I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!


More wit, wisdom and philosophy from literary works of the Viking Age:

Faþer vár es ert a himnom, verði nafn þitt hæilagt
Til kome ríke þitt, værði vili þin
sva a iarðu sem í himnum.
Gef oss ok hværn dag brauð vort dagligt
Ok fyr gefþu oss synþer órar,
sem vér fyr gefom þeim er viþ oss hafa misgert
Leiðd oss eigi í freistni, heldr leys þv oss fra illo.
The Lord’s Prayer (in Old Norse)

Now I command you, my beloved warrior,
that you tell this vision to men,
reveal in words that it is the tree of glory,
on which Almighty God suffered
for mankind’s many sins.
From Dream of the Holy Rood (tr. Rambaran-Olm)

May the beasts on earth be healed, they are vex in health; in the name of the God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit let the Devil be expelled through the imposition of our hands; who shall separate us from the love of Christ; through the invocation of all your saints through him who lives and reigns forever. Amen.
Prayer for a Sick Animal

The foolish man
thinks he will live forever
if he avoids battle;
but old age gives
him no peace,
though spears might spare him.
Verse 16 of The Havamal (tr. Ball)

There are more things to be thought of by men than money alone.
From chapter 47 of The Saga of Grettir the Strong (tr. Morris)

He who is never silent
speaks plenty
of meaningless words;
the fast-talking tongue,
unless it have controllers,
often sings itself harm.
Verse 29 of The Havamal (tr. Ball)

Facing Death, that fateful journey,
no man can be wiser that he
who reflects, while breath yet remains,
on whether his life brought others happiness,
since his soul may yet win delight’s way
after his death-day.
Bede’s Death Song (tr. Michael R. Burch)

Where fault can be found, the good is ignored.
chapter 139 of The Saga of Burnt Njal (tr. DaSent)

By their clothing, their gold armlets,
You see they are the King’s friends
They bear red cloaks, stained shields,
Silver-clad swords, ringed mail coats
Gilded sword-belts, engraved helmets
Rings on their arms, as Harald gave them.
Porbjorn Hornklofi

Hottest is the fire that lies on oneself.
From chapter 59 of The Saga of Grettir the Strong (tr. Morris)

One of the horsemen said, “Is Earl Toste in this army?”
The earl answered, “It is not to be denied that ye will find him here.”
The horseman says, “Thy brother, King Harald, sends thee salutation, with the message that thou shalt have the whole of Northumberland; and rather than thou shouldst not submit to him, he will give thee the third part of his kingdom to rule over along with himself.”
The earl replies, “If I accept of this offer, what will he give King Harald Sigurdson for his trouble?”
The horseman replied, “He has also spoken of this; and will give him seven feet of English ground, or as much more as he may be taller than other men.”
From Part 2, Chapter 94 of Heimskringla, Saga of Harold Hardrada (tr. Laing)

Shepherd: I have much work to do. As soon as it is light, I drive the ewes to the pastures and guard them with dogs through heat and cold, so that the wolves do not devour them. I drive them to the folds, where I milk them twice a day. I move their folds and I make butter and cheese as well, and I am faithful to my lord.
Ælric, Colloquy (tr. Watkins)

Show courage and bravery in battle; fight with proper and effective blows, such as you have already learned, as if in the best of humor, though filled with noble wrath. Never fight with feigned strokes, needless thrusts, or uncertain shots like a frightened man. Heed these things well that you may be able to match your opponent’s skill in fighting. Be resolute in combat but not hot-headed and least of all boastful. Always re- member that there may be those who can give good testimony in your behalf: but never praise your own deeds.
from page 214 of The King’s Mirror (tr. Larson)

(With thanks from Regia mates: Hrolf Douglasson, Gary Golding, Rich Price, Kim Siddorn, Ali Vikingr and Paula Lofting Wilcox)

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