An Eye for an Eye

I realised, recently, that I have an unfortunate habit of not giving poor Mimir his due. I very rarely refer to his well with particular reverence, and I tend to gloss over it when thinking about the sacrifices that Odin has made for knowledge. I wrote this poem in an attempt to make amends for that, but a little bit of my typical tongue-in-cheek personality shone through anyway. Sorry, Mimir.

At Mimir’s Well, Mímisbrunnr,

the alphabet soup of the Æsir,

the phrase “an eye for an eye”

takes lucid, literal form.

Below the leaves of Yggdrasil

lies knowledge not for mortal ken,

deep from primordial Ginnungagap

and guarded, well, by the Rememberer.

Thought, recollection and memory

are drunk, deep, from the lips of the Gjallarhorn,

and if you pay the price, as Odin saith,

you may learn truths you wish you hadn’t.

“After all,” you may ask,

“did Odin not have one eye when time began?

Was peripheral vision worth the cost

of knowledge of the end of time, of days,

of knowledge itself?”

The Allfather taps his nose,

and smiles - that smile that

infuriates all gods and mortals both -

and Mimir rolls his eyes, and Odin’s eye


and stands vigil o’er the well

with mead in pledge ‘til Ragnarök.

Eye, horn and well, and ear of Heimdall,

all are hidden in his grove,

and yet many seek the Head,

the Thought, the Recollection, the Worry,

in search of sight, of warning.

An eye for an eye, a truth for a truth.

Knowledge gained for knowledge lost.

And in a moment, truth’s undoing.

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