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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 36 OF THE
Auden & Taylor:
A small hut of one's own is better,
man is his master at home:
A couple of goats and a corded
Still are better than begging.
36. Better a house, | though a hut it
A man is master at home;
A pair of goats | and a
Are better far than begging.
Bellow's Note: The manuscript
has "little" in place of "a hut" in line I, but this involves an
error in the initial-rhymes, and the emendation has been generally
One's own house is best, though small it may
each man is master at home;
though he have but two goats
and a bark-thatched hut
'tis better than craving a boon.
One’s home is better though it be
To each, home is hall.
Though he owns but two
and a thatched roof, it is better than begging.
One's home is best, though hut it be:
there a man is master and lord;
Though but two goats thine and a thatched roof,
'tis far better than beg.
Though it be little, better to live
in a house you hold as
with just two goats, thin thatch for your
you're better off than begging.
One’s own house is best,
small though it be;
at home is
every one his own master.
Though he but two goats possess,
a straw-thatched cot,
even that is better than begging.
ANALYSIS OF STANZA 36
Stanza 36 and 37 touch on similar
themes and share the same first
Lines 1 and 2 express the idea that it is
good to have your own house, regardless of how small or humble it
may be. The reason given in the majority of the translations,
is because when you have a home, you are the master
there. Chisholm goes a little bit
different direction by saying that "home is hall."
This seems like just a somewhat more subtle way of getting at
the "master of the home" idea, because if your home is your
hall...then you are the Lord of the Hall. Terry steers
away from the concept of you being the master at home,
and simply says it is good to have a home to "hold as your
own." My favorite translation of the first two lines
One’s own house is best, small though
at home is every one his own master.
Describing being one's "own
master" at your "own house," gets right to the heart of the wisdom
presented in this stanza. At your work, or in public, or as a
guest at another's house you are not fully free. Even more so
if you don't have a place of your own to live, or if you live in the
home of another. But, in your own home...whether it's a little
hut or a big mansion...you are the master of your domain.
You are your
Lines 3 and 4 simply go a bit
further regarding the idea that no matter how modest your house, it
is best to have a place to call your own. Clearly, having just
two goats would be fairly meager belongings. And having a
patched up roof, or a roof with thin thatch, or bark thatch roof, or
a corded roof would be very crude or rustic. But even this
sparse house and meager belonging is better than begging, or asking
for hand-outs from others. Only Thorpe refers to a straw
cot or bed, rather than a straw roof. But, this difference
does not affect the meaning in any
We all strive for comfort and
happiness. Part of that effort involves working hard in order
to afford a place to live. This stanza reminds me of when my
wife and I purchased our first home. Our "starter home" as
people call it. It was an older home, a little rough around
the edges, and not really in the perfect neighborhood. But, it
was our home. We had great pride in having a place of our own
in which to build a life. To have more room for our growing
family we moved about 5 years later. But, I still remember how
amazing it felt to move into that first home, meager
though it might have been by some
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