“A creaking bow,” cried the High One. “a burning flame, a yawning wolf, a croaking raven, a grunting wild boar, a tree with shallow roots, mounting waves, a boiling kettle, a flying arrow, tide on the ebb, new ice, a coiled snake, a bride’s pillow talk, a sword with a hairline, a playful bear, the sons of a king, an ailing calf, a stubborn thrall, a witch’s flattery, a fresh corpse, a chance encounter with your brother’s murderer, a half-gutted house, a racehorse — if he lames one leg he will be useless: no man should be such a fool as to trust these things.”

odin-billings-daughterThe High One cried, “A man should not trust a woman’s word and he should never rely on her promises. The hearts of women were turned on a whirling wheel and imbued with caprice.”

“To love a fickle woman is like this: setting out over ice with a two year old colt, unshod, restive and unbroken; or sailing a ship without a rudder in a storm; or hunting reindeer over slippery rocks, with a pulled hamstring.”

“I will speak clearly,” cried the High One, “for know them both: men deceive women. The fairer our words the falser our thoughts. We undermine their common sense. A man who longs for a woman’s love mouths soft words, and brings gifts, and praises her beauty; sophistry works wonders.”

“Let no man mock another because of his love. Time and again the wise are fettered by beauty, and ache with love-longing, while fools remain unmoved and free.”

“Let no man mock another over what touches many men. Time and again wise men behave like idiots in the name of some grand passion. Each man must be his own best judge; nothing is worse for a man who knows himself than frustrated desire.”

The High One cried, “I learned this for myself when I sat among the reeds, waiting and waiting for my love. I prized that woman as much my own life. Much good it did me!”

I first saw Billing’s daughter while she slept. She was as dazzling the sun. I thought the whole earth would become a wilderness unless I could lie with her. “Come back after dark. Odin, if you want to win this woman.” That was what she said. “It would be the worse for us if anyone found we were lovers.”

“I hurried off, light-headed with desire, wholly taken in by her dulcet words. I was sure she would soon be mine and mine and mine again. I came back after nightfall. All the warriors in the stronghold were awake, holding burning torches, waving blazing brands. I had followed a false trail.”

“I would not be shaken off. I came back at dawn, and all the warriors were asleep. What did I find? Nothing but a bitch that the fair woman had leashed to her bed.”

“Men should know that many fine woman proves fickle when put to the test. I learned this when I wooed Billing’s daughter with fair words. That treacherous lady responded with contempt, foul contempt and nothing else,” cried the High One.