This is a text and translation of the Old Norse poem Hávamál, the Sayings of the High One. There will be more introductory material as time permits.

Lines in italics in the text and translation are repeated from earlier verses. Verses 112-37 are a long harangue to Loddfafnir, and most of them begin with a refrain of four lines telling Loddfafnir that it would be better if he took the advice: this refrain is italicized on second and subsequent occurrences to make it easier to skip to the new material in each verse.

If you are viewing this page on a Macintosh, the non-modern English characters will probably not appear correctly: see Cathy Ball's notes on "Working with Old English text on the Web" for help to solve this problem.

Notes on the translation:
The translation starts out from a literal translation I made while studying Old Norse at Cambridge, but I have been changing it in two directions since.

Firstly, I have made some changes from a literal translation to one that "sounds better", i.e., more closely mirrors the compressed and alliterative nature of the Norse text. For instance, line 16.6, þótt honum geirar gefi, literally means "though spears might give him [peace, understood, from the previous line]". I have given instead "though spears might spare him": this is not a literal translation, but it gives the sense and also something of the feel of the original. I have sometimes rendered the verb skulu (which means "must" and not "shall") as "should": this would be marked wrong in a literal translation, but is used here to make the translation more alliterative. For line 103.6, opt skal góðs geta, literally "he must often speak of good things", I have given instead "he should often speak of good things"; for line 93.2, skyli engi maðr, I have given "No man must". Asterisks in the translation are links to further discussion in the notes.

Secondly, I have tried to rearrange the translation so that each line of English follows pretty closely the line of Old Norse text beside it. This sometimes produces a more stilted English word-order, but I hope it will help those interested in but with no knowledge of Old Norse to puzzle out the meaning of the original. For instance, from the parallel beginnings of verses 3-5, it becomes evident that er þörf means "it is necessary", and eldr "fire", vatn "water", vit "sense [ModE wit]".

Seasoned students of Old Norse will know that the word order is often too convoluted to follow so simply. One of the most complicated examples in this text is the first three lines of verse 93:

Ástar firna
skyli engi maðr
annan aldregi

Converted into modern English word-order, this would read: Engi maðr skyli line2 aldregiline3 firnaline1 annanline 3 ástarline1, or "No man must ever mock another's love". Editorial help seems called for in this case, so I have prefixed numbers in square brackets to parts of translation which come from a different line of the text. The passage appears in text and translation as:

Ástar firna
skyli engi maðr
annan aldregi
[2] No man must
[3] ever [1] mock
[3] another's [1] love

This tells the reader that "No man must" is a translation of words in line 2 of the Norse, "ever" is from line 3, "mock" from line 1, "another's" from line 3, and "love" from line 1 again. It is a compromise between helping the student of the original and producing a readable translation. When I get a moment, I will probably add an optional switch to make these numbers invisible, so that readers less bothered about the Norse can read a less-cluttered translation.

The edition I used in the preparation of the translation (as will be apparent from some of the notes) is: David A. H. Evans, Hávamál, Viking Society for Northern Research, Text series, 7 (London, 1986). On looking at the Viking Society web page, I see that in 1987 Anthony Faulkes put together a glossary and index to Hávamál as volume 7(ii). I worked through my initial translation with Cleasby-Vigfusson and the glossary to Gordon, though on checking it over for the online version, I used Beatrice La Farge and John Tucker, Glossary to the Poetic Edda, Based on Hans Kuhn's Kurzes Wörterbuch (Heidelberg: Winter, 1992).

For copyright reasons, the text given below is based on Finnur Jónsson's earlier edition (Copenhagen, 1924), which gives both original and normalized texts. Since Jónsson's normalizations are different from the ones that would be followed by someone brought up on Gordon's An Introduction to Old Norse, I have not always followed them (e.g., "um" remains "um", instead of becoming "of"; "er" remains "er", instead of becoming " 's").

Other versions of Hávamál on the web:

What I want to include next:
- add glossing, so that putting the mouse pointer over a word will bring up a definition
- add links to a grammar of Old Norse

Text and translation

Gáttir allar
áðr gangi fram
um skoðask skyli
um skygnask skyli
því at óvíst
er at vita
hvar óvinir
sitja á fleti fyrir

[2] Before one would advance
[1] through each doorway,
one must look about
and peer around,
because one can't know for sure
where enemies
sit in the hall beforehand.
Gefendr heilir
gestr er inn kominn
hvar skal sitja sjá?
Mjök er bráðr
sá er bröndum skal
síns um freista frama

Greetings to the hosts,
a guest is come.
where must this one sit?
He is very impatient,
the one who must sit on the firewood,
to test his luck.
Elds er þörf
þeims inn er kominn
ok á kné kalinn
matar ok váða
es manni þörf
þeims hefir um fjall farit

There is need of fire
for him who is come in
with cold knees;
[5] there is need [4] of food and clothes
for the man
who has journeyed on the mountainside.
Vats er þörf
þeims til verðar kømr
þerru ok þjóðlaðar
góðs um œðis
ef sér geta mætti
orðs ok endrþögu

There is need of water,
for the one who comes for a meal,
of towel and friendly intonation;
of good disposition,
if he can get it,
of speech and silence in return.
Vits er þörf
þeims viða ratar
dælt er heima hvat
at augabragði verðr
sá er ekki kann
ok með snotrum sitr

Sense is needed
for the one who travels widely;
everything is easy at home.
[5] He who knows nothing
[6] and sits with wise men
[4] becomes a mockery.
At hyggjandi sinni
skylit maðr hrœsinn vera
heldr gætinn at geði
þá er horskr ok þögull
kømr heimisgarða til
sjaldan verðr viti vörum
því at óbrigðra vin
fær maðr aldregi
en manvit mikit

[2] A man must not be boastful
[1] in his mind,
but wary in disposition;
when he, wise and silent,
comes to the homestead,
misfortune rarely befalls the wary,
because [8] man can never have
[7] a more reliable guide
than great common sense.
Hinn vari gestr
er til verðar kømr
þunnu hljóði þegir
eyrum hlýðir
en augum skoðar
svá nýsisk fróðra hverr fyrir

The wary guest
who comes for a meal
is silent with strained hearing,
listens with ears
and examines with eyes;
so each of the wise searches about himself.
Hinn er sæll
er sér of getr
lof ok líknstafi
ódælla er við þat
er maðr eiga skal
annars brjóstum í

He is blessed
who has within himself
praise and esteem;
it is harder to deal with that
which a man must own
in the breast of another.
Sá er sæll
er sjalfr of á
lof ok vit meðan lifir
því at ill röð
hefr maðr opt þegit
annars brjóstum ór

He is blessed
who has within himself
praise and sense while he lives,
because [5] man has often received
[4] ill-counsel
from the breast of another.
Byrði betri
berrat maðr brautu at
en sé manvit mikit
auði betra
þykkir þat í ókunnum stað
slíkt er válaðs vera

A man does not bear
a better burden on the road
than is great commonsense;
it seems a greater wealth
in an unknown place --
such is the refuge of the needy.
Byrði betri
berrat maðr brautu at
en sé manvit mikit

vegnest verra
vegra hann velli at
an sé ofdrykkja öls

A man does not bear
a better burden on the road
than is great commonsense;

he does not carry a worse journey-provision
in the open field than is
the over-drinking of ale.
Era svá gótt
sem gótt kveða
öl alda sonum
því at færa veit
er fleira drekkr
síns til geðs gumi

Ale is not as good
as it is said to be good
for the sons of men;
because the man knows less
-- he who drinks more --
of his disposition.
Óminnishegri heitir
sá er yfir ölðrum þrumir
hann stelr geði guma
þess fugls fjöðrum
ek fjötraðr vask
í garði Gunnlaðar

He is called the heron of forgetfulness,
he who hovers over ale-parties;
he steals the disposition of men.
By the feathers of this bird
I was fettered,
in the courts of Gunnlöth.
Ölr ek varð
varð ofrölvi
at hins fróða Fjalars
því er ölðr bazt
at aptr of heimtir
hverr sitt geð gumi

I got drunk,
really drunk,
at Fjalarr the Wise's;
it is the best ale-feast
when each man recovers his disposition
Þagalt ok hugalt
skyli þjóðans barn
ok vígdjarft vera
glaðr ok reifr
skyli gumna hverr
unz sínn bíðr bana

A ruler's son must be
silent and thoughtful
and brave in battle;
each man must be
happy and cheerful
until he suffers death.
Ósnjallr maðr
hyggsk munu ey lifa
ef hann við víg varask
en elli gefr
honum engi frið
þótt honum geirar gefi

The foolish man
thinks he will live forever
if he avoids battle;
but old age gives
him no peace,
though spears might spare him.
Kópir afglapi
er til kynnis kømr
þylsk hann umbeða þrumir
alt er senn
ef hann sylg um getr
uppi er þá geð guma

The fool stares
when he comes on a visit to acquaintances;
he mumbles to himself or hovers.
Everything happens at once
if he gets a drink:
then his disposition is revealed.
Sá einn veit
er víða ratar
ok hefr fjölð um farit
hverju geði
stýrir gumna hverr
sá er vitandi er vits

He alone knows,
he who wanders widely
and has travelled a great deal,
what disposition
each man possesses.
He is knowing in commonsense.
Haldit maðr á keri
drekki þó at hófi mjöð
mæli þarft eða þegi
ókynnis þess
var þik engi maðr
at þú gangir snemma at sofa

Do not let a man hold on to a goblet,
but let him drink mead in moderation,
let him talk sense or be silent.
No man blames you
of bad manners,
that you go early to sleep.
Gröðugr halr
nema geðs viti
etr sér aldrtrega
opt fær hlœgis
er með horskum kømr
manni heimskum magi

A greedy man,
unless he knows his mind,
often causes his life's sorrow by eating;
often the stomach gains ridicule,
when he comes among wise men,
for the foolish man.
Hjarðir þat vitu
nær þær heim skulu
ok ganga þá af grasi
en ósviðr maðr
kann ævagi
síns um mál maga

The herds know
when they must be home
and leave the pasture then;
but the unwise man
never knows
the measure of his stomach.
Vesall maðr
ok illa skapi
hlær at hvívetna
hitki hann veit
er hann vita þyrpti
at hann era vamma vanr

The wretched man
of bad character
laughs at all kinds of things.
On the other hand he doesn't know
what he ought to know,
that he is not lacking in faults.
Ósviðr maðr
vakir um allar nætr
ok hyggr at hvívetna
þá er móðr
er at morni kømr
alt er vil sem var

The unwise man
is awake all night
and thinks of all sorts of things;
then he is tired
when morning comes,
and all the trouble is as it was.
Ósnotr maðr
hyggr sér alla vera
viðhlæjendr vini
hitki hann fiðr
þótt þeir um hann fár lesi
ef hann með snotrum sitr

The unwise man
thinks them all to be
his friends, those who laugh at him;
he does not notice
even if they express malice against him
when he sits among wise men.
Ósnotr maðr
hyggr sér alla vera
viðhlæjendr vini
þá þat fiðr
er at þingi kømr
at hann á formælendr fá

The unwise man
thinks them all to be
his friends, those who laugh at him;
then he finds
when he comes to the Thing (assembly)
that he has few supporters.
Ósnotr maðr
þykkisk alt vita
ef hann á sér í vá veru
hitki hann veit
hvat hann skal við kveða
ef hans freista firar

The unwise man
thinks he knows everything
if he has refuge for himself in a corner.
but he does not know
what he must say in reply,
if men test him.
Ósnotr maðr
er með aldir kømr
þat er bazt at hann þegi
engi þat veit
at hann ekki kann
name hann mæli til mart
veita maðr
hinn er vætki veit
þótt hann mæli til mart

For the unwise man
who comes among men,
it is best that be he silent.
None know
that he knows nothing,
unless he should speak too much. *
The man does not know it,
he who knows nothing,
whether he speaks too much.
Fróðr sá þykkisk
er fregna kann
ok segja hit sama
eyvitu leyna
megu ýta synir
því er gengr of guma

He seems wise,
he who knows how to ask
and to speak likewise;
they can conceal nothing,
the sons of men,
of what is said about men.
Œrna mælir
sá er eva þegir
staðlausu stafi
hraðmælt tunga
nema haldendr eigi
opt sér ógótt um gelr

[2] He who is never silent
[1] speaks plenty
of meaningless words;
the fast-talking tongue,
unless it have controllers,
often sings itself harm.
At augabragði
skala maðr anna hafa
þótt til kynnis komi
margr þá fróðr þykkisk
ef hann freginn erat
ok nái hann þurrfjallr þruma

[2] A man must not make
[1] a mockery [2] of another
when he comes to visit acquaintances;
many a man seems wise
if he is not questioned
and manages to sit quiet, unscathed.
Fróðr þykkisk
sá er flótta tekr
gestr at gest hæðinn
veita görla
sá er of verði glissir
þótt hann með grömum glami

He seems wise,
the guest who takes flight
from the mocking guest;
he does not know for certain,
he who mocks over a meal,
whether he talks loudly among enemies.
Gunnar margir
erusk gagnhollir
en at virði vrekask
aldar róg
þat mun æ vera
órir gestr við gest

Many men
are most friendly with each other
and yet fight over food;
strife among men
will always be:
guest will be hostile to guest.
Árliga verðar
skyli maðr opt fá
nema til kynnis komi
sitr ok snópir
lætr sem solginn sé
ok kann fregna at fá

[2] A man should often take
[1] a meal early,
unless he comes to visit friends;
[else] he sits and looks around hungrily,
behaves as though he's famished,
and can talk about little.
Afhvart mikit
er til ills vinar
þótt á brautu búi
en til góðs vinar
liggja gagnvegir
þótt hann sé firr farinn

It is a great roundabout way
to a bad friend,
though he dwell on the road;
but to a good friend
there lead direct routes,
though he be gone farther away.
Ganga skal
skala gestr vera
ey í einum stað
ljúfr verðr leiðr
ef lengi sitr
annars fletjum á

The guest must go,
he must not be
always in the same place;
loved becomes loathed
if he stays a long time
in the hall of another.
Bú er betra
þótt lítit sé
halr er heima hverr
þótt tvær geitr
eigi ok taugreptan sal
þat er þó betra an bœn

The dwelling is better,
though it be small;
each man is a free man at home;
though he own two she-goats
and a hall roofed with withies,
it is still better than begging.
Bú er betra
þótt lítit sé
halr er heima hverr
blóðugt er hjarta
þeims biðja skal
sér í mál hvert matar

The dwelling is better,
though it be small;
each man is a free man at home;
he has a bloody heart,
the one who must beg
food for himself every meal-time.
Vápnum sínum
skala maðr velli á
feti ganga framar
því at óvist er at vita
nær verðr á vegum úti
geirs um þörf guma

[2] A man in the open country must not
[3] go more than one step
[1] from his weapons;
because one can't be sure
when, outside on the roads,
a spear will be needed by a warrior.
Fanka ek mildan mann
eða svá matar góðan
at værit þiggja þegit
eða síns féar
svá gjöflan
at leið sé laun ef þiggr

I have not found a man so liberal
or so generous with food
that to accept was not accepted,
or [5] so free *
[4] with his money
that the reward is unwelcome if he gets one.
Féar síns
er fengit hefir
skylit maðr þörf þola
opt sparir leiðum
þats hefir ljúfum hugat
mart gengr verr en varir

[3] A man should not endure want
[2] when he has gained
[1] his money;
often he saves for enemies
what he has intended for friends;
much goes worse than expected.
Vápnum ok váðum
skulu vinir gleðjask
þat er á sjalfum sýnst
viðr gefendr ok endrgefendr
erusk vinir lengst,
ef þat bíðr at verða vel

[2] Friends must gladden each other
[1] with weapons and clothes,
which are most evident on themselves.
givers in return and repeat-givers
are friends the longest
if it endures to turn out well.
Vin sínum
skal maðr vinr vera
ok gjalda gjöf við gjöf
hlátr við hlátri
skyli hölðar taka
en lausung við lygi

[2] A man must be a friend
[1] to his friend
and give gift for gift.
[5] Men should use
[4] mockery in return for mockery,
and deception in return for a lie.
Vin sínum
skal maðr vinr vera
þeim ok þess vinr
en óvinar síns
skyli engi maðr
vinar vinr vera

[2] A man must be a friend
[1] to his friend,
for himself and for the friend,
[5] but no man must
[6] be a friend of a friend
[4] of his foe.
Veiztu ef þú vin átt
þanns þú vel trúir
ok vill þú af honum gótt geta
geði skalt við þann
blanda ok gjöfum skipta
fara at finna opt

Know, if you have a friend
in whom you have faith,
and you wish to get something good from him,
you must share with his mind
and exchange gifts,
and go often to seek him out.
Ef þú át annan
þanns þú illa trúir
vildu af honum þó gótt geta
fagrt skalt við þann mæla
en flátt hyggja
ok gjalda lausung við lygi

If you have another
whom you mistrust,
but you want to get something good from him,
you must speak fair to him,
and think deceitful thoughts,
and give deception in return for a lie.
Þat er enn of þann
er þú illa trúir
ok þér er grunr at hans geði
hlæja skaltu við þeim
ok um hug mæla
glík skulu gjöld gjöfum

There is more about the one
whom you mistrust
and whose disposition you suspect:
you should laugh with him
and speak other than your thought.
There should be repayment for such gifts.
Ungr var ek forðum
fór ek einn saman
þá varð ek villr vega
auðigr þóttumk
er ek annan fann
maðr er manns gaman

Long ago I was young,
I travelled on my own,
then I turned astray in my paths:
I thought myself rich
when I found another,
man is man's entertainment.
Mildir frœknir
menn bazt lifa
sjaldan sút ala
en ósnjallr maðr
uggir hotvetna
sýtir æ gløggr við gjöfum

Generous, valiant
men live best,
and seldom nourish sorrow;
but the cowardly man
fears all sorts of things
and the niggard is always troubled about gifts.
Váðir mínar
gaf ek velli at
tveim trémönnum
rekkar þat þóttusk
er þeir ript höfðu
neiss er nøkkviðr halr

My clothes
I gave in a field
to two wooden men:
they thought themselves warriors
when they had clothing:
a naked man is shamed.
Hrørnar þöll
sú er stendr þorpi á
hlýrat henni börkr né barr
svá er maðr
sá er mangi ann
hvat skal hann lengi lifa?

The fir decays,
the one that stands in the hamlet:
neither bark nor foliage protects it.
So is a man,
who is loved by no-one:
how should he live a long time?
Eldi heitari
brinn með illum vinum
friðr fimm daga,
en þá sloknar
es hinn sétti kømr
ok versnar allr vinskapr

Friendship among bad friends
burns hotter than fire
for five days;
but it is extinguished
when the sixth day comes
and the whole friendship spoils.
Mikit eitt
skala manni gefa
opt kaupir sér í lítlu lof
með hálfum hleifi
ok með höllu keri
fekk ek mér félaga

[2] One should not give a man
[1] a single large gift:
often one can obtain for onself with a little praise:
with half a loaf
and with a sloping goblet
I got myself a comrade.
Lítilla sanda
lítilla sæva
lítil eru geð guma
því at allir menn
urðut jafnspakir
hálf er öld hvar

? [of small sands,]
? [of small seas,]
Small are the minds of men,
because all men
have not turned out equally wise,
? mankind is everywhere halved.
skyli manna hverr
æva til snotr sé
þeim er fyrða
fegrst at lifa
er vel mart vitut

[2] Each man must be
[1] moderately wise,
but never too wise;
for those people
it is most pleasant to live
when they don't know a great many things. *
skyli manna hverr
æva til snotr sé
því at snotrs manns hjarta
verðr sjaldan glatt,
ef sá er alsnotr er á

[2] Each man must be
[1] moderately wise,
but never too wise;
because the wise man's heart
is seldom glad,
if he who owns it is completely wise.
skyli manna hverr
æva til snotr sé
ørlög sín
viti engi fyrir
þeim er sorgalausastr sefi

[2] Each man must be
[1] moderately wise,
but never too wise;
[5] no-one should know beforehand
[4] his fate;
for that one is the mind most free from care.
Brandr af brandi
brinn unz brunninn er
funi kveykisk af funa
maðr af manni
verðr at máli kuðr
en til dœlskr af dul

Firewood from firewood
burns, until it is burnt,
flame kindles from flame;
from man, man
becomes wise in speech,
but too foolish from folly.
Ár skal rísa
sá er annars vill
fé eða fjör hafa
sjaldan liggjandi úlfr
lær um getr
né sofandi maðr sigr

He must rise early,
the one who wants to have another's
wealth or life;
seldom does a lying wolf
get a ham
or a sleeping man victory.
Ár skal rísa
sá er á yrkendr fá
ok ganga síns verka á vit
mart um dvelr
þann er um morgin sefr
hálfr er auðr und hvötum

He must rise early,
the one who has few workers,
and go to visit his work;
much will delay
the one who sleeps through the morning;
wealth is half in the hands of the active.
Þurra skíða
ok þakinna næfra
þess kann maðr mjöt
ok þess viðar
er vinnask megi
mál ok misseri

[3] Man knows the measure of this,
[1] of dry sticks
[2] and of birch-bark for roofing,
and of this, of wood
which will last
for the short and long seasons.
Þveginn ok mettr
ríði maðr þingi at
þótt hann sét væddr til vel
skúa ok bróka
skammisk engi maðr
né hests in heldr
þótt hann hafit góðan

[2] A man should ride to the Thing
[1] washed and fed,
though he be not clothed too well;
[5] let no man be ashamed
[4] of shoes and breeches,
nor of horse either,
even if he hasn't a good one.
Snapir ok gnapir
er til sævar kømr
örn á aldinn mar
svá er maðr
er með mörgum kømr
ok á formælendr fá

[3] The eagle [1] snatches and stretches
when it comes to the sea,
[3] the ancient sea;
so is a man
who comes among crowds
and has few supporters.
Fregna ok segja
skal fróðra hverr
sá er vill heitinn horskr
einn vita
né annarr skal
þjóð veit ef þrír ro

[2] Each of the wise must
[1] ask and reply,
he who wishes to be called wise;
one alone must know
but not another;
the people knows if there are three [who know].
Ríki sitt
skyli ráðsnotra
hverr í hófi hafa
þá hann þat finnr
er með frœknum kømr
at engi er einna hvatastr

[3] Each [2] of the prudent must
[3] hold in moderation
[1] his power;
then he finds it,
when he comes among valiant men,
that none is keenest of all.
Orða þeira
er maðr öðrum segir
opt hann gjöld um getr

[3] Often a man gets a repayment
[1] for the words
[2] which he says to another.
Mikilsti snemma
kom ek í marga staði
en til síð í suma
öl var drukkit
sumt var ólagat
sjaldan hittir leiðr í lið

[2] I came to many places
[1] very much too soon,
and too late to some;
sometimes the ale was drunk,
sometimes it wasn't ready;
the unwelcome one seldom hits the spot.
Hér ok hvar
myndi mér heim of boðit
ef þyrftak at málungi mat
eða tvau lær hengi
at ins tryggva vinar
þars ek hafða eitt etit

Here and there
I would be invited home
if I needed no food at meals;
or two hams would hang
at a loyal friend's
where I had eaten one.
Eldr er beztr
með ýta sonum
ok sólar sýn
heilyndi sitt
ef maðr hafa náir
án við löst at lifa

Fire is best
for the sons of men
and the sight of the sun;
his health,
if he can keep it,
and to live without shame.
Erat maðr alls vesall
þótt hann sé illa heill
sumr er af sonum sæll
sumr af frændum
sumr af fé œrnu
sumr af verkum vel

A man is not wholly wretched,
though he be in rotten health;
one is blessed with sons,
another with kinsmen,
another with plenty of money,
another with deeds well done.
Betra er lifðum
en sé ólifðum
ey getr kvikr kú
eld sá ek upp brenna
auðgum manni fyrir
en úti var dauðr fyr durum

It is better for the living
than for the dead, *
the living man always gets the cow;
I saw the fire burn up
before a rich man,
but death was outside the door.
Haltr ríðr hrossi
hjörð rekr handarvanr
daufr vegr ok dugir
blindr er betri
en brenndr sé
nýtr manngi nás

The lame man rides a horse,
the one-armed man drives the herd,
the deaf man fights and is useful;
it is better to be blind
than burnt:
no-one is helped by a corpse.
Sonr er betri
þótt sé síð of alinn
eptir genginn guma
sjaldan bautarsteinar
standa brautu nær
nema reisi niðr at nið

A son is better,
though he be late-begotten,
after a man is gone;
memorial stones seldom
stand by the road
unless a kinsman should raise [them] to kin.
Tveir ro eins herjar
tunga er höfuðs bani
er mér í heðin hvern
handar væni

Two men are the destroyers of one:
the tongue is the head's slayer;
[4] I expect a fist
[3] in every fur cloak.
Nótt verðr feginn
sá er nesti trúir
skammar ro skips rár
hverf er haustgríma
fjölð um viðrir
á fimm dögum
en meira á mánuði

He becomes happy at night
who trusts his journey-provisions;
a ship's sailyards are short;
an autumn-night is changeable.
The weather changes in many ways
in five days,
and more in a month.
Veita hinn
er vættki veit
margr verðr af aurum api
maðr er auðigr
annarr óauðigr
skylit þann vítka vár

He does not know,
he who knows nothing:
many a man becomes a fool through ores [money];
one man is rich,
another poor;
he must not blame his woe on him.
Deyr fé
deyja frændr
deyr sjálfr it sama
en orðstírr
deyr aldregi
hveim er sér góðan getr

Cattle die,
kinsmen die,
the self dies likewise;
but the renown
[6] for the one who gets good fame
[5] dies never.
Deyr fé
deyja frændr
deyr sjálfr it sama
ek veit einn
at aldri deyr
dómr um dauðan hvern

Cattle die,
kinsmen die,
the self dies likewise;
I know one thing
that never dies:
the repute of each of the dead.
Fullar grindr
sá ek fyr Fitjungs sonum
nú bera þeir vánarvöl
svá er auðr
sem augabragð
hann er valtastr vina

[2] I saw [1] the full cattle-pens
of the sons of Fitjung,
now they are beggars:
thus wealth is
like the blink of an eye --
it is the most unreliable of friends.
Ósnotr maðr
ef eignask getr
fé eða fljóðs munuð
metnaðr honum þróask
en mannvit aldregi
fram gengr hann drjúgt í dul

[2] If [1] the foolish man
gains possession of
money or a woman's love,
pride grows in him
but never commonsense;
he heads straight for haughtiness.
Þat er þá reynt
er þú at rúnum spyrr
inum reginkunnum
þeim er gerðu ginnregin
ok fáði fimbulþulr
þá hefir hann bazt ef hann þegir

Then that is proven
when you consult the runes,
originated by the gods,
those which the gods made
and the mighty sage coloured,
that it is best if he is silent.
At kveldi skal dag leyfa
konu er brennd er
mæki er reyndr er
mey er gefin er
ís er yfir kømr
öl er drukkit er

The day must be praised in the evening,
a woman, when she is cremated,
a sword, when it is proven,
a maiden, when she is given away,
ice, when it is crossed,
ale, when it is drunk.
Í vindi skal við höggva
veðri á sjó róa
myrkri við man spjalla
mörg eru dags augu
á skip skal skriðar orka
en á skjöld til hlífar
mæki höggs
en mey til kossa

Wood must be hewed in the wind,
row out to sea in good weather,
talk with maidens in the dark,
many are the eyes of the day.
A ship must be used for a swift journey
and a shield for protection,
a sword for a blow
and a maiden for kisses.
Við eld skal öl drekka
en á ísi skríða
magran mar kaupa
en mæki saurgan
heima hest feita
en hund á búi

Drink ale by the fire
and skate on the ice,
buy a lean steed
and a dirty sword, *
fatten a horse at home
and farm out a dog.
Meyjar orðum
skyli manngi trúa
né því er kveðr kona
því at á hverfanda hvéli
váru þeim hjörtu sköpuð
brigð í brjóst um lagit

[2] No-one should trust
[1] in the words of a maid,
nor in what a woman says,
[4] for [5] their hearts were shaped
[4] on a (potter's) turning wheel,
and fickleness placed in their breasts.
Brestanda boga
brennanda loga
gínanda úlfi
galandi kráku
rýtanda svíni
rótlausum viði
vaxanda vági
vellanda katli

A cracking bow,
a burning flame,
a gaping wolf,
a screaming crow,
a grunting pig,
a rootless tree,
a rising sea,
a boiling kettle,
fljúganda fleini
fallandi báru
ísi einnættum
ormi hringlegnum
brúðar beðmálum
eða brotnu sverði
bjarnar leiki
eða barni konungs

a flying spear,
a falling wave,
ice one night old,
a coiled snake,
a bride's bed-talk
or a broken sword,
a bear's game
or a king's son,
sjúkum kálfi
sjálfráða þræli
völu vilmæli
val nýfeldum

a sick calf,
a self-willed thrall,
the favouring speech of a seeress,
the newly slain,
akri ársánum
trúi engi maðr
né til snemma syni
veðr ræðr akri
en vit syni
hætt er þeira hvárt

a field sown early
no man should trust,
nor too quickly in his son;
weather rules the field
and the mind of the son,
each of these is unreliable.
Bróðurbana sínum
þótt á brautu mœti
húsi hálfbrunnu
hesti alskjótum
þá er jór ónýtr
ef einn fótr brotnar
verðit maðr svá tryggr
at þessu trúi öllu

In his brother-slayer,
though he is met on the road,
in a half-burnt house,
in a horse too-speedy --
a steed is useless
if he breaks a foot --
a man should not be so trustful
that he trusts all these.
Svá er friðr kvenna
þeira er flátt hyggja
sem aki jó óbryddum
á ísi hálum
teitum tvévetrum
ok sé tamr illa
eða í byr óðum
beiti stjórnlausu
eða skyli haltr henda
hrein í þáfjalli

The love of women
who are deceitful in spirit
is like riding a smooth-shod horse
on slippery ice,
a spirited two-year-old
and one badly trained,
or [8] on a rudderless boat
[7] in a raging wind,
or like a lame man trying to catch
a reindeer on a thawing mountainside.
Bert ek nú mæli
því at ek bæði veit
brigðr er karla hugr konum
þá vér fegrst mælum
er vér flást hyggjum
þat tælir horska hugi

Now I will speak openly,
because I know both:
men's hearts are fickle with women;
when we speak most fair
then we think most false.
It deceives the heart of the wise.
Fagrt skal mæla
ok fé bjóða
sá er vill fljóðs ást fá
líki leyfa
ins ljósa mans
sá fær er fríar

Fairly must he speak
and offer gifts,
he who wants to win a woman's love;
praise the figure
of the fair maiden;
he wins who flatters.
Ástar firna
skyli engi maðr
annan aldregi
opt fá á horskan
er á heimskan ne fá
lostfagrir litir

[2] No man must
[3] ever [1] mock
[3] another's [1] love.
often [6] ravishingly fair looks
[4] capture the wise man
[5] when they do not capture the fool.
Eyvitar firna
er maðr annan skal
þess er um margan gengr guma
heimska ór horskum
gørir hölða sonu
sá inn mátki munr

[2] A man must
[1] in no way mock [2] another,
for what happens to many a man;
[6] love the mighty
makes [4] fools of the wise
[5] among the sons of men.
Hugr einn þat veit
er býr hjarta nær
einn er hann sér um sefa
øng er sótt verri
hveim snotrum manni
en sér øngu at una

Only the mind knows
what lives near the heart;
a man is alone with his own spirit.
There is no sickness worse
for any wise man
than to have nothing to love.
Þat ek þá reynda
er ek í reyri sat
ok vættak míns munar
hold ok hjarta
var mér in horska mær
þeygi ek hana at heldr hefik

That I proved
when I sat in the reeds
and waited for my love;
[5] the wise maid to me
[4] was body and soul --
but still I do not have her.
Billings mey
ek fann beðjum á
sólhvíta sofa
jarls ynði
þótti mér ekki vera
nema við þat lík at lifa

[2] I found her in bed,
[1] Billingr's kinswoman,
sun-white, asleep;
a jarl's delight
seemed nothing to me,
unless I could live with that body.
Auk nær apni
skaltu Óðinn koma
ef þú vilt þér mæla man
alt eru ósköp
nema einir viti
slíkan löst saman

"So towards evening,
Othinn, you must come,
if you want to win the maid for yourself;
all is amiss,
unless we alone know
of such shame."
Aptr ek hvarf
ok unna þóttumk
vísum vilja frá
hitt ek hugða
at ek hafa mynda
geð hennar alt ok gaman

Back I turned
and seemed [3] out of my head
[2] with love;
I thought
that I would have
it all, her heart and pleasure.
Svá kom ek næst
at in nýta var
vígdrótt öll um vakin
með brennandum ljósum
ok bornum viði
svá var mér vílstígr of vitaðr

When I came next,
the able [3] warriors
[2] were [3] all awake;
with burning lights
and brands raised high, *
so was my wretched path marked out.
Ok nær morni
er ek var enn um kominn
þá var saldrótt um sofin
grey eitt ek þá fann
innar góðu konu
bundit beðjum á

And towards morning,
when I came back again,
the hall retainers were asleep.
Then I found only
the good woman's [4] bitch
bound to the bed.
Mörg er góð mær
ef görva kannar
hugbrigð við hali
þá ek þat reynda
er it ráðspaka
teygða ek á flærðir fljóð
háðungar hverrar
leitaði mér it horska man
ok hafða ek þess vættki vífs

Many a good maid,
if you look closely,
is fickle-minded towards men;
I learned that
when [6] I tried to seduce
the [5] wise [6] woman to wantonness,
[8] the clever maid heaped *
[7] her scorn [8] on me,
and I got nothing from this woman.
Heima glaðr gumi
ok við gesti reifr
sviðr skal um sik vera
minnigr ok málugr
ef hann vill margfróðr vera
opt skal góðs geta
fimbulfambi heitir
sá er fátt kann segja
þat er ósnotrs aðal

At home a man [3] must be [1] glad
and cheerful with guests,
knowing about himself,
mindful and fluent,
if he wants to be well-informed;
he should often speak of good things.
He is called a monstrous fool,
the one who knows how to say almost nothing:
it is the character of the unwise.
Inn aldna jötum ek sótta
nú em ek aptr um kominn
fátt gat ek þegjandi þar
mörgum orðum
mælta ek í minn frama
í Suttungs sölum

I sought the old giant,
now I have come back again.
I got little from being silent there.
With many words
I spoke to my own advantage
in Suttungr's hall.
Gunnlöð mér um gaf
gullnum stóli á
drykk ins dýra mjaðar
ill iðgjöld
lét ek hana eptir hafa
síns ins heila hugar
síns ins svára sefa

Gunnloth gave to me
[3] a drink of the precious mead
[2] on her golden throne;
A bad reward
I gave her afterwards
for her whole heart,
for her sorrowful spirit.

Rata munn
létumk rúms um fá
ok um grjót gnaga
yfir ok undir
stóðumk jötna vegir
svá hætta ek höfði til

[2] I let [1] the mouth of the gimlet
make space
and gnaw through stone;
over and under
me stood the giants' paths (rocks):
thus I risked my head.
Vel keypts litar
hefi ek vel notit
fás er fróðum vant
því at Óðrerir
er nú upp kominn
á alda vés jarðar

[2] I have taken great advantage
[1] ? from the well-purchased appearance; *
little is lacking to the wise,
because Othrerir
has now come up
? to Othinn's sanctuary. *
Ifi er mér á
at ek væra enn kominn
jötna görðum ór
ef ek Gunnlaðar ne nytak
innar góðu konu
þeirar er lögðumk arm yfir

Doubtful it is to me
that I could have come again
out of the giant's court,
if I had not enjoyed Gunnloth,
the good woman,
over whom I laid my arm.
Ins hindra dags
gengu hrímþursar
Háva ráðs at fregna
Háva höllu í
at Bölverki þeir spurðu
ef hann væri með böndum kominn
eða hefði honum Suttungr of sóit

On the next day
the frost giants went
to ask for Har's advice
in Har's hall:
they asked about Bolverkr (the Evil-doer, Othinn),
whether he had come back among the gods,
or whether Suttungr had sacrificed him.
Baugeið Óðinn
hygg ek at unnit hafi
hvat skal hans tryggðum trúa?
Suttung svikinn
hann lét sumbli frá
ok grœtta Gunnlöðu

Othinn, [2] I think, has sworn
[1] an oath on the sacred ring --
who shall trust in his troth?
[5] he had [4] Suttungr cheated
of his mead,
and made Gunnloth grieve.
Mál er at þylja
þular stóli á
Urðar brunni at
sá ek ok þagðak
sá ek ok hugðak
hlýdda ek á manna mál
of rúnar heyrða ek dœma
né um ráðum þögþu
Háva höllu at
Háva höllu í
heyrða ek segja svá

It is time to recite
from the sage's throne
at Urthr's well;
I saw and stayed silent,
I saw and reflected,
I listened to the speech of men,
I heard and learned about runes,
nor were they silent in counsels
at Har's hall,
in Har's hall,
thus I heard it said --
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
nótt þú rísat
nema á njósn sér
eða þú leitir þér innan út staðar

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
don't get up at night,
unless you are on guard
or are seeking a place outside for yourself.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
fjölkunnigri konu
skalattu í faðmi sofa
svá at hon lyki þik liðum

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] you must not sleep in the embrace
[5] of a woman skilled in magic
so that she locks you in her limbs --
Hon svá gørir
at þú gáir eigi
þings né þjóðans máls
mat þú villat
né mannskis gaman
ferr þú sorgafullr at sofa

-- she will make sure
that you do not heed
the speech of either Thing (assembly) or king;
you will not desire food
or mankind's pleasure;
you will go sorrowfully to sleep.
(cf. Mæthhild? *)
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
annars konu
teygðu þér aldregi
eyrarúnu at

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] never seduce
[5] another's wife
to be your mistress.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
á fjalli eða firði
ef þik fara tíðir
fásktu at virði vel

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] if you long to travel
[5] over mountain or fjord,
be sure you have ample food.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
illan mann
láttu aldregi
óhöpp at þér vita
því at af illum manni
fær þú aldregi
gjöld ins góða hugar

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] never allow
[5] a bad man
to know of your misfortune,
because from a bad man
you will never get
a good return for your good will.
Ofarla bíta
ek sá einum hal
orð illrar konu;
fláráð tunga
varð honum at fjörlagi
ok þeygi um sanna sök

[2] I saw a man
[1] deeply bitten
by the word of a bad woman;
her deceit-crafty tongue *
was the death of him,
and yet the charge was not true.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
veiztu ef þú vin átt
þanns þú vel trúir
farðu at finna opt
því at hrísi vex
ok hávu grasi
vegr er vættki trøðr

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
know this, if you have a friend
whom you trust well,
go to visit him often,
for [9] the path which no-one treads
[7] grows with underbrush
[8] and high grass.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
góðan mann
teygðu þér at gamanrúnum
ok nem líknargaldr meðan þú lifir

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] draw [5] a good man
to you with pleasant conversation,
and learn healing charms while you live.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
vin þínum
ver þú aldregi
fyrri at flaumslitum
sorg etr hjarta
ef þú segja ne náir
einhverjum allan hug

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] never be
[7] the first to make a breach
[5] with your friend.
Sorrow eats the heart
if you cannot tell
someone your whole mind.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
orðum skipta
þú skalt aldregi
við ósvinna apa

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] you must never
[5] bandy words
with a stupid fool --

því at af illum manni
mundu aldregi
góðs laun um geta
en góðr maðr
mun þik gørva mega
líknfastan at lofi

-- because [2] you can never
[3] get a reward for good
[1] from a bad man,
but a good man
can make you
beloved through praise.
Sifjum er þá blandat
hverr er segja ræðr
einum allan hug
alt er betra
en sé brigðum at vera
era sá vinr öðrum
er vilt eitt segir

Peace and trust are exchanged
when one can tell
another his whole mind.
Anything is better
than to be faithless:
he is not another's friend
who says only what the friend wants to hear.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
þrimr orðum senna
skalattu þér við verra mann
opt inn betri bilar
þá er inn verri vegr

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] you must not [5] dispute even three words
with a man less worthy than you:
often the better man is defeated
when the worser attacks.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
skósmiðr þú verir
né skeptismiðr
nema þú sjálfum þér sér
skór er skapaðr illa
eða skapt sé rangt
þá er þér böls beðit

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
be [6] not [5] a shoe-maker
or a shaft-maker,
except for yourself alone;
if the shoe is badly made
or the shaft bent,
then misfortune is in store for you.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
hvars þú böl kannt
kveðu þat bölvi at
ok gefat þínum fjándum frið

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
when you come upon misdeeds
speak out about those misdeeds, *
and give your enemies no peace.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
illu feginn
verðu aldregi
en lát þér at góðu getit

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] never be
[5] glad in evil,
but let yourself be pleased by good.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
upp líta
skalattu í orrostu
gjalti glíkir
verða gumna synir
síðr þitt um heilli halir

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] you must not [5] look up
in battle
-- [8] the sons of men become
[7] like men terror-crazed --
lest men cast spells upon you. *
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
ef þú vilt þér góða konu
kveðja at gamanrúnum
ok fá fögnuð af
fögru skaltu heita
ok láta fast vera
leiðisk manngi gott ef getr

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
if you want [6] to attract
[5] a good woman to you [6] with pleasant talk
and take pleasure with her,
you must make a fair promise
and stick fast to it
-- no one loathes the good, if he gets it.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
varan bið ek þik vera
en eigi ofvaran
ver þú við öl varastr
ok við annars konu
ok við þat it þriðja
at þjófar ne leiki

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
wary I bid you be,
but not too wary: *
with ale be the most wary
and with another's woman,
and with a third thing,
that thieves do not trick you.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
at háði né hlátri
hafðu aldregi
gest né ganganda

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
never mock or laugh
at a guest or traveller.
Opt vitu ógörla
þeir er sitja inni fyrir
hvers þeir ro kyns er koma
erat maðr svá góðr
at galli ne fylgi
né svá illr at einugi dugi

Often they don't precisely know,
those who sit first in a house,
whose kinsmen they are who come (later):
no man is so good
that no fault follows him,
nor so bad that he is of no use.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
at hárum þul
hlæðu aldregi
opt er gott þat er gamlir kveða
opt ór skörpum belg
skilin orð koma
þeim er hangir með hám
ok skollir með skrám
ok váfir með vílmögum

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] never laugh
[5] at a gray-haired sage
often what an old man says is good,
often [9] clear words come
[8] out of shrivelled skin,
from the one who hangs among the hides
and dangles among the dried skins
and moves among the entrails.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
gest þú ne geyja
né á grind hrekir
get þú váluðum vel

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
do not revile a guest
nor drive him away from your gates;
treat the wretched well.
Rammt er þat tré
er ríða skal
öllum at upploki
baug þú gef
eða þat biðja mun
þér læs hvers á liðu

Powerful is that beam
that must move from side to side
to open for all;
give a ring,
or it will call down
every evil on your limbs.
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
hvars þú öl drekkr
kjós þú þér jarðar megin
því at jörð tekr við ölðri
en eldr við sóttum
eik við abbindi
ax við fjölkynngi
höll við hýrógi
heiptum skal mána kveðja
beiti við bitsóttum
en við bölvi rúnar
fold skal við flóð taka

I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
when you drink ale,
choose for yourself the might of the earth,
because earth fights against beer,
and fire against sickness,
oak against constipation,
an ear of corn against sorcery,
the hall-tree against domestic strife, *
-- one must invoke the moon against wrathful deeds --
alum against bite-sickness
and runes against misfortune;
the earth must contend against the sea.
Veit ek at ek hekk
vindga meiði á
nætr allar níu
geiri undaðr
ok gefinn Óðni
sjálfr sjálfum mér
á þeim meiði
er manngi veit
hvers hann af rótum renn

I know that I hung
upon a windy tree
for nine whole nights,
wounded with a spear
and given to Othinn,
myself to myself for me;
on that tree
I knew nothing
of what kind of roots it came from.
Við hleifi mik sældu
né við hornigi
nýsta ek niðr
nam ek upp rúnar
œpandi nam
fell ek aptr þaðan

They cheered me with a loaf
and not with any horn,
I investigated down below,
I took up the runes,
screaming I took them,
and I fell back from there.
Fimbulljóð níu
nam ek af inum frægja syni
Bölþórs Bestlu föður
ok ek drykk of gat
ins dýra mjaðar
ausinn Óðreri

[2] I took [1] nine mighty spells
from the famous son
of Bolthorr, the father of Bestla,
and I got a drink
of the precious mead,
poured from Othrerir.
Þá nam ek frævask
ok fróðr vera
ok vaxa ok vel hafask
orð mér af orði
orðs leitaði
verk mér af verki
verks leitaði

Then I began [2] to be
[1] fruitful [2] and wise,
to grow and to flourish;
speech fetched my speech for speech,
action fetched my action for action.
Rúnar munt þú finna
ok ráðna stafi
mjök stóra stafi
mjök stinna stafi
er fáði fimbulþulr
ok gørðu ginnregin
ok reist Hroptr rögna

You can find runes
and meaning staves,
very mighty staves,
very strong staves,
which a mighty sage coloured
and mighty powers made,
and Hroptr of the gods carved.
Óðinn með ásum
en fyr álfum Dáinn
ok Dvalinn dvergum fyrir
Ásviðr jötnum fyrir
ek reist sjálfr sumar

Othinn among the gods,
Dainn for the elves
and Dvalinn for the dwarves,
Asvithr for the giants
-- I myself carved some.
Veiztu hvé rísta skal?
Veiztu hvé ráða skal?
Veiztu hvé fá skal?
Veiztu hvé freista skal?
Veiztu hvé biðja skal?
Veiztu hvé blóta skal?
Veiztu hvé senda skal?
Veiztu hvé sóa skal?

Do you know how you must cut [them]?
Do you know how you must interpret?
Do you know how you must colour?
Do you know how you must try?
Do you know how you must invoke?
Do you know how you must sacrifice?
Do you know how you must send?
Do you know how you must kill?
Betra er óbeðit
en sé ofblótit
ey sér til gildis gjöf
betra er ósent
en sé ofsóit
svá Þundr um reist
fyr þjóða rök
þar hann upp um reis
er hann aptr of kom

It is better that it be not invoked
than over-sacrificed,
the gift is always for the repayment,
it is better that it be not sent
than over-immolated.
So Thundr carved
before the history of the peoples,
when he rose up
and when he came back.
Ljóð ek þau kann
er kannat þjóðans kona
ok mannskis mögr
hjálp heitir eitt
en þat þér hjálpa mun
við sökum ok sorgum
ok sútum görvöllum

I know the songs
that no ruler's wife knows,
nor anyone's son:
the first is called "Help",
and it will help you
with disputes and griefs
and absolutely all sorrows.
Þat kann ek annat
er þurfu ýta synir
þeir er vilja læknar lifa

I know a second
which the sons of men need,
those who want to live as physicians.
Þat kann ek it þriðja
ef mér verðr þörf mikil
hapts við mína heiptmögu
eggjar ek deyfi
minna andskota
bítat þeim vápn né velir

I know the third:
if great need befalls me
for a fetter for my enemy,
I can blunt the edges
of my enemies,
that weapons and staves do not bite for them.
Þat kann ek it fjórða
ef mér fyrðar bera
bönd at bóglimum
svá ek gel
at ek ganga má
sprettr mér af fótum fjöturr
en af höndum hapt

I know the fourth:
if men put
fetters on my limbs,
I sing so that
I can go:
fetter springs from my feet
and bond from my hands. (cf. Imma *)
Þat kann ek it fimmta
ef ek sé af fári skotinn
flein í fólki vaða
flýgra hann svá stinnt
at ek stöðvigak
ef ek hann sjónum of sék

I know the fifth:
if I see [3] a spear, [2] shot in malice
to fly into a host,
it does not fly so strongly
that I cannot stop it,
if I catch sight of it.
Þat kann ek it sétta
ef mik særir þegn
á rótum rams viðar
ok þann hal
er mik heipta kveðr
þann eta mein heldr en mik

I know the sixth:
if a warrior wounds me
with the root of a strong tree *
and calls forth hatreds from me,
then the harms eat the man and not me.

Þat kann ek it sjaunda
ef ek sé hávan loga
sal um sessmögum
brennrat svá breitt
at ek honum bjargigak
þann kann ek galdr at gala

I know the seventh:
if I see a high [3] hall
[2] to burn [3] around my table-companions,
it does not burn so bright
that I cannot save it,
when I can sing the spell.
Þat kann ek it átta
er öllum er
nytsamligt at nema
hvars hatr vex
með hildings sonum
þat má ek bœta brátt

I know the eighth,
which [3] is useful [2] for all
to take:
wherever hatred grows
among the sons of the prince,
I can quickly cure it.
Þat kann ek it níunda
ef mik nauðr um stendr
at bjarga fari mínu á floti
vind ek kyrri
vági á
ok svæfik allan sæ

I know the ninth:
if I need
to save my ship afloat
I can calm the wind
on the wave
and lull the whole sea to sleep.
Þat kann ek it tíunda
ef ek sé túnriðir
leika lopti á
ek svá vinnk
at þeir villir fara
sinna heimhama
sinna heimhuga

I know the tenth:
if I see witches
playing in the air,
I can so arrange it
that they go astray
from their proper shapes
and proper thoughts.
Þat kann ek it ellipta
ef ek skal til orrostu
leiða langvini
undir randir ek gel
en þeir með ríki fara
heilir hildar til
heilir hildi frá
koma þeir heilir hvaðan

I know the eleventh:
if I must [3] lead old friends
[2] to battle,
I sing under the shields,
and they go victoriously:
safe to the battle,
safe from the battle,
they come safe from everywhere.
Þat kann ek it tólpta
ef ek sé á tré uppi
váfa virgilná
svá ek ríst
ok í rúnum fák
at sá gengr gumi
ok mælir við mik

I know the twelfth:
if I see up in a tree
a hanged corpse swinging,
I carve
and colour the runes
that the man moves
and speaks with me.
Þat kann ek it þrettánda
ef ek skal þegn ungan
verpa vatni á
munat hann falla
þótt hann í fólk komi
hnígra sá halr fyr hjörum

I know the thirteenth:
if I will [3] throw water
[2] on a young warrior,
he cannot fall,
though he may come to battle
the man does not fall before swords.
Þat kann ek it fjórtánda
ef ek skal fyrða liði
telja tíva fyrir
ása ok álfa
ek kann allra skil
fár kann ósnotr svá

I know the fourteenth:
if I must [3] reckon up
[2] a troop [3] before gods [2] and men,
[5] I know the details of all
[4] the Æsir and the Elves --
the unwise man knows that not at all.
Þat kann ek it fimmtánda
er gól Þjóðreyrir
dvergr fyr Dellings durum
afl gól hann ásum
en álfum frama
hyggju Hroptatý

I know the fifteenth,
which Thjothreyrir sang,
the dwarf, before the doors of Dellingr:
He sang the might of the gods,
the courage of the elves,
the understanding of Hroptatyr.
Þat kann ek it sextánda
ef ek vil ins svinna mans
hafa geð alt ok gaman
hugi ek hverfi
hvítarmri konu
ok sný ek hennar öllum sefa

I know the sixteenth:
if I wish [3] to have all the heart and pleasure
[2] of a cunning girl,
I turn the feelings
of the white-armed woman,
and I change the whole of her mind.
Þat kann ek it sjautjánda
at mik mun seint firrask
it manunga man
ljóða þessa
mun þú Loddfáfnir
lengi vanr vera
þó sé þér góð ef þú getr
nýt ef þú nemr
þörf ef þú þiggr

I know the seventeenth,
that [3] the youthful maid
[2] will never avoid me;
[5] Loddfafnir, you will
[6] be lacking [4] these charms
[6] for a long time,
though it be good for you if you get them,
useful if you take them,
needful if you receive them.
Þat kann ek it átjánda
er ek æva kennik
mey né manns konu
alt er betra
er einn um kann
þat fylgir ljóða lokum
nema þeiri einni
er mik armi verr
eða mín systir sé

I know the eighteenth,
which I never teach
to maid or man's wife,
-- everything is better
when one person understands it,
it belongs at the ending of spells --
to none but she alone
who is wrapped in my arm
or is my sister. *
Nú era Háva mál
kveðin Háva höllu í
allþörf ýta sonum
óþörf jötna sonum
heill sá er kvað
heill sá er kann
njóti sá er nam
heilir þeirs hlýddu

Now the sayings of Har are spoken
in Har's hall,
very needful to the sons of men,
harmful to the sons of giants.
Hail to him who spoke!
Hail to him who understands!
Let him benefit who took them!
Blessings on those who listened!


The sentiment recalls the Latin tag praestat tacere et stultus haberi quam edicere et omne dubium removere, "It's better to be silent and appear stupid than to speak up and remove all doubt".
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The manuscript has svagi at leið se la/n ef þegi. Jónsson (p. 49) reads svági gløggvan at..., "so-not stingy that...", while also admitting the possibility that the gi was not meant to be attached to svá but was an abbreviation of or scribal error for gjöflan, which would give svá gjöflan at..., "so free that...". Evans prefers to read svá gjöflan.
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54.6: mart vitu
I follow David Evans's emendation from mart vitu, "they know a great many things", which doesn't make sense in the context, to mart vitut, "they don't know a great many things". There is precedent for this in verses 12.1 and 22.6, already emended in Jónsson's edition from an original er (it/he is) to era (it/he is not) to make sense of the verse.
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The manuscript has ok sel lifðom, nonsensically; Jónsson (p. 75) records the suggested emendation adopted here, en sé ólif­um.
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83.4: en mæki saurgan, literally a "dirty" sword, but perhaps meaning something more like a well-used sword, a sword which has proven its worth by not breaking, which has survived to be stained. (Thanks to Serge Boffa for this suggestion.)
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100.5: með ... bornum viði "with brands raised high".
Literally "with carried timber", but often taken to go with the brennandum ljósum of the previous line, hence torches, here called brands to alliterate with burning.
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102.7-8: it horska man leitaði hverrar háðungar mér "the clever maid heaped her scorn on me".
Literally something more like "the clever maid sought to bring her scorn on me", but "heaped her scorn" is tighter, brings the alliteration closer to the original, and fits the sense of the following line.
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107.1: vel keypts litar
This line is probably corrupt as it stands. See David Evans, p. 121, for commentary. It is tempting to follow Corpus Poeticum Boreale and read litar as something to do with mead, because the rest of the verse does seem to refer to the benefits of the acquisition of the vélkeypts mjaðar, "fraud-bought mead". On the other hand, this might be Othinn congratulating himself for the carefully deceitful behaviour (the "well-purchased appearance"?) which enabled him to steal the mead in the first place.
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107.6: á alda vés iarþar
This is the manuscript reading, and clearly corrupt. See David Evans, pp. 121-2, for discussion and options -- I am following Jonsson's emendation á vé alda jaðars, "to the sacred place of the lord of men (Othinn)", i.e. "to Othinn's sanctuary".
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114.6: ferr þú sorgafullr at sofa
It is tempting to compare the hapless victim of the woman skilled in magic going sorrowfully to sleep with Mæðhild in the Old English poem Deor, of whom it was said "sorrowful love deprived her of all sleep" (þæt him seo sorglufu slæp ealle binom).
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118.4: fláráð
A longer but clearer unpacking of flá-ráðr would be "deceitfully counselling", but "deceit-crafty" is in the right sort of register and packs more of the punch of the original.
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127.6: qveþu þ' ba/lvi at
Evans, p. 127, notes that Bugge in his first edition of the poem expanded þ' as þér in his main text and as þat in his appendix, and the variants have existed side by side ever since.
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129.9: síðr þitt of heilli halir
Jónsson, p. 128, suggests that þitt here would make more sense as þik, and Evans emends to þik.
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131.6: oc eigi of váran
The manuscript text would translate "wary I bid you be, and not too wary"; "but not too wary" would make more sense, so perhaps ok (and) should be emended to en (but), as it had to be in the corrupt verse
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137.11: höll við hýrógi
As it stands, this says "the hall, against domestic strife", but this seems inexplicable. See David Evans, pp. 132-3, for other possible solutions to this cryptic remark.
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149: Þat kann ek it fjórða...
This charm, which prevents fetters from holding a prisoner, is presumably what the Mercians were looking for in the clothing of the Northumbrian Imma, who was captured after the Battle of Trent in 679 but could not be chained (see Bede's Ecclesiastical History, IV.22). Bede explains that in his case, the effect was caused by Imma's brother Tunna, an abbot who thought that Imma was dead and was offering Masses for the repose of his soul.
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151.3: á rotom rás viðar
"With the root of a green/sappy tree", but see Evans, pp. 138-9, on the difficulty with rás here, and a note of the several editors who have settled on the emendation rams ("strong") as a solution.
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163.8-9: er mik armi verr eða mín systir sé
This odd exception, that Othinn will only reveal the last charm to the one who is his wife or sister, suggests a parallel to Jupiter's relations with Juno, who was et soror et coniunx (Æneid, I.47).
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