Tag Archives: Hávamál (Sayings of the High One; translated from Old Norse)

“Hávamál” (“Sayings of the High One”; translated from Old Norse)


“through translation everyone can admire the sparkling brilliance of their iceberg-like beauty” -– Charles W. Dunn, Preface to Poems of the Elder Edda, translated by Patricia Terry


‘Sayings of the High One’

‘Sayings of the High One’


“Hávamál” (“Sayings of the High One”) is contained in the Codex Regius, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age.

Codex means an ancient manuscript in book form. The Codex Regius (Royal Book) is an Icelandic codex in which many Old Norse poems are preserved.

“Hávamál,” itself a combination of different poems, is largely gnomic, presenting advice for living, proper conduct, and wisdom.

It is believed that the Old Norse poems preserved in the Codex Regius date from the ninth century.  They were written down and compiled in the thirteenth century.

Downloadable text of selections from “Hávamál” is provided above as Word document; and the entire section is also posted here as as PDF.


— Roger W. Smith

   May 2017




A relative of mine who saw this post commented on it.

I wrote the following email in reply to him.

The email explains how I came to read and admire Hávamál.”

I recently wrote a tribute to my former medieval history professor, Norman. F. Cantor, at

my history professor, Norman F. Cantor

In my senior year at Brandeis University, I took a two semester proseminar with Professor Cantor. Each student had to give a paper in a given class on a given date, which would be followed by discussion.

I proposed the subject “frontier societies” to Cantor. The “frontier” regions of Europe then (early Middle Ages) were regions of Europe to the north and west.

He was a very supportive, yeah-saying prof — he said to me “great topic.”

Professor Cantor was like a walking bibliography — seemed to have read everything. He said that I should take a look at the Codex Regius, which had just been published in English translation.

The Brandeis library had the book.

From it, I was introduced to the “Sayings of the High One,” which were at the front of the book. They blew my mind.