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No man is wise until he lives many winters – from “The Wanderer”

No man is wise until he lives many wintersIn the kingdom of the world The wise must be patient,
Never too hasty with feelings nor too hot with words
Nor too weak as a warrior nor too witlessly brash
Nor too fearful nor too ready nor too greedy for reward
Nor even too feverish for boasting until testing his fibre.
A man should wait before he makes a vow
Until, like a true warrior, he eagerly tests
Which way the courage of his heart will course.
The good warrior must understand how ghostly it will be
When all this world of wealth stands wasted
As now in many places about this massive earth
Walls stand battered by the wind,
Covered by frost, the roofs collapsed.
The wine halls crumbled; the warriors lie dead,
Cut off from joy; the great troop all crumpled
Proud by the wall. One war took,
Led to his death. One a bird lifted
Over the high sea. One the hoary wolf
Broke with death. One, bloody-cheeked,
A warrior hid in a hole in the ground.
Likewise God destroyed this earthly dwelling
Until the strongholds of the giants stood empty,
Without the sounds of joy of the city-dwellers.”

Then the wise man thinks about the wall
And deeply considers this dark life.
From times far away the wanderer recalls
The deadly slashes and says,
“What happened to the horse? What happened to the warrior? What happened to the gift-giver?
What happened to the wine hall? Where are the sounds ofjoy?
Ea-la bright beaker! Ea-la byrnied warrior!
Ea-la the chiefs majesty! How those moments went,
Grayed in the night as if they never were!
A wall still stands near the tracks of the warriors,
Wondrously high! Worms have stained it.
A host of spears hungry for carnage
Destroyed the men, that marvelous fate!
Storms beat these stone cliffs,
A blanket of frost binds the earth,
Winter is moaning! When the mists darken
And night descends, the north delivers
A fury of hail in hatred at men.
All is wretched in the realm of the earth;
The way of fate changes the world under heaven.
Here is treasure lent, here is a friend lent,
Here is a man lent, here is a kinsman lent.
All of the earth will be empty!”

So spoke the wise in heart; he sits alone with his mystery.
He is good to keep faith; grief must never escape
A man’s heart too quickly unless with his might like a true
He has sought a lasting boon. It is best for him who seeks love,
Help from the heavenly Father where all stands firm.