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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 9 OF THE HAVAMAL

Auden and Taylor:

Blessed is he who in his own lifetime
Is awarded praise and wit,
For ill counsel is often given
By mortal men to each other,

Bellows:

Happy the man | who has while he lives
Wisdom and praise as well,
For evil counsel | a man full oft
Has from another's heart.

Bray:

Happy is he who hath in himself
praise and wisdom in life;
for oft doth a man ill counsel get
when 'tis born in another's breast.

Chisholm:

Happy is he who gets praise
and has wit throughout his life.
A man often gets evil counsel
from the heart of another.

Hollander:

Happy is he who hath won him
both winning ways and wisdom;
for ill it is oft who asketh help
from the wit and words of another.

Terry:

Lucky the man who can look to himself
to provide his praise and wisdom;
evil counsel has often come
out of another man's mind.

Thorpe:

He is happy,
who in himself possesses
fame and wit while living;
for bad counsels
have oft been received
from anothers breast.

Original Old Norse:

S er sll
er sjlfur um
lof og vit mean lifir.
v a ill r
hefir maur oft egi
annars brjstum r.


DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF STANZA 9

Stanza 8 and Stanza 9 are similar structurally, and have a similar theme...but a somewhat dissimilar meaning. 

Lines 1 and 2 are fairly straight-forward again.  Happy is the man who has praise and wisdom throughout his life.  In a couple of the translations (Terry and Bray), they really emphasize the idea that this praise and wisdom is something that he has earned for himself.  That it is something centered on the man himself...coming from the deeds and the mind of the man himself.

Lines 3 and 4, then make it clear that advice given to you by another may be very very bad, and that this bad advice might be given intentionally.  I really like Auden and Taylor's way of saying this:  "For ill counsel is often given, by mortal men to each other."

So, the theme here is similar to Stanza 8.  There is this idea that you will be very happy if your praise and wisdom are something you possess...that you have earned...that come from your own deeds and thoughts.  And that looking to others for these things can lead to a much harder road.  Perhaps a most unwise road. 

Again, there is a point that needs to be made due to the nature of our modern culture.  If you live in a frithful and healthy family or kin-group, then you will not be receiving "evil counsel" from your family or kin-group.  I think this stanza, along with 8...is warning us against having to take advice from outsiders.  Because our ancestors lived in a family/community focused culture, it wasn't necessary for this to be stated explicitly in the poem.  In today's world, with the heavy focus on the individual and the loose, unstable families that exist today...the point about frith needs to be clearly stated, unfortunately.

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