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Old English Maxims for Barding: On Friendship and Sorrow


Often a man passes around a town, where no friend is known.

Friendless, a miserable man will take a wolf for his companions,

a very shifty animal. Very often such friends tear at him—

Blessed is the one who thrives in his homeland, 

wretched he who his friends betray.

A man must keep his friend well in every way—

The bow must be for the arrow, they shall be like

a close pair together. 

Those two shall sit about playing at dice,

from there their misery recedes,

forgetting the harshness of the world,

having themselves some fun at the table—

the idle hand is enough for the leisurely

for the dicing of men, when they’re casting stones.

Woe is wondrously tenacious—the clouds keep rolling.

Wretched is he who must live alone,

abide friendless—events have ordained this for him—

it would be better for him that he had a brother, 

if a boar must attack them or a bear bear them down—that is a cruel-pawed beast.

He longs the less when he knows a multitude of songs,

or knows how to touch the harp with his hands—

he holds the gift of music that God gave to him.

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