HAVAMAL
     My first excursion into this longest poem of the Poetic Edda was a translation of that short section called "Odin and Billing's Daughter," stanzas 93 through 102, leaving out stanza 95, as not relevant to the story.  Some time later I did the sections dealing with the runes, stanzas 138-164.  I put up web pages for both of these with introductions and footnotes, and have decided to leave them in place, even though I am giving the whole poem here.

      The Havamal is large--somewhere in the neighborhood of seven hundred lines.  It is obviously not all of a piece, or all equally good, and is found in its entirety only in the Edda, though some stanzas are quoted elsewhere.  The content is varied, though the dominant theme is Odin's advice for living.  It is a very down-to-earth view of existence, and most of its advice is straight common sense.

      Some time back I saw an episode of the cartoon Johnny Bravo, in which Johnny somehow ended up in Asgard and was hitting on the Valkyries.  He was told that the only way he could be admitted to the realm of the gods was by killing a frost giant, and by some fluke he actually does so, and asks if he can get in now.  Odin replies, "Normally, yes, but . . ."--One of the Valkyries picks him up by the seat of the pants and the scruff of the neck and tosses him out--"the gods cannot abide a doofus."  It struck me that this was a surprisingly appropriate end, more appropriate to the Norse religion than to any other.  And, one could almost say the primary lesson of the Havamal can be summed up in the phrase, "don't be a doofus."

      Early scholars spent considerable time dividing the poem into its various sections, but even these seem capable of further division, and there are obviously accretions as well, so that it is impossible to be exact about how the poem should be divided.  The most cohesive section is the 18 rune charms, and obviously the Loddfafnir section is something of a unit, though some of the verses may be older.  
      This translation is based on Sophus Bugge's 1867 edition of the Edda, though once I had gotten it on interlibrary loan and Xeroxed the whole thing, except for "The Song of the Sun," which seemed to me of negligible value, I discovered that it had a number of unfamiliar forms for letters, which could not be reproduced with the usual accent codes, and so any part I wanted to use had to be updated line by line.  Unfortunately my site builder will not reproduce accent codes, even for letters that have them.  I may scan the text later and see if I can put it up that way.

      The poem is mostly in fairly regular ljodahattr meter, which I have followed.  It is not a particularly difficult form, though I know no other translation that has done so except Hollander's.  Bellows also approximates the form, but hedges by freely alliterating on either of the stresses in the second half-line, and by ignoring the rule that st can only alliterate with st, sp with sp, and sk with sk.  Old Norse on the whole is not a lot more economical than English; it uses fewer prepositions, articles, and such, but it also has more word endings, so that most of the time syllable count would not be a problem in an original poem in this form.  Sometimes, however, there is not an equivalent English word, or English actually does require a longer construction.  Then, working within the narrow scope of a two stress half-line can be a real problem.  There is the option of simply recasting the whole stanza, but I have avoided that.  I have tried to keep the long lines between seven and nine syllables, and the short lines between five and seven.  I have also attempted to avoid archaic diction and to keep fairly natural English word order, though I have had to compromise from time to time.  I have also now and then found I have created a line almost identical to one of Hollander's, and in those cases have managed altered it.  Considering the fact that the alliteration must fall on a stressed syllable, always the first stressed syllable of the second half-line, there are often few possible choices.  Once in a while a line has been similar to one of Bellows', but since he allows himself more options, these are fewer.  By the way, I do have Bellows' translation of the Havamal on another page , "Odin2" on the Meadhall website in case anyone wants to make a comparison.  It may be reached by the button below.
    Finally, here is the poem itself.  I am placing it in the public domain for general use:
                                                                                                                                          --Jack Hart
HAVAMAL

1. Ere you enter    any door,
First peer about,
Then peek about,
Because you never    know for sure
What foes may sit    inside the hall.

2. Hail the giver;    a guest has come.
Say where shall this one sit.
He is in haste,    the hearth-seated one,
To let his luck be tried.

3. Fire is wanted  for one who's come
With shanks that shiver with cold.
Food and garments    are good as well
For one who's wandered the fells.

4. Water give    the guest at a meal,
A towel and welcome warm,
Heartily meant,    if he can get it,
A willing ear as well.

5. Wits are of use    to wandering men,
Though nothing is hard at home.
When he sits with the wise    the witless man
Is mocked by many about.
NOTES





Stanza 2:  Among translations, only Patricia Terry makes this stanza fully coherent, but does so by misrepresenting what it actually says.  The first pair of lines simply do not match the second two.  In any case, it is impossible to be sure just what the point of the second two is without a proper lead-in.


Stanza 3: "fare" for "travel" and "fells" for "mountains."  I dislike these semi-archaic words, but without them a proper alliteration would sometimes be impossible.  In such short lines a supply of strong, one-syllable words is essential. (I've eliminated "fare" since writing this note, but still use it elsewhere.")
6. None should boast    about his brains--
Be ever wary with words.
When the wise and quiet    comes to the hall
Seldom he shames himself.
A better friend    is found nowhere
Than good supply of sense.

7. The cautious guest    come for a meal
Is still, but strains to hear,
Listens with ears,    and looks with eyes;
The wise are watchful ever.

8. Blessed is he    who has for himself
Good opinion and praise--
More difficult far    to deal with that
Which hides in another's heart.

9. Blessed is he    who has in himself
Others' good will and wisdom.
For ill advice   too often comes
Out of anothers breast.

10. No better store    one bears on the road
Than supply of common sense--
Like a well-filled purse    in a place unknown,
The wealth of those in want.
11. No better store    one bears on the road
Than supply of common sense,
Nor bears a worse    walking abroad
Than imbibing too much beer.

12. Less good it is    than good it seems,
Mead, for the sons of men.
The longer one drinks    the less he knows
What lies in his own heart.

13. The heron, Forget    hovers o'er the feast
To steal men's wits away.
By this bird's feathers    fettered I was,
In Gunnlod's garth.

14. Drunk I was,    dead drunk, in fact,
When I went to Fjalar the Wise's.
That ale-feast is best    when after its done,
Each clear-headed goes home.

15. Quiet and prudent    a prince should be,
And ever brave in battle.
Let a man    be merry and glad
Until the day he dies.

Stanza 12:  "Mead"--"ale" actually, but it's impossible to alliterate "ale" with "the sons of men."


Stanza 13: "Heron"--this bird is otherwise unknown.
Larrington has "the heron of forgetfulness," Hollander, "the heron of heedlessness."  Hollander quotes a source for a suggestion that the allusion is to a traditional scoop "in the shape of a long-necked bird which floated on the butt in which the ale was served."  This seems to me a very likely conjecture.

Stanza 13:  "garth"--enclosure or court.  "In Gunnlod's garth" is an exact translation that keeps the original alliteration--too good a deal to turn down even if "garth" is not a proper English word.

Stanza 14: "Fjalar"--Bellows, Larrington, and Hollander all assume that this is an alternate or a mistaken name for Suttung.  Probably, since Gunnlod is mentioned immediately before, but there are doubtlessly many lost stories of Odin, some of them involving drinking.
16. The fool will live    forever he thinks,
By keeping free of the fight.
But age will rob    his rest and peace,
Though spears may spare him.

17. The fool gapes    when he gets to the hall,
Mumbles or makes not a peep,
Until that time    he takes a drink;
Then his true colors come out.

18. Only one    who's wandered much,
And traveled far afield
Takes the measure    of each man's mind,
The one who's sharp of wits.

19. Don't cling to the cup;    take care with mead.
Speak sense, or silent be.
No man will call    your manners bad
If you're early off to bed.

20. The gluttonous man    must guard himself,
Or suffer sorrow thereby.
Mocked when he comes    among the wise,
He that belongs to his belly.

21. Cattle know    when to come home,
To come from pasture to pen.
The foolish man    finds out never
How far his stomach will stretch.
22. A worthless man,    mean-spirited,
Will make a mock of all,
Not knowing one fact    he needs to know,
That he, himself, has faults.

23. The witless man,    awake all night,
Tosses and turns over things,
Gets no rest,   and rises worn out,
His worries bad as they were.

24. The fool will take    for friends all those
Who loudly laugh at him.
Though malice is meant,    he misses it all,
When sitting with smarter men.

25. The fool will take    for friends all those
Who loudly laugh at him.
But then he comes    to the Thing and finds
Backers are far between.

26. The witless man    is wise, he thinks,
Long as he lurks in a corner,
But never knows    what he needs to say
If anything's asked of him.

27. The fool come    in company of men
Does best if he stays still;
None will know    he nothing knows
Unless he talks too long.
But knowing nothing,    he never knows
When much too much he's said.
"Thing,"--a general assembly held to make communal decisions and to try legal cases.
28. Clever he seems    who questions well,
And answers if others ask.
No secret is safe    with sons of men,
What's already babbled about.

29. Many wasteful    words he speaks,
One who should, but won't shut up.
The quick tongue    untethered left
Will often give one grief.

30. No man should ever    mock another
When making a call on kin.
Knowing he seems    whom none has tried,
Escapes with skin unwetted.

31. That guest seems wise    who moves away
From a man who mocks another.
The loudmouth at feast    may find too late
He sits with foes, not friends.

32. Even between    the best of friends
Fights break out at feasts.
There's never a stop    to strife among men;
Guest will quarrel with guest.

33. A man should eat    an early meal,
Lest hungry he arrive.
He seems half-starved,    he stares about,
And seldom says a word.
"Escapes with skin unwetted"--probably an idiomatic phrase meaning he escapes a storm of contempt.  Thus Patricia Terry's "and don't stay out in the rain" is clearly wrong, in spite of its pleasing analogy to that other idiomatic phrase, "doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain."  Terry, however, seldom seems much concerned with exact meanings.
34. To a bad friend's    far is the way,
Though he dwell just down the road.
To a good friend's    fair is the way,
No matter how many the miles.

35.  No guest should wear    his welcome out,
By being late to leave.
Love turns loathing    if long he stays,
At home in another's hall.

36. It's best to have    a house, though small;
A man is master there.
Two nanny goats    and a gable of thatch
Are better far than begging.

37. It's best to have    a house, though small;
A man is master there.
It makes heart bleed    to beg each day
For everything one eats.

38. A man from his arms    in open land
Should stray no more than a step.
One never can tell    when taking a road
A spear won't prove to the point.

39. I've found no man    so free with food,
He wouldn't take some token,
Or one so rich    that he'd refuse
A gift if he could get one.
"Another's hall"--actually the ON word is fletjun, meaning the raised flooring along the walls where people sit--too much information to fit into a half-line.  Thus Hollander uses "on bench" instead of "hall" as most translators do.
40. A man who's amassed    money enough
Should never live in need.
What he meant for friends   to foes may go--
Things seldom work as we wish.

41. With garments and arms    gladdened are friends,
What each on the other sees.
Mutual givers    stay greatest friends,
If friendship was fated to be.

42. A man to his friend    a friend should be,
Repaying gift with gift.
But mocking laugh    for mocking laugh,
Deceitful language for lies.

43. A man to his friend    a friend should be,
And friend to that one's friend,
But never should he    have as a friend
The one that's friend to his foe.

44. If you possess    a proven friend,
And hope for good from him,
Trade thoughts with him,    with him share gifts,
And often seek him out.

45. If you've a friend    whose faith you doubt,
But hope a favor from him,
Use friendly words,    but faithless thoughts,
And give back lie for lie.
"What each on the other sees"--when each sees the other wearing the gifted garments or carrying the gifted weapons.
46. And more, with him    whom you suspect
You can't entirely trust,
Laugh with him    and lead him on;
Repay him gift for gift.

47. Once when young    walking alone,
I wandered from my way.
Rich I felt    to find another--
Man is joy to man.

48. The bold and generous    lead best lives,
And rarely know regret.
The cowardly man    fears many things.
The stingy are grudging with gifts.

49. Two wooden men    I met on my way,
And gave my garments to them.
Warriors they seemed    wearing my clothes--
A naked man is nothing.

50. The fir tree dies    down by the town;
It's needles and bark help not.
It's like a man    who's loved by none--
Why should his life be long?

51. Bad friendships    flame up hot,
And make a five-day fire,
But turn cold    when the sixth day comes,
And all affection ends.
"Two wooden men"--Auden reads this as scarecrows, which makes sense, except that without clothing they wouldn't have been scarecrows.  Most consider them  wooden stakes roughly carved to represent gods, and which served as signposts by the road.  Rydberg connects them with Ask and Embla, but that seems like a stretch.
52. You should not give    a gift too large;
A word may do as well.
With half a loaf    and a half-full cup
I made a man my friend.

53. Of small sands,    of small seas,
Small are the minds of men.
Not all men    are equally wise;
Humans are wise by halves.

54. A man should be    but medium wise,
No wiser than serves him well.
Such people have    the happiest lives,
Knowing no more than they need.

55. A man should be    but medium wise,
No wiser than serves him well.
The human heart    is happy seldom,
If he who has it knows all.

56. A man should be    but medium wise,
No wiser than serves him well.
His fate no man    before should know,
To live a carefree life.

57. Brand to brand    till burned is all;
Flame kindles flame.
Man grows wise    by mutual speech,
And stupid by staying mute.
58. Be early up    if any man
You'd rob of life or riches.
The lying wolf    will lose the ham,
And a sleeping man, success.

59. Early is he    who has few men,
And tends his tasks alone.
The late sleeper    loses much;
Wealth for the prompt is half won.

60. Of roofing bark    and beams, how much
Is needed, man can know,
Or how much wood    will warm him through
A season or a season's half.

61. Washed and fed    fare to the Thing;
Don't worry at what you wear.
To shoes and pants    pay little heed,
Or the sort of horse you have.

62. The eagle starts    and stares about,
When suddenly faced by the sea--
The same when a man    sees many around,
But few of them are friends.

63. Ask and answer    must all the wise,
If wise they would be called.
Let one know,    another not;
No secret is safe with three.
"Roofing bark"--more specifically, birch bark used for roofing.
64. The cautious man    is careful how
He puts his power to use.
For when among    brave men he comes,
He finds no man is first.

65. Often a word    to another said
Comes back to one in kind.

66. Too soon to feasts    sometimes I've come,
To some not soon enough;
The beer was drunk,    or brewing still;
Unwanted, no time is well.

67. Here and there    to homes I'm asked,
When full already with food,
Or two hams hang    in the house of a friend,
When I have eaten one.

68. Nothing to man    is more than fire,
And next, to see the sun,
Then his health    if he can keep it,
And last, a life unshamed.

69. Hope remains,    though health may fail--
Some are blessed with sons;
One has kin,    wealth, another,
A third has done great deeds.
70. Better alive    than being dead;
The living catch the cow.
A rich man's fire    I saw flame high,
And he, dead by the door.

71. The halt can ride,    the handless herd,
The deaf can war and win.
Better blind,    than burned in your hall;
No good will come of a corpse.

72. A son is good,    though gotten late,
Born after the father is burned.
Memorial stones    stand by the road,
Only with sons to set them.

73. Two slay one,    tongue is head's bane,
In a fur coat,    a fist expect.

74. Night is pleasant    with provisions enough.
Ship's yards are short.
Autumn evenings often change,
In five days    more frequently still;
In a month, many times more.

75. If one knows nothing,    he knows this not:
Money makes fools of men.
One lives with wealth,    in want, another--
Nobody's to blame for that.
76. Cattle die,    kinsmen die,
You will die, yourself.
But true renown    will never die,
The fame of deeds well done.

77. Cattle die,    kinsmen die,
You will die, yourself.
I know one thing     that never dies,
The memory of each man's deeds.

78. Cattle pens full,    had Fitjung's sons;
Now beggers staffs they bear.
Wealth is like    the wink of an eye,
The most unfaithful of friends.

79. The fool, should he    happen to get
Wealth, or a woman's live,
Pride grows,    prudence does not;
Soon he's consumed with conceit.

80. Of what is revealed    when reading the runes
That were given by tbe gods,
Those the great gods made,
Stained by the mighty sage,
It's best to say nothing    of what one knows.

81. Praise the day at eve,    on her pyre, a woman,
A weapon when tested,    when wedded, a maid,
Ice when it's crossed,    ale when it's drunk.
"Fitjung's sons"--Fitjung is otherwise unknown.  He may be a proverbial figure for someone who has fallen from fortune.
82. Cut wood in wind,    in fair weather, row,
Speak to girls in darkness--    day has many eyes,
Choose a ship for speed,    a shield for protection,
A sword to cleave,    a maiden to kiss.

83. Drink ale by the fire,    on the ice, skate,
Buy a lean mount,    a marred sword,
Fatten a horse at home,    put a hound on a walk.

84. A maiden's talk    must one not trust,
Or ever a woman's words;
On a potter's wheel    was whirled their hearts;
Faithless their breasts wee formed.

85. A creaking bow,    a burning flame,
A glowering wolf,    a grunting pig,
A raucous crow,    a rootless tree,
A rising sea,    a roiling kettle,

86. A flying spear,    a falling wave,
A crust of new ice,    a coiled snake,
A woman's bed-talk,    a broken sword,
A king's boy,    a bear's game,

87. An uwell calf,    a willful thrall,
A seer's promise,    one recently slain.

88. In ground sown early    give no trust,
Nor in your son too soon.
Weather rules the field,    wits the son;
With either you run a risk.
"a marred sword"--or a dirty sword, or a rusty one, or a well-used and well-tried one.  The exact meaning
is unclear.

"on a walk"--this English pharase refers to the custom of a landowner with many gamecocks or hounds boarding some of them with tenants or neighbors.  I'm not sure this reading is correct.



Stanza 85--as with other translations, I've slightly altered the order of the elements to accomodate the alliteration.  The pig in line two and the crow in line three should be in reverse order.
89. A brother's murderer    if met on the way,
A house half-burnt,    too fast a horse--
Useless he'd be    if he broke a foot--
Be never so trusting    as to trust in these.

90. The love of a woman,    one who's false,
Is like a smooth-shod horse     on slick ice,
A balky two-year old    badly broken,
A rudderless boat    in a blowing wind,
Or lame chasing reindeer    round a thawing hill.

91. I can speak openly,    for I know both;
Men use wiles on women too,
Speaking fair    with false intent--
Tricks to trap the wise.

92. Speak fair;    don't spare the gifts,
If you'd win a woman's love.
Praise the body    of the beauteous maid--
The one who flatters wins.

93. None should  mock    what many have felt,
Should never blame another;
The wise may fall    while the fool remains
Unmoved by a beautiful body.

94. What many feel    mock not at all;
The condition is all too common.
The wisest men    are made into fools
By love for a lovely form.
Stanzas 93-102:  This whole short section dealing with Billing's daughter is treated on a separate page on the Meadhall website with a long introduction.  There stanza 95 is left out as not properly a part of the story, but otherwise it is the same as presented here.  For this passage, see the link below:
95. The head only knows    what lies near the heart;
Man lives alone with himself.
No sickness is worse    for the wise to have,
Than lacking someone to love.

96. That I learned    when I lay in the reeds,
And hoped for my heart's desire.
Body and soul    she seemed to me,
But none-the-less I lost her.

97. Billing's daughter    in bed I saw,
Asleep, the sun-white maid.
A noble's pleasure    seemed nothing then
Unless I lay with her.

98. "Wait, Odin    till after dark,
If you'd win a woman's heart.
It's best that none    know what we do--
Shameful they'd surely think it."

99. So back I went    to wait my joy,
Though wild with wanting her,
But certain that she    would soon be mine,
For love and lustful play.

100. When I came next,    night had fallen,
But the warriors I found awake,
With burning lights    and torches ablaze;
I'd walked a woeful path.
101. Almost at dawn    once more I came,
When all inside were sleeping.
Tied to the bed    a bitch I found,
And the lovely girl had gone.

102. Many a fair maid,    when more you learn,
Is found to be fickle at heart.
I soon learned that    when the subtle maid
I tried to lure to love.
That time she heaped    my head with shame,
And nothing I had from her.

103. Be cheerful at home,    and happy with guests,
But keep your brain about you.
Be mindful, speak well,    if you want to be learned.
Speak well of worthwhile matters;
Witless you're thought    if words you lack--
That is the nitwit's nature.

104. On the old etin I called,    and came back;
Silence would poorly have served.
With many words    I worked my will
While staying at Suttung's stead.

105. Gunnlod gave me,    from her golden chair,
A swallow of the sacred mead.
No good return    she got for that,
For giving the whole of her heart,
For her soul's sorrow.
"Etin"--English for Jotun, one of the race of giants.  I have not been entirely consistent in using these terms.



"Gunnlod"--Odin does not present himself in a very favorable light in this episode, though his actions have considerable justification.  Not only does gaining the mead of inspiration for men and gods do a service for both, as opposed to letting Suttung keep it locked away in a mountain, but the gods also have a better claim on it than the dwarves who murdered Kvasir to get it, or Suttung who got it from them.  In any case, Suttung hides the mead in a room inside the mountain, leaving his daughter Gunnlod to guard it.  Odin seduces her.

"The gimlet's mouth"--Odin tricks Suttung's brother into drilling a small hole through the rock big enough for Odin to pass through in serpent form.  Baugi, however, has murder in mind, as Odin discovers by blowing into the hole.  When chips blow back into his face, it is clear that the hole does not go all the way through.  He makes Baugi complete the job.

"The etin's path"--rock
106. The gimlet's mouth    made a hole,
Gnawing its way through the wall.
Over and under    on the etin's path,
Placing my head in peril.

107. Advantage I got    from the good-looking girl;
Not much is missed by the wise.
Odrerir has been    brought up now,
To Odin's holy hall.

108. Unlikely could I    have ever escaped
Out of the etin's hall,
Had Gunnlod not helped,    that goodly maid,
She whom I held in my arms.

109. The following day    frost giants came
For Har's advice
In Har's hall,
Asked if Bolverk    were back with the gods,
Or whether Suttung had slain him.

110. Odin has sworn    an oath on the ring--
Who now will trust his troth.
Suttung he tricked,    taking his mead,
And brought Gunnlod to grief.
"Har"--another name for Odin.
111. It is time to chant    from the high chair of the sage,
To all at Urd's well.
I saw, and was still,    I saw and pondered.
I listened to the language of men.
The runes I sought out,    nor silent their council,
At Har's hall,
In Har's hall--
This I heard from them.

112. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice,
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Stay in at night,    unless standing guard,
Or seeking a place to piss.

113. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice,
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Don't sleep in the arms    of a subtle witch,
Who'll lock your limbs to hers,

114. Will cause you to lose    all care for life,
For the claim of Thing or king,
Not caring for food,    or the company of men,
And going to sleep in sorrow.

115. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice,
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Don't try to win    the wife of another,
To make a mistress of her.
116. Listen, Lodddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Over fell or fjord,    if fare you would,
Take enough food for the trip.

117. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Hide any ill    that happens to you
From the ears of an evil man.
From the bad expect    no proper return,
Any good for your good will.

118. A man I saw    sorely bitten
By a wicked woman's words.
Her lying tongue    led to his death,
Though nothing she said was true.

119. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
If you've a friend,    and faith in him,
Often seek him out.
Overgrown all    with grass and weeds
Is the way that no one walks.

120. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
A good man    grapple fast with words,
And learn healing charms while you live.
Stanza 20--On the face of it, the last two lines of this stanza do not seem to go together.  Some translations are worded in such a way that the charms are used to insure the other's friendship.  That doesn't sound very manly, but maybe.
121. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Be not first,    if a friend you have,
To break the bond between you.
Sorrow eats the heart    of he who lacks
A friend to speak freely with.

122. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
It's best to never    bandy words
With any witless fool.

123. One never should have    hope for good
From any evil man.
But you will get    from a good man
Praise and good opinion.

124. You can tell,    when trust is shared,
All your thoughts to another.
Anything's better    than a bad friend;
Hard truths    he'll tell you never.

125. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Not even three words    waste in debate
With one less worthy than you.
Often the better    is bested when
The worse makes war with words.
126. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Neither be shoe maker    nor shaft maker,
Except for yourself--
A bad shoe    or a bent shaft,
And you will bear the blame.

127. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
When evil you spy    speak out against it;
Take the fight to your foes.

128. Listen, Loddfafnir,   and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Never delight    in deeds ill-meant;
Be ever gladdened by good.

129. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
During a battle    don't look up;
Men often are filled with fright,
By evil spells upon them.

130. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
If you would win    a woman as friend
And have her as love to lie with,
Offer her vows,    and all of them keep--
No man spurns good if he gets it.
Stanza 129--Don't look your enemy in the face, or he may give you the "evil eye."
131. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Be not too wary,    but wary be,
Most wary with ale,    and the wife of another,
And also a third,    of thieves and their tricks.

132. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Treat no guest    with contempt or scorn,
Or a wanderer on the way.

133. Those seated first    can seldom know
Whose kin the late-comers are.
No man is so fine    that faults he lacks--
Too bad to be of use.

134. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Never laugh    at a grey-locked sage;
Their words are often wise--
Sharp thoughts    from a shriveled sack,
That hangs among the hides,
Dangles among dry skins,
Swinging beside the guts.

135. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
Don't deride a guest,    or run him off;
Do well by those in want.
Hollander adds two lines to the end of this stanza taken from a late paper manuscript:  "Both foul and fair    are found among men/ Blended within their breasts."  They seem to add little of value.


"A shriveled sack"--the puckered mouth of an old person, which is like the mouth of a sack with a drawstring.  He is imagined as a sack hanging up with the hides and skins and guts filled with sausage.
136. Mighty the beam    that must be raised
To open for all that come.
Give it a ring,    or get from it
A curse laid on your limbs.

137. Listen, Loddfafnir,    and learn from advice;
It will help you to hear it,
Do you good if you get it.
When you drink ale,    envoke the earth--
Earth is enemy to ale,    to illness, fire,
Oak for blockage,    a corn ear for curses,
The hall tree for marital strife,    the moon for hate,
Alum for rabies,    runes for misfortune.
Earth wars against water.

138. Hung was I    on the windswept tree;
Nine full nights I hung,
Pierced by a spear,    a pledge to the god,
To Odin, myself to myself,
On that tree which none    can know the source
From whence its root has run.

139. None gave me bread,    none brought a horn.
Then low to earth I looked.
I caught up the runes,    roaring, I took them,
And fainting, back I fell.

140. Nine mighty lays    I learned from the son
Of Bolthorn, Bestla's father,
And a draught I had    of the holy mead
Poured out of Odrerir.
Stanza 136--Since the beam, like a warrior, is a protector of the hall, it should expect the gift of a ring, just as a warrior would.



Stanza 137--"Oak"--probably acorns.  These traditional folk remedies seem arbitrarily chosen, and both Bellows and Hollander substitute other remedies for some of the ones in the text.
The remainder of the Havamal deals with Odin's gaining of the runes, and with Odin's rune charms.  A full introduction and notes for this section is supplied on another page of the Meadhall website:
"Odin's Rune Poem."
141. Then fruitful I grew,    and greatly to thrive,
In wisdom began to wax.
A single word    to a second word led,
A single poem    a second found.

142. Runes will you find,    and fateful staves,
Very potent staves,    very powerful staves,
Staves the great gods made,    stained by the mighty sage,
And graven by the speaker of gods.

143. For gods by Odin,    for elves by Dainn,
Dvalin for dwarves,
Alsvid for Jotuns, and I
Carved some for the sons of men.

144. Do you know how to write?    Do you know how to read?
Do you know how to tint?    Do you know how to try?
Do you know how to ask?    Do you know how to offer?
Do you know how to send?    Do you know how to slaughter?

145. Better don't ask    than offer too much;
A gift demands a gift.
Better slay none    than slay to many,
So Odin graved    in the age ere man,
When he arose,    when he came home.
146. These songs I know,    unknown to wives
Of Kings, or to mankind.
Help is the first,    and help it will
In sickness, sorrow, and strife.

147. A second I know    that sons of men
Who long to be leeches need.

148. A third I know;    if need there be
To fetter a foeman's limbs,
Blunt I make    the blade of my foe,
The bite of sword or staff.

149. A fourth I know;    if fetters men lay
Fast upon my feet,
When the words I chant    I'll walk away,
Fetters will spring from my feet,
Bindings burst from my hands.

150. A fifth I know;    if a foeman's shaft
Is fired against the folk,
However fast,    its flight I stop,
If ever my eye can see it.

151. A sixth I know;    if seeking ill
One sends a rune-cut root,
Whatever malice    he meant for me,
On him the harm will fall.
152. A seventh I know;    if I see a hall
Above the bench-mates burning,
No matter how strong,    I stop the blaze--
I know the song to sing.

153. An eighth I know,    useful to all,
Needful for men to know.
If warfare erupts    twixt warriors' sons,
I quickly quench their rage.

154. A ninth I know;    If need I find
To secure my ship from harm;
I calm the wind    when waves run high,
And put the sea to sleep.

155. A tenth as well;    if witches I see
At play up in the air,
I work it so    their way they lose,
Their hamas they lose,    their homes can't find.

156. An eleventh I know,    need I to lead
Lifelong friends to a fight.
'Neath shield I sing,    and safe they go,
Fare to the fight,
Fare from the fight,
Fare safe on every side.
157. A twelfth I know;    if a tree should hold
A man in a halter hanged,
I can so cut    and color the runes
That man will walk with me;
The man will talk with me.

158. A thirteenth I know;    if I take up water,
And on a young thane throw it,
He will not fall    to foes in strife,
Nor sink beneath the sword.

159. A fourteenth I know;    if I need to count
For men, the glorious gods.
Aesir and Alfar    all these I can name--
None of the foolish know this.

160. A fifteenth I know,    that sang Theodrerir,
The dwarf, at Delling's doors--
Sang strength to the Aesir,    to the Alfar, gain,
Wise words to Hroptatyr.
161. A sixteenth I know;    if a subtle maid
I want for love or lust;
I o'erwhelm the mind    of the white-armed girl,
And her thoughts entirely turn.

162. A seventeenth I know,    that seldom will wish
A maiden to avoid me.
All of these songs,    Loddfafnir, though
Long you have lacked them,
Were useful to you,    if understood,
Useful to know,
Useful to have.

163. An eighteenth I know,    that I never will tell
To maid, or any man's wife--
Surest are secrets    shared with no one,
But now my spells are sung--
Other than her    I hold in my arms,
Or else my sister is.

164. Now the High One's songs    are sung in the hall,
Needful for men to know,
Useless for Jotuns to know.
Hail to he who speaks,    Hail to he who knows.
Luck to those who learn.
Hail to those who hear.
The end of the poem (162-164) is obviously a bit
jumbled.  Loddfafnir does not belong here, and in
stanza 163 two totally unconnected lines are stuck
awkwardly in the middle.  This material is discussed
on the page below, along with notes for the whole of
the rune poem section.
Odin's Rune poem
Odin II.  This page contains Bellows' complete translation of the Havamal.
Odin:  A page of general information on the god, Odin.
Odin and Billing's Daughter:  a page with notes
on another section of the Havamal.

Asatru:  an introduction to Northern religion in the modern world, as well as an index to a large number of pages dealing with Northern religion.
Index:  The general index for the whole Meadhall site.
Stanza 125:  "Less worthy" may mean in terms of character and intelligence, or it might mean in terms of social status.
According to Viktor Rydberg (Teutonic Mythology)
this charm refers to a Germanic war song which was sung on going into battle.  The shields were held up
horizontically to create  a sounding board, and if Odin's voice was heard like an overtone adding to the collective voice it was an omen of victory.
Lines three and four seem to have been arbitrarily stuck into the middle of what would otherwise be a perfectly regular and coherent stanza.  I discuss some of the efforts of translator's to deal with them in my other page, "Odin's Rune Poem."
There is some debate about what sort of eagle--a sea eagle suddenly coming upon his natural element, or another kind of eagle suddenly startled by an unfamiliar
place.  The latter reading seems to me to fit the last two lines best.