Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Havamal, Part 6

Blessings Darlings!

Welcome to this week's installment of  my free-associating to the words of the Havamal.  For those new here - the Havamal is from the Prose Edda of the Norse, and is attributed to Odin.  I'm not using either the best translation or the best ordered version ... but I was sure this one was public domain.  I've found other translations online since then, better, but I'm going to use this one thru' since I started it.  The better versions are mentioned in a great comment in, I believe, the first part of the series.

On to the text!

Little a sand-grain, little a dew drop,
Little the minds of men:
A11 men are not equal in wisdom,
The half-wise are everywhere 

Well, YEAH.  I'm giving up on reading the 'calls to the editor' part of my local paper. 

It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
The fairest life is led by those
Who are deft at all they do.
It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
No man is able to know his future,
So let him sleep in peace. 

It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
The learned man whose lore is deep
Is seldom happy at heart. 

Is my confusion over the difference between 'half-wise' and 'middle wise' a translation problem?
I have to admit my personal prejudice is in favor of being of greater not lesser wisdom.  And that I see 'cunning and clever' as being different than wisdom.  Maybe more like being smart-asses, or con artists.  But the "The learned man whose lore is deep Is seldom happy at heart" line makes it clear that even my educational elitism is what's being addressed here.  
Then again, I see happiness as a choice, not something conferred or chased away by eduction, brains, wealth, etc.

Brand kindles brand till they burn out,
Flame is quickened by flame:
One man from another is known by his speech
The simpleton by his silence.
Early shall he rise who has designs
On anothers land or life:
His prey escapes the prone wolf,
The sleeper is seldom victorious. 

Early shall he rise who rules few servants,
And set to work at once:
Much is lost by the late sleeper,
Wealth is won by the swift, 

Ah, Procrastination, my old friend!  Friend?  No, more like a foe I've made strong over the years, fool that I tend to be.  

A man should know how many logs
And strips of bark from the birch
To stock in autumn, that he may have enough
Wood for his winter fires. 

Preparedness.  Yes, I'm there.  If anyone reading wants links to the web sites that help you figure out how much of what food you need to stock to have a year supply... let me know.  Logs, food, water source - know how to supply and DO supply your own basic needs.  Then...

Washed and fed,
one may fare to the Thing:
Though one's clothes be the worse for Wear,
None need be ashamed of his shoes or hose,
Nor of the horse he owns,
Although no thoroughbred. 

As the eagle who comes to the ocean shore,
Sniffs and hangs her head,
Dumfounded is he who finds at the Thing
No supporters to plead his case. 

Once you've met your own needs yourself, you can go to the AlThing proudly.  Still, if you are there asking for something .... you need to also check with others to see if they agree with your view.  Never assume the support of others.  

It is safe to tell a secret to one,
Risky to tell it to two,
To tell it to three is thoughtless folly,
Everyone else will know. 

Often words uttered to another
Have reaped an ill harvest:
Two beat one, the tongue is head's bane,
Pockets of fur hide fists. 

You have the right to remain silent.  Do you have the ability?  Freedom of speech lets you say what you want.  It does NOT mean that what you say has no repurcussions.

And, for your preppers --- OPSEC! (operational security, for the rest of you).

Moderate at council should a man be,
Not brutal and over bearing:
Among the bold the bully will find
Others as bold as he. 

Again ... don't be a douche.

These things are thought the best:
Fire, the sight of the sun,
Good health with the gift to keep it,
And a life that avoids vice. 

Not all sick men are utterly wretched:
Some are blessed with sons,
Some with friends,
some with riches,
Some with worthy works. 

The halt can manage a horse,
the handless a flock,
The deaf be a doughty fighter,
To be blind is better than to burn on a pyre:
There is nothing the dead can do. 

It is always better to be alive,
The living can keep a cow.
Fire, I saw, warming a wealthy man,
With a cold corpse at his door. 

A person can be old. A person can be ill.  A person can have physical/mental/emotional disabilities.  But being helpless and worthless is not one of them.  As I told my mother, a decade ago when she started losing her sight and felt she couldn't help a cousin care for the cousin's grandson .... "You put the bottle in one end and change the other .... and the baby lets you know if you got it wrong!"  [and thanks to Melilot for the line, BTW] 

A son is a blessing, though born late
To a father no longer alive:
Stones would seldom stand by the highway
If sons did not set them there. 

He welcomes the night who has enough provisions
Short are the sails of a ship,
Dangerous the dark in autumn,
The wind may veer within five days,
And many times in a month. 

Okay, I don't get why these lines have been put here in the version I'm using.  Do they flow better in more normative versions?  At any rate - you descendants are likely the only ones who will honor your .... but do all descendant have to be biological? Nah, says I.

And it finishes with prepping.  Okay. Fine. Short sails, maybe, allow you to tack, to move where you want to go despite where the wind alone would have you go?  Is that it?  I dunno.

And so ends Part 6.  Tune in next Wotansday for Part 7!

Frondly, Fern

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