By: Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
The poem begins with the beloved god Balder, thought to be invulnerable, dead at the hands of the inoffensive blind god Hoder, in a game. Loki, whose deceit brought about this catastrophe, is promptly punished with exile, and Odin, Balder's father, sponsors a heroic quest to rescue his son from the land of the dead. This desperate venture unexpectedly meets with partial success, a conditional agreement to release Balder if everyone in the land of the living mourns his death. And even though over every hope hangs the threat of the ultimate end of the reign of the Norse gods, the mother of the gods points out that "much must yet be tried which shall but fail."