The Wisdom of Odin

I read the Poetic Edda (the collection of Icelandic mythological poems) last year and enjoyed it very much. So much, in fact, that I still have to reference it on a regular basis. I especially like the Hovamol, a collection of wisdom sayings of Odin, the High One. While Odin certainly is no Solomon, and much of the Hovamol is silly, it still rises to the poetical lofty heights of the Proverbs from time to time. Here are some of my favorites.



16 The sluggard believes he shall live forever,
     If the fight he faces not;
But age shall not grant him the gift of peace,
     Though spears may spare his life.

19 Shun not the mead, but drink in measure;
     Speak to the point or be still;
For rudeness none shall rightly blame thee
     If soon they bed thou seekest.

22 A paltry man and poor of mind
     At all things ever mocks;
For never he knows, what he ought to know,
     That he is not free from faults.

23 The witless man is awake all night,
     Thinking of many things;
Care-worn he is when the morning comes,
     And his woe is just as it was.

26 An ignorant man thinks that all he knows,
     When he sits by himself in a corner;
But never what answer to make he knows,
     When others with questions come.


And my personal favorite (as I've lately been getting up at 5:30 a.m.)
59 He must go early forth whose workers are few,
     Himself his work to seek;
Much remains undone for the morning-sleeper,
     For the swift is wealth half won.

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