The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

Scandinavian Literature

Page 3

The worm of dust:

They call to mind

Their former might,

And th' ancient runes

Of Fimbultyr. (14)

The fields unsown

Shall yield their growth;

All ills shall cease;

Balder (15) shall come,

And dwell with Hauthr (16)

In Hropt's (17) abodes.

Say, warrior-gods,

Conceive ye yet?

A hall she sees

Outshine the sun,

Of gold its roof,

It stands in heaven:

The virtuous there

Shall always dwell,

And evermore

Delight enjoy.

------Tr. by Henderson


The High-song of Odin.

This is the second song in the Elder Edda. Odin himself is represented as its author. It contains a pretty complete code of Odinic morality and precepts of wisdom, in the form of social and moral maxims.

All door-ways

Before going forward,

Should be looked to;

For difficult it is to know

Where foes may sit

Within a dwelling.


Of his understanding

No one should be proud,

But rather in conduct cautious.

When the prudent and taciturn

Come to a dwelling,

Harm seldom befalls the cautious;

For a firmer friend

No man ever gets

Than great sagacity.


One's own house is best,

Small though it be;

At home is every one his own master.

Though he but two goats possess,

And a straw-thatched cot,

Even that is better than begging.

One's own house is best,

Small though it be;

At home is every one his own master.

Bleeding at heart is he

Who has to ask

For food at every meal-tide.


A miserable man,

And ill-conditioned,

Sneers at everything:

One thing he knows not,

Which he ought to know,

That he is not free from faults.


Know if thou hast a friend

Whom thou fully trustest,

And from whom thou would'st good derive;

Thou should'st blend thy mind with his,

And gifts exchange,

And often go to see him.

If thou hast another

Whom thou little trustest,

Yet would'st good from him derive,

Thou should'st speak him fair,

But think craftily,

And leasing pay with lying.

But of him yet further

Whom thou little trustest,

And thou suspectest his affection,

Before him thou should'st laugh,


14. Fimbultyr, Odin.  (back)

15. Balder, the god of the summer.  (back)

16. Hauthr, Hoder, the brother of Balder.  (back)

17. Hropt, Odin.  (back)

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