Wednesday 26 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 133: Know a goodness in yourself, and recognise that goodness in others

This stanza doesn't make any sense to me (the last three lines are unrelated to the first three, making the verse a non-sequitur), so I'll defer to the interpretation of someone who studies the Havamal and Nordic life in general.  His website can be found HERE.  These are his thoughts on stanza 133:
Once again, the extreme banality of this stanza leads the reader to wonder what information Ódhinn wanted to put in it.

It does not seem reasonably possible to choose the meaningwonder’ for kyn but, to keep this meaning asbackground music’ for a proper understanding of this stanza.

Now, here is a group of people already settled in the home and they do not know well if the newcomers are of the family. This remark either is ironic, or touches to dumbness since, as everyone knows, the principal concern of a group already in place is to judge the nature of the newcomers. Moreover, the last three lines not only do not shine by their originality but moreover they seem disconnected from the three first.

The solution with these dilemmas are in the choice of the meaning ‘soul-mates’ rather than simplyfamily’. None is able to recognize his/her soul-mate at first sight and even less the one of other people. In it lies a kind of magic which I already evoked by studying [stanza] 124 in an allusion to Montaigne and La Béotie’s famous friendship. This kind of relation is established without knowing too precisely why. This is why “these who are already in the home,” i.e. the former friends, are not able to spot in a newcomer if he/she will become a soul-mate.

The second half of the stanza explains why, in any case, to accept a soul-mate, as beautiful his/her soul might be, it is necessary to show generosity, i.e. to seek in the others what is better than you own self. All things considered, this second half says that each one contains parts of the best and parts of the worse and it implicitly advises you to recognize your own worse and the other’s best in order to build a faithful relation.

The magic of life is so strong in this stanza that it is enough for me to recall that the relations between friend magicians follow the same paths as for everyone’s.
Source: htp://

Opt vitu ógörla
þeir er sitja inni fyrir
hvers þeir ro kyns er koma
erat maðr svá góðr
at galli ne fylgi
né svá illr at einugi dugi     
Often they don't precisely know,
those who sit first in a house,
whose kinsmen they are who come (later):
no man is so good
that no fault follows him,
nor so bad that he is of no use.


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