Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Hávamál 81, tr. R.I. Page in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes: An Inaugural Lecture Delivered before the University of Cambridge on 6 March 1985 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 25:
Don't say, 'It's a good day', till nightfall.
Don't say, 'She's a good wife', till she's buried.
Don't say, 'It's a good sword', till you've tested it.
Don't say, 'She's a good daughter', till she's married off.
Don't say, 'The ice is safe', till you've crossed it.
Don't say, 'This is Real Ale', till you've drunk it down.

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,    kono, er brennd er,
mæki, er reyndr er,    mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kømr,    ǫl, er drukkit er.
Page warns (p. 30, n. 42):
The translation should not be used as a crib. It contains occasional idiosyncrasies of wording.
Another translation, by D.E. Martin Clarke in The Hávamál: With Selections from Other Poems of the Edda (1923; rpt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 63:
Praise no day until evening, no wife until she is burnt,
no sword until tested, no maid until given in marriage,
no ice until crossed, no ale until it has been drunk.
For the idea, cf. the Latin proverb "Omnia tunc bona sunt clausula quando bona est," no. 89 in Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010), p. 108.

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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