Old English




The Wife’s Lament

Ic þis giedd wrece      bi me ful geomorre,
I recite this poem concerning myself, full of sorrow
minre sylfre sið.      Ic þæt secgan mæg,
in my own journey. I can say this,
hwæt ic yrmþa gebad,      siþþan ic up weox,
for valiant I miserably endured after I grew up,
niwes oþþe ealdes,      no ma þonne nu.
new or old, never more than now.
A ic wite wonn      minra wræcsiþa.
Always have I endured in my journey of exile.
    ærest min hlaford gewat      heonan of leodum
First my lord departed hence from his people
ofer yþa gelac;      hæfde ic uhtceare
after all the tumult; I had sorrow at daybreak
hwær min leodfruma      londes wære.
for where my prince could be in the land.
ða ic me feran gewat      folgað secan,
Then I journeyed out myself seeking retinue,
wineleas wræcca,      for minre weaþearfe.
lordless refugee, in my woeful need
Ongunnon þæt þæs monnes      magas hycgan
The man's kinsmen undertook and intended
þurh dyrne geþoht,      þæt hy todælden unc,
through secret thought, that they might divide us
þæt wit gewidost      in woruldrice
that we were widely divided in the world-empire
lifdon laðlicost,      ond mec longade.
and lived wretchedly--and I longed for him.
Het mec hlaford min      herheard niman,
My lord bid me to take my home here;
ahte ic leofra lyt      on þissum londstede,
I possessed dear little in this region,
holdra freonda.      Forþon is min hyge geomor,
no loyal friend. Therefore is my spirit mournful,
ða ic me ful gemæcne      monnan funde,
since the very suitable man I found was
heardsæligne,      hygegeomorne,
unfortunate, sad in mind,
mod miþendne,      morþor hycgendne.
heart concealed, with murderous intent.
Bliþe gebæro      ful oft wit beotedan
With cheerful demeanor very often we two
þæt unc ne gedælde      nemne deað ana
vowed we would not be divided except by death alone
owiht elles;      eft is þæt onhworfen,
over anything else; again is this reversed,
is nu swa hit      no wære
it is now *** like it never was,
freondscipe uncer.      Sceal ic feor ge neah
this love of ours. I shall far and near
mines felaleofan      fæhðu dreogan.
suffer enmity from my very dear love.
    Heht mec mon wunian      on wuda bearwe,
I was bid to remain in a wood grove
under actreo      in þam eorðscræfe.
under a tree in this cave.
Eald is þes eorðsele,      eal ic eom oflongad,
Ancient is this cave-dwelling, I am consumed with longing.
sindon dena dimme,      duna uphea,
The vallyes are dark, the hills high,
bitre burgtunas,      brerum beweaxne,
the cruel town enclosure with briars is grown over,
wic wynna leas.      Ful oft mec her wraþe begeat
the dwelling place is joyless. Very often here I am bitterly seized because of the
fromsiþ frean.      Frynd sind on eorþan,
departure of my lord. Is my lover
leofe lifgende,      leger weardiað,
occupying his own death bed,
þonne ic on uhtan      ana gonge
when I at dawn walk alone
under actreo      geond þas eorðscrafu.
under and oak tree through these graves.
þær ic sittan mot      sumorlangne dæg,
There I must sit as long as a summer's day;
þær ic wepan mæg      mine wræcsiþas,
there I must weep for my wretched journey
earfoþa fela;      forþon ic æfre ne mæg
my troubles are many, for I have never
þære modceare      minre gerestan,
had rest from my grief,
ne ealles þæs longaþes      þe mec on þissum life begeat.
not wholly, since my life began.
    A scyle geong mon      wesan geomormod,
A young woman is always under obligation to be serious-minded
heard heortan geþoht,      swylce habban sceal
and bold-hearted in purpose; likewise she must be
bliþe gebæro,      eac þon breostceare,
cheerful in her behavior, even when she is sorrowful,
sinsorgna gedreag,      sy æt him sylfum gelong
in a tumult of grief. She should be dependent on herself
eal his worulde wyn,      sy ful wide fah
all her life for joy. As a criminal
feorres folclondes,      þæt min freond siteð
far from his native land, my lover sits
under stanhliþe      storme behrimed,
under a rocky, frost-covered cliff in a storm,
wine werigmod,      wætre beflowen
my lord is weary-minded as water flows around him
on dreorsele.      Dreogeð se min wine
n his cruel dwelling where my lord has
micle modceare;      he gemon to oft
great sorrow. He is reminded too often of
wynlicran wic.      Wa bið þam þe sceal
a more pleasant abode. Affliction is that which must be
of langoþe      leofes abidan. 
for he who longs and waits for his beloved.