Wednesday 4 December 2013

Havamal Snippets 107: Odin acquires the Mead of Poetry

This is continuation of verses 104, 105, and 106, in which Odin is trying to get hold of the Mead of Poetry/Inspiration.  The Mead of Poetry is not really alcoholic Mead but is rather the thing that can cause a man to become creatively inspired (or perhaps wise instead).  Seeing as men are different from one another it might be that Mead of Poetry might be different for each man, rather than just one particular thing; in the same kind of way that ‘One mans meat is another mans poison’, by which I mean that one man may find inspiration in a way that another man may not. 

The Mead of Poetry is stored in a container called Othrerir (or Odhrerir or other similar spellings) that can be drunk/consumed by a man if he knows how to get it.  The previous verses have illustrated how difficult it can be for a man to get the Mead of Poetry, and it shows that the man may have to use deception in order to get to it. I’m not a man of trickery, and am not keen on it, so I don’t know whether this is true, but it does show the lengths that some men (or in this case God Odin) will go to to acquire the precious Mead of Poetry.

In the last line of the verse, Othinn’s sanctuary, the sanctuary could be the human brain, because that is where the Gods communicate with man (in the Norse Creation Myth Odin & his two brothers used eyebrows from a slayed Giant called Ymir to separate the world of men from the world of Gods, and if you look at a face then you will see that below the eyebrows is where physical activities happen (like eating and breathing) and above the eyebrows is where mental activities happen (like thinking and remembering)), though I’m not at all certain of this.

Vel keypts litar
hefi ek vel notit
fás er fróðum vant
því at Óðrerir
er nú upp kominn
á alda vés jarðar

[2] I have taken great advantage
[1] from the well-purchased appearance; [footnote 1]
little is lacking to the wise,
because Othrerir
has now come up
to Othinn's sanctuary. [footnote 2]

Footnotes on the translation from the original site

[footnote 1]: vel keypts litar
This line is probably corrupt as it stands.  See David Evans, p. 121, for commentary.  It is tempting to follow Corpus Poeticum Boreale and read litar as something to do with mead, because the rest of the verse does seem to refer to the benefits of the acquisition of the vélkeypts mjaðar, "fraud-bought mead".  On the other hand, this might be Othinn congratulating himself for the carefully deceitful behaviour (the "well-purchased appearance"?) which enabled him to steal the mead in the first place.

[footnote 2]: á alda vés iarþar
This is the manuscript reading, and clearly corrupt.  See David Evans, pp. 121-2, for discussion and pptions -- I am following Jonsson's emendation á vé alda jaðars, "to the sacred place of the lord of men (Othinn)", i.e. "to Othinn's sanctuary".


No comments:

Post a Comment