fenris, exhausted, fell.
The gods left the feast, saluting Ropt (14)
And Frigg, at the departure of the steed of night.

22. Soon from the cast, out of icicle-waves,
Comes the thorn of sleep to the frozen giant,
Whose minions are slain in beautiful Midgard
Every night at the midnight hour.

23. Then wanes the power. Hands grow numb.
A swoon assails the white sword-Ase; (15)
Unconsciousness reigns on the midnight breath;
Thought fails in tired beings.

24. But the son of the Dawn spurs on his charger,
Caparisoned gaily in precious gems.
Over Manhome flows radiance from the steed's mane;
He draws in the chariot Dvalin's toy. (16)

25. At the nourishing earth's northern horse-door,
Neath the noble ash-tree's farthest root,
Went to their lairs hags and giants,
Spooks, and dwarfs, and the black elves.

26. Up rose the gods. Forth shone the sun.
Northward to Niflheim night drew away;
Heimdal once more sprang up upon Bafrast,
Mighty clarion-blower on the mountains of heaven.


1. Grimnismal, 20.

2. The planetary equivalent of Bargalmer, the "fruit giant."

3. What the Buddhists call tanha, thirst for life. It characterizes the lower elements which are drawn to matter.

4. Ginnungagap: the Unfathomable Void.

5. Idun: the soul of the dead planet is being questioned by the gods and made to yield its increment of consciousness.

6. Nanna: the lowest elements of the dead planet which, when the soul has left, become transformed into the illusory material to be reused in future forms.

7. Heimdal: the "white sword-Ase."

8. Intuition and aspiring mind.

9. The Shelf of Compassion.

10. The earth-to-be, Idun reborn.

11. The hanged god: Odin, the Great Sacrifice. Cf. Havamal, 137-42.

12. One of the boars that feed the One-harriers: Andrimner, air; Eldrimner, fire; Sarimner, water; the elements of earth experience.

13. The Shaker: Odin as misfortune. Skogul is a Valkyrie who serves the gods and the One-harriers who have united with their inner god.

14. The maligned: Odin as the hierophant.

15. Heimdal, watcher of the gods on the rainbow bridge, who blows the horn at Ragnarok.

16. Dvalin's toy is the solar disk.