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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.


STANZA 34 OF THE HAVAMAL

Auden & Taylor:

To a false friend that footpath winds
thought his house be on the highway.
To a sure friend there is a short cut,
though he live a long way off.

Bellows:

Crooked and far is the road to a foe,
Though his house on the highway be;
But wide and straight is the way to a friend
Though far away he fare.

Bray:

Long is the round to a false friend leading,
e'en if he dwell on the way;
but though far off fared, to a faithful friend
straight are the roads and short.

Chisholm:

It is a long way to the false friend
though he dwell by the road.
but a straight way lies to the good friend,
though he lives far away.

Hollander:

To false friend ay a far way 'tis,
though his roof be reared by the road;
to stanch friend ay a straight way leads,
though far he have fared from thee.

Terry:

A bad friend lives far away
thought his house lie on your road,
but it's no distance to one who is dear
thought you travel many miles.

Thorpe:

Long is and indirect the way to a bad friend's,
though by the road he dwell;
but to a good friend's the path lie direct,
though he be far away. 


DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF STANZA 34

This is one of my favorite stanzas.  The interpretations here all are fairly close in meaning.

Essentially, the road leading to the home of an enemy, bad friend, or false friend is very long and winding, even if he lives right next to you.  And the road leading to the home of a good friend is very short and direct, even if he lives very very far away.

In very practical terms, we see this in modern Heathenry today.  Many Heathen individuals, families, and kindreds in the Midwest have formed friendships and bonds...and many of us will travel 3, 6, 12, and even 16 hours to visit these friends.  The distance does not matter.  The difficulty or cost of the trip does not matter.  The time and effort spent getting to these friends does not matter in the least.  Such is the joy in gathering together with these friends, that there is very little that will stand in the way of us visiting each other.

Meanwhile, there are people who call themselves "Heathen" here in Kansas City, for instance, that I rarely if ever see because I do not like them, and have reason to not like them. I could drive 15 minutes and be at some of their homes, and yet I never seek them out and will even avoid them if possible.

But, this goes beyond a mere description of how friendship works or feels.  It is also advice.  If you have a friend, and wish to honor and keep that friend, then visit him or her.  Make the trip.  Take the time.  No distance should keep you from your good friends.  And if you have an enemy, spend very little time or effort on them at all. 

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