"Odin Hanging on the World-Tree" by Franz Stassen, illustration in Die Edda: Germanische Götter- und Heldensagen by Hans von Wolzogen, 1920.

Odin Grasps the Runes

From Havamal:

139. I ween that I hung | on the windy tree,
Hung there for nights full nine;
With the spear I was wounded, | and offered I was
To Odin, myself to myself,
On the tree that none | may ever know
What root beneath it runs.

140. None made me happy | with loaf or horn,
And there below I looked;
I took up the runes, | shrieking I took them,
And forthwith back I fell.

141. Nine mighty songs | I got from the son
Of Bolthorn, Bestla’s father;
And a drink I got | of the goodly mead
Poured out from Othrörir.

142. Then began I to thrive, | and wisdom to get,
I grew and well I was;
Each word led me on | to another word,
Each deed to another deed.

143. Runes shalt thou find, | and fateful signs,
That the king of singers colored,
And the mighty gods have made;
Full strong the signs, | full mighty the signs
That the ruler of gods doth write.

Odin Hangs from the World Tree. Carl Emil Doepler, Illustrations from Walhall: Die Götterwelt der Germanen by Wilhelm Ranisch, 1905.
Odin Hangs from the World Tree. Carl Emil Doepler, Illustrations from Walhall: Die Götterwelt der Germanen by Wilhelm Ranisch, 1905.
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2 comments on “Odin Grasps the Runes

  1. […] And one note on the poem itself – if you’ve been reading any of the poems of the Poetic Edda before, of which this is a member, then you’re familiar with the fact that these poems often include instructions on various bits of lore, instructions, aphorisms, trivia, and so on. This poem deals predominantly with the magic of the runes, an appropriate subject for a former servant of Odin. […]

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