The Mead of Poetry
the end of the war between the Æsir and the Vanir, all of the gods and goddesses sealed their truce by
spitting into a great jar. Rather than letting this spittle be wasted, the gods decided to fashion a man from the spittle. His name was Kvasir, and he was so steeped
in the knowledge of the nine worlds that he became renowned for his ability to answer people's questions. He was so wise that no one could ask him any questions to
which he did not know the answer. He travelled widely through the world teaching people knowledge, and when he arrived as a guest to some dwarfs, Fjalar and Galar,
they called him to a private discussion with them and killed him. They poured his blood into two vats and a pot [or cauldron]; the latter was called Oðrerir, but the
vats were called Son and Boðn. They mixed honey with the blood and it turned into the mead, whoever drinks from which becomes a poet or a scholar. The dwarfs told
the Æsir that Kvasir had suffocated in intelligence because there was no one there educated enough to be able to ask him questions.
he dwarves then invited a giant called Gilling and his wife to their home. They asked him to go rowing on the sea
with them and after they were far out to sea they upset the boat. Gilling was unable to swim and was drowned while the dwarves righted the boat and rowed home. They
told Gilling's wife of the accident and she became very upset and began weeping. Fjalar asked her if she would be comforted by looking out to sea in the direction of
where Gilling had been drowned. She wanted to do this and Fjalar then told Galar to climb above the door and drop a stone onto her and thus end her wailing. When
Gilling's son Suttung learned of what had occurred he went to the dwarves, seized them and put them on a skerry covered by the tide. The dwarves begged Suttung for
their lives and offered them the mead as compensation for his father. Suttung took the mead home and set his daughter Gunnlöð as its guardian.
ðin left Asgard one day and happened upon nine serfs mowing hay. He offered to sharpen their scythes and they agreed.
Oðin took a hone and edged their tools and the serfs thought the tools cut much better and wanted to buy the hone. Oðin said the one who bought it should pay by
giving a banquet. The serfs replied they were all willing to do this and asked him to hand over the hone. Oðin threw the hone into the air and in their efforts to
catch it the serfs killed one another.
ðin sought lodging that night with the giant Baugi, Suttung's brother. Baugi said things were not going well for him
since he had found nine of his serfs killed and had no hope fo finding other labourers. Oðin, using the name Bölverk, offered to do the work of nine men for the rest
of the season in exchange for one drink of Suttung's mead. Baugi said he had nothing to do with Suttung's mead, but he would go along with Bölverk to try to obtain
the end of the summer Bölverk presented himself to his master and asked for his reward. Bölverk and Baugi
went to Suttung and Baugi explained the bargain he had struck with Bölverk. Suttung refused to allow a single drop of the mead to leave his control. Bölverk told
Baugi they would have to obtain the mead through guile and trickery. Together Baugi and Bölverk went to the mountain where Gunnlöð dwelt. Bölverk brought out the
drill called Rati and bid Baugi bore through the mountain. Baugi bored through the stone and told Bölverk he was done. Bölverk blew into the hole and chips flew into
his face. Bölverk realized Baugi was trying to cheat him. He told Baugi to continue to bore until he was through the mountain. Baugi bored again and when he stopped
Bölverk blew into the hole and the chips were blown right through. Bölverk then changed himself into a serpent and crawled through the hole left by the drill. Baugi
stabbed at him with the drill but missed.
fter entering the mountain Oðin resumed his normal form and spent three nights with Gunnlöð in exchange for three
drinks of the mead. With his first drink he drank up all that was in Oðrerir, with his second, Boðn, and all of Son with his third. Having gained all of the mead
Oðin then donned his eagle plumes and flew for Asgard. While still far from Asgard, Oðin realized he was being pursued. Having seen the eagle depart the mountain
Suttung also changed into eagle shape and set off in pursuit. Realizing he might be caught, Oðin flew faster and faster while the Æsir prepared vessels to receive
the mead. Seeing the eagle pursuing Oðin, the Æsir gathered combustible material and piled it inside the walls of Asgard. As Oðin cleared the walls, the materials
were set on fire and the flames reached up and singed the wings of Suttung causing him to fall into the fire where he burned to death.
ðin flew to the vessels that had been prepared and spat the mead into the crocks with such force and urgency that a
few drops of the mead fell and this became the poetasters' share. Anyone tasting this mead would gain the ability to compose world-renowned poetry.