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Switch to Forum Live View The havamal and its meanings (can someone help me?)
4 years ago  ::  Feb 07, 2011 - 9:36AM #1
Path_walker
Posts: 1
My name is James and I have recently started trying to understand the Havamal and all of its teachings. I am reading the Chisholm translation and some of the passages are quite puzzling to me. Mostly I think that it is the way the passages are worded but they still perplex me none the less. Is there anyone who can direct me to a website, book or person I can contact that can help me understand?
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4 years ago  ::  Mar 05, 2011 - 11:46AM #2
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658

Hamaval


 


1. Within the gates | ere a man shall go,
(Full warily let him watch,)
Full long let him look about him;
For little he knows | where a foe may lurk,
And sit in the seats within.


2. Hail to the giver! | a guest has come;
Where shall the stranger sit?
Swift shall he be who, | with swords shall try
The proof of his might to make.


[1. This stanza is quoted by Snorri, the second line being omitted in most of the Prose Edda manuscripts.


2. Probably the first and second lines had originally nothing to do with the third and fourth, the last two not referring to host or guest, but to the general danger of backing one's views with the sword.]


p. 30


3. Fire he needs | who with frozen knees
Has come from the cold without;
Food and clothes | must the farer have,
The man from the mountains come.


4. Water and towels | and welcoming speech
Should he find who comes, to the feast;
If renown he would get, | and again be greeted,
Wisely and well must he act.


5. Wits must he have | who wanders wide,
But all is easy at home;
At the witless man | the wise shall wink
When among such men he sits.


6. A man shall not boast | of his keenness of mind,
But keep it close in his breast;
To the silent and wise | does ill come seldom
When he goes as guest to a house;
(For a faster friend | one never finds
Than wisdom tried and true.)


7. The knowing guest | who goes to the feast,
In silent attention sits;
With his ears he hears, | with his eyes he watches,
Thus wary are wise men all.


[6. Lines 5 and 6 appear to have been added to the stanza.]


p. 31


8. Happy the one | who wins for himself
Favor and praises fair;
Less safe by far | is the wisdom found
That is hid in another's heart.


9. Happy the man | who has while he lives
Wisdom and praise as well,
For evil counsel | a man full oft
Has from another's heart.


10. A better burden | may no man bear
For wanderings wide than wisdom;
It is better than wealth | on unknown ways,
And in grief a refuge it gives.


11. A better burden | may no man bear
For wanderings wide than wisdom;
Worse food for the journey | he brings not afield
Than an over-drinking of ale.


12. Less good there lies | than most believe
In ale for mortal men;
For the more he drinks | the less does man
Of his mind the mastery hold.


[12. Some editors have combined this stanza in various ways with the last two lines of stanza it, as in the manuscript the first two lines of the latter are abbreviated, and, if they belong there at all, are presumably identical with the first two lines of stanza 10.]


p. 32


13. Over beer the bird | of forgetfulness broods,
And steals the minds of men;
With the heron's feathers | fettered I lay
And in Gunnloth's house was held.


14. Drunk I was, | I was dead-drunk,
When with Fjalar wise I was;
'Tis the best of drinking | if back one brings
His wisdom with him home.


15. The son of a king | shall be silent and wise,
And bold in battle as well;
Bravely and gladly | a man shall go,
Till the day of his death is come.


16. The sluggard believes | he shall live forever,
If the fight he faces not;
But age shall not grant him | the gift of peace,
Though spears may spare his life.


17. The fool is agape | when he comes to the feast,
He stammers or else is still;
But soon if he gets | a drink is it seen
What the mind of the man is like.


[13. The heron: the bird of forgetfulness, referred to in line 1. Gunnloth: the daughter of the giant Suttung, from whom Othin won the mead of poetry. For this episode see stanzas 104-110.


14. Fjalar: apparently another name for Suttung. This stanza, and probably 13, seem to have been inserted as illustrative.]


p. 33


18. He alone is aware | who has wandered wide,
And far abroad has fared,
How great a mind | is guided by him
That wealth of wisdom has.


19. Shun not the mead, | but drink in measure;
Speak to the point or be still;
For rudeness none | shall rightly blame thee
If soon thy bed thou seekest.


20. The greedy man, | if his mind be vague,
Will eat till sick he is;
The vulgar man, | when among the wise,
To scorn by his belly is brought.


21. The herds know well | when home they shall fare,
And then from the grass they go;
But the foolish man | his belly's measure
Shall never know aright.


22. A paltry man | and poor of mind
At all things ever mocks;
For never he knows, | what he ought to know,
That he is not free from faults.


23. The witless man | is awake all night,
Thinking of many things;
Care-worn he is | when the morning comes,
And his woe is just as it was.


24. The foolish man | for friends all those
Who laugh at him will hold;


p. 34


When among the wise | he marks it not
Though hatred of him they speak.


25. The foolish man | for friends all those
Who laugh at him will hold;
But the truth when he comes | to the council he learns,
That few in his favor will speak.


26. An ignorant man | thinks that all he knows,
When he sits by himself in a corner;
But never what answer | to make he knows,
When others with questions come.


27. A witless man, | when he meets with men,
Had best in silence abide;
For no one shall find | that nothing he knows,
If his mouth is not open too much.
(But a man knows not, | if nothing he knows,
When his mouth has been open too much.)


28. Wise shall he seem | who well can question,
And also answer well;
Nought is concealed | that men may say
Among the sons of men.


29. Often he speaks | who never is still
With words that win no faith;


[25. The first two lines are abbreviated in the manuscript, but are doubtless identical with the first two lines of stanza 24.


27. The last two lines were probably added as a commentary on lines 3 and 4.]


p. 35


The babbling tongue, | if a bridle it find not,
Oft for itself sings ill.


30. In mockery no one | a man shall hold,
Although he fare to the feast;
Wise seems one oft, | if nought he is asked,
And safely he sits dry-skinned.


31. Wise a guest holds it | to take to his heels,
When mock of another he makes;
But little he knows | who laughs at the feast,
Though he mocks in the midst of his foes.


32. Friendly of mind | are many men,
Till feasting they mock at their friends;
To mankind a bane | must it ever be
When guests together strive.


33. Oft should one make | an early meal,
Nor fasting come to the feast;
Else he sits and chews | as if he would choke,
And little is able to ask.


34. Crooked and far | is the road to a foe,
Though his house on the highway be;
But wide and straight | is the way to a friend,
Though far away he fare.


35. Forth shall one go, | nor stay as a guest
In a single spot forever;


p. 36


Love becomes loathing | if long one sits
By the hearth in another's home.


36. Better a house, | though a hut it be,
A man is master at home;
A pair of goats | and a patched-up roof
Are better far than begging.


37. Better a house, | though a hut it be,
A man is master at home;
His heart is bleeding | who needs must beg
When food he fain would have.


38. Away from his arms | in the open field
A man should fare not a foot;
For never he knows | when the need for a spear
Shall arise on the distant road.


39. If wealth a man | has won for himself,
Let him never suffer in need;
Oft he saves for a foe | what he plans for a friend,
For much goes worse than we wish.


40. None so free with gifts | or food have I found
That gladly he took not a gift,


[36. The manuscript has "little" in place of "a hut" in line I, but this involves an error in the initial-rhymes, and the emendation has been generally accepted.


37. Lines I and 2 are abbreviated in the manuscript, but are doubtless identical with the first two lines of stanza 56.


39. In the manuscript this stanza follows stanza 40.]


p. 37


Nor one who so widely | scattered his wealth
That of recompense hatred he had.


41. Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
As each for himself can see;
Gift-givers' friendships | are longest found,
If fair their fates may be.


42. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
And gifts with gifts requite;
But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,
And fraud with falsehood meet.


43. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
To him and the friend of his friend;
But never a man | shall friendship make
With one of his foeman's friends.


44. If a friend thou hast | whom thou fully wilt trust,
And good from him wouldst get,
Thy thoughts with his mingle, | and gifts shalt thou make,
And fare to find him oft.


[40. The key-word in line 3 is missing in the manuscript, but editors have agreed in inserting a word meaning "generous."


41. In line 3 the manuscript adds "givers again" to "gift-givers."]


p. 38


45. If another thou hast | whom thou hardly wilt trust,
Yet good from him wouldst get,
Thou shalt speak him fair, | but falsely think,
And fraud with falsehood requite.


46. So is it with him | whom thou hardly wilt trust,
And whose mind thou mayst not know;
Laugh with him mayst thou, | but speak not thy mind,
Like gifts to his shalt thou give.


47. Young was I once, | and wandered alone,
And nought of the road I knew;
Rich did I feel | when a comrade I found,
For man is man's delight.


48. The lives of the brave | and noble are best,
Sorrows they seldom feed;
But the coward fear | of all things feels,
And not gladly the niggard gives.


49. My garments once | in a field I gave
To a pair of carven poles;
Heroes they seemed | when clothes they had,
But the naked man is nought.


50. On the hillside drear | the fir-tree dies,
All bootless its needles and bark;
It is like a man | whom no one loves,--
Why should his life be long?


p. 39


51. Hotter than fire | between false friends
Does friendship five days burn;
When the sixth day comes | the fire cools,
And ended is all the love.


52. No great thing needs | a man to give,
Oft little will purchase praise;
With half a loaf | and a half-filled cup
A friend full fast I made.


53. A little sand | has a little sea,
And small are the minds of men;
Though all men are not | equal in wisdom,
Yet half-wise only are all.


54. A measure of wisdom | each man shall have,
But never too much let him know;
The fairest lives | do those men live
Whose wisdom wide has grown.


55. A measure of wisdom | each man shall have,
But never too much let him know;
For the wise man's heart | is seldom happy,
If wisdom too great he has won.


56. A measure of wisdom | each man shall have,
But never too much let him know;


[55-56. The first pairs of lines are abbreviated in the manuscript.]


p. 40


Let no man the fate | before him see,
For so is he freest from sorrow.


57. A brand from a brand | is kindled and burned,
And fire from fire begotten;
And man by his speech | is known to men,
And the stupid by their stillness.


58. He must early go forth | who fain the blood
Or the goods of another would get;
The wolf that lies idle | shall win little meat,
Or the sleeping man success.


59. He must early go forth | whose workers are few,
Himself his work to seek;
Much remains undone | for the morning-sleeper,
For the swift is wealth half won.


60. Of seasoned shingles | and strips of bark
For the thatch let one know his need,
And how much of wood | he must have for a month,
Or in half a year he will use.


61. Washed and fed | to the council fare,
But care not too much for thy clothes;
Let none be ashamed | of his shoes and hose,
Less still of the steed he rides,
(Though poor be the horse he has.)


[61. The fifth line is probably a spurious addition.]


p. 41


62. When the eagle comes | to the ancient sea,
He snaps and hangs his head;
So is a man | in the midst of a throng,
Who few to speak for him finds.


63. To question and answer | must all be ready
Who wish to be known as wise;
Tell one thy thoughts, | but beware of two,--
All know what is known to three.


64. The man who is prudent | a measured use
Of the might he has will make;
He finds when among | the brave he fares
That the boldest he may not be.


65.     .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
Oft for the words | that to others one speaks
He will get but an evil gift.


66. Too early to many | a meeting I came,
And some too late have I sought;
The beer was all drunk, | or not yet brewed;
Little the loathed man finds.


[62. This stanza follows stanza 63 in the manuscript, but there are marks therein indicating the transposition.


65. The manuscript indicates no lacuna (lines I and 2). Many editors have filled out the stanza with two lines from late paper manuscripts, the passage running:


"A man must be watchful | and wary as well,
And fearful of trusting a friend."


]


p. 42


67. To their homes men would bid | me hither and yon,
If at meal-time I needed no meat,
Or would hang two hams | in my true friend's house,
Where only one I had eaten.


68. Fire for men | is the fairest gift,
And power to see the sun;
Health as well, | if a man may have it,
And a life not stained with sin.


69. All wretched is no man, | though never so sick;
Some from their sons have joy,
Some win it from kinsmen, | and some from their wealth,
And some from worthy works.


70. It is better to live | than to lie a corpse,
The live man catches the cow;
I saw flames rise | for the rich man's pyre,
And before his door he lay dead.


71. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.


[70. The manuscript has "and a worthy life" in place of "than to lie a corpse" in line I, but Rask suggested the emendation as early as 1818, and most editors have followed him.]


p. 43


72. A son is better, | though late he be born,
And his father to death have fared;
Memory-stones | seldom stand by the road
Save when kinsman honors his kin.


73. Two make a battle, | the tongue slays the head;
In each furry coat | a fist I look for.


74. He welcomes the night | whose fare is enough,
(Short are the yards of a ship,)
Uneasy are autumn nights;
Full oft does the weather | change in a week,
And more in a month's time.


75. A man knows not, | if nothing he knows,
That gold oft apes begets;
One man is wealthy | and one is poor,
Yet scorn for him none should know.


76. Among Fitjung's sons | saw I well-stocked folds,--
Now bear they the beggar's staff;


[73-74. These seven lines are obviously a jumble. The two lines of stanza 73 not only appear out of place, but the verse form is unlike that of the surrounding stanzas. In 74, the second line is clearly interpolated, and line I has little enough connection with lines 3, 4 and 5. It looks as though some compiler (or copyist) had inserted here various odds and ends for which he could find no better place.


75. The word "gold" in line 2 is more or less conjectural, the manuscript being obscure. The reading in line 4 is also doubtful.]


p. 44


Wealth is as swift | as a winking eye,
Of friends the falsest it is.


77. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
But a noble name | will never die,
If good renown one gets.


78. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
One thing now | that never dies,
The fame of a dead man's deeds.


79. Certain is that | which is sought from runes,
That the gods so great have made,
And the Master-Poet painted;
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .     of the race of gods:
Silence is safest and best.


80. An unwise man, | if a maiden's love
Or wealth he chances to win,


[76. in the manuscript this stanza follows 79, the order being: 77, 78, 76, 80, 79, 81. Fitjung ("the Nourisher"): Earth.


79. This stanza is certainly in bad shape, and probably out of place here. Its reference to runes as magic signs suggests that it properly belongs in some list of charms like the Ljothatal (stanzas 147-165). The stanza-form is so irregular as to show either that something has been lost or that there have been interpolations. The manuscript indicates no lacuna; Gering fills out the assumed gap as follows:

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4 years ago  ::  Mar 05, 2011 - 11:48AM #3
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658

Mar 5, 2011 -- 11:46AM, John_T_Mainer wrote:

Hamaval


 


1. Within the gates | ere a man shall go,
(Full warily let him watch,)
Full long let him look about him;
For little he knows | where a foe may lurk,
And sit in the seats within.


2. Hail to the giver! | a guest has come;
Where shall the stranger sit?
Swift shall he be who, | with swords shall try
The proof of his might to make.


[1. This stanza is quoted by Snorri, the second line being omitted in most of the Prose Edda manuscripts.


2. Probably the first and second lines had originally nothing to do with the third and fourth, the last two not referring to host or guest, but to the general danger of backing one's views with the sword.]


p. 30


3. Fire he needs | who with frozen knees
Has come from the cold without;
Food and clothes | must the farer have,
The man from the mountains come.


4. Water and towels | and welcoming speech
Should he find who comes, to the feast;
If renown he would get, | and again be greeted,
Wisely and well must he act.


5. Wits must he have | who wanders wide,
But all is easy at home;
At the witless man | the wise shall wink
When among such men he sits.


6. A man shall not boast | of his keenness of mind,
But keep it close in his breast;
To the silent and wise | does ill come seldom
When he goes as guest to a house;
(For a faster friend | one never finds
Than wisdom tried and true.)


7. The knowing guest | who goes to the feast,
In silent attention sits;
With his ears he hears, | with his eyes he watches,
Thus wary are wise men all.


[6. Lines 5 and 6 appear to have been added to the stanza.]


p. 31


8. Happy the one | who wins for himself
Favor and praises fair;
Less safe by far | is the wisdom found
That is hid in another's heart.


9. Happy the man | who has while he lives
Wisdom and praise as well,
For evil counsel | a man full oft
Has from another's heart.


10. A better burden | may no man bear
For wanderings wide than wisdom;
It is better than wealth | on unknown ways,
And in grief a refuge it gives.


11. A better burden | may no man bear
For wanderings wide than wisdom;
Worse food for the journey | he brings not afield
Than an over-drinking of ale.


12. Less good there lies | than most believe
In ale for mortal men;
For the more he drinks | the less does man
Of his mind the mastery hold.


[12. Some editors have combined this stanza in various ways with the last two lines of stanza it, as in the manuscript the first two lines of the latter are abbreviated, and, if they belong there at all, are presumably identical with the first two lines of stanza 10.]


p. 32


13. Over beer the bird | of forgetfulness broods,
And steals the minds of men;
With the heron's feathers | fettered I lay
And in Gunnloth's house was held.


14. Drunk I was, | I was dead-drunk,
When with Fjalar wise I was;
'Tis the best of drinking | if back one brings
His wisdom with him home.


15. The son of a king | shall be silent and wise,
And bold in battle as well;
Bravely and gladly | a man shall go,
Till the day of his death is come.


16. The sluggard believes | he shall live forever,
If the fight he faces not;
But age shall not grant him | the gift of peace,
Though spears may spare his life.


17. The fool is agape | when he comes to the feast,
He stammers or else is still;
But soon if he gets | a drink is it seen
What the mind of the man is like.


[13. The heron: the bird of forgetfulness, referred to in line 1. Gunnloth: the daughter of the giant Suttung, from whom Othin won the mead of poetry. For this episode see stanzas 104-110.


14. Fjalar: apparently another name for Suttung. This stanza, and probably 13, seem to have been inserted as illustrative.]


p. 33


18. He alone is aware | who has wandered wide,
And far abroad has fared,
How great a mind | is guided by him
That wealth of wisdom has.


19. Shun not the mead, | but drink in measure;
Speak to the point or be still;
For rudeness none | shall rightly blame thee
If soon thy bed thou seekest.


20. The greedy man, | if his mind be vague,
Will eat till sick he is;
The vulgar man, | when among the wise,
To scorn by his belly is brought.


21. The herds know well | when home they shall fare,
And then from the grass they go;
But the foolish man | his belly's measure
Shall never know aright.


22. A paltry man | and poor of mind
At all things ever mocks;
For never he knows, | what he ought to know,
That he is not free from faults.


23. The witless man | is awake all night,
Thinking of many things;
Care-worn he is | when the morning comes,
And his woe is just as it was.


24. The foolish man | for friends all those
Who laugh at him will hold;


p. 34


When among the wise | he marks it not
Though hatred of him they speak.


25. The foolish man | for friends all those
Who laugh at him will hold;
But the truth when he comes | to the council he learns,
That few in his favor will speak.


26. An ignorant man | thinks that all he knows,
When he sits by himself in a corner;
But never what answer | to make he knows,
When others with questions come.


27. A witless man, | when he meets with men,
Had best in silence abide;
For no one shall find | that nothing he knows,
If his mouth is not open too much.
(But a man knows not, | if nothing he knows,
When his mouth has been open too much.)


28. Wise shall he seem | who well can question,
And also answer well;
Nought is concealed | that men may say
Among the sons of men.


29. Often he speaks | who never is still
With words that win no faith;


[25. The first two lines are abbreviated in the manuscript, but are doubtless identical with the first two lines of stanza 24.


27. The last two lines were probably added as a commentary on lines 3 and 4.]


p. 35


The babbling tongue, | if a bridle it find not,
Oft for itself sings ill.


30. In mockery no one | a man shall hold,
Although he fare to the feast;
Wise seems one oft, | if nought he is asked,
And safely he sits dry-skinned.


31. Wise a guest holds it | to take to his heels,
When mock of another he makes;
But little he knows | who laughs at the feast,
Though he mocks in the midst of his foes.


32. Friendly of mind | are many men,
Till feasting they mock at their friends;
To mankind a bane | must it ever be
When guests together strive.


33. Oft should one make | an early meal,
Nor fasting come to the feast;
Else he sits and chews | as if he would choke,
And little is able to ask.


34. Crooked and far | is the road to a foe,
Though his house on the highway be;
But wide and straight | is the way to a friend,
Though far away he fare.


35. Forth shall one go, | nor stay as a guest
In a single spot forever;


p. 36


Love becomes loathing | if long one sits
By the hearth in another's home.


36. Better a house, | though a hut it be,
A man is master at home;
A pair of goats | and a patched-up roof
Are better far than begging.


37. Better a house, | though a hut it be,
A man is master at home;
His heart is bleeding | who needs must beg
When food he fain would have.


38. Away from his arms | in the open field
A man should fare not a foot;
For never he knows | when the need for a spear
Shall arise on the distant road.


39. If wealth a man | has won for himself,
Let him never suffer in need;
Oft he saves for a foe | what he plans for a friend,
For much goes worse than we wish.


40. None so free with gifts | or food have I found
That gladly he took not a gift,


[36. The manuscript has "little" in place of "a hut" in line I, but this involves an error in the initial-rhymes, and the emendation has been generally accepted.


37. Lines I and 2 are abbreviated in the manuscript, but are doubtless identical with the first two lines of stanza 56.


39. In the manuscript this stanza follows stanza 40.]


p. 37


Nor one who so widely | scattered his wealth
That of recompense hatred he had.


41. Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
As each for himself can see;
Gift-givers' friendships | are longest found,
If fair their fates may be.


42. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
And gifts with gifts requite;
But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,
And fraud with falsehood meet.


43. To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
To him and the friend of his friend;
But never a man | shall friendship make
With one of his foeman's friends.


44. If a friend thou hast | whom thou fully wilt trust,
And good from him wouldst get,
Thy thoughts with his mingle, | and gifts shalt thou make,
And fare to find him oft.


[40. The key-word in line 3 is missing in the manuscript, but editors have agreed in inserting a word meaning "generous."


41. In line 3 the manuscript adds "givers again" to "gift-givers."]


p. 38


45. If another thou hast | whom thou hardly wilt trust,
Yet good from him wouldst get,
Thou shalt speak him fair, | but falsely think,
And fraud with falsehood requite.


46. So is it with him | whom thou hardly wilt trust,
And whose mind thou mayst not know;
Laugh with him mayst thou, | but speak not thy mind,
Like gifts to his shalt thou give.


47. Young was I once, | and wandered alone,
And nought of the road I knew;
Rich did I feel | when a comrade I found,
For man is man's delight.


48. The lives of the brave | and noble are best,
Sorrows they seldom feed;
But the coward fear | of all things feels,
And not gladly the niggard gives.


49. My garments once | in a field I gave
To a pair of carven poles;
Heroes they seemed | when clothes they had,
But the naked man is nought.


50. On the hillside drear | the fir-tree dies,
All bootless its needles and bark;
It is like a man | whom no one loves,--
Why should his life be long?


p. 39


51. Hotter than fire | between false friends
Does friendship five days burn;
When the sixth day comes | the fire cools,
And ended is all the love.


52. No great thing needs | a man to give,
Oft little will purchase praise;
With half a loaf | and a half-filled cup
A friend full fast I made.


53. A little sand | has a little sea,
And small are the minds of men;
Though all men are not | equal in wisdom,
Yet half-wise only are all.


54. A measure of wisdom | each man shall have,
But never too much let him know;
The fairest lives | do those men live
Whose wisdom wide has grown.


55. A measure of wisdom | each man shall have,
But never too much let him know;
For the wise man's heart | is seldom happy,
If wisdom too great he has won.


56. A measure of wisdom | each man shall have,
But never too much let him know;


[55-56. The first pairs of lines are abbreviated in the manuscript.]


p. 40


Let no man the fate | before him see,
For so is he freest from sorrow.


57. A brand from a brand | is kindled and burned,
And fire from fire begotten;
And man by his speech | is known to men,
And the stupid by their stillness.


58. He must early go forth | who fain the blood
Or the goods of another would get;
The wolf that lies idle | shall win little meat,
Or the sleeping man success.


59. He must early go forth | whose workers are few,
Himself his work to seek;
Much remains undone | for the morning-sleeper,
For the swift is wealth half won.


60. Of seasoned shingles | and strips of bark
For the thatch let one know his need,
And how much of wood | he must have for a month,
Or in half a year he will use.


61. Washed and fed | to the council fare,
But care not too much for thy clothes;
Let none be ashamed | of his shoes and hose,
Less still of the steed he rides,
(Though poor be the horse he has.)


[61. The fifth line is probably a spurious addition.]


p. 41


62. When the eagle comes | to the ancient sea,
He snaps and hangs his head;
So is a man | in the midst of a throng,
Who few to speak for him finds.


63. To question and answer | must all be ready
Who wish to be known as wise;
Tell one thy thoughts, | but beware of two,--
All know what is known to three.


64. The man who is prudent | a measured use
Of the might he has will make;
He finds when among | the brave he fares
That the boldest he may not be.


65.     .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
Oft for the words | that to others one speaks
He will get but an evil gift.


66. Too early to many | a meeting I came,
And some too late have I sought;
The beer was all drunk, | or not yet brewed;
Little the loathed man finds.


[62. This stanza follows stanza 63 in the manuscript, but there are marks therein indicating the transposition.


65. The manuscript indicates no lacuna (lines I and 2). Many editors have filled out the stanza with two lines from late paper manuscripts, the passage running:


"A man must be watchful | and wary as well,
And fearful of trusting a friend."


]


p. 42


67. To their homes men would bid | me hither and yon,
If at meal-time I needed no meat,
Or would hang two hams | in my true friend's house,
Where only one I had eaten.


68. Fire for men | is the fairest gift,
And power to see the sun;
Health as well, | if a man may have it,
And a life not stained with sin.


69. All wretched is no man, | though never so sick;
Some from their sons have joy,
Some win it from kinsmen, | and some from their wealth,
And some from worthy works.


70. It is better to live | than to lie a corpse,
The live man catches the cow;
I saw flames rise | for the rich man's pyre,
And before his door he lay dead.


71. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.


[70. The manuscript has "and a worthy life" in place of "than to lie a corpse" in line I, but Rask suggested the emendation as early as 1818, and most editors have followed him.]


p. 43


72. A son is better, | though late he be born,
And his father to death have fared;
Memory-stones | seldom stand by the road
Save when kinsman honors his kin.


73. Two make a battle, | the tongue slays the head;
In each furry coat | a fist I look for.


74. He welcomes the night | whose fare is enough,
(Short are the yards of a ship,)
Uneasy are autumn nights;
Full oft does the weather | change in a week,
And more in a month's time.


75. A man knows not, | if nothing he knows,
That gold oft apes begets;
One man is wealthy | and one is poor,
Yet scorn for him none should know.


76. Among Fitjung's sons | saw I well-stocked folds,--
Now bear they the beggar's staff;


[73-74. These seven lines are obviously a jumble. The two lines of stanza 73 not only appear out of place, but the verse form is unlike that of the surrounding stanzas. In 74, the second line is clearly interpolated, and line I has little enough connection with lines 3, 4 and 5. It looks as though some compiler (or copyist) had inserted here various odds and ends for which he could find no better place.


75. The word "gold" in line 2 is more or less conjectural, the manuscript being obscure. The reading in line 4 is also doubtful.]


p. 44


Wealth is as swift | as a winking eye,
Of friends the falsest it is.


77. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
But a noble name | will never die,
If good renown one gets.


78. Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
One thing now | that never dies,
The fame of a dead man's deeds.


79. Certain is that | which is sought from runes,
That the gods so great have made,
And the Master-Poet painted;
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .     of the race of gods:
Silence is safest and best.


80. An unwise man, | if a maiden's love
Or wealth he chances to win,


[76. in the manuscript this stanza follows 79, the order being: 77, 78, 76, 80, 79, 81. Fitjung ("the Nourisher"): Earth.


79. This stanza is certainly in bad shape, and probably out of place here. Its reference to runes as magic signs suggests that it properly belongs in some list of charms like the Ljothatal (stanzas 147-165). The stanza-form is so irregular as to show either that something has been lost or that there have been interpolations. The manuscript indicates no lacuna; Gering fills out the assumed gap as follows:


Here is an online copy that I found useful.  For myself I use the Hollander translation, as it takes a poet to translate a poem and capture the idiom not the literal translation which will generally make no sense.


Would you like to examine it in whole by sections, or are their simply individual passages you would like to discuss?


 

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