Compton, Todd M. 2006. Victim of the Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth and History. Hellenic Studies Series 11. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Compton.Victim_of_the_Muses.2006.
Chapter 19. The Sacrificed Poet: Germanic Myths
This collocation of skaldship and war madness is no accident; war madness and poetic madness are closely related, as we have seen in the case of Starkaðr (and Tyrtaeus). Thus Odin was pictured as actually singing damaging song-spells against opposing military forces, and protecting his own troops by runes. In the Hávamál, he uses rune magic for the following ends: stanza 148: he dulls the swords of his foes; stanza 150: he stays their spears; stanzas 156, 158: he protects his friends in battle; stanza 160: he brings victory.  One expects that his songs also caused berserker rage among his troops. 
hvar þú auga falt:
í inum mœra
drekkr mjöð Mímir
af veði Valföðrs
Vituð ér enn eða hvat?
Well know I, Ygg [Odin], where thy eye is hidden:
in the wondrous well of Mímir;
each morn Mímir his mead doth drink
out of Fjolnir’s [Odin’s] pledge: know ye further, or how?
Thus, poetic knowledge can come only at a price, the sacrifice of an eye, dismemberment. The theme of poetic knowledge as intoxication and madness is also here, for the water is mead.  In addition, we have the story, referred to in the previous chapter, of Odin hanging for nine days, “wounded with a spear,” apparently dead, as a result of which he receives magical and poetic wisdom, learning “nine mighty songs from the famous son of Bölthórn, father of Bestla,  and drinking “precious mead.”  Verse leads to verse, poem to poem. Thus, according to the interpretation discussed earlier, Odin gains his poetic knowledge by dying, visiting the world of the dead, and then returning to life.  Our main theme, the death of the poet, is here again. It is the death, the ultimate marginalization, of the god that brings about his mastery of poetic knowledge. A related consecration theme has Odin receive his knowledge from dead men—thus he is hangaguð ‘god of the hanged men’.  Even though Odin gets wisdom from his hanging, this is still linked with his drinking mead—poetry again is intoxication, madness.
Herteitr ok Hnikarr,
Grímr ok Grímnir,
Glapsviðr ok Fjölsviðr;
Truthful, Changeable, Truth-getter,
Death-worker, Many-shaped, One-Eyed, Fire-eyed,
Lore-master, Masked, and Deceitful.
The ambiguity of Odin as poet—both truthful and deceitful—reminds one of Hesiod’s Muses. And this is a double consecration scene: Odin has received knowledge as a result of his fiery suspension, and begins to pass it on as soon as Agnar befriends him. As he finishes his song, he unveils his chief name to Geirröð and prophesies the king’s death. The ruler draws his sword to loose the divinity but falls on it accidentally, and Agnar succeeds to the kingship. According to Fleck’s interpretation, Odin’s transferral of “numinous knowledge” to the youngest son has fitted him for his regal calling.  Thus a poetic consecration of a god leads to a royal consecration of his king—a remarkable, and rare, attestation of the theme of king as poet-prophet. Here again Odin is hanged, tortured, and fasts for eight days; at the end of which time he receives poetic knowledge. The heating motif has led commentators to see parallels in the Indian tapas,  where we also find the pattern: asceticism, hanging, heat, numinous knowledge, throne. For our purposes, the important theme of Odin’s near death or death, partial sacrifice, followed by reception of poetic knowledge, is here. But equally intriguing is the theme of the stingy host receiving the wandering poet-guest; far from treating the poet hospitably, he tortures him, and pays the price for his misdeed. His youngest son is defined as good by his hospitality to and pity for the guest (and his pity and hospitality show that Geirröð is to be blamed, even though Frigg has compounded the difficulty of his test by making him suspicious). Combined with the hospitality motif is the story of the disguised god testing the mortal, and the theme of regal succession.
Kvasir, the embodiment of poetry, is accordingly “an onomastic personification of an intoxicating drink, which recalls the kvas of the Slavs,”  a drink made of squashed vegetables, fermented by spittle. As Dumézil notes, “we are here dealing with a ceremonial or communal drink, sanctioning the agreement between two social groups,” thus requiring “the spittle of all concerned.” Apparently there is a communal feast involved.  Thus poetry is the sign (“token”) of the assimilation of the third function to the first two.  He is a micro-being for the mechanism of unified society: he contains the spit of every god. The poet, perhaps because he is the medium for communication, the medium of intrafunctional exchange and understanding, can be thus the representative of the unified society.