Friday, July 11, 2008

The Death Of Balder

The Death Of Balder Cover From the wooden stem thus produced he deftly fashioned a shaft ere he hastened back to Idavold, where the Gods were still hurling missiles at Balder, Hodur alone leaning mournfully against a tree, and taking no part in the new game. Carelessly Loki approached him, inquired the cause of his melancholy, and twitted him with pride and indifference, since he would not condescend to take part in the new game. In answer to these remarks, Hodur pleaded his blindness; but when Loki put the mistletoe in his hand, led him into the midst of the circle, and indicated in what direction the novel target stood, Hodur threw his shaft boldly. Instead of the loud shout of laughter which he expected to hear, a shuddering cry of terror fell upon his ear, for Balder the beautiful had fallen to the ground, slain by the fatal blow.

“So on the floor lay Balder dead; and round
Lay thickly strewn swords, axes, darts, and spears,
Which all the Gods in sport had idly thrown
At Balder, whom no weapon pierced or clove;
But in his breast stood fixed the fatal bough
Of mistletoe, which Lok, the Accuser, gave
To Hoder, and unwitting Hoder threw —
’Gainst that alone had Balder’s life no charm.”
-BALDER DEAD (Matthew Arnold)

Anxiously the Gods all crowded around him, but alas! life was quite extinct, and all their efforts to revive the fallen Sun-God were vain. Inconsolable at their loss, they turned angrily upon Hodur, whom they would have slain had they not been restrained by the feeling that no willful deed of violence should ever desecrate their peace steads. At the loud sound of lamentation the Goddesses came in hot haste, and when Frigga saw that her darling was dead, she passionately implored the Gods to go to Niflheim and entreat Hel to release her victim, for the earth could not live happy without him.

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