The Northern Way

MThe Poetic Edda - Bellows (1923)

Malahattr

1. (81) Give praise to the day at evening,             to a woman on her pyre,
To a weapon which is tried,             to a maid at wedlock,
To ice when it is crossed,             to ale that is drunk.

2. (82) When the gale blows hew wood,             in fair winds seek the water;
Sport with maidens at dusk,             for the day’s eyes are many;
From the ship seek swiftness,             from the shield protection,
Cuts from the sword,              from the maiden kisses.

3. (83) By the fire drink ale,             over ice go on skates;
Buy a steed that is lean, and a sword when tarnished,
The horse at home fatten,             the hound in thy dwelling.

4. (84) A man shall trust not             the oath of a maid,
Nor the word a woman speaks;
For their hearts on a whirling wheel were fashioned,
And fickle their breasts were formed.

5. (85) In a breaking bow             or a burning flame,
A ravening wolf or a croaking raven,
In a grunting boar,             a tree with roots broken,
In billowy seas, or a bubbling kettle,

6. (86) In a flying arrow             or falling waters,
In ice new formed             or the serpent’s folds,
In a bride’s bed-speech             or a broken sword,
In the sport of bears             or in sons of kings,

7. (87) In a calf that is sick             or a stubborn thrall,
A flattering witch             or a foe new slain.

8. (89) In a brother’s slayer,              if thou meet him abroad,
In a half-burned house, in a horse full swift-
One leg is hurt             and the horse is useless-
None had ever such faith              to trust in them all.

9. (88) Hope not too surely             for early harvest,
Nor trust too soon in thy son;
The field needs good weather,              the son needs wisdom,
And oft is either denied.

10. (90) The love of women             fickle of will
Is like starting o’er ice              with a steed unshod,
A two-year-old restive and little tamed,
Or steering a rudderless             ship in a storm,
Or, lame, hunting reindeer             on slippery rocks.

11. (91) Clear now will I speak,              for I know them both,
Men false to women are found;
When fairest we speak, then falsest we think,
Against wisdeom we work with deceit.

12. (92) Soft words shall he speak             and wealth shall he offer
Who longs for a maiden’s love,
And the beauty praise             of the maiden bright;
He wins whose wooing is best.

13. (93) Fault for loving let no man find
Ever with any other;
Oft the wise are fettered,             where fools go free,
By beauty that breeds desire.

14. (94) Fault with another             let no man find
for what touches many a man;
Wise men oft             into witless fools
Are made by mighty love.

15. (95) The head alone knows             what dwells near the heart,
A man knows his mind alone;
No sickness is worse             to one who is wise
Than to lack the longed-for joy.

16. (96) This found I myself,              when I sat in the reeds,
And long my love awaited;
As my life the maiden             wise I loved,
Yet her I never had.

17. (97) Billing’s daughter             I found on her bed,
In slumber bright as the sun;
Empty appeared             an earl’s estate
Without that form so fair.

18. (98) “Othin, again             at evening come,
If a woman thou wouldst win;
Evil it were             if others than we
Should know of such a transgression.”

19. (99) Away I hastened,             hoping for joy,
And careless of counsel wise;
Well I believed that soon I should win
Measureless joy with the maid.

20. (100) So came I next when night it was,
The warriors all were awake;
With burning lights             and waving brands
I learned my luckless way.

21. (101) At morning then,              when once more I came,
And all were sleeping still,
A dog I found in the fair one’s place,
Bound there upon her bed.

22. (102) ed. emmendation (Few are so good              that false they are never
To cheat the mind of a man)
Many fair maids,              if a man but tries them,
False to a lover are found;
That did I learn when I longed to gain
With wiles the maiden wise;
Foul scorn was my meed             from the crafty maid,
And nought from the woman I won.

23. (103) Though glad at home,              and merry with guests,
A man shall be wary and wise;
The sage and shrewd,              wide-wisdom seeking,
Must see that his speech be fair;

24. (104) A fool is he named             who nought can say,
For such is the way of the witless.

25. (105) I found the old giant,             now back have I fared,
Small gain from silence I got;
Full many a word,             my will to get,
I spoke in Suttung’s hall.

26. (107) The mouth of Rati             made room for my passage,
And space in the stone he gnawed;
Above and below             the giants’ paths lay,
So rashly I risked my head.

27. (106) Gunnloth gave             on a golden stool
A drink of the marvelous mead;
A harsh reward did I let her have
For her heroic heart,
And her spirit troubled sore.

28. (108) The well-earned beauty well I enjoyed,
Little the wise man lacks;
So Othrörir now             has up been brought
To the midst of the men of earth.

29. (109) Hardly, methinks,             would I home have come,
And left the giants’ land,
Had not Gunnloth helped me,              the maiden good,
Whose arms about me had been.

30. (110) The day that followed,             the frost-giants came,
Some word of Hor to win,
(And inot the hall of Hor;)
Of Bolverk they asked,              were he back midst the gods,
Or had Suttung slain him there?

31. (111) On his ring swore Othin the oath, methinks;
Who now his troth shall trust?
Suttung’s betrayal             he sought with drink,
And Gunnloth to grief he left.

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