The School Bag

O Wen, Wen, O Little Wennikins


O wen, wen, O little wennikins,
Here shall you build not, here have no abode,
But you must northwards to a nearby hill,
For there, O wretched one, you have a brother,
And he shall lay a leaf upon your head.
Under wolf’s foot and under eagle’s wing,
‘Neath claw of eagle ever may you fade.
May you decrease like coal upon the hearth,
Shrivel away like dirt upon the wall,
Evaporate like water in a pail,
Become as little as a linseed-grain,
Much smaller than a hand-worm’s hip-bone is,
And so diminish that you come to nothing.

10th century - old English - translated by Richard Hamer