Havamal – Stanza 1
Havamal – Stanza 1

Old Norse

Gáttir allar
áður gangi fram
um skoðast skyli,
um skyggnast skyli,
því að óvíst er að vita
hvar óvinir
sitja á fleti fyrir.

English Translations

The man who stands at a strange threshold,
Should be cautious before he cross it,
Glance this way and that:
Who knows beforehand what foes may sit
Awaiting him in the hall?

-Auden & Taylor

At every door-way,
ere one enters,
one should spy round,
one should pry round
for uncertain is the witting
that there be no foeman sitting,
within, before one on the floor


All door-ways, before going forward,
should be looked to;
for difficult it is to know where foes may sit
within a dwelling.


My Understanding

This is a fairly easy-to-understand Stanza. Here Odin is simply telling us to look around before entering a room. In the same way, you see in movies how police or military “clear” a room. Look for enemies and proceed with caution. You never know who may be lying in wait to attack. Be a smart guest. A fool trusts completely. A wise person remains aware and alert. 

I believe this stanza has meaning beyond looking around doors. It teaches us to be cautious and wise in all of our travels. If we don’t watch out for our own backs, we can be taken by surprise. 

Basic Lessons

– Think before Acting –

– Approach with a Plan –

– Always be Aware –

Have Questions?

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