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I came across this expression while I was reading "Asgard Stories". This is a dialogue between Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost, the "trembling bridge", and Odin. Because of his good work, Odin says very nice things about him.

It is well for us that we have such a faithful guardian of the "trembling bridge"; if it were not for you, Heimdall, our enemies might long ago have taken Asgard by storm. You are so watchful, you can hear the grass grow in the fields, and the wool gather on the backs of the sheep, and you need less sleep than a bird. I myself stand in great wisdom, in order to take care of such faithful servants, and to drive back such wicked enemies!

I can't really understand it. I don't know if this is en idiom or not. If you could tell me another way of saying it or something like that, I'd appreciate it.

  • (a) How many distinct hits on Google and (b) what evidence of frequency of usage does Google Ngram Viewer give for the expression? – Edwin Ashworth Apr 27 '15 at 7:27
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The quotation as given by the OP is inaccurate because two crucial words are missing from it. Here is the actual quote from Mabel Cummings & Mary Foster, Asgard Stories: Tales from Norse Mythology (1901):

"It is indeed a most important errand, and I must hasten on," replied Odin. "It is well for us that we have such a faithful guardian of the 'trembling bridge'; if it were not for you, Heimdall, our enemies might long ago have taken Asgard by storm. You are so watchful, you can hear the grass grow in the fields, and the wool gather on the backs of the sheep, and you need less sleep than a bird. I myself stand in great need of wisdom, in order to take care of such faithful servants, and to drive back such wicked enemies!"

[Missing words appear in bold type above.]

The story in which the quotation appears describes how Odin gains great wisdom by drinking water from Mimir's Well—but at the cost of losing an eye, the price demanded for such a drink.

Odin tells Heimdall that he is in great need of wisdom because—as overseer of the world of men, protector of the Norse gods, and chief strategist against the frost giants of Jotunheim and their allies—he feels strongly that he needs more knowledge and understanding than he possesses (before drinking at Mimir's Well). That's all there is to the expression "I myself stand in great need of wisdom"; there is no mysterious wording or hidden meaning.

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It's inspired from the Bible:

http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/2-5.htm

King James Bible

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

English Standard Version

so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God

IMO,

I myself stand in great wisdom = I rely on great wisdom

or

I proceed/act with great wisdom (the latter being massively self-important, of course)

A blathering character in this context, all in all:-)

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