Thursday 9 May 2013

Havamal Snippets 52: A small gift can go a long way

It's Wednesday (Woden/Odin's Day) which means that it's time for another verse from the Havamal 'Sayings of the High One - Odin'. The poem full of wisdom, both everyday and ethereal. (The poem can be found in full HERE):
52. Something great
is not (always) to be given,
praise is often for a trifle bought.
With half a loaf
and a tilted vessel
I got myself a comrade.

Give only as much as you need to if you are bartering for somthing, be it loyalty or material possessions. Know the value of things and people.



  1. The passage is quite interesting.

    Did you transcribe "sloping" correctly?

    Was the goblet in question a cow's horn drinking cup?

    That is the only sort of "sloping" goblet I could imagine.

    Perhaps it was a "slopping" goblet.

    At any rate, the sentiment is noteworthy.

  2. Ahh, the subject of Havamal tranlsations. Now there's topic that'll cause my heartrate to jump up a few notches(!)

    To answer your question, I got the translation from the following address:

    It's the first English translation of Havamal I encountered, and didn't even think about the possible existence of other translations when I started posting it on this blog. I've since come across several published versions and two (incomplete) web-only translations.

    Published versions that I’m aware of: (just google the names)

    Web-only Translations: [8 stanzas]

    I've decided against posting other translations of Havamal (eg Thorpe), and instead to continue posting verses from the 'BeyondWeird' website, because I keep finding mis-translations in the published versions which are incredibly frustrating! I mean, how hard can it be to translate a text?! For instance, in WH Auden version, stanza 138, he mis-translates 'tree' as 'gallows' which completely destroys the ontological importance of the stanza (Odin gaining understading of Yggdrasil - the ontological tree/life of life). So it seems best to stick with the first translation I encountered until I come across something I'm completely happy with.

    The thought has crossed my mind to try and translate it by myself, using the Norse -> Icelandic language version, by running it through 'Google Translator' and then making corrections where appropriate. But that's a big job; and would require me to choose between a 'word-for-word' literal translation or a readable 'modern English' translation which would be more accessible to modern audience.