You can get this quest by applying at the Bard’s College in Solitude . As part of your initiation (and their way of getting work out of you), you are to go and try to find ’ King Olaf’s Verse ’ from Dead Men’s Respite . You can talk to him and Giraud further about the history behind the poem.
Dead Men’s Respite is southwest of Morthal and just north of ’ Crabber’s Shanty '. Head on over there and enter the ruins. You’ll see a ghostly bard point at you and motion you in further. Grab the RUBY DRAGON CLAW from the stand and four Draugr will awaken, two from each side.
Kill them off and explore the room to the left if you wish, then follow the bard further in. Watch out for floor traps as you see him head left! You’ll pull a chain to continue on, and then battle two spiders. In this area you are locked in, but there is a chest behind some webs in the west corner.
Find another chain in a nook of this area to rotate all the round stone slabs again. In front of you is a Draugr, but don’t be too quick to rush him as there are two more that come out from the left path. Kill all three. Head to where the first one is (Watch out for a floor trap) to find a S PEECH SKILLBOOK called "The Buying Game" .
Head north through the only path left and down into a room where two spiders will come down from the ceiling. Take care of them and then find a chain on the right wall to open the path ahead. Drop down through the hole and take out a skeever and then further in three more Draugr.
Head up the platform and open the door to start some blade traps. Use your years of video gaming to time them (the blood spots are usually safe) and stop the traps on the other side. Continue up and through the next door, using the enchanter if you need to, and then go further down as the door in front of you is magically sealed.
Go down and kill the Draugr and then two more that think they are clever by hiding in a standing up position near the intersection. Go left and watch the floor trap to find a few goodies in a room, then head right. If you’re good enough, pick the door here and the chest after it for some goodies, then head down through the door to a room where you’ll be ambushed by 4-5 Draugr.
Search their side rooms afterward for a chest (that’s trapped) and then pull a chain out in the main room to go further down. Use a handle to open a rock door where you’ll find the corpse (and ghost) of Svaknir, with King Olaf’s Verse in hand. Take it and make your way back up.
On your way back up, you’ll see the ghost unlock those sealed doors we passed recently! At the end is a door you’ll need to use the RUBY DRAGON CLAW on. From top to bottom, the code you should enter for the door is:
Enter in the code to open the door. Head further in to see the ghost in the middle of a LARGE room. Before approaching him, take a moment to survey your surroundings. See all the Draugr on the thrones? Yeah, we’re killing them all with the ghost.
Prepare however you need to for a battle-royale. This, my friend, will be fun! Approach the ghost to start things up and he’ll say "Olaf! It is time!". A wave of Draugr will approach, but Svanknir will help you out (and he can definitely hold his own).
After the first wave, he’ll say "Arise, Olaf! My vengeance is at hand!" and another wave will start, except this time it’s the four higher level Draugr up above. Take them out and the bard will go further up, saying "Olaf!". At this point, Olaf One-Eyed will arise from the main coffin and say "Insolent Bard. Die!".
He is like a deathlord in power and can unarm you with a shout, but other than that it is 2 vs. 1 and you can take him down. The bard will try and thank you by playing a song, but will disappear shortly afterward.
Loot Olaf for the treasury key and get the DRAGON WALL WORD to learn WHIRLWIND - WHIRLWIND SHOUT (or some other word in that chain) then go through the upper iron door with the key and loot the chest. Pull the lever nearby for a quick route back to the surface world.
Return to Viarmo and give him the verse. He will bemourn the fact that it is incomplete, but you can convince him to complete it. You’ll now be able to offer suggestions for its completion, and while I don’t think it matters which suggestions you pick, I picked the ones that required persuade talents (which Viarmo seemed to like).
Once you’re done, follow Viarmo to the Blue Palace and talk to him to see him perform the piece for the Jarl. She’ll enjoy it and state that the Burning of King Olaf festival is back on! Viarmo will thank you and tell you that you’ll be a bard soon, but to go talk to Jorn to let him know as he was making the effigy. You’ll now have to wait until after 9 PM and then talk to Jorn to start the celebration.
Head out to the plaza where about a dozen citizens will attend (but oddly enough several Bards College members won’t and neither will the Jarl). You can get free food and drink here, but go stand by Viarmo to see the effigy burnt. Afterward you’ll be a bard, and you’ll get 1000 Gold for your help.
This ends this quest, but Viarmo mentions the teachers want your help, which leads to three more miscellaneous quests (which I cover in the Solitude city overview section). Congrats on becoming a bard! And no, as far as I know you still can’t play instruments or sing…