Recently I was invited to meet some folks by walking through this unmarked door that leads to “a little hobbit hole of a bar, underneath the steps of Keck Hall” on the campus of Rice University. It’s the fabled but very real and mysterious entrance to the graduate student pub known as Valhalla. There you can not only enjoy a pint of beer but also, if you carelessly wear a tie into that establishment, have your tie cut off with scissors and displayed on the wall like an exotic hunting trophy.
So this day I salute Valhalla with part of an anonymous 10th-century Scandinavian poem, Eiríksmál, which is quoted in another work of poetry called Skáldskaparmál:
What dream is that? quoth Odin,
I thought to rise ere day-break
To make Valhall ready
For troops of slain;
I roused the champions,
Bade them rise swiftly
Benches to strew,
To wash beer-flagons;
The Valkyrs to pour wine,
As a Prince were coming.