Old English




The Seafarer

Mæg ic be me sylfum     soðgied wrecan, 
I can make a true song about me myself,
siþas secgan,     hu ic geswincdagum 
tell my travels, how I often endured
earfoðhwile     oft þrowade, 
days of struggle, troublesome times,
bitre breostceare     gebiden hæbbe, 
[how I] have suffered grim sorrow at heart,
gecunnad in ceole     cearselda fela, 
have known in the ship many worries [abodes of care],
atol yþa gewealc,     þær mec oft bigeat 
the terrible tossing of the waves, where the anxious night watch
nearo nihtwaco     æt nacan stefnan,
often took me at the ship's prow,
þonne he be clifum cnossað.    Calde geþrungen 
when it tossed near the cliffs. Fettered by cold
wæron mine fet,     forste gebunden 
were my feet,  bound by frost
caldum clommum,     þær þa ceare seofedun 
in cold clasps, where then cares seethed
hat ymb heortan;     hungor innan slat 
hot about my heart a hunger tears from within
merewerges mod.    Þæt se mon ne wat
the sea-weary soul. This the man does not know
þe him on fold    fægrost limpeð, 
for whom on land it turns out most favourably,
hu ic earmcearig     iscealdne sæ 
how I, wretched and sorrowful, on the ice-cold sea
winter wunade     wræccan lastum, 
dwelt for a winter in the paths of exile,
winemægum bidroren, 
bereft of friendly kinsmen, 	
bihongen hrimgicelum;     hægl scurum fleag. 
hung about with icicles; hail flew in showers.
þær ic ne gehyrde     butan hlimman sæ, 
There I heard nothing but the roaring sea,
iscaldne wæg.     Hwilum ylfete song 
the ice-cold wave. At times the swan's song
dyde ic me to gomene,     ganotes hleoþor
I took to myself as pleasure, the gannet's noise
ond huilpan sweg     fore hleahtor wera, 
and the voice of the curlew instead of the laughter of men,
mæw singende     fore medodrince.	
the singing gull instead of the drinking of mead.
Stormas þær stanclifu beotan,     þær him stearn oncwæð, 
Storms there beat the stony cliffs, where the tern spoke,
isigfeþera;     ful oft þæt earn bigeal, 
icy-feathered; always the eagle cried at it,
urigfeþra;     nænig hleomæga 
dewy-feathered; no cheerful kinsmen
feasceaftig ferð     frefran meahte. 
can comfort the poor soul.
    Forþon him gelyfeð lyt,     se þe ah lifes wyn 
Indeed he credits it little, the one who has the joys of life,
gebiden in burgum,     bealosiþa hwon, 
dwells in the city, far from terrible journey,
wlonc ond wingal,     hu ic werig oft 
proud and wanton with wine, how I, weary, often
in brimlade      bidan sceolde.    
have had to endure in the sea-paths.
Nap nihtscua,     norþan sniwde, 
The shadows of night darkened, it snowed from the north,
hrim hrusan bond,     hægl feol on eorþan, 
frost bound the ground, hail fell on the earth,
corna caldast.      Forþon cnyssað nu 
coldest of grains. Indeed, now they are troubled,
heortan geþohtas     þæt ic hean streamas, 
the thoughts of my heart, that I myself should strive with
sealtyþa gelac     sylf cunnige 
the high streams, the tossing of salt waves --
monað modes lust     mæla gehwylce 
he wish of my heart urges all the time
ferð to feran,     þæt ic feor heonan 
my spirit to go forth, that I, far from here,
elþeodigra     eard gesece 
should seek the homeland of a foreign people --
Forþon nis þæs modwlonc     mon ofer eorþan, 
Indeed there is not so proud-spirited a man in the world,
ne his gifena þæs god,     ne in geoguþe to þæs hwæt, 
nor so generous of gifts, nor so bold in his youth,
ne in his dædum to þæs deor,     ne him his dryhten to þæs hold, 
nor so brave in his deeds, nor so dear to his lord,
þæt he a his sæfore     sorge næbbe, 
that he never in his seafaring has a worry,
to hwon hine Dryhten    gedon wille. 
as to what his Lord will do to him.
Ne biþ him to hearpan huge    ne to hringþege	
Not for him is the sound of the harp nor the giving of rings
ne to wife wyn      ne to worulde hyht	
nor pleasure in woman nor worldly glory --
ne ymbe owiht elles     nefne ymb yða gewealc; 
nor anything at all unless the tossing of waves;
ac a hafað longunge     se þe on lagu fundað. 
but he always has a longing, he who strives on the waves.
Bearwas blostmum nimað,     byrig fægriað, 
Groves take on blossoms, the cities grow fair,
wongas wlitigað,     woruld onetteð: 
the fields are comely, he world seems new:
ealle þa gemoniað	    modes fusne 
all these things urge on the eager of spirit,
sefan to siþe     þam þe swa þenceð 
the mind to travel, in one who so thinks
on flodwegas     feor gewitan. 
to travel far on the paths of the sea.
Swylce geac monað     geomran reorde; 
So the cuckoo warns with a sad voice;
singeð sumeres weard,     sorge beodeð 
the guardian of summer sings, bodes a sorrow
bitter in breosthord.     Þæt se beorn ne wat, 
grievous in the soul. This the man does not know,
sefteadig secg,     hwæt þa sume dreogað	
the warrior lucky in worldly things what some endure then,
þe þa wræclastas      widost lecgað. 
those who tread most widely the paths of exile.
    Forþon nu min hyge hweorfeð     ofer hreþerlocan, 
And now my spirit twists out of my breast,
min modsefa     mid mereflode, 
my spirit out in the waterways,
ofer hwæles eþel     hweorfeð wide, 
over the whale's path it soars widely
eorþan sceatas     cymeð eft to me 
through all the corners of the world -- it comes back to me
gifre ond grædig;     gielleð anfloga, 
eager and unsated; the lone-flier screams,
hweteð on hwælweg     hreþer unwearnum 
urges onto the whale-road the unresisting heart
ofer holma gelagu.     Forþon me hatran sind 
across the waves of the sea.	 Indeed hotter for me are
Dryhtnes dreamas     þonne þis deade lif 
the joys of the Lord than this dead life
læne on londe.     Ic gelyfe no 
fleeting on the land. I do not believe
þæt him eorðwelan     ece stondað. 
that the riches of the world will stand forever.
Simle þreora sum     þinga gehwylce 
Always and invariably, one of three things
ær his tiddege    to tweon weorþeð: 
will turn to uncertainty before his fated hour:
adl oþþe yldo      oþþe ecghete 
disease, or old age, or the sword's hatred
fægum fromweardum     feorh oðþringeð.	
will tear out the life from those doomed to die.
Forþon biþ eorla gehwam   æftercweþendra 
And so it is for each man the praise of the living,
lof lifgendra      lastworda betst, 
of those who speak afterwards, that is the best epitaph,
þæt he gewyrce,      ær he on weg scyle, 
that he should work before he must be gone
fremum on foldan      wið feonda niþ, 
bravery in the world against the enmity of devils,
deorum dædum      deofle togeanes,	
daring deeds against the fiend,
þæt hine ælda bearn      æfter hergen, 
so that the sons of men will praise him afterwards,
ond his lof siþþan      lifge mid englum 
and his fame afterwards will live with the angels
awa to ealdre,      ecan lifes blæd, 
for ever and ever, the glory of eternal life,
dream mid dugeþum. 
joy with the Hosts.
    Dagas sind gewitene, 
The days are gone
ealle onmedlan      eorþan rices; 
of all the glory of the kingdoms of the earth;
nearon nu cyningas      ne caseras 
there are not now kings, nor Cæsars,
ne goldgiefan      swylce iu wæron, 
nor givers of gold as once there were,
þonne hi mæst mid him      mærþa gefremedon 
when they, the greatest, among themselves performed valorous deeds,
ond on dryhtlicestum     dome lifdon. 
and with a most lordly majesty lived.
Gedroren is þeos duguð eal,      dreamas sind gewitene; 
All that old guard is gone and the revels are over --
wuniað þa wacran      ond þæs woruld healdaþ,	 
the weaker ones now dwell and hold the world,
brucað þurh bisgo.      Blæd is gehnæged, 
enjoy it through their sweat.— The glory is fled,
eorþan indryhto       ealdað ond searað,	 
the nobility of the world ages and grows sere,
swa nu monna gehwylc      geond middangeard. 
as now does every man throughout the world.
Yldo him on fareþ,      onsyn blacað, 
Age comes upon him, his face grows pale,
gomelfeax gnornað,       wat his iuwine, 
the graybeard laments; he knows that his old friends,
æþelinga bearn      eorþan forgiefene. 
the sons of princes, have been given to the earth.
Ne mæg him þonne se flæschoma       þonne him þæt feorg losað 
His body fails then, as life leaves him --
ne swete forswelgan      ne sar gefelan 
he cannot taste sweetness nor feel pain,
ne hond onhreran      ne mid hyge þencan. 
nor move his hand nor think with his head.
Þeah þe græf wille      golde stregan 
Though he would strew the grave with gold,
broþor his geborenum,      byrgan be deadum 
a brother for his kinsman, bury with the dead
maþmum mislicum,       þæt hine mid wille, 
a mass of treasure, it just won't work --
ne mæg þære sale      þe biþ synna ful 
nor can the soul which is full of sin
gold to geoce      for Godes egsan, 
preserve the gold before the fear of God,
þonne he hit ær hideo     þenden he her leofað. 
though he hid it before while he was yet alive.
Micel biþ se Meotudes egsa,     for þon hi seo molde oncyrreð; 
Great is the fear of the Lord, before which the world stands still;
se gestaþelade stiþe grundas, 
He established the firm foundations,
eorþan scēatas     ond uprodor. 
the corners of the world and the high heavens.
Dol biþ se þe him his Dryhten ne ondrædeþ:    cymeð him se deað unþinged. 
A fool is the one who does not fear his Lord: death comes to him unprepared.
Eadig bið se þe eaþmod leofaþ;    cymeð him seo ar of heofonum. 
Blessed is he who lives humbly to him comes forgiveness from heaven.
Meotod him þæt mod gestaþelað,     forþon he in his meahte gelyfeð. 
God set that spirit within him, because he believed in His might.
Stieran mon sceal strongum mode,      ond þæt on staþelum healdan, 
Man must control his passions and keep everything in balance,
ond gewis werum,      wisum clæne
keep faith with men,  and be pure in wisdom.
Scyle monna gehwylc     mid gemete healdan
Each of men must be even-handed
wiþ leofne ond wið laþne	     * * * bealo. — ? 
with their friends and their foes.
þeah þe he hine wille     fyres fulne	
? though he does not wish him? in the foulness of flames
oþþe on bale      forbærnedne  
?or on a pyre ? to be burned
his geworhtne wine,     Wyrd biþ swiþre, 
? his contrived friend,  Fate is greater
Meotud meahtigra,	     þonne ænges monnes gehygd. 
and God is mightier than any man's thought.
Uton we hycgan     hwær we ham agen, 
Let us ponder where we have our homes
ond þonne geþencan      hu we þider cumen; 
and then think how we should get thither --
ond we þonne eac tilien      þæt we to moten 
and then we should all strive that we might go there
in þa ecan       eadignesse 
to the eternal blessedness
þær is lif gelong.      in lufan Dryhtnes, 
that is a belonging life in the love of the Lord,
hyht in heofonum.      Þæs sy þam Halgan þonc 
joy in the heavens. Let there be thanks to God
þæt he usic geweorþade,     wuldres Ealdor. 
that he adored us, the Father of Glory,
ece Dryhten,      in ealle tid. 
the Eternal Lord, for all time. Amen.