: Nature Myths And Stories For Little Children
The people in the North once believed that high above the clouds was the
beautiful plain of Asgard.
Odin, ruler of Asgard, mighty Thor, and many other heroes lived on the
Their homes were great castles, splendid with silver and gold.
In the middle of the plain, and apart from the other dwellings, stood a
pure white palace.
Nothing that was not
air and good had ever dared to enter it.
It was the home of Balder.
Because of his great beauty and wisdom, he was called "Balder the
beautiful," and "Balder the good."
Everything loved him.
The dull rocks and the gray old mountains met him with a smile.
The flowers opened, the birds sang and the water sparkled when they saw
One night he dreamed that he must soon leave Asgard and all the things
that he loved.
The next night he dreamed that he was living in the gloomy underground
The third night, when the same terrible dream came to him, he was
He told Odin, his father, and Frigga, his mother, about it.
Odin, in great fear, called together his wisest heroes.
They shook their heads but could do nothing to help him.
Frigga cried, "It shall not be! I, his mother, will save him."
She went straight way to Heimdal, who guarded the rainbow bridge.
Bifrost, which was the name of the bridge, was the only path which led
from Asgard to the earth.
Heimdal allowed only those who lived in the plain to pass over it.
All feared Heimdal, yet they loved him.
He could see to the ends of the world.
He could hear the wool growing on the sheep's back, and knew when each
grass blade broke into the sunshine.
Heimdal loved Balder and when he heard what troubled Frigga, pitied her.
He gave her his swift black horse and showed her the way to the ends of
For nine days and nights she traveled without food or rest.
She asked everything she met to promise not to harm Balder.
Animals, flowers, trees, water, air, fire, everything she asked gladly
gave the promise.
They smiled in wonder at the question.
Who could wish to hurt the gentle Balder?
Alas, the mistletoe did not promise.
Frigga saw it growing high up on an oak tree.
It seemed too small and weak to do any harm. She did not ask it to
On the tenth day of her journey, she came back again to Asgard.
She told the sorrowing Odin and his friends what she had done.
In their joy they found a new way to do Balder honor.
He stood in their midst while the most skillful heroes hurled their
arrows at him.
At first, they threw only small twigs and pebbles.
Everything, however, had soon proved itself true to its promise.
Then the heroes lost all fear of harming him and threw their warlike
Balder stood unharmed and smiling among them.
Each day they met on the plain and in this sport proved the love of all
things for him.
The blind Hoder was the only one in Asgard who could not join in the
He was Balder's brother and loved him very dearly.
Hoder was not unhappy, but always cheered and shouted as gaily as the
One day as he stood alone, Loki saw him.
Loki was a mischief maker.
His jokes were often cruel; indeed, most of the unhappiness in Asgard
was caused by Loki's unkindness.
"Hoder, why do you not do Balder honor?" asked Loki.
"I am blind," Hoder answered, "and besides I have nothing to throw."
"Here is my arrow," said Loki. "Take it; I will guide your hands."
Alas, the cruel Loki had made the arrow of mistletoe.
He knew that this was the only way in which Balder could be harmed.
He longed to see the surprise of the heroes when Balder should at last
Away flew the arrow.
Balder, the beautiful, fell lifeless to the ground.
Then all Asgard was dark with sorrow.
Strong heroes wept and would not be comforted.
The earth grew cold, white and still.
The water would not flow, and the seeds refused to grow.
The birds were silent. No flowers breathed their perfumes into the air.
There was not a smile in all the world.
Odin said, "This cannot be.
"Balder shall return. I, myself, will go and bring him from Hela's dark
But Frigga had already sent a messenger to the spirit world to beg Queen
Hela to release Balder.
While waiting for the messenger to return, the heroes were not idle.
For twelve days and nights they worked as only love can make men work.
They did not pause for food nor rest.
They built a great funeral pyre, and no one was too small to help in the
work of love.
They found Balder's ship upon the seashore.
They brought great logs from the forest and bound them upon the deck.
Upon these they placed his beautiful white horse, his dogs, his shining
armor, and many things which he had loved on earth.
When it was finished, they raised the sails, set the ship on fire and
pushed it out upon the sea.
They sang and wept all night until at sunrise the sails fell.
They watched the flames die down and the waves wash over the sinking
As they turned sadly from the shore, they met the messenger from Hela's
"Rejoice," he said, "Hela says, 'If everything living and lifeless weep
for Balder, he may return to us.'"
There was great happiness in Asgard that day.
"Surely," they thought, "everything in the world will weep for Balder."
They had forgotten the cruel Loki.
He sat with dry eyes though rocks and trees, birds and flowers, wind and
clouds were shedding tears.
When Odin found that Balder could not return to life, his anger and
grief were terrible to see.
In fear, Loki hid himself deep in the earth under a mountain.
Frigga knew that he was conquered, and she patiently waited for the time
when Balder should again be allowed to bring gladness to the earth, and
fill all the heavens with the glory of his smile.