aka The Exeter Book Maxims
proem —
Ask me about ancient words —
well, don’t keep yourself hidden,
making mystery of your deepest truth.
Why should I unravel you this cipher,
if you hoard your heart-thoughts,
your slick thinking from me? (1–3)
Those mindful must mix up their music.
A guy must give it up for god,
fairly & foremost, as our father
furbished for us at first
our life and delights, all on loan —
they would prefer it if we stayed
aware of the reward, our repayment. (4–6)
The measurer measures in glory
and humanity measures on earth:
the young measure the years in aging. (7–8a)
God will always be with us —
shit happens but doesn’t translate them,
tribulation never troubles them,
neither the fever nor the fading.
Are they not the almighty? (8b–10)
Will they ever wither in spirit?
Nope, they’re ever what they were,
prince of long patience.
They slipped us sensation,
thoughts of all sorts,
many manners of talk. (11–4)
Many are the lively, widely
entwining the many islands.
The measurer raised the roomy planes
all for humankind, lord almighty —
uprearing just as many
peoples & practices. (15–8a)
Let the old & wise klatsch
with the wise & old —
their inclinations match:
they’ll settle the scores,
the strife, teach comity
when miserable bastards
have carted it all away. (18b–21)
Scrying must be with the sage,
just deeds with the judicious,
decency with the decent —
the two just match together
just like woman & man
in their worldly ways
breed babies in burdening. (22–5a)
The tree tapped into the earth
loses its leaves, of course —
branches bereaved.
Those hurrying away will go,
those fated to die must die,
wriggling every day against
their parting from this middle place. (25b–9a)
The big comptroller alone
keeps count, knows where
the killing will chop down,
who chuffs them along
away from here, far from familiar.
Children crop up & are cropped
in turn by croups & coughs —
and so it goes for so much
of humankind everywhere.
There’s liable to be no limiting
the timberage of the multitudes
over the earth, if the one who
drew the world into being
didn’t frost their first growth. (29b–34)
It’s plain foolery to be the one
who does not know their lord,
to that one aforementioned
death often drops by uninvited.
Those who know fortress their soul,
keep their truth by walking right. (35–6)

How fortunate are those
Who thrive at home
and miserable-most those
who misleads their meinie.
They will never be bountiful
in their bread, ever bound
to beggary, season after season (35–38)
The heart empty of baleful malice
is ever gladdened. The blind
always feel their eyes’ loss,
sight of brilliance stripped away. (39–40)
Stars above never seen by them,
heavenly bright, the sun & the moon.
All that an agony inside —
a harrowing they alone know,
never weening some relief will arrive. (41–2)
Wielder of all welded them
this wrack, they alone can
toss them some redress,
wholeness of head-gems,
if they know their heart
be devoid of malice. (43–4)
Anyone who’s sick ought
to see the doctor, right?
One who knows ought
to school the youngers —
build them boldly,
stretch them strongly
so that they might know
how to do good things. (45–46a)
Teach teach teach —
teach until they are made
tame, polite in public.
Give them breads & threads,
until they spawn into their senses. (46b–47)
And don’t go dragging them down,
the younger child, before they
find room to emerge as their own —
this way, they ought to flourish
among their families, & maybe
grow up grounded in mind. (48–9)
A chud ought to chastise
their chuffling passions.
Tempests often trash the sea,
drag ocean into dismal tides —
they get them gussied up,
whet them up to crush
dusky waves from long
ways off up against the shore.
They can try & make a stand there…
The cliffs are walled against them —
and the wind’s no friend either. (50–3)
So the waters always smoothe,
when the winds don’t writhe them up.
Just like all the tribes will be as one,
when they are all set in tune,
hanging together in harmonious whole,
and heft their humanity. (54–7)
Fierce men have fierce natures.
A king yearns for dominion.
The loathsome lap up the lands,
the beloved lavish them out all the more.
Power attends upon pride,
audacity upon the audacious,
Both usually quick to make war. (58–61)
The noble practically live
up there on horseback.
Scrum of soldiery advances
in scrum. The boys on foot
better stand fast. It suits
a lady to wield her own
sort of board at home. (62–3)
Words sprout all about
a woman who wanders —
often the guys murmur
slanderous bullshit.
These boys don’t mean
her any good at all —
too often her beauty,
her charm is savaged. (63–4)
Someone shameful must needs
shuffle off to do something
naughty, get shady in shadow.
Business is best done in daylight.
The hand ever labors against the head.
One’s hoard is ready for the reaping.
The seat of generosity stands ready,
ready to be draped & dazzled —
the moment when menfolk
come forth to lavish him. (65–7)
One who’s grappled by gold
is gluttonous. The john on his throne
has plenty. There must be largesse,
if we don’t want to allot a lying name
to one slotted to bestow us mercy. (68–9)
Frost is there to freeze,
fire must melt the trees,
ground should get to growing,
the sound is bridged in floe-ing. (1–2)
The hood of waters shrouds
the groundlings of gardens,
locking them down wondrously —
There’s only one there to in-bond
these icy irons, the many-mighty god. (3–5)
Winter must pass by, other weather
passes through soon enough.
Summer is sweltering of sky,
unquieted the tides. (6–7)
Plunging the paths of the perished,
what’s left darksome lies longest.
Holly must be charred,
the remainder to be shared,
what’s left of the dead man.
Glory shall ever be most storied. (8–10)
The warlord wangles up a woman
with worthy wares, bowls & bangles.
Both tumble forth first if one’s
to be gracious with the gifts. (11–13a)
Warfaring fares in the warrior,
battle-bulging & bride-thriving —
praise among their people,
be light of mood, keep the secrets,
stay spacious inside, gracious
with the hooves & the hoards,
measureless in meadery,
basting one’s brothers — (13b–18a)
One such will always everywhere
be hedge for the haughty —
first to greet, first to approach,
first to reach out with cup
brimmed to the boss’s hand,
no delay there, sage offering,
to the hall’s owners, both together. (18b–22)
Keep your ship nailed up tight,
your shield bound as well,
those linden boards are light.
A welcomed cherishable
to a Frisian woman
when the boat is ported. (23–5)
His ship is come in,
her faithful come home,
her own, her food-provider,
and she leads him inside,
washes his soiled garb,
gives him something new —
lays mild on land after
he lays on his love. (26–9)
A woman ought to keep
pledge with her man —
often once again, the guys
murmur slanderous bullshit.
Many have planted their thoughts —
others still are so hot to trot,
keeping arrangements with strangers
when her other rides the range. (30–2)
A sailor always longs on the sea,
dude ever dreaming of his dear
no less, longing for one
he cannot make come. (33–4a)
Whenever the chance, he comes
home, if he feels well in his bones,
unless the sea should get in his way —
the waters ultimately plays
his pleasure in keeping her. (34b–6)

One blessed in business
picks up a kingly home,
a bargain from the people,   
when they sail home,
tacking to both timber & trickle,
then they’ll have their own dwelling —
purchasing provender,
whenever they need more,
before they pitch too puny. (37–40)
One who eats too infrequently
languishes, falls ill —
even though one leads them
into sunlight, no one can thrive
by the weather alone,
no matter how warm it may be
in the summer, they’ll succumb,
suffer before they are slain:
Bad news for those who don’t know
who provides them their living:
Girder your gusto with good eats. (41–4a)
Torts most terrible go
in the ground, down
in the dirt, deemed
never to be disclosed —
one couldn’t suppose
this any suitable slaying,
when skulled so secretly? (44b–6)
The wretched must wheedle,
contagion must crumple —
the just must justify.
Wise counsel is most useful
in a pinch, the foolish less so —
the foolish follow it anyway.
The good will ever endure —
she’s derived from “god.” (47–50)
Thoughts must be clutched,
hands must be watched:
keep the pupil in your eye
your breast-wisdom inside,
where inner imaginings hide.
Any mouth yearns for morsel.
Begin the banquet on time. (51–4)
It’s right for gold to sweep
down from warrior swords,
winning tackle well-spackled —
tracks as true for treasure
to trickle in by marriage,
lords afforded their singers —
they’re suitable enough, I guess —
javelined malice for warriors,
amassing clash to clang
against the goodwill of granges.
Shield is to soldier. Shafts to reavers.
Bride to rings. Scholars to books.
Host to holy men. Heathens to sin. (55–61)
Woden built himself some idols,
the All-wielding glory,
the widest of skies —
that’s a hi-powered lord,
true king themselves,
salvager of souls —
who renders upon us all
what provender we live on
and again, at the verymost
ending, wielding the whole of us,
all humankind. How’s that
for a Measurer? (62–7)
One ought to speak sense,
scribble their secrets,
sing out their songs,
merit their favor,
stretch out their glory —
and hustle every day. (1–3)
Anyone well-heeled needs
a worthy steed, brought to heel:
with proper papers, proven
track record & new-shoed to boot.
No human bean can scoop
together too many beans. (4–6)
It’s well a guy should hold
his drink along every road.
so often one stumbles
upon some town, where
no chum is known to him
for sure. Unfellowed,
an ill-faring fellow finds
himself wolves as confreres
 — you know the type —
creatures of many twists & turns. (7–10a)
Frequently, friends like that
fret at him, fray him.
He ought to be over-awed
by that grey bloke:
the grave yawps for the dead,
moans in need, for feeding,
not at all wrapped in woe —
truly, the grizzled wolf
doesn’t weep over the slaughter,
dudes’ devious unaliving —
only & always, wishing for more. (10b–14)
There must be bandage
for wounds, exile for
the unrelenting.
The bow needs its arrow,
both fellowed in their like,
one well-met as make. (15–7a)
Worthable things worthy
those around you:
one ought to give out gold.
God can bestow the goods
to the fortunate — and
snatch them back just the same. (17b–9)
Hall must tower, itself crumbling.
Wood lying prostrate grows least.
Trees must flourish, truth fledge forth,
she seeds throughout balmier breasts. (20–3)
Untrustworthy & overventured,
anyone vicious or treacherous,
god doesn’t care much for this sort.
The measurer measured out
a bunch like this from the jump —
named ever since as they’ve gone forth. (24–6)
Well-chosen words fall
to anyone honest, verses
to minstrels, wisdom
to seasoned men. (27–8)
So many humans across
the world, so many heart
thoughts — all of them
have different minds. (29–30)
Much less one feels lonely
when one knows a whole
slew of tunes, or how to
hold the harp in hands.
That one groks their gifts
of music, which god graced them. (31–3)
Miserable the one who must
exist alone, dwelling friendless,
future has been fixed for them. (34–5)
It would be better if they
had a brother, both of them
of single stock — noble sprouts,
should a boar badger them
both, or else a bear —
those are some nasty brutes. (36–8)
These scrappy lads maybe
ought to be well-trained —
always sleep together.
Never will they,
each one to another,
be marked too foul,
before death do them part.  (39–41)
Two of them will come
to lie at leisure, make sport
together — while their
rage slides off the page,
letting fade their shitty fates,
having themselves some
pleasure on this sort of board. (42–3)
Hands at play suit the playful,
when the chads sit chancing. —
though seldom in boat’s
broad bosom, except
while sailing under sail. (44–6)
You know that a boy winds
weary rowing into the wind —
often the other bangs on
the bædling in oh so many ways —
until his starch is spent
and his paddle lies drying on deck. (46–7)
A lie to cloak what’s naughty:
desire for what seems fit.
In this way the token is stolen.
Often they weave about, waver in,
waste their words, before
they should withdraw, parting ways.
But where to is the real puzzle, eh? (48–52)
The grudge ground on from
the jump for all humankind —
ever since the ground
gulfed down Abel’s gore. (53–4a)
Hardly the only day
for such dastardly malice —
No, truly an explosion
from that miserable misting
splattering far & wide:
a mighty calamity across
humanity, malevolence
well-stewed for them,
this multitude of tribes. (54b–57a)
Beloved brother smashed
flat — by Cain, whom death
delayed in his cropping.
Afterwards the infamy
flamed flung — & such
enduring animosity worried
at all the weaponed. (57b–59a)
And so they geared into
this gauntlet of glaives
against this gentry
here & there & everywhere
all across this globe,
brainstorming & bending them
into the slaughtering blade. (59b–61)
Let battle-boards be embossed,
the shafts be enspeared.
Let swords keen their edge
and javelins true their jag —
stormy warriors stack
themselves in swagger (62–4a)
Helmets go for the vehement,
and the puniest of payouts
for those of simpering soul. (64b–5)