Hávamál, 11th century

verse 11

Better burden than much wisdom
a man cannot carry.
The worst fare for travel,
weighing down the stomach,
is too much beer.

verse 12

It is not so good
as it is said,
beer for anybody.
the more a man drinks,
the less he knows
where his mind has gone.

verse 21

Cattle know
when they have had enough
and leave the pasture,
but unwise man
never knows
what his stomach can handle.

verse 23

Unwise man
lies awake all night
brooding over everything.
When morning comes,
tired he is,
and yet all his troubles remain.

verse 27

Unwise man
who comes among people
is safest if he keeps quiet;
Nobody knows
that he knows nothing,
as long as he does not talk too much.
The one who knows nothing
does not know
if his mouth has said too much.

verse 35

One should leave
and not remain a guest
for a long time at the same place.
Welcome turns into unwelcome,
if one sits too long a time
away from home on somebody’s else’ bench.

verse 36

Owning your own home is best
no matter how modest.
A man is his own master:
two goats and a corded roof
are better than begging.

verse 42

Be friend to your friend,
give gift for gift,
laughter for laughter,
but reward dishonesty with lies.

verse 59

Rise early
and work hard yourself.
If you don’t have enough serfs.
The one who sleeps late loses much
because work is half-gained wealth.

verse 63

Tell secrets to one,
and even to two.
But what three know,
the world knows.

verse 71

A limping man can ride,
A handless man can be a sheperd,
a deaf man can fight in battle.
A blind man
is better than a cremated man
a dead man is of little use.

verse 72

A son is a blessing
even if born after his father’s death.
There are no stone monuments
along the village road,
if there is no family
to erect them.

verse 76

Cattle die,
your family dies;
one day even you die.
One thing I know
that never dies:
the reputation of a dead man.

verse 81

Praise the day in the evening,
a woman after she has been cremated,
a battle sword after it has been tested,
a maiden after she has been wedded,
ice after it has been crossed,
beer after it has been consumed.

verse 88

Never have faith in a crop
sown early
and not too soon your son.
The weather rules the crop
and his brain the son.
Both are volatile things.

Source: B. Wallace, trans., "Hávamál" in Eddukvæði (Sæmundar-Edda), Guðni Jónsson (Akureyri, Iceland: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan, 1959), 25-45.

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