The Northern Way


The High One´s Lay

Page 1

1. All door-ways,
before going forward,
should be looked to;
for difficult it is to know
where foes may sit
within a dwelling.

2. Givers, hail!
A guest is come in:
where shall he sit?
In much hast is he,
who on the ways has
to try his luck.

3. Fire is needful
to him who is come in,
and whose knees are frozen;
food and rainment
a man requires,
who o’er the fell has travelled.

4. Water to him is needful
who for refection comes,
a towel and hospitable invitation,
a good reception;
if he can get it,
discourse and answer.

5. Wit is needful
to him who travels far:
at home all is easy.
A laughing-stock is he
who nothing knows,
and with the instructed sits.

6. 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.

7. A way guest
who to refection comes,
keeps a cautious silence,
(Or/Wit is needful
to him who travels far:
harm seldom befalls the wary;)
with his hears listens,
and with his eyes observes:
so explores every prudent man.

8. He is happy,
who for himself obtains
fame and kind words:
less sure is that
which a man must have
in another’s breast.

9. He is happy,
who in himself possesses
fame and wit while living;
for bad counsels
have oft been received
from another’s breast.

10. A better burthen
no man bears on the way
than much good sense;
that is thought better than riches
in a strange place;
such is the recourse of the indigent.

11. A worse provision
on the way he cannot carry
than too much beer-bibbing;
so good is not,
as it is said,
beer for the sons of men.

12. A worse provision
no man can take from table
than too much beer-bibbing:
for the more he drinks
the less control he has
of his own mind.

13. Oblivion’s heron ‘tis called
that over potations hovers,
he steals the minds of men.
With this bird’s pinions
I was fettered
in Gunnlöds dwelling.

14. Drunk I was,
I was over-drunk,
at that cunning Fjalar’s.
It’s the best drunkenness,
when every one after it
regains his reason.

15. Taciturn and prudent,
and in war daring
should a king’s children be;
joyous and liberal
every one should be
until the hour of his death.

16. A cowardly man
thinks he will ever live,
if warfare he avoids;
but old age will
give him no peace,
though spears may spare him.

17. A fool gapes
when to a house he comes,
to himself mutters or is silent;
but all at once,
if he gets drink,
then is the man’s mind displayed.

18. He alone knows
who wanders wide,
and has much experienced,
by what disposition
each man is ruled,
who common sense possesses.

19. Let a man hold the cup,
yet of the mead drink moderately,
speak sensibly or be silent.
As of a fault
no man will admonish thee,
if thou goest betimes to sleep.

20. A greedy man,
if he be not moderate,
eats to his mortal sorrow.
Oftentimes his belly
draws laughter on a silly man,
who among the prudent comes.