Without Even a Mirror to Know She Was Beautiful – Gunnlod; Guardian of the Poetry Mead
(Modelled on the tale from the Norse myths)
This deeply moving piece is not illustrated with art but with storystrations.
He was suddenly there, impossibly close, the handsome stranger. In his long blue cloak and wide-brimmed hat; he seemed somehow too big for his skin, and he loomed over the workers of the farm. They should not have looked in his eye, for they were drawn in, to fall among the worlds. Swirling wildly among the nine known worlds and all the unknown worlds as well, they could see and hear everything, and presently they came to hear their own inner voices; each other’s thoughts … “I’ve never liked you.” “You treat me badly.” “I work harder than you.” There should be less reward for you.” “I quite like your wife.”
The knives were out, they fell upon each other in rage, and presently all were dead.
The stranger turned towards the farm, “You suddenly seem to be short of workers.”
“Yes I do.”
“I shall work your farm for you, and all I wish in return is some small piece of information.”
The work was done in no time. The fields tilled. The seeds in. The plants they grew and were harvested. In an impossible time, the barns were fuller than they’d ever been.
“All I wish in return is to know where your brother keeps his treasure.”
“I could not possibly tell you, I have promised.”
“You have promised me, and all you have to do is point to the place.”
They climbed the hill and peered down at a wide stone plain. He pointed.
The stranger went to the place and called down lightning.
It cut and turned and wound and burned. Down to a cavern miles beneath the earth. In this dark cave with no entrance and no exit sat Suttungr’s daughter. She sat there long, without even a mirror to know that she was beautiful.
The handsome stranger turned himself into a serpent and twisted his long way down the deep burrow to appear far below suddenly in his handsome robes.
A torch appeared already light, “Oh you are beautiful, more beautiful than any other woman ever seen. I love you and I wish for you to come with me. All I wish in return is one small sip of your father’s treasure; the poetry mead.”
“I couldn’t possibly, I have promised, and my father would beat me terribly.”
“Yet you shall come with me and be my bride. You shall be my queen in my great citadel in the sky. In love forever. Just one small sip.”
She slowly, tentatively, pushed the three barrels forward. He took it all, wrapped it in his cloak, turned back into the serpent and left her alone.
The figure that now flew up to Asgard had the power of the mead; one sip would let your words cause love or war.
Yet deep below the earth in a cavern with no entrance and no exit, without even a mirror to know she was beautiful, Suttungr’s daughter Gunnlod sat alone. She cared not of the endless beatings she would receive; because Gunnlod was broken.
This story came to me in a dream before I had read the original myth, so doesn’t stick to the story set in ink by Snorri and the Irish scribe women! The atmosphere gives a feel of the drama of the mythos event I reckon. I put this to type recently as part of my research for the rock opera Gods Bless Ya!!!