The Chaining of Loki

Loki then fled     to a lonely hill;
there he lived,     alone and safe.
He built a house;     high were its doors.
From them he eyed     all that came near.

 

Loki knew tricks,     traps to lay.
He othered himself;     a salmon he was.
He swam the river     that ran below;
he hid in Franangr,     the falls of grief.

 

One day Loki sat,     safe at home,
thinking of tricks     to try on the gods.
Idly he tied,     with Aesir’s skill,
a fine broad net     of flaxen line.

 

When he looked up,     the Aesir were coming;
they climbed the hill,     hate in their eyes.
Loki then knew     that Longbeard was wise;
sitting on Hlidskjalf     he saw all things.

 

Into the fire     Loki flung the net;
then to the river     he ran at full speed.
He othered himself;     a salmon he was.
He leapt in the river,     looking to hide.

 

The Aesir then reached     the empty house.
Loki was gone     when the gods came.
Kvasir went inside,     cunningest As,
to learn what he could     of Loki’s flight.

 

He saw the lines     of something faint,
burnt in the fire,     brought to ashes.
He knew what he saw,     a net it was;
a thought then came,     clear to his mind.

 

The Aesir worked     and wove a net,
like the one     lying in the fire.
After it was done,     down they walked.
They threw the net     athwart the river.

 

Thor held one end     all by himself;
the rest of the Aesir     the other held.
They drew the net     and dragged the waters,
but Loki hid,     lying between rocks.

 

The Aesir raked     the river’s bed;
they hoped to find     the hidden killer.
They dragged the net     but never found him;
Laufey’s son     lay in hiding.

 

The gods were wroth,     glumly they sat;
they talked of their ire     towards Loki.
They looked afar     to Franangr;
they knew the goal     of Nari’s father.

 

Again the Aesir     grabbed the net.
They tied it to stones;     it strained with weight.
The net now reached     the river’s bed;
nothing could flee     the net of the gods.

 

Loki saw the river     run to the sea;
he thought of a way     to ward himself.
He headed upstream,     straining his skill;
he sought the falls     of Franangr.

 

Loki rose up,      leaping high;
he jumped over     the Aesir’s net.
He swam upstream,     swift as could be,
seeking shelter,     the shade of the falls.

 

The Aesir saw him     swimming away.
They made to follow,     the falls drawing near.
They knew they must     master Loki;
they could not let him     leap to safety.

 

In haste they ran,     hearts in their throats;
thoughts of Balder     burned in their minds.
They reached the falls,     faster than Loki;
they set to raking     the river’s bed.

 

They split in two,     and spread the net,
mighty Thor himself     athwart the middle.
The Aesir walked,     angry gods,
towards the sea,     towing the net.

 

Loki saw two paths,     the sea or the net.
He feared them both;     both held his doom.
He tried to jump     the twine-spun net;
he was caught with ease;     Thor clutched his tail.

 

Loki was battered     by the lordly gods.
To a cave they took him;     they called it Gleipnir.
They put Loki there     and piled up stones,
hard and heavy,     with holes in the middle.

 

The gods called forth     Fenris’ brothers;
vengeful they came,     Vali and Narfi.
Vali was crazed      and became a wolf;
he ate his brother,     baleful Narfi.

 

Loki was girt     with the guts of Narfi;
they were threaded     through the stones.
Loki was trussed,     tied to the rocks;
his bonds hardened     to hateful iron.

 

Skadi got a snake     and set it to drip;
the foulest venom     fell onto Loki.
Loyal Sigyn,     Loki’s wife,
stood beside him,     to stop the venom.

 

She held a bowl     above Loki;
she caught the venom    that came below.
Each time the venom     topped the rim,
she dashed away      to dump the bowl.

 

Each drop she missed     dripped on Loki;
Laufey’s son     seethed in pain.
He thrashed his head     as hard as he could;
the earth trembled,     and also the gods.

 

In chains he lay,     liar and thief,
outlaw and monster,     As killer,
until the day     of doom and fire;
Ragnarok,     rued by the gods.

 

[S.R. Hardy is a poet, fiction writer, and translator whose work has appeared in venues such as the Eunoia Review, Eternal Haunted Summer, the Beorh Quarterly and anthologies such as Northern Traditions, The Shining Cities, and Beyond the Pillars.  He is currently at work on a variety of poems, stories and translations and blogs at www.anarcheologos.com.]

 

 

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