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The discussion and analysis presented after these translated stanzas is our opinion.  Read the translations for yourself and our analysis, but also seek out varied sources and come to your own conclusions.


Auden & Taylor:

Silences becomes the Son of a prince
To be silent but brave in battle;
It befits a man to be merry and glad
Until the day of his death.


The son of a king shall be
silent and wise,
And bold in battle as well;
Bravely and gladly a man shall go
Till the day of his death is come


Silent and thoughtful and
bold in strife
the prince's bairn should be.
Joyous and generous let
each man show him
until he shall suffer death.


Silent and attentive, and battle bold
should a chieftain's son be.
A man should be glad and happy
until defeated by death.


Let us all be sparing in words,
and bold in battle;
glad and wholesome the hero be
till comes his dying day


Silent and thoughtful a king's
son should be
and bold in battle;
merry and glad every man should be
until the day he dies.


Taciturn and prudent
and in war daring
should a king's children be;
joyous and liberal
every one should be
until the hour of his death 


Stanza 15 seems to be loosely connected with Stanza 16, in that their lessons work well together.

Lines 1 and 2 basically say that a king's son, or a chieftain's son, or a prince's son (an important son) should be "silent" or "sparing in words," as well as "attentive" or "wise."  The important son should also be "brave" or "daring" in battle. 

The Havamal has already given us a fair number of stanza's saying that one should shut up, listen, pay attention to your surroundings, and not say too much.  So, this stanza reinforces that message.  When a king's son is silent and attentive, it means he is listening, sizing people up, and serving as a set of eyes and ears for his father.  Being silent in this way, is much better than being obnoxious, over-the-top, loud, and attention-getting.  We've all known or seen the children of important people who were obnoxious, cocky, and just an embarrassment to themselves and their family.  Being that sort of problem is a negative thing for one's family.  So, to serve a positive purpose, a king's son should be prudent, quiet, watch, and learn.  That's the basic message of these first 2 lines.

Lines 3 and 4 speak of men in general, and not just the sons of important men.  And really, I think lines 1 and 2 are not just advice for the sons of important men either.  I think lines 1 and 2, by describing what the son of an important man should do, is giving us an example of how all of us should act in a sense.  Supporting my opinion on this, Hollander's translation does not even mention a "king's son," and rather says, "Let us all be sparing in words," etc.

Anyhow, back to lines 3 and 4.  These lines suggest that every man should be merry and glad until the day of his death, or in other words...merry and glad his whole life.  I believe two of the translations slip in the idea of being generous as well.

If we take all 4 lines as advice for living, they suggest that we should be quiet, listen, and learn.  We should be prudent and attentive to what is going on around us.  We should be brave and daring in battle, and against the hardships of life.  And a good life is led, if a man can be glad and generous all the days of his life, regardless of what challenges he faces.

When we talk about Stanz 16, we'll see how it is practically a counter-point to this stanza.

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