Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0015807, Thu, 13 Dec 2007 10:00:54 -0500

THOUGHTS: Zemblan Havamal
What follows may be already known to many--so much so that it has escaped
comment by critics of PF?--but it was news to me, so I will share. In PF,
note to line 79, Kinbote gives us the "charming quatrain" from the "Zemblan
counterpart of the Elder Edda."

The wise at nightfall praise the day,
The wife when she has passed away,
The ice when it is crossed, the bride
When tumbled, and the horse when tried.

Is it common knowledge that this quatrain is based on a similar passage in
the Elder Edda's "Havamal" (str. 81)? Here it is:

Praise the day at even, a wife when dead,
a weapon when tried, a maid when married,
ice when 'tis crossed, and ale when 'tis drunk.

I don't attach much significance to the differences between the two (except
perhaps in the addition of "tumbled") but as I said, it was news to me that
there exists a true source for the Zemblan quatrain.

Oh, and shouldn't the "ice when crossed" bit make us think of Hazel?

Matt Roth

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