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Kyle Piscioniere Sayings of the High One Analysis After rereading Sayings of the High One, my main interest

lies in its construction. Larringtons Poetic Edda introduction to the piece claims that Sayings, like a few other poems in the book, is probably cobbled together from a few different sources, all united by a similar theme. This accounts for Loddfafnirs introduction mid-poem, the narrators ambiguous identity (sometimes Odin, sometimes unnamed), and the shift to runic instruction at the end of the poem. While the final result is a moving, peerless view into the mindset of the Vikings, I want to identify the seams where the different poems are sewn together. More importantly, I want to speculate as to the initial intentions of whoever drafted the final work. I believe that the piece is not just Viking wisdom, but a type of patchwork narrative designed to reveal Odins character. After some preliminary research, the sources of the text have been somewhat demystified. The website Sacred-Texts explains that most scholars accept Sayings of the High One as most likely having been derived from five possible sources (http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe04.htm), compiled by Snorri, and altered over time. This source goes on to say is it all but meaningless to talk about "interpolations" in a poem which has developed almost solely through the process of piecing together originally unrelated odds and ends. I think, though, that even speculation as to Snorris motives can help us understand the poem somewhat better. The poem opens with wisdom verse dispensed by a speaker, who eventually reveals himself to be Odin. In typical Odinnic fashion, he does so by revealing cryptic clues, but hes identified nonetheless. This, then, drives my assertion that the poem is meant to give us as much insight into Odins character as it is the values of the Vikings. The first part of the poem is objectively good advice: sayings without motive or bias whose narrator seems to lack a strong presence. As it goes on, though, we get the bitter gods take on women, including a personal account of his treatment by the hand of a lover. Further on,

Kyle Piscioniere he tells us how he came by his wisdom and magic, outlining both his personal struggles and boasting of his own knowledge of runes. When we look at the poem, we can see where the separate poems run together. Obviously, the introduction of Loddfafnir in line 112 shows a shift in tone, but less obvious is the stanza beginning with line 96, which begins Odins first meaningful foray into myth. The essay on Sacred-Texts suggests that this story was added to illustrate the preceding poem on unfaithfulness, but I believe the piece to hold a deeper meaning. If this is to be taken as a revelation of Odins character, then Snorri added this to illustrate that point. This small byte of mythological trivia, repeated in the Edda, is a small diatribe on the harsh view Odin has of women. It goes against other views weve seen Norsemen hold of women, most notably Freyrs fanatic pursuit of Gerd and the tragic heroics of Brynhild. Odins small speech on seducing Billings girl is the type of cold, ruthless musing wed expect from him, but, as other myths suggest, isnt as objectively practical as the opening advice of the poem. Sayings of the High One then adopts a style similar to the opening wisdom verse. It is now addressing Loddfafnir, but giving shrewder and more mystical advice. Whereas the nameless recipient of the first half of the poem learned to deal with human affairs, Loddfafnir learns charms to handle drunkenness, sickness, and witchcraft. The poem is now tailored to the type of advice Odin finds most important. So Sayings is, as it ends, clearly Odin speaking, teaching about the things that only Odin can give. This shows that the poem is not merely conventional wisdom, but a narrative, gifted with its own plot and purpose. Snorri, I believe, was not just grouping similar poems for preservation; he was stringing together a picture of Odin, using multiple sources to show the gods deceptiveness, fortitude, and wisdom.