For some time, I have been fascinated by my Norse heritage. As I have studied the mythology of my homeland and its poetic storytelling, I am enthralled. In the mythology, kernels of truth abound, and there are just too many Christian parallels to ignore. One day I was thinking of one of my favorite figures, Baldr. I wondered how he became so “wise” and “eloquent?” I imagined that wisdom, even for the “gods” came from experience and trial, just like for us mere mortals. In Norse mythology, the gods are flawed and ultimately Baldr loses his life. The figure of the Prodigal Son and the parable we all know is very suited to a Norse style retelling. Here in the form of a traditional ballad, I have re-imagined the story of the Prodigal Son as the story of Baldr’s Wisdom. Not theologically sound, but I hope interesting. (in different versions of the epic accounts, spelling differs – I have chosen the spellings that seem to me to be most common).
– Departure –
The journey took from Breidablik
a quest of sorts was the scheme
from tiresome care and consequence
tyrants of a young man’s dream.
Vapid youth’s vainglorious hope
wastes the days of mortal birth
mocking fate and the better self
trades promise for jesting mirth.
Life must be lived was the spoken phrase
oft repeated to the wise
who counselled take the cautious path
for haste leads to compromise.
Reasons not heard when skies are blue
weathering storms far from thought
birds only sing a pleasing tune
where no clouds of strife are fraught.
Into the world the young man went
eager, excited, serene
Heimdall to watch and guard him home
where nothing can be unclean.
– Wandering –
Traveling far from coast to coast
his eyes awide in wonder
clover his bed below the stars
‘long country lane he wander.
Hraesvelg the breeze did gently blow
guiding the wanderer aright
through fertile valley, laden grove,
toward beauty and wonders bright.
His wandering soul with joy did sing
through hill, dale, and forest glade
to ocean side where found a ship
for distant shore he made.
Aegir’s daughters carried him on
Giallarhorn out of hearing
Kara and Bylgja fro did toss
the sea sick traveler fearing.
Shipwrecked we find our young man next
beyond benefactors reach
guarded no more an agent free
life’s experience to teach.
– Experience –
Lost in the world of men to learn
the lessons in choices made
of sickness and health, pleasure – pain,
as freedom and reason bade.
Alas this innocent abroad
a stranger in this strange land
to eat his bread did till the earth
sowing seed by his own hand.
In sweat of face he labored hard
council given to his mind was brought
as birds had stopped their singing.
Redemption’s hope within him burned
man, nature last understood
all is spirit in grand design
housed in flesh to learn the good.
Wiser men pierce rotten diction
nature forms in us good heed
fables fade ‘mid law’s higher light
to himself came folly’s deed.
– Returning –
Yet is his heart grew filial fire
calling the wanderer home
whilst shame the vice of guilty men
grew in his soul, shadowy gloam.
The young man later courage drawn
charted course and out he set
to the shore of familiar tides
where beck’ning lights ‘cross he met.
A thousand flames o’er distant bay
timbered hills beyond them rise
light streaks across the churning waves
thousand bridges to his prize.
Having been though away so long
in sorrow the man declare
“beckoning lights are no longer mine”
promise lost leads to despair.
But in the fire a glowing ember
a love he knew from his birth
though fatuity’s course he had taken
mercy’s fountain restored his worth.
– Welcoming –
The lights that called from distant shore
warmed the heart and filled the soul
his guilt and folly swallowed up
truth’s freeing balm to console.
Nature, Spirit, to him reveal
man is himself mere shadow
betwixt the world and it’s crude matt’r
destined for a crown bestow.
Before him lay the path that led
to the place where he would plead
restoring fountain wash him clean
saving grace to intercede.
In growing faith his tongue was loosed
standing at the mercy seat
he pled his case to the wise
from whose counsel he retreat.
“Come again in morning luster
live where nothing is impure
stand afresh in glory’s fulg’r
take throne prepared, in royal vesture.