Old English





The Wanderer

Oft him anhaga     are gebideð,
Often the solitary one finds grace for himself
metudes miltse,     þeah þe he modcearig 
the mercy of the Lord, Although he, sorry-hearted,
geond lagulade     longe sceolde	
must for a long time move by hand [in context = row]
hreran mid hondum     hrimcealde sæ	
along the waterways, (along) the ice-cold sea,
wadan wræclastas.     Wyrd bið ful aræd!		
tread the paths of exile. Events always go as they must!
    Swa cwæð eardstapa,     earfeþa gemyndig, 	
So spoke the wanderer, mindful of hardships,
wraþra wælsleahta,     winemæga hryre: 	
of fierce slaughters and the downfall of kinsmen:
Oft ic sceolde ana     uhtna gehwylce	
Often (or always) I had alone to speak of my trouble
mine ceare cwiþan.     Nis nu cwicra nan	
each morning before dawn. There is none now living
þe ic him modsefan     minne durre
to whom I dare clearly speak
sweotule asecgan.     Ic to soþe wat	
of my innermost thoughts. I know it truly,
þæt biþ in eorle     indryhten þeaw,
that it is in men a noble custom,
þæt he his ferðlocan     fæste binde,		
that one should keep secure his spirit-chest (mind),
healde his hordcofan,     hycge swa he wille.	
guard his treasure-chamber (thoughts), think as he wishes.
Ne mæg werig mod     wyrde wiðstondan,	
The weary spirit cannot withstand fate (the turn of events),
ne se hreo hyge     helpe gefremman.	
nor does a rough or sorrowful mind do any good (perform anything helpful).
Forðon domgeorne     dreorigne oft	
Thus those eager for glory often keep secure
in hyra breostcofan     bindað fæste;	
dreary thoughts in their breast;
swa ic modsefan     minne sceolde,	
So I, often wretched and sorrowful,
oft earmcearig,     eðle bidæled,  
bereft of my homeland, far from noble kinsmen	
freomægum feor     feterum sælan,	
have had to bind in fetters my inmost thoughts,
siþþan geara iu     goldwine minne	 
Since long years ago I hid my lord
hrusan heolstre biwrah,     ond ic hean þonan	
in the darkness of the earth, and I, wretched, from there
wod wintercearig     ofer waþema gebind,	 
travelled most sorrowfully over the frozen waves,
sohte seledreorig     sinces bryttan,	 
sought, sad at the lack of a hall, a giver of treasure,
hwær ic feor oþþe neah     findan meahte	 
where I, far or near, might find
þone þe in meoduhealle     mine wisse,
one in the meadhall who knew my people,
oþþe mec freondleasne     frefran wolde,	
or wished to console the friendless one, me,
wenian mid wynnum.     Wat se þe cunnað	 
entertain (me) with delights. He who has tried it knows
hu sliþen bið     sorg to geferan	
how cruel is sorrow as a companion
þam þe him lyt hafað     leofra geholena:	
to the one who has few beloved friends:
warað hine wræclast,     nales wunden gold,
the path of exile holds him, not at all twisted gold,	 
ferðloca freorig,     nalæs foldan blæd.
a frozen spirit, not the bounty of the earth.  
Gemon he selesecgas     ond sincþege,
He remembers hall-warriors and the giving of treasure	 
hu hine on geoguðe     his goldwine
How in youth his lord (gold-friend) accustomed him
wenede to wiste     Wyn eal gedreas!	
to the feasting. All the joy has died!
    Forþon wat se þe sceal     his winedryhtnes	
And so he knows it, he who must forgo for a long time
leofes larcwidum     longe forþolian:
the counsels of his beloved lord:
ðonne sorg ond slæð     somod ætgædre
Then sorrow and sleep both together
earmne anhogan     oft gebindað.	
often tie up the wretched solitary one.
þinceð him on mode     þæt he his mondryhten	
He thinks in his mind that he embraces and kisses
clyppe ond cysse,     ond on cneo lecge
his lord, and on his (the lord's) knees lays
honda ond heafod,     swa he hwilum ær
his hands and his head, just as, at times, before,
in geardagum     giefstolas breac.	
in days gone by, he enjoyed the gift-seat (throne)
Ðonne onwæcneð eft     wineleas guma,	
Then the friendless man wakes up again,
gesihð him biforan     fealwe wegas,
He sees before him fallow waves
baþian brimfuglas,     brædan feþra,	
Sea birds bathe, preening their feathers,
hreosan hrim ond snaw     hagle gemenged.
Frost and snow fall, mixed with hail.
     Þonne beoð þy hefigran     heortan benne,	
Then are the heavier the wounds of the heart,
sare æfter swæsne.     Sorg bið geniwad	
grievous with longing for the lord. Sorrow is renewed
þonne maga gemynd     mod geondhweorfeð;
when the mind (mod) surveys the memory of kinsmen;	 
greteð gliwstafum,     georne geondsceawað
He greets them joyfully, eagerly scans 
secga geseldan;     swimmað oft on weg
the companions of men; they always swim away. 
fleotendra ferð     no þær fela bringeð	
The spirits of seafarers never bring back there much
cuðra cwidegiedda.     Cearo bið geniwad	
in the way of known speech. Care is renewed
þam þe sendan sceal     swiþe geneahhe
for the one who must send very often	
ofer waþema gebind     werigne sefan.
over the binding of the waves a weary heart.
    Forþon ic geþencan ne mæg     geond þas woruld	
Indeed I cannot think why my spirit
for hwan modsefa     min ne gesweorce
does not darken when I ponder on the whole 
þonne ic eorla lif     eal geondþence,	
life of men throughout the world,
hu hi færlice     flet ofgeafon,	
How they suddenly left the floor (hall),
modge maguþegnas.     Swa þes middangeard	
the proud thanes. So this middle-earth,
ealra dogra gehwam     dreoseð ond fealleð;
a bit each day, droops and decays -	 
forþon ne mæg weorþan wis     wer, ær he age
Therefore man cannot call himself wise, before he has	
wintra dæl in woruldrice.     Wita sceal geþyldig,	
a share of years in the world. A wise man must be patient,
ne sceal no to hatheort     ne to hrædwyrde,	 
He must never be too impulsive nor too hasty of speech,
ne to wac wiga     ne to wanhydig,	
nor too weak a warrior nor too reckless,
ne to forht ne to fægen,     ne to feohgifre	
nor too fearful, nor too cheerful, nor too greedy for goods,
ne næfre gielpes to georn,     ær he geare cunne.	
nor ever too eager for boasts, before he sees clearly.
Beorn sceal gebidan,     þonne he beot spriceð,	
A man must wait when he speaks oaths,
oþþæt collenferð     cunne gearwe	
until the proud-hearted one sees clearly
hwider hreþra gehygd     hweorfan wille.	 
whither the intent of his heart will turn.
Ongietan sceal gleaw hæle     hu gæstlic bið,
A wise hero must realize how terrible it will be,
þonne ealre þisse worulde wela     weste stondeð,	 
when all the wealth of this world lies waste,
swa nu missenlice     geond þisne middangeard	
as now in various places 	throughout this middle-earth
winde biwaune     weallas stondaþ,	
walls stand, blown by the wind,
hrime bihrorene,     hryðge þa ederas.
covered with frost, storm-swept the buildings.
Woriað þa winsalo,     waldend licgað
The halls decay, their lords lie 
dreame bidrorene,     duguþ eal gecrong,	
deprived of joy, 	the whole troop has fallen,
wlonc bi wealle.     Sume wig fornom,
the proud ones, by the wall. War took off some,	 
ferede in forðwege,     sumne fugel oþbær	
carried them on their way, the bird took off
ofer heanne holm,     sumne se hara wulf
across the deep sea, one, the gray wolf	 
deaðe gedælde,     sumne dreorighleor
shared one with death, shared one with death, 
in eorðscræfe     eorl gehydde.	 
man buried in a grave.
Yþde swa þisne eardgeard     ælda scyppend	
And so He destroyed this city, He, the Creator of Men,
oþþæt burgwara     breahtma lease	 
until deprived of the noise of the citizens,
eald enta geweorc     idlu stodon.
the ancient work of giants stood empty.	 
    Se þonne þisne wealsteal     wise geþohte
He who thought wisely on this foundation,	 
ond þis deorce lif     deope geondþenceð,	
and pondered deeply on this dark life,
frod in ferðe,     feor oft gemon	
wise in spirit, remembered often from afar
wælsleahta worn,     ond þas word acwið:	
many conflicts, and spoke these words:
Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?     Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
Where is the horse gone? Where the rider? Where the giver of the treasure?	
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?     Hwær sindon seledreamas?	
Where are the seats at the feast? Where are the revels in the hall?
Eala beorht bune!     Eala byrnwiga!	 
Alas for the bright cup! Alas for the mailed warrior!
Eala þeodnes þrym!     Hu seo þrag gewat,	  
Alas for the splendour of the prince! How that time has passed away,
genap under nihthelm,     swa heo no wære.
dark under the cover of night, as if it had never been!	 
Stondeð nu on laste     leofre duguþe	
Now there stands in the trace of the beloved troop
weal wundrum heah,     wyrmlicum fah.
a wall, wondrously high, wound round with serpents.
Eorlas fornoman     asca þryþe,
The warriors taken off by the glory of spears,	
wæpen wælgifru,     wyrd seo mære,	
the weapons greedy for slaughter, the famous fate (turn of events),
ond þas stanhleoþu     stormas cnyssað,	
and storms beat these rocky cliffs,
hrið hreosende     hrusan bindeð,	
falling frost fetters the earth,
wintres woma,     þonne won cymeð,
the harbinger of winter; Then dark comes,
nipeð nihtscua,     norþan onsendeð	
night shadows deepen, from the north there comes
hreo hæglfare     hæleþum on andan.	
a rough hailstorm in malice against men.
Eall is earfoðlic     eorþan rice,
All is troublesome in this earthly kingdom,
onwendeð wyrda gesceaft     weoruld under heofonum.	
the turn of events changes the world under the heavens.
Her bið feoh læne,     her bið freond læne,	
Here money is fleeting, here friend is fleeting,
her bið mon læne,     her bið mæg læne,	
here man is fleeting, here kinsman is fleeting,
eal þis eorþan gesteal     idel weorþeð!
all the foundation of this world	turns to waste!
    Swa cwæð snottor on mode,     gesæt him sundor æt rune.	
So spake the wise man in his mind, where he sat apart in counsel.
Til biþ se þe his treowe gehealdeþ,     ne sceal næfre his torn to recent
Good is he who keeps his faith, And a warrior must never speak
beorn of his breostum acyþan,     nemþe he ær þa bote cunne,	
his grief of his breast too quickly, unless he already knows the remedy -
eorl mid elne gefremman.     Wel bið þam þe him are seceð,
a hero must act with courage. It is better for the one that seeks mercy,
frofre to Fæder on heofonum,     þær us eal seo fæstnung stondeð.	
consolation from the father in the heavens, where, for us, all permanence rests.