[Sometimes known as the “Cotton Maxims” or the “Cotton Gnomes”]
A king must keep the realm. A city seen from afar,
the cunning work of giants, some remain upon the earth,
the ornate handiwork of wall-stones. The wind is the swiftest in the sky—
thunder is loudest in the moment. Christ’s powers are mighty.
The way of the world is greatest. Winter is the coldest,
the spring most icy—it’s cold for the longest—
the summer the most sun-beautiful—the heaven is hottest—
the harvest is most blessed, it brings to men
the whole year’s crops, what God sends to them.
The truth is very tricky, treasure the dearest,
and gold is for every man, the old man is the wisest,
aged in ancient years, who has experienced many events.
Woe is wondrously tenacious—the clouds keep rolling.
Excellent comrades must build up
the young noble in battle and the ring-giving.
The earl must be courageous,
the blade must await the helmet in warfare.
The wild hawk must abide upon the glove.
The wolf must live in the grove,
a miserable lone-dweller, the boar in the forest,
Firm in its toothy power. An excellent man
must work glory in his homeland.
A javelin must rest in the palm,
a spear gold-splattered. A gem must be in the ring
standing high and wide. The river must mix up
with the waves, the tidal flood. A mast must be on the ship,
the sail-yard hanging. The sword must be in the lap,
the lordly iron. The dragon must be in the barrow,
aged, proud in treasure. The fish must be in the water,
propagating its kind. The king must wait in the hall,
dealing in rings. The bear must be on the heath,
old and terrible. The rivers runs downhill,
flowing as grey as the sea. An army must stand together,
a band ready for glory. Troth must in the earl,
wisdom in the man. The woods must be on the earth,
blossoming with blooms. A hill must be upon the earth,
towering green. God must be in heaven,
the Judge of Deeds. A door must be on the hall,
the spacious building mouth. The boss must be on the shield,
the fixed shelter for fingers. The fowl must be in the sky,
bouncing on the breeze. The salmon must be in the pool,
shooting with the trout. The rainstorm must be in the sky,
blending up the winds, coming into the world.
A thief must go in the shadowy weather. The ogre lives in the marsh,
alone deep in the water. A lady must with secret skill,
a woman seeking her lover, if she does not wish to thrive
among her people, so that one buys her off with rings.
The ocean water must swarm with salt,
the sky-helmet, the watery flood
around each and every land,
flowing mountainous streams.
Money must be in the earth,
breeding, growing stronger—
The star must be in the heavens,
shining brightly, just as the Measurer ordained.
Good must stand against evil, youth against age—
life must be against death, light against the shadows,
army arranged against army, an enemy against its opposite,
hated against hateful, contending for land,
charging them with crimes. A wise man must always ponder
about the struggles of this world, the accursed must hang,
repaying fairly what crimes he committed
against mankind. The Measurer alone knows
where the soul must turn in the hereafter,
and all the spirits must depart who go before God
after their death-day, awaiting judgment
in the embrace of the Father. Future creation
is secret and obscure—the Lord alone knows,
the Delivering Father. None ever come back
hither under the roofs, who, truth be told,
may say to men what the Measurer might be like,
or the seats of victorious people, where they themselves dwell.