The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson; and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson; and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson.

“A very silly question is that,” replied Har; “dost thou imagine that All-Father would invite kings and jarls and other great men and give them nothing to drink but water!  In that case, methinks, many of those who had endured the greatest hardships, and received deadly wounds in order to obtain access to Valhalla, would find that they had paid too great a price for their water drink, and would indeed have reason to complain were they there to meet with no better entertainment.  But thou wilt see that the case is quite otherwise.  For the she-goat, named Heidrun, stands above Valhalla, and feeds on the leaves of a very famous tree called Laerath, and from her teats flows mead in such great abundance that every day a stoop, large enough to hold more than would suffice for all the heroes, is filled with it.”

“Verily,” said Gangler, “a mighty useful goat is this, and methinks the tree she feeds on must have very singular virtues.”

“Still more wonderful,” replied Har, “is what is told of the stag Eikthyrnir.  This stag also stands over Valhalla and feeds upon the leaves of the same tree, and whilst he is feeding so many drops fall from his antlers down into Hvergelmir that they furnish sufficient water for the rivers that issuing thence flow through the celestial abodes.”

41.  “Wondrous things are these which thou tellest me of,” said Gangler, “and Valhalla must needs be an immense building, but methinks there must often be a great press at the door among such a number of people constantly thronging in and out?”

“Why dost thou not ask,” replied Har, “how many doors there are, and what are their dimensions; then wouldst thou be able to judge whether there is any difficulty in going in and out.  Know, then, that there is no lack of either seats or doors.  As it is said in Grimnismal:—­

    “’Five hundred doors
    And forty more
    Methinks are in Valhalla. 
    Eight hundred heroes through each door
    Shall issue forth
    Against the wolf to combat.’”

42.  “A mighty band of men must be in Valhalla,” said Gangler, “and methinks Odin must be a great chieftain to command such a numerous host.  But how do the heroes pass their time when they are not drinking?”

“Every day,” replied Har, “as soon as they have dressed themselves they ride out into the court (or field), and there fight until they cut each other to pieces.  This is their pastime, but when meal-time approaches they remount their steeds and return to drink in Valhalla.  As it is said:—­

    “’The Einherjar all
    On Odin’s plain
    Hew daily each other,
    While chosen the slain are. 
    From the fray they then ride,
    And drink ale with the AEsir.’

“Thou hast thus reason to say that Odin is great and mighty, for there are many proofs of this.  As it is said in the very words of the AEsir:—­

    “’The ash Yggdrasill
    Is the first of trees,
    As Skidbladnir of ships,
    Odin of AEsir,
    Sleipnir of steeds,
    Bifrost of bridges,
    Bragi of bards,
    Habrok of hawks,
    And Garm of hounds is.’

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The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson; and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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