This is really a great mouthfull, but the verse and advice can be taken one by one!!!
They were not so far from us those ancient guys! Enjoy!
Hávamál ( Sayings of the high one) is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, is largely gnomic, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom.
The verses are attributed to Odin. The implicit attribution to Odin facilitated the accretion of various mythological material also dealing with Odin. For the most part composed in the metre
Ljódaháttr, a metre associated with wisdom verse, Hávamál is both practical and metaphysical in content. Following the gnomic "Hávamál proper" follows the Rúnatal, an account of how Odin won the runes, and the Ljóðatal, a list of magic chants or spells. The poem was written down in the 13th century. Individual verses or stanzas nevertheless certainly date to as early as the 10th, or even the 9th century.
See wikipedia: Hávamál
Once I lost my way:
Rich I felt when I found another;
Man rejoices in man,
The price of praise can be cheap:
With half a loaf and an empty cup
I found myself a friend,
On them I hung my clothes:
Draped in linen, they looked well born,
But, naked, I was a nobody
Too late, it seemed, to some:
The ale was finished or else un-brewed,
The unpopular cannot please,
But none thought I needed a meal,
As though I had eaten a whole joint,
Just before with a friend who had two
Should be cautious before he cross it,
Glance this way and that:
Who knows beforehand what foes may sit
Awaiting him in the hall?
The guest has arrived,
In which seat shall he sit?
Rash is he who at unknown doors
Relies on his good luck,
Whose knees are frozen numb;
Meat and clean linen a man needs
Who has fared across the fells,
Handcloth's and a hearty welcome,
Courteous words, then courteous silence
That he may tell his tale,
The stupid should stay at home:
The ignorant man is often laughed at
When he sits at meat with the sage,
Rather be sparing of speech
When to his house a wiser comes:
Seldom do those who are silent Make mistakes;
mother wit Is ever a faithful friend,
When he comes to the table
And sit in wary silence,
His ears attentive,
his eyes alert:
So he protects himself,
With praise and words of wisdom:
Evil counsel is often given
By those of evil heart,
Is awarded praise and wit,
For ill counsel is often given
By mortal men to each other,
A traveller cannot carry,
Better than riches for a wretched man,
Far from his own home,
A traveller cannot carry,
A more tedious burden than too much drink
A traveller cannot carry,
Is mead for the sons of men:
A man knows less the more he drinks,
Becomes a befuddled fool,
Who hovers over the fast:
Fettered I was in his feathers that night,
When a guest in Gunnlod's court
When Fjalar the wise was with me:
Best is the banquet one looks back on after,
And remembers all that happened,
To be silent but brave in battle:
It befits a man to be merry and glad
Until the day of his death,
If he holds back in the battle,
But in old age he shall have no peace
Though spears have spared his limbs
Is shy and sheepish at first,
Then he sips his mead and immediately
All know what an oaf he is,
He who has seen and suffered much,
And knows the ways of the world,
Who has travelled', can tell what spirit
Governs the men he meets,
Drink your mead, but in moderation,
Talk sense or be silent:
No man is called discourteous who goes
To bed at an early hour
Brings sorrow on himself:
At the table of the wise he is taunted often,
Mocked for his bloated belly,
And leaves the grazing ground:
But the glutton never knows how much
His belly is able to hold,
Ridicules all he hears,
Makes fun of others, refusing always
To see the faults in himself
And lies awake to worry'
A weary man when morning comes,
He finds all as bad as before,
At him are all his friends,
Unaware when he sits with wiser men
How ill they speak of him.
At him are all his friends:
When he comes to the Thing and calls for support,
Few spokesmen he finds
While he sits by his hearth at home.
Quickly finds when questioned by others .
That he knows nothing at all.
When he moves among other men,
No one will know what a nit-wit he is
Until he begins to talk;
No one knows less what a nit-wit he is
Than the man who talks too much.
Are the marks of a wise man:
Men must speak of men's deeds,
What happens may not be hidden.
Mouthing meaningless words:
A glib tongue that goes on chattering
Sings to its own harm.
Many believe the man
Who is not questioned to know much
And so he escapes their scorn.
An early meal a man should take
Before he visits friends,
Lest, when he gets there,
he go hungry,
Afraid to ask for food.
When they sit at the banquet-board:
It is, and shall be, a shameful thing
When guest quarrels with guest,
With those who taunt him at table:
He smiles through the meal,
not seeming to hear
The twaddle talked by his foes.
not linger long:
He starts to stink who outstays his welcome
In a hall that is not his own.
A man is his master at home:
A couple of goats and a corded roof
Still are better than begging.
A man is his master at home:
His heart bleeds in the beggar who must
Ask at each meal for meat.
But have his weapons to hand:
He knows not when he may need a spear,
Or what menace meet on the road.
A gift in return for a gift,
No man so rich that it really gives him
Pain to be repaid.
A man should not crave for more:
What he saves for friends, foes may take;
Hopes are often liars.
With a shield or a costly coat:
Mutual giving makes for friendship,
So long as life goes well,
A man should be loyal through life to friends,
To them and to friends of theirs,
But never shall a man make offer
Of friendship to his foes.
And return gift for gift,
Laugh when they laugh,
but with lies repay
A false foe who lies.
And wish for his good-will,
Go often to his house.
But wish for his good-will,
Be fair in speech but false in thought
And give him lie for lie.
And doubt what he means to do,
False words with fair smiles
May get you the gift you desire.
Though his house be on the highway.
To a sure friend there is a short cut,
Though he live a long way off.
Friendship for five days,
But suddenly slackens when the sixth dawns:
Feeble their friendship then.
Are seldom beset by cares, ,
But the base man sees bogies everywhere
And the miser pines for presents.
Having neither needles nor bark,
So is the fate of the friendless man:
Why should he live long?
Little the minds of men:
A11 men are not equal in wisdom,
The half-wise are everywhere
Not over cunning and clever:
The fairest life is led by those
Who are deft at all they do.
It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
No man is able to know his future,
So let him sleep in peace.
Not over cunning and clever:
The learned man whose lore is deep
Is seldom happy at heart.
Flame is quickened by flame:
One man from another is known by his speech
The simpleton by his silence.
Early shall he rise who has designs
On anothers land or life:
His prey escapes the prone wolf,
The sleeper is seldom victorious.
And set to work at once:
Much is lost by the late sleeper,
Wealth is won by the swift,
And strips of bark from the birch
To stock in autumn, that he may have enough
Wood for his winter fires.
one may fare to the Thing:
Though one's clothes be the worse for Wear,
None need be ashamed of his shoes or hose,
Nor of the horse he owns,
Although no thoroughbred.
Sniffs and hangs her head,
Dumfounded is he who finds at the Thing
No supporters to plead his case.
Risky to tell it to two,
To tell it to three is thoughtless folly,
Everyone else will know.
Have reaped an ill harvest:
Two beat one, the tongue is head's bane,
Pockets of fur hide fists.
Not brutal and over bearing:
Among the bold the bully will find
Others as bold as he.
Fire, the sight of the sun,
Good health with the gift to keep it,
And a life that avoids vice.
Some are blessed with sons,
Some with friends,
some with riches,
Some with worthy works.
the handless a flock,
The deaf be a doughty fighter,
To be blind is better than to burn on a pyre:
There is nothing the dead can do.
The living can keep a cow.
Fire, I saw, warming a wealthy man,
With a cold corpse at his door.
To a father no longer alive:
Stones would seldom stand by the highway
If sons did not set them there.
Short are the sails of a ship,
Dangerous the dark in autumn,
The wind may veer within five days,
And many times in a month.
Makes apes of many men:
One is rich, one is poor
There is no blame in that.
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead
Who now carry begging bowls:
Wealth may vanish in the wink of an eye,
Gold is the falsest of friends.
Or wins a woman's love,
His wisdom wanes with his waxing pride,
He sinks from sense to conceit.
Graven by the gods,
Made by the All Father,
Sent by the powerful sage:
lt. is best for man to remain silent.
The day gone, a guttered torch,
A sword tested, the troth of a maid,
Ice crossed, ale drunk.
in fine weather sail,
Tell in the night-time tales to house-girls,
For too many eyes are open by day:
From a ship expect speed, from a shield, cover,
Keenness from a sword,
but a kiss from a girl.
Buy a stained sword, buy a starving mare
To fatten at home: and fatten the watch-dog.
Nor praise a son too soon:
Weather rules the acre, wit the son,
Both are exposed to peril,
A grinning wolf, a grunting boar,
A raucous crow, a rootless tree,
A breaking wave, a boiling kettle,
A flying arrow, an ebbing tide,
A coiled adder, the ice of a night,
A bride's bed talk, a broad sword,
A bear's play, a prince' s children,
A witch' s welcome, the wit of a slave,
A sick calf, a corpse still fresh,
A brother's killer encountered upon
The highway a house half-burned,
A racing stallion who has wrenched a leg,
Are never safe: let no man trust them.
Nor what a woman speaks:
Spun on a wheel were women's hearts,
In their breasts was implanted caprice,
Is like sledding over slippery ice
With unshod horses out of control,
Badly trained two-year-olds,
Or drifting rudderless on a rough sea,
Or catching a reindeer with a crippled hand
On a thawing hillside: think not to do it.
Men are treacherous too
Fairest we speak when falsest we think:
many a maid is deceived.
Who wishes for woman's love:
praise the features of the fair girl,
Who courts well will conquer.
It happens often enough
That beauty ensnares with desire the wise
While the foolish remain unmoved.
For it happens to many men:
Strong desire may stupefy heroes,
Dull the wits of the wise
Each is his own judge:
The worst sickness for a wise man
Is to crave what he cannot enjoy.
Hoping to have my desire:
Lovely was the flesh of that fair girl,
But nothing I hoped for happened.
Sun white, asleep:
No greater delight I longed for then
Than to lie in her lovely arms.
If you wish for a meeting with me:
All would be lost if anyone saw us
And learned that we were lovers."
Deceived by her soft words:
I thought my wooing had won the maid,
That I would have my way.
But the warriors were all awake,
Lights were burning, blazing torches:
So false proved the path
The guards were sound asleep:
I found then that the fair woman
Had tied a bitch to her bed.
Proves to be fickle and false:
That treacherous maiden taught me a lesson,
The crafty woman covered me with shame"
That was all I got from her.
Modest a man should be"
But talk well if he intends to be wise
And expects praise from men:
Fimbul fambi is the fool called "
Unable to open his mouth.
Fruitless my errand, had I been silent
When I came to Suttung's courts:
With spirited words I spoke to my profit
In the hall of the aged giant.
Chewed a channel through stone,
A path around the roads of giants:
I was like to lose my head
Poured me precious mead:
Ill reward she had from me for that,
For her proud and passionate heart,
Her brooding foreboding spirit.
I have waxed in wisdom since I came back,
bringing to Asgard Odrerir,
the sacred draught.
From the garth of the grim troll,
Had Gunnlod not helped me, the good woman,
Who wrapped her arms around me.
Walked into Har's hall To ask for Har's advice:
Had Bolverk they asked, come back to his friends,
Or had he been slain by Suttung?
Who from now on will trust him?
By fraud at the feast he befuddled Suttung
And brought grief to Gunnlod.
Of what at Urd's Well I saw in silence,
saw and thought on.
Long I listened to men
Runes heard spoken, (counsels revealed.)
At Har's hall, In Har's hall:
There I heard this.
You will fare well if you follow it,
It will help you much if you heed it.
Or to ease yourself in the outhouse.
Her bed and her embraces:
If she cast a spell, you will care no longer
To meet and speak with men,
Desire no food, desire no pleasure,
In sorrow fall asleep.
Never make her your mistress.
Take food and fodder with you.
When fortune does not favour you:
From an evil man, if you make him your friend,
You will get evil for good.
By the words of an evil woman
Her cunning tongue caused his death,
Though what she alleged was a lie.
Go often to his house
Grass and brambles grow quickly
Upon the untrodden track.
Make him your fast friend:
But waste no words on a witless oaf,
Nor sit with a senseless ape.
The first to break with a friend:
Care eats him who can no longer
Open his heart to another.
Will give you evil for good:
A good man, if you make him your friend"
Will praise you in every place,
All their heart to each other:
He whose words are always fair
Is untrue and not to be trusted.
Often the better is beaten
In a word fight by the worse.
Except it be for yourself:
If a shoe fit ill or a shaft be crooked"
The maker gets curses and kicks.
Make no truce or treaty with foes.
But allow yourself what is lawful.
Lest the heroes enchant you,
who can change warriors
Suddenly into hogs,
With a good woman, if you wish to enjoy
Her words and her good will,
Pledge her fairly and be faithful to it:
Enjoy the good you are given,
First, of the foaming ale,
Second, of a woman wed to another,
Third, of the tricks of thieves.
Nor maliciously laugh at the guest:
Scoff not at guests nor to the gate chase them,
But relieve the lonely and wretched,
The kin of the new-comer:
The best man is marred by faults,
The worst is not without worth.
Often their words are wise:
From shrivelled skin, from scraggy things
That hand among the hides
And move amid the guts,
Clear words often come.
Hang a horse-shoe On it
Against ill-luck, lest it should suddenly
Crash and crush your guests.
Earth against drunkenness, heather against worms
Oak against costiveness, corn against sorcery,
Spurred rye against rupture, runes against bales
The moon against feuds, fire against sickness,
Earth makes harmless the floods.
For nine long nights,
Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odhinn,
Offered, myself to myself
The wisest know not from whence spring
The roots of that ancient rood
They gave me no mead,
I looked down;
with a loud cry
I took up runes;
from that tree I fell.
I learned from the famous Bolthor, Bestla' s father:
He poured me a draught of precious mead,
Mixed with magic Odrerir.
Word from word gave words to me,
Deed from deed gave deeds to me,
Very strong staves,
Very stout staves,
Staves that Bolthor stained,
Made by mighty powers,
Graven by the prophetic god,
By Dvalin, too, for the dwarves,
By Asvid for the hateful giants,
And some I carved myself:
Thund, before man was made, scratched them,
Who rose first, fell thereafter
Know how to stain them, know how to prove them,
Know how to evoke them, know how to score them,
Know how to send them" know how to send them,
As a gift that demands a gift"
Better not to send than to slay too many,
Or any of human kind;
Help it is named,
for help it can give In hours of sorrow and anguish.
Must learn who wish to be leeches.
If my need be great enough,
It will blunt the edges of enemy swords,
Their weapons will make no wounds.
it will free me quickly
If foes should bind me fast
With strong chains, a chant that makes Fetters spring from the feet,
Bonds burst from the hands.
Aimed to bring harm to men,
Flies too fast for my fingers to catch it
And hold it in mid-air.
it will save me if a man
Cut runes on a sapling' s Roots
With intent to harm; it turns the spell;
The hater is harmed, not me.
Ablaze around my bench mates,
Though hot the flames, they shall feel nothing,
If I choose to chant the spell.
that all are glad of,
Most useful to men:
If hate fester in the heart of a warrior,
It will soon calm and cure him.
when need I have
To shelter my ship on the flood,
The wind it calms, the waves it smoothes
And puts the sea to sleep,
if troublesome ghosts
Ride the rafters aloft,
I can work it so they wander astray,
Unable to find their forms,
Unable to find their homes.
when I lead to battle Old comrades in-arms,
I have only to chant it behind my shield,
And unwounded they go to war,
Unwounded they come from war,
U unscathed wherever they are.
If a tree bear
A man hanged in a halter,
I can carve and stain strong runes
That will cause the corpse to speak,
Reply to whatever I ask.
if I throw a cup Of water over a warrior,
He shall not fall in the fiercest battle,
Nor sink beneath the sword,
If I tell a troop of warriors
About the high ones, elves and gods,
I can name them one by one.
(Few can the nit-wit name.)
that first Thjodrerir
Sang before Delling's doors,
Giving power to gods, prowess to elves,
Fore-sight to Hroptatyr Odhinn,
if I see a girl
With whom it would please me to play,
I can turn her thoughts, can touch the heart
Of any white armed woman.
if I sing it,
the young Girl will be slow to forsake me.
To maiden or wife of man,
A secret I hide from all
Except the love who lies in my arms,
Or else my own sister.
Will take you a long time,
Though helpful they are if you understand them,
Useful if you use them,
Needful if you need them.
Needful for men to know,
Unneedful for trolls to know:
Hail to the knower,
Joy to him who has understood,
Delight to those who have listened.
|The Big Serpent,|
photos:stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan foto
(W. H .Auden & P. B. Taylor Translation )