The Northern Way

Havamal

Page 5

85. in a creaking bow,
a burning flame,
a yawning wolf,
a chattering crow,
a grunting swine,
a rootless tree,
a waxing wave,
a boiling kettle,

86. a flying dart,
a falling billow,
a one night’s ice,
a coiled serpent,
a woman’s bed-talk,
or a broken sword,
a bear’s play,
or a royal child,

87. a sick calf,
a self-willed thrall,
a flattering prophetess,
a corpse newly slain,
(a serene sky,
a laughing lord,
a barking dog,
and a harlot’s grief);

88. an early sown field
let no one trust,
nor prematurely in a son:
weather rules the field,
and wit the son,
each of which is doubtful;

89. a brother’s murderer,
though on the high road met,
a half-burnt house,
an over-swift horse,
(a horse is useless,
if a leg be broken),
no man is so confiding
as to trust any of these.

90. Such is the love of women,
who falsehood meditate,
as if one drove not rough-shod,
on slippery ice,
a spirited tw0-years old
and unbroken horse;
or as in a raging storm
a helmless ship is beaten;
or as if the halt were set to catch
a reindeer in the thawing fell.

91. Openly I now speak,
because I both sexes know:
unstable are men’s minds towards women;
‘tis then we speak most fair
when we most falsely think:
that deceives even the cautious.

92. Fair shall speak,
and money offer,
who would obtain a woman’s love.
Praise the form
of a fair damsel;
he gets who courts her.

93. At love should no one
ever wonder
in another:
a beauteous countenance
oft captivates the wise,
which captivates not the foolish.

94. Let no one wonder at
another’s folly,
it is the lot of many.
All-powerful desire
makes of the sons of men
fools even of the wise.

95. The mind only knows
what lies near the heart,
that alone is conscious of our affections.
No disease is worse
to a sensible man
than not to be content with himself.

96. That I experienced,
when in the reeds I sat,
awaiting my delight.
Body and soul to me
was that discreet maiden:
nevertheless I posses her not.

97. Billing’s lass
on her couch I found,
sun-bright, sleeping.
A prince’s joy
to me seemed naught,
if not with that form to live.

98. “Yet nearer eve
must thou, Odin, come,
if thou wilt talk the maiden over;
all will be disastrous,
unless we alone
are privy to such misdeed.”

99. I returned,
thinking to love,
at her wise desire.
I thought
I should obtain
her whole heart and love.

100. When next I came
the bold warriors were
all awake,
with lights burning,
and bearing torches:
thus was the way to pleasure closed.

101. But at the approach of morn,
when again I came,
the household all was sleeping;
the good damsel’s dog
alone I found
tied to the bed.

102. Many a fair maiden,
when rightly known,
towards men is fickle:
that I experienced,
when that discreet maiden I
strove to seduce:
contumely of every kind
that wily girl
heaped upon me;
nor of that damsel gained I aught.

103. At home let a man be cheerful,
and towards a guest liberal;
of wise conduct he should be,
of good memory and ready speech;
if much knowledge he desires,
he must often talk on good.

104. Fimbulfambi he is called
who little has to say:
such is the nature of the simple.

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105. The old Jötun I sought;
now I am come back:
little got I there by silence;
in many words
I spoke to my advantage
in Suttung’s halls.

106. Gunnlöd gave me,
on her golden seat,
a draught of the precious mead;
a bad recompense
I afterwards made her,
for her whole soul,
her fervent love.

 

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