Havamal

Havamal - The Sayings of the High One
Translation by Henry Adams Bellows

  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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;
    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;
    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;
    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,
    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.
  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?
  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;
    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.)
  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. A man must be watchful      and wary as well,
    And fearful of trusting a friend.
    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.
  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.
  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;
    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;
    Certain is that which is sought from runes,
    The runes 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,
    His pride will wax, but his wisdom never,
    Straight forward he fares in conceit.

    * * *

  81. Give praise to the day at evening,      to a woman on her pyre,
    To a weapon which is tried,      to a maid at wed lock,
    To ice when it is crossed,      to ale that is drunk.
  82. When the gale blows hew wood,      in fair winds seek the water;
    Sport with maidens at dusk,      for day's eyes are many;
    From the ship seek swiftness,      from the shield protection,
    Cuts from the sword,      from the maiden kisses.
  83. By the fire drink ale,      over ice go on skates;
    Buy a steed that is lean,      and a sword when tarnished,
    The horse at home fatten,      the hound in thy dwelling.

    * * *

  84. A man shall trust not      the oath of a maid,
    Nor the word a woman speaks;
    For their hearts on a whirling      wheel were fashioned,
    And fickle their breasts were formed.
  85. In a breaking bow      or a burning flame,
    A ravening wolf      or a croaking raven,
    In a grunting boar,      a tree with roots broken,
    In billowy seas      or a bubbling kettle,
  86. In a flying arrow      or falling waters,
    In ice new formed      or the serpent's folds,
    In a bride's bed-speech      or a broken sword,
    In the sport of bears      or in sons of kings,
  87. In a calf that is sick      or a stubborn thrall,
    A flattering witch      or a foe new slain.
    In a light, clear sky      or a laughing throng,
    In the bowl of a dog      or a harlot's grief!
  88. In a brother's slayer,      if thou meet him abroad,
    In a half-burned house,      in a horse full swift--
    One leg is hurt      and the horse is useless--
    None had ever such faith      as to trust in them all.
  89. Hope not too surely      for early harvest,
    Nor trust too soon in thy son;
    The field needs good weather,      the son needs wisdom,
    And oft is either denied.

    * * *

  90. The love of women      fickle of will
    Is like starting o'er ice      with a steed unshod,
    A two-year-old restive      and little tamed,
    Or steering a rudderless      ship in a storm,
    Or, lame, hunting reindeer      on slippery rocks.

    * * *

  91. Clear now will I speak,      for I know them both,
    Men false to women are found;
    When fairest we speak,      then falsest we think,
    Against wisdom we work with deceit.
  92. Soft words shall he speak      and wealth shall he offer
    Who longs for a maiden's love,
    And the beauty praise      of the maiden bright;
    He wins whose wooing is best.
  93. Fault for loving      let no man find
    Ever with any other;
    Oft the wise are fettered,      where fools go free,
    By beauty that breeds desire.
  94. Fault with another      let no man find
    For what touches many a man;
    Wise men oft      into witless fools
    Are made by mighty love.
  95. The head alone knows      what dwells near the heart,
    A man knows his mind alone;
    No sickness is worse      to one who is wise
    Than to lack the longed-for joy.
  96. This found I myself,      when I sat in the reeds,
    And long my love awaited;
    As my life the maiden      wise I loved,
    Yet her I never had.
  97. Billing's daughter      I found on her bed,
    In slumber bright as the sun;
    Empty appeared      an earl's estate
    Without that form so fair.
  98. "Othin, again      at evening come,
    If a woman thou wouldst win;
    Evil it were      if others than we
    Should know of such a sin."
  99. Away I hastened,      hoping for joy,
    And careless of counsel wise;
    Well I believed      that soon I should win
    Measureless joy with the maid.
  100. So came I next      when night it was,
    The warriors all were awake;
    With burning lights      and waving brands
    I learned my luckess way.
  101. At morning then,      when once more I came,
    And all were sleeping still,
    A dog found      in the fair one's place,
    Bound there upon her bed.
  102. Many fair maids,      if a man but tries them,
    False to a lover are found;
    That did I learn      when I longed to gain
    With wiles the maiden wise;
    Foul scorn was my meed      from the crafty maid,
    And nought from the woman I won.

    * * *

  103. Though glad at home,      and merry with guests,
    A man shall be wary and wise;
    The sage and shrewd,      wide wisdom seeking,
    Must see that his speech be fair;
    A fool is he named      who nought can say,
    For such is the way of the witless.
  104. I found the old giant,      now back have I fared,
    Small gain from silence I got;
    Full many a word,      my will to get,
    I spoke in Suttung's hall.
  105. The mouth of Rati      made room for my passage,
    And space in the stone he gnawed;
    Above and below      the giants' paths lay,
    So rashly I risked my head.
  106. Gunnloth gave      on a golden stool
    A drink of the marvelous mead;
    A harsh reward      did I let her have
    For her heroic heart,
    And her spirit troubled sore.
  107. The well-earned beauty      well I enjoyed,
    Little the wise man lacks;
    So Othrörir now      has up been brought
    To the midst of the men of earth.
  108. Hardly, methinks,      would I home have come,
    And left the giants' land,
    Had not Gunnloth helped me,      the maiden good,
    Whose arms about me had been.
  109. The day that followed,      the frost-giants came,
    Some word of Hor to win,
    (And into the hall of Hor;)
    Of Bolverk they asked,      were he back midst the gods,
    Or had Suttung slain him there?
  110. On his ring swore Othin      the oath, methinks;
    Who now his troth shall trust?
    Suttung's betrayal      he sought with drink,
    And Gunnloth to grief he left.

    * * *

  111. It is time to chant      from the chanter's stool;
    By the wells of Urth I was,
    I saw and was silent,      I saw and thought,
    And heard the speech of Hor.
    (Of runes heard I words,      nor were counsels wanting,
    At the hall of Hor,
    In the hall of Hor;
    Such was the speech I heard.)
  112. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,---
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Rise not at night,      save if news thou seekest,
    Or fain to the outhouse wouldst fare.
  113. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Beware of sleep      on a witch's bosom,
    Nor let her limbs ensnare thee.
  114. Such is her might      that thou hast no mind
    For the council or meeting of men;
    Meat thou hatest,      joy thou hast not,
    And sadly to slumber thou farest.
  115. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Seek never to win      the wife of another,
    Or long for her secret love.
  116. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    If o'er mountains or gulfs      thou fain wouldst go,
    Look well to thy food for the way.
  117. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    An evil man      thou must not let
    Bring aught of ill to thee;
    For an evil man      will never make
    Reward for a worthy thought.
  118. I saw a man      who was wounded sore
    By an evil woman's word;
    A lying tongue      his death-blow launched,
    And no word of truth there was.
  119. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    If a friend thou hast      whom thou fully wilt trust,
    Then fare to find him oft;
    For brambles grow      and waving grass
    On the rarely trodden road.
  120. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    A good man find      to hold in friendship,
    And give heed to his healing charms.
  121. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,-
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Be never the first      to break with thy friend
    The bond that holds you both;
    Care eats the heart      if thou canst not speak
    To another all thy thought.
  122. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Exchange of words      with a witless ape
    Thou must not ever make.
  123. For never thou mayst      from an evil man
    A good requital get;
    But a good man oft      the greatest love
    Through words of praise will win thee.
  124. Mingled is love      when a man can speak
    To another all his thought;
    Nought is so bad      as false to be,
    No friend speaks only fair.
  125. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    With a worse man speak not      three words in dispute,
    Ill fares the better oft
    When the worse man wields a sword.
  126. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,-
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    A shoemaker be,      or a maker of shafts,
    For only thy single self;
    If the shoe is ill made,      or the shaft prove false,
    Then evil of thee men think.
  127. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    If evil thou knowest,      as evil proclaim it,
    And make no friendship with foes.
  128. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    In evil never      joy shalt thou know,
    But glad the good shall make thee.
  129. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Look not up      when the battle is on,--
    (Like madmen the sons      of men become,--)
    Lest men bewitch thy wits.
  130. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,-
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    If thou fain wouldst win      a woman's love,
    And gladness get from her,
    Fair be thy promise      and well fulfilled;
    None loathes what good he gets.
  131. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,-
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    I bid thee be wary,      but be not fearful;
    (Beware most with ale or another's wife,
    And third beware      lest a thief outwit thee.)
  132. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,-
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Scorn or mocking      ne'er shalt thou make
    Of a guest or a journey-goer.
  133. Oft scarcely he knows      who sits in the house
    What kind is the man who comes;
    None so good is found      that faults he has not,
    Nor so wicked that nought he is worth.
  134. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Scorn not ever      the gray-haired singer,
    Oft do the old speak good;
    (Oft from shrivelled skin      come skillful counsels,
    Though it hang with the hides,
    And flap with the pelts,
    And is blown with the bellies.)
  135. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    Curse not thy guest,      nor show him thy gate,
    Deal well with a man in want.
  136. Strong is the beam      that raised must be
    To give an entrance to all;
    Give it a ring,      or grim will be
    The wish it would work on thee.
  137. I rede thee, Loddfafnir!      and hear thou my rede,--
    Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
    Great thy gain if thou learnest:
    When ale thou drinkest)      seek might of earth,
    (For earth cures drink,      and fire cures ills,
    The oak cures tightness,      the ear cures magic,
    Rye cures rupture,      the moon cures rage,
    Grass cures the scab,      and runes the sword-cut;)
    The field absorbs the flood.
  138. Now are Hor's words      spoken in the hall,
    Kind for the kindred of men,
    Cursed for the kindred of giants:
    Hail to the speaker,      and to him who learns!
    Profit be his who has them!
    Hail to them who hearken!

* * *

  1. I ween that I hung      on the windy tree,
    Hung there for nights full nine;
    With the spear I was wounded,      and offered I was
    To Othin, myself to myself,
    On the tree that none      may ever know
    What root beneath it runs.
  2. None made me happy      with loaf or horn,
    And there below I looked;
    I took up the runes,      shrieking I took them,
    And forthwith back I fell.
  3. Nine mighty songs      I got from the son
    Of Bolthorn, Bestla's father;
    And a drink I got      of the goodly mead
    Poured out from Othrörir.
  4. Then began I to thrive,      and wisdom to get,
    I grew and well I was;
    Each word led me on      to another word,
    Each deed to another deed.
  5. Runes shalt thou find,      and fateful signs,
    That the king of singers colored,
    And the mighty gods have made;
    Full strong the signs,      full mighty the signs
    That the ruler of gods doth write.
  6. Othin for the gods,      Dain for the elves,
    And Dvalin for the dwarfs,
    Alsvith for giants      and all mankind,
    And some myself I wrote.
  7. Knowest how one shall write,      knowest how one shall rede?
    Knowest how one shall tint,      knowest how one makes trial?
    Knowest how one shall ask,      knowest how one shall offer?
    Knowest how one shall send,      knowest how one shall sacrifice?
  8. Better no prayer      than too big an offering,
    By thy getting measure thy gift;
    Better is none      than too big a sacrifice,
    . . . . . . . . . .
    So Thund of old wrote      ere man's race began,
    Where he rose on high      when home he came.

* * *

  1. The songs I know      that king's wives know not,
    Nor men that are sons of men;
    The first is called help,      and help it can bring thee
    In sorrow and pain and sickness.
  2. A second I know,      that men shall need
    Who leechcraft long to use;
    . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . .
  3. A third I know,      if great is my need
    Of fetters to hold my foe;
    Blunt do I make      mine enemy's blade,
    Nor bites his sword or staff.
  4. A fourth I know,      if men shall fasten
    Bonds on my bended legs;
    So great is the charm      that forth I may go,
    The fetters spring from my feet,
    Broken the bonds from my hands.
  5. A fifth I know,      if I see from afar
    An arrow fly 'gainst the folk;
    It flies not so swift      that I stop it not,
    If ever my eyes behold it.
  6. A sixth I know,      if harm one seeks
    With a sapling's roots to send me;
    The hero himself      who wreaks his hate
    Shall taste the ill ere I.
  7. A seventh I know,      if I see in flames
    The hall o'er my comrades' heads;
    It burns not so wide      that I will not quench it,
    I know that song to sing.
  8. An eighth I know,      that is to all
    Of greatest good to learn;
    When hatred grows      among heroes' sons,
    I soon can set it right.
  9. A ninth I know,      if need there comes
    To shelter my ship on the flood;
    The wind I calm      upon the waves,
    And the sea I put to sleep.
  10. A tenth I know,      what time I see
    House-riders flying on high;
    So can I work      that wildly they go,
    Showing their true shapes,
    Hence to their own homes.
  11. An eleventh I know,      if needs I must lead
    To the fight my long-loved friends;
    I sing in the shields,      and in strength they go
    Whole to the field of fight,
    Whole from the field of fight,
    And whole they come thence home.
  12. A twelfth I know,      if high on a tree
    I see a hanged man swing;
    So do I write      and color the runes
    That forth he fares,
    And to me talks.
  13. A thirteenth I know,      if a thane full young
    With water I sprinkle well;
    He shall not fall,      though he fares mid the host,
    Nor sink beneath the swords.
  14. A fourteenth I know,      if fain I would name
    To men the mighty gods;
    All know I well      of the gods and elves,
    Few be the fools know this.
  15. A fifteenth I know,      that before the doors
    Of Delling sang Thjothrörir the dwarf;
    Might he sang for the gods,      and glory for elves,
    And wisdom for Hroptatyr wise.
  16. A sixteenth I know,      if I seek delight
    To win from a maiden wise;
    The mind I turn      of the white-armed maid,
    And thus change all her thoughts.
  17. A seventeenth I know,      so that seldom shall go
    A maiden young from me;
    . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . .
  18. Long these songs      thou shalt, Loddfafnir,
    Seek in vain to sing;
    Yet good it were      if thou mightest get them,
    Well, if thou wouldst them learn,
    Help, if thou hadst them.
  19. An eighteenth I know,      that ne'er will I tell
    To maiden or wife of man,--
    The best is what none      but one's self doth know,
    So comes the end of the songs,--
    Save only to her      in whose arms I lie,
    Or who else my sister is.