Hávamál Study

Hávamál 4

Vatns er þörf þeim er til
verðar kemr, þerru ok þjóðlaðar,
góðs of æðis ef sér geta mætti
orðs ok endrþögu.
The one who just arrived,
needs food and drink, dry clothes, and a warm welcome,
from a friendly host, and if possible,
a listening ear and wise counsel.

Terryn Dave
Hávamál 4

Stanza 4 is a continuation of Stanza 3.
Much of Stanza 4 I have also involved in the explanation of Stanza 3 and is also for the hospitality part.
Especially the piece about food and drink for your guests.

Stanza 3 also explained the warm welcome from a friendly host.

What is now added to this is the piece of a listening ear and wise counsel.

What a listening ear means is probably clear to everyone and does not require much explanation.
A listening ear is often what people can appreciate who need it, just listen, listen sincerely or as is sometimes said in popular speech, let your guests open their hearts if they think it necessary.
Sometimes it can be difficult to really listen to someone without diverting the conversation to something else, really listening to someone is a form of respect and paying tribute to that person, you want to hear what they say, sometimes someone wants to vent but it never gets to the essence, often people talk side by side and not to each other or with each other.

As I said in Stanza 3, it is not money that is the most sustainable in the world, but time, if you really respect and honor someone, give them your time and take the time to do so.
No hasty or superficial conversation like you do with a random person.
We live in a fleeting time, everything is rushed and timed, often people pay a lot of money to free up some time, babysitting, housekeeping, dog walkers, having someone run errands, and so on.
None of this would be necessary if time were not so precious.

But what you should never forget is that in the end time is the only thing you will never be able to buy, even if you are the richest person on earth, when your time is up you will not be able to buy an extra second.
Listen what is dear to your guest, often the only thing that person wants is someone who listens sincerely, of course I understand that you cannot just keep listening to someone every moment, but if you really have someone as a guest you have to allow time. So if someone is a guest you really have to make time for it.

How many dramas would have been avoided if only one had listened to another?

While a problem may be futile to you, it may seem insurmountable to your guest, a vision from someone else who has first listened to the problem may be what brings a fresh look at the problem, and possibly the solution in the form of wise counsel.
Giving wise advice is not always easy, what is wise to one may seem stupid to another.

You can always provide sincere advice but always make sure that you are given advice out of honor if you want to do this, never give any advice that could get your guest into further trouble.
Ultimately, you will not be thanked for this.
So as advice on wise counseling, do not give too hasty advice if you are not sure whether that could be a good solution.
Your guest will appreciate your honesty, much more than false advice.
This will be clarified later in another stanza.

Another point is something that is very easily overlooked by many.
The Stanza makes it clear that our ancestors valued cleanliness and hygiene at a time in history when it was not always at the top of every culture’s list of values.

The other translators’ versions all seem to go in the same direction, so it doesn’t take much additional explenation .


Translations by other translators:

Elsa-Brita TitchenellMarcel Otten
He needs water that comes to hishost,
a towel and a greeting;
A warm welcome for someone who wants to have a conversation and is looking for a friendly ear.
Give him water who comes to eat
a towel
a warm welcome warmth and words of praise a welcome and silence to his story.
Auden en TaylorBellows
Water, too, that he may wash before eating,
Handcloth’s and a hearty welcome,
Courteous words, then courteous silence
That he may tell his tale .
Water and towels | and welcoming speech
Should he find who comes, to the feast;
If renown he would get, | and again be greeted,
Wisely and well must he act.
He craves for water, who comes for refreshment,
drying and friendly bidding,
marks of good will, fair fame if ’tis won,
and welcome once and again.
Water is needful, for he who comes for a meal,
drying and friendly words as well,
and, if he can get them, kindness, good words,
and welcome again.
A drink needeth to full dishes who cometh,
a towel, and the prayer to partake;
good bearing eke, to be well liked
and be bidden to banquet again.
There must be water when guests come to a meal,
towels and a welcome to the table;
it’s good manners to give them both
talk and a turn to speak.
Water to him is needful
who for refection comes,
a towel and hospitable invitation,
a good reception;
if he can get it,
discourse and answer.

© The Honest Heathen 2020