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Early Indo-European Texts

Old Norse

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old Norse with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old Norse Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old Norse language and its speakers' culture.

from the Hvaml

1 Gttir allar,
        r gangi fram,
        um scoaz scyli,
        um scygnaz scyli;
        vat vst er at vita,
        hvar vinir
        sitia fleti fyrir.

2 Gefendr heilir!
        gestr er inn kominn,
        hvar scal sitia si?
        mic er brr,
        s er brndom scal
        sns um freista frama.

3 Eldz er rf,
        eims inn er kominn
        oc kn kalinn;
        matar oc va
        er manni rf,
        eim er hefir um fiall fari.

4 Vatz er rf,
        eim er til verar kmr,
        erro oc ilaar,
        gs um is,
        ef sr geta mtti,
        orz oc endrgo.

5 Vitz er rf,
        eim er va ratar,
        dlt er heima hvat;
        at augabragi verr,
        s er ecci kann
        oc me snotrom sitr.

6 At hyggiandi sinni
        scylit mar hrsinn vera,
        heldr gtinn at gei;
        er horscr oc gull
        kmr heimisgara til,
        sialdan verr vti vorom;
        vat brigra vin
        fr mar aldregi
        enn manvit mikit.

7 Inn vari gestr,
        er til verar kmr,
        unno hlii egir;
        eyrom hlir,
        enn augom scoar;
        sv nsiz frra hverr fyrir.

8 Hinn er sll,
        er sr um getr
        lof oc lcnstafi;
        dlla er vi at,
        er mar eiga scal
        annars bristom .

9 S er sll,
        er silfr um
        lof oc vit, mean lifr;
        vat ill r
        hefir mar opt egit
        annars bristom r.

10 Byri betri
        berrat mar brauto at,
        enn s manvit mikit;
        aui betra
        iccr at kunnom sta,
        slct er vlas vera.

11 Byri betri
        berrat mar brauto at,
        enn s manvit mikit;
        vegnest verra
        vegra hann velli at,
        enn s ofdryccia ls.

12 Era sv gott,
        sem gott qvea,
        l alda sona;
        vat fra veit,
        er fleira dreccr,
        sns til ges gumi.

13 minnis hegri heitir,
        s er yfir lrom rumir,
        hann stelr gei guma;
        ess fugls firom
        ec fitrar varc
        gari Gunnlaar.

14 lr ec var,
        var ofrlvi
        at ins fra Fialars;
        v er lr bazt,
        at aptr uf heimtir
        hverr sitt ge gumi.

21 Hiarir at vito,
        nr r heim scolo,
        oc ganga af grasi;
        enn svir mar
        kann vagi
        sns um ml maga.

22 Vesall mar
        oc illa scapi
        hlr at hvvetna;
        hitki hann veit,
        er hann vita yrpti,
        at hann era vamma vanr.

23 svir mar
        vakir um allar ntr
        oc hyggr at hvvetna;
        er mr,
        er at morni kmr,
        alt er vl, sem var.

24 snotr mar
        hyggr sr alla vera
        vihliendr vini;
        hitki hann fir,
        tt eir um hann fr lesi,
        ef hann me snotrom sitr.

25 snotr mar
        hyggr sr alla vera
        vihliendr vini;
        at finnr,
        er at ingi kmr,
        at hann formlendr f.

46 at er enn of ann,
        er illa trir
        oc r er grunr at hans gei:
        hlia scaltu vi eim
        oc um hug mla,
        glc scolo gild gifum.

47 Ungr var ec forom,
        fr ec einn saman,
        var ec villr vega;
        auigr ttomz,
        er ec annan fann,
        mar er mannz gaman.

53 Ltilla sanda,
        ltilla sva
        ltil ero ge guma;
        v allir menn
        urot iafnspakir,
        hlb er ld hvar.

54 Mealsnotr
        scyli manna hverr,
        va til snotr s;
        eim er fyra
        fegrst at lifa,
        er vel mart vito.

70 Betra er lifom
        oc sllifom,
        ey getr qvicr k;
        eld s ec up brenna
        augom manni fyrir,
        enn ti var daur fyr durom.

71 Haltr rr hrossi,
        hir recr handarvanr,
        daufr vegr oc dugir;
        blindr er betri,
        enn brendr s:
        ntr mangi ns.

72 Sonr er betri,
        tt s s of alinn
        eptir genginn guma;
        sialdan bautarsteinar
        standa brauto nr,
        nema reisi nir at ni.

73 Tveir ro eins heriar,
        tunga er hfus bani,
        er mr hein hvern
        handar vni.

79 snotr mar,
        ef eignaz getr
        f ea flios munu,
        matnar hnom raz,
        enn manvit aldregi,
        fram gengr hann drigt dul.

80 at er reynt,
        er at rnom spyrr,
        inom reginkunnom,
        eim er goro ginregin
        oc fi fimbululr,
        hefir hann bazt,
        ef hann egir.

Translation

1 All the gates,
before one goes forth,
he should spy about,
should peer round;
since it is difficult to know,
where enemies
sit forth on the bench.
2 Sound hosts!
a guest has come inside,
where shall he sit?
he is quite hasty
who shall in the firewood
test his luck.
3 There is need of fire
to him who has come in
and is frozen about the knees;
there is need to man
of food and clothes,
for the one who has travelled to the mountain.
4 There is need of water
to him who comes to the meal,
of a towel and of invitation,
of good disposition,
if he can get it for himself,
of conversation and of silence.
5 There is need of wit
to him who travels widely,
everything is easy at home;
he is suited for mockery,
he who knows nothing
and sits with wise men.
6 In his thought
a man should not be boastful,
rather wary in disposition;
when someone wise and silent
comes to the premises,
seldom does misfortune happen to the cautious;
since never obtains a man
a better friend
than a bit of common sense.
7 The wary guest,
who comes to a meal,
keeps silent with hearing tuned;
he listens with his ears,
and looks with his eyes;
thus every wise man informs himself.
8 This one is fortunate,
who gets for himself
praise and regard;
it is more difficult to deal with that,
which a man would have
in another's breast.
9 That one is fortunate,
who himself has
renown and wit, while he lives;
since ill counsels
has a man oft received
from another's breast.
10 A better burden
carries no man on his journey
than that it be a bit of common sense;
better than riches
that's found to be in an unknown land,
such is a poor man's means.
11 A better burden
carries no man on his journey
than that it be a bit of common sense;
he does not carry
worse provisions on the plain,
than that it be ale's over-drinking.
12 The ale of the sons of men
is not as good,
as they say;
since about his own mind
a man knows less,
the more he drinks.
13 That is called the heron of forgetfulness,
which hovers over ale-parties,
it robs a man of his mind;
with this bird's feathers
I was fettered
in Gunnlath's garden.
14 Drunk I became,
became overly drunk
at wise Fjalar's;
ale is best for this,
that each man
gets back his mind.
21 The herds know
when they should be at home
and then they go from the pasture;
but the unwise man
never knows
the measure of his stomach.
22 The man wretched
and badly off in character
laughs at everything;
he knows not that
which he needs to know,
that he is not free of faults.
23 The unwise man
lies awake all the nights
and worries about everything;
then he is tired,
when it comes to morning,
all his trouble is as it was.
24 The unwise man
thinks all those who laugh with him
to be his friends;
he does not seek,
though they concoct mischief for him,
whether he sits with wise men.
25 The unwise man
thinks all those who laugh with him
to be his friends;
then he discovers this,
when he comes to the assembly,
that he has few advocates.
46 Moreover this is concerning that one,
whom you hardly trust
and you have suspicion about his character:
you shall laugh with him
and speak contrary to your thoughts,
the returns shall be like unto the gifts.
47 I was young once,
I travelled totally alone,
then I went astray in my paths;
rich I seemed,
when I found another,
man is man's delight.
53 Of little sands,
of little seas
little are the minds of man;
for this all men
have not become equally wise,
half mankind is everywhere.
54 Moderately wise
should each man be,
never let him be too wise;
living is best
for those among men
who know much well.
70 Better it is for the living
and for those living happy,
ever the living gets the cow;
I saw the fire flame up
before a wealthy man,
and outside was death before the doors.
71 The lame man rides a horse,
the one-armed man drives a flock,
the deaf man fights and wins;
the blind man is better,
though he be burned:
no one benefits from a corpse.
72 A son is better,
though he be born late,
after the man is gone;
seldom do memorial stones
stand by the road,
unless kin should raise it for kin.
73 One's destroyers are two,
the tongue is the head's death,
in every coat for me
there's expectation of a hand.
79 The unwise man,
if he gets for himself
money or a woman's love,
his pride grows,
but never his sense,
he goes straight ahead to folly.
80 Then it is proven,
what you ask of the runes,
those of divine origin,
which the mighty powers fashioned
and the mighty sage colored,
then he holds best,
if he is silent.