The Northern Way

Havamal

The High One´s Lay

Page 2

21. Cattle know
when to go home,
and then from grazing cease;
but a foolish man
never knows
his stomach’s measure.

22. A miserable man,
and ill-conditioned,
sneers at every thing;
one thing he knows not,
which he ought to know,
that he is not free from faults.

23. A foolish man
is all night awake,
pondering over everything;
he than grows tired;
and when morning comes,
all is lament as before.

24. A foolish man
thinks all who on him smile
to be his friends;
he feels it not,
although they speak ill of him,
when he sits among the clever.

25. A foolish man
thinks all who speak him fair
to be his friends;
but he will find,
if into court he comes,
that he has few advocates.

26. A foolish man
thinks he know everything
if placed in unexpected difficulty;
but he knows not
what to answer,
if to the test he is put.

27. A foolish man,
who among people comes,
had best be silent;
for no one knows
that he knows nothing,
unless he talks to much.
He who previously knew nothing
will still know nothing
talk he ever so much.

28. He thinks himself wise,
who can ask questions
and converse also;
conceal his ignorance
no one can,
because it circulates among men.

29. He utters too many
futile words
who is never silent;
a garrulous tongue,
if it be not checked,
sings often to its own harm.

30. For a gazing-stock
no man shall have another,
although he come a stranger to his house.
Many a one thinks himself wise,
if he is not questioned,
and can sit in a dry habit.

31. Clever thinks himself
the guest who jeers a guest,
if he takes to flight.
Knows it not certainly
he who prates at meat,
whether he babbles among foes.

32. Many men
are mutually well-disposed,
yet at table will torment each other.
That strife will ever be;
guest will guest irritate.

33. Early meals
a man should often take,
unless to a friend’s house he goes;
else he will sit and mope,
will seem half-famished,
and can of few things inquire.

34. Long is and indirect the way
to a bad friend’s,
though by the road he dwell;
but to a good friend’s
the paths lie direct,
though he be far away.

35. A guest should depart,
not always stay
in one place.
The welcome becomes unwelcome,
if he too long continues
in another’s house.

36. 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.

37. 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.

38. Leaving in the field his arms,
let no man go
a foot’s length forward;
for it is hard to know
when on the way
a man may need his weapon.

39. I have never found a
man so bountiful,
or so hospitable
that he refused a present;
of his property
so liberal
that he scorned a recompense.

40. Of the property
which he has gained
no man should suffer need;
for the hated oft is spared
what for the dear was destined.
Much goes worse than is expected.

41. With arms and vestments
friends should each other gladden,
those which are in themselves most sightly.
Givers and requiters
are longest friends,
if all (else) goes well.

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