The Hávamál, also known as the Sayings of the High One, is part of the Elder Edda, a collection of poems from the Viking age. “The High One” refers to Odin, the Norse God. Nowadays, the only source for the Hávamál is in the Codex Regius, where there are many Old Norse poems preserved.
The main topics for these poems are wisdom, behaviour and advice for living. Read these Hávamál quotes that we have compiled for you and feel inspired by the Vikings.
1“Wealth dies. Friends die. One day you too will die. But, the thing that never dies is the judgement on how you have spent your life.”
2“Cattle die, kinsmen die, you yourself must also die, but he who wins word fame lives forever”
3"Never walk away from home ahead of your axe and sword. You can’t feel a battle in your bones or foresee a fight."
4"A true friend whom you trust well and wish for his good will: go to him often exchange gifts and keep him company."
5"He is truly wise who’s travelled far and knows the ways of the world. He who has travelled can tell what spirit governs the men he meets."
6"Wake early if you want another man’s life or land. No lamb for the lazy wolf. No battles won in bed."
7"Ask you must and answer well to be called clever. One may know your secret never a second. If three, a thousand will know."
8"It is better to live than lie dead. A dead man gathers no goods. I saw warm fire at a wealthy man’s house himself dead at the door."
9"Much nonsense a man utters who talks without tiring."
10"A clear head is good company. Drink is a dangerous friend."
11"Advice given by others is often ill counsel."
12"It is fortunate to be favoured with praise and popularity. It is dire luck to be dependent on the feelings of a fellow-man."
13"A man should know how many logs stubs and strips of bark to collect in the summer to keep in stock wood for his winter fires."
14"It happens often enough that beauty ensnares with desire the wise while the foolish remain unmoved."
15"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."
16"From his weapons on the open road, no man should step one pace away."
17"Go you must. No guest shall stay in one place forever. Love will be lost If you sit too long at a friends’s fire."
18"Better a humble house than none. A man is a master at home. A pair of goats and a patched roof are better than begging."
19"The cautious guest who comes to the table speaks sparingly. Listen with ears, learn with eyes. Such is the seeker of knowledge."
20"The traveller must train his wits. All is easy at home. He who knows little is a laughing-stock amongst men of the world."
21"Sorrow eats the heart if you cannot tell someone your whole mind."
22"With your friend never be the first to make a breach."
23"Be your friend's true friend. Return gift for gift. Repay laughter with laughter again but betrayal with treachery."
24"Courteous words, then courteous silence. That he may tell his tale."
25"With half a loaf and a half-filled cup... A friend full fast I made."
26"The cowardly man thinks he’ll live for ever, if he keeps away from fighting; but old age won’t grant him a truce even is spears spare him."
27"Praise day at even, a wife when dead, a weapon when tried, a maid when married, ice when ’tis crossed, and ale when ’tis drunk."
28"Let none put faith in the first sown fruit nor yet in his son too soon; whim rules the child, and weather the field, each is open to chance."
29"If aware that another is wicked, say so: Make no truce or treaty with foes."
30"All the doorways, before one enters, should be looked around, should be spied out; it can’t be known for certain where enemies are sitting in the hall ahead."
31"Affection is mutual when men can open. All their heart to each other: He whose words are always fair is untrue and not to be trusted."
32"A guest must depart again on his way, nor stay in the same place ever; if he bide too long on another’s bench the loved one soon becomes loathed."
33"About his intelligence no man should be boastful, rather cautious of mind; when a wise and silent man comes to a homestead blame seldom befalls the wary; for no more dependable friend can a man every get than a store of common sense."
34"Wherever you know of harm, regard that harm as your own; and give your foes no peace."
35"Speak useful words or be silence."
36"The unwise man is awake all night, and ponders everything over; when morning comes he is weary in mind, and all is a burden as ever."
37"I was once young, I was travelling alone and lost my way; I thought myself rich when I met another: Man is the joy of man."
38"Thou should never sleep in the arms of a sorceress, lest she lock thy limbs."
39"Draped in linen, they looked well born but, naked I was a nobody."
40"The foolish man thinks he will live forever if he keeps away from fighting; but old age won’t grant him a truce, even if the spears do."