The Flyting of Odin and Thor
Austin Lawrence, March 2014
This two person play is an interpretation of Hárbarðsljóð (Lay of Hárbarðr) which is one of the poems of the Poetic Edda, found in the Codex Regius. The original is an Old Icelandic didactic, flyting poem with figures from Norse mythology.
This interpretation was written and performed by Brandon “Gypsy” Birch and Austin “Auz” Lawrence as an introduction to the Hail and Horn Gathering 2013 Skaldry Competition, with Gypsy playing Odin and Auz playing Thor. (If you would like to perform this play, please contact Gypsy or Auz.)
[Odin stands silent in a black cloak which covers half his face holding a spear. Bearded Thor appears holding a hammer, with a backpack, wearing a belted tunic, but no pants.]
[Odin is to one side of the hearth-fire, while Thor is to the other.]
Thor: Who is yonder Ferryman across the water? Ferryman! You over there!
Odin: Who’s that peasant over there, calling out to me?
Thor: Ferry me across this river! I have lots of food in my backpack to pay you with. I have had many successful hunts in the wood this morning.
Odin: Well, aren’t you awfully pleased with your morning wood. Be careful, you have no idea what this evening may hold. Oh, and your mother’s dead.
Thor: What? My mother is dead?!
Odin: Yup. She’s in the ground. [Winks.] Now look here, how can I expect you to pay me? I bet you don’t even have a farm. Look at you, you don’t even have pants, how do you expect me to take you seriously?
Thor: If it’s too difficult for you, I can show you where to land the boat. [Points to a spot on the bank.] Wait … Do you even own that boat? Or, are you just some asshole standing beside a boat?! But if it’s not yours, whose is it?
Odin: A hero gave me this boat and told me only to take worthy men into it. Are you a worthy man? What’s your name?
Thor: I am Odin’s son, Magni’s father. I am Thor, mightiest of the Gods! Now, tell me your name!
Odin: Hárbarð, I am, and seldom do I hide my name. [Winks.]
Thor: Why would you hide your name? Unless you actually are just some asshole standing beside a boat.
Odin: Woah! If you’re looking for a fight, I could easily defend myself against you. Unless, of course, it was my fate to die.
Thor: Hey! Don’t make me come over there, weakling. I might get wet, but I’ll kick your ass!
Odin: Hey, I’m even fiercer than that pansy Hrungir. If you really want to come over here, it might not be worth getting your … uh … “pants” wet.
Thor: I … What? … [Looks down at his lack of pants.] … Hey! I beat Hrungnir, that giant blockhead. What have you done?
Odin: I spent five full winters with the seven sisters on All-Green Island. We would wrestle all day long and I got plenty of exercise.
Thor: How does a guy like you get seven sisters?
Odin: Those women liked wise men, and I’m a wise man. That means the women were wise, and the greater knowledge we had of each other, the wiser we got. Trust me, boy; my sword has never been sharper. What have you done that is better?
Thor: I threw a dude’s eyeballs into the sky [Points to the heavens], and now everybody can see them in the stars. What were you doing when I did that?
Odin: I used spells and visited sleeping witches in their dreams, and bestowed upon them the gift of my … fearsome wand.
Thor: Well, I fight giants all the time in Jotunnheim, protecting Midgard and all of mankind.
Odin: I have caused wars, and all the nobles who died went to Odin. All the peasants? They all went [Gestures across the river] to Thor.
Thor: Be careful with how mighty you are when it comes to the dead. You do not want to break the balance between Gods and men.
Odin: You spine-less dog. You may be strong, but you crawled around in a giant glove afraid to fart or sneeze lest you wake a sleeping giant.
Thor: You sodomite ergi-man! I’d beat you into Helheim, if only I could reach across this river.
Odin: Easy there, big fella. Save that fighting energy for your wife Sif’s lover.
Thor: You’re just being a dick … and mean. I don’t trust you.
Odin: Hey, it’s the truth. You’d know that if you were home by now. And you’d be home by now if you had a boat.
Thor: Look, I’ve already been waiting here for too long, and … —
Odin: I didn’t think a God like Thor could be so easily slowed by a mere ferryman.
Thor: Last chance. Row your boat across, now!
Odin: [Pauses and moves like he is about to do it, but then steps back.] Nope, not gonna do it.
Thor: Well, I … [Sighs.] … Can you at least give me directions?
Odin: Yeah, you just take the winding road to the fork, take a left, keep going until you come to the foot of the mountain, and then head through the valley. Then, when you find your mommy, she can tell her little bearded baby how to get to Odin’s Hall.
Thor: [Starts to walk away, but then turns back.] You know what? Even if you did take me across the river, I wouldn’t have paid you.
Odin: That’s fine. I have all I need right here. [Digs around in his pouch, brings his hand back out and gives Thor the finger.]
[Thor exits. Odin removes his hood revealing his face, one eye closed and one eye open.]