er með aldir kømr
þat er bazt at hann þegi
engi þat veit
at hann ekki kann
name hann mæli til mart
hinn er vætki veit
þótt hann mæli til mart
The foolish man in company
does best if he stays silent,
no one will know that he knows nothing,
unless he talks too much;
but the man who knows nothing does not know
even if he is talking too much
This is one of the most important stanza’s from the Havamal.
When you are in a situation where you are unsure of what is being discussed – you don’t understand the topic or you know little or next to nothing about it, sit silently and listen.
If you pretend to know something about it, you will be caught out by the others in the discussion.
In Havamal 7, Odin says “Much wisdom can be learned from quiet observation”. This is a lesson we can take with us into our daily lives. Learning to listen to what is going on around us is one of the best ways to learn.
(Translation courtesy of “The Poetic Edda” translated by Carolyne Larrington,
Oxford World’s Classics found here)