The Havamal was written down around the 9th or 10th century, and like most Northern European literature it was put down after Christian conversion. Attributed to Odin as “sayings of the High Ones” collected in the Codex Regius around the 13th century it is like many other sayings and advice from other cultures on how to conduct oneself and how best to live.
There are numerous sources and places where the work is gathered, one in particular is an illustrated version that I backed as a kick starter from Sam Flegal.
Sam is an impressive artist and not because I am partial to his Nordic themes. He can be found here:
The hard bound edition is a quality production with a red cover and pen and ink art throughout. Flegal utilizes the 1923 translation by Henry Adams Bellows with annotations on stanzas themselves, in their relations or how they might have been combined though not related or from different authors. The right column is English translation with the Norse to the left. The stanzas are laid out in the traditional “books”.
His table of contents consist of introductions followed by seven sections.
The Wisdom of the High One
The Story of Odin and Billing’s Daughter
Odin and the Mead of Song
Odin’s Tale of the Runes
A List of Charms
A couple of my personal favorites:
A bad friend
is far away
though his cottage is close.
To a true friend
lies a trodden road
though his farm lies far away
if you want
another man’s life or land.
for the lazy wolf.
No battles won in bed.
Again, like many of the sayings of other cultures, the Havamal of the Norse resonates today. Sam Flegal’s edition is a beautiful work to find that timeless advice.