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Medieval and Classical Library



Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #29

       Now this is my first counsel,
       That thou with thy kin
     Be guiltless, guileless ever,
       Nor hasty of wrath,
       Despite of wrong done --
     Unto the dead good that doeth.

Lo the second counsel, That oath thou swearest never, But trusty oath and true: Grim tormenting Gripes troth-breakers; Cursed wretch is the wolf of vows.
This is my third rede, That thou at the Thing Deal not with the fools of folk; For unwise man From mouth lets fall Worser word than well he wotteth.
Yet hard it is That holding of peace When men shall deem thee dastard, Or deem the lie said soothly; But woeful is home-witness, Unless right good thou gettest it. Ah, on another day Drive the life from out him, And pay the liar back for his lying.
Now behold the fourth rede: If ill witch thee bideth, Woe-begatting by the way, Good going further Rather than guesting, Though thick night be on thee.
Far-seeing eyes Need all sons of men Who wend in wrath to war; For baleful women Bide oft by the highway, Swords and hearts to soften.
And now the fifth rede: As fair as thou seest Brides on the bench abiding, Let not love's silver Rule over thy sleeping; Draw no woman to kind kissing!
For the sixth thing, I rede When men sit a-drinking Amid ale-words and ill-words, Dead thou naught With the drunken fight-staves For wine stealeth wit from many.
Brawling and drink Have brought unto men Sorrow sore oft enow; Yea, bane unto some, And to some weary bale; Many are the griefs of mankind.
For the seventh, I rede thee, If strife thou raisest With a man right high of heart, Better fight a-field Than burn in the fire Within thine hall fair to behold.
The eighth rede that I give thee: Unto all ill look thou, And hold thine heart from all beguiling; Draw to thee no maiden, No man's wife bewray thou, Urge them not unto unmeet pleasure.
This is the ninth counsel: That thou have heed of dead folk Whereso thou findest them a-field; Be they sick-dead, Be they sea-dead, Or come to ending by war-weapons.
Let bath be made For such men fordone, Wash thou hands and feet thereof, Comb their hair and dry them Ere the coffin has them; Then bid them sleep full sweetly.
This for the tenth counsel: That thou give trust never Unto oaths of foeman's kin, Be'st thou bane of his brother, Or hast thou felled his father; Wolf in young son waxes, Though he with gold be gladdened.
For wrong and hatred Shall rest them never, Nay, nor sore sorrow. Both wit and weapons Well must the king have Who is fain to be the foremost.
The last rede and eleventh: Until all ill look thou. And watch thy friends' ways ever Scarce durst I look For long life for thee, king: Strong trouble ariseth now already.

Go to The Lay Called the Short Lay of Sigurd


(1) This continues the first part of the lay given in Chapter XX of the Saga; and is, in fact, the original verse of Chapter XXI.