from "THE WANDERER"from the EXETER BOOK
Anon.trans. Rachel Becker (from Anglo-Saxon)
Oft him anhaga ....are gebideð,
Metudes miltse, .... þeah þe he modcearig
geond lagulade .... longe sceolde
hreran mid hondum .... hrimcealde sæ,
wadan wræclastas: .... wyrd bið ful aræd!
....Swa cwæð eardstapa, .... earfeþa gemyndig,
wraþra wælsleahta .... winemæga hryre:
....'Oft ic sceolde ana .... uhtna gehwylce
mine ceare cwiþan. .... Nis nu cwicra nán,
þe ic him modsefan .... minne durre
sweotule asecgan. ....Ic to soþe wat
þæt bib in eorle .... indryhten þeaw,
þæt he his ferðlocan .... fæste binde,
healde his hordcofan, .... hycge swa he wille.
....Ne mæg werig mod .... wyrde wiðstondan,
ne se hreo hyge .... helpe gefremman.
Forðon domgeorne .... dreorigne oft
in hyra breostcofan .... bindað fæste;
swa ic modsefan .... minne sceolde
(oft earmcearig, .... eðle bidæled,
freomægum feor) .... feterum sælan,
siþþan geara iu .... goldwine minne
hrusan heolster biwrah, .... ond ic hean þonan
wod wintercearig .... ofer waþema gebind,
sohte seledreorig .... sinces bryttan,
hwær ic feor oþþe neah .... findan meahte
þone þe in meoduhealle .... minne myne wisse,
oþþe mec freondleasne .... frefran wolde,
wenian mid wynnum. .... Wat se þe cunnað
hu sliþen bið .... sorg to geferan
þam þe him lyt hafað .... leofra geholena:
warað hine wræclast, .... nales wunden gold;
ferðloca freorig, .... nalæs foldan blæd;
gemon he selesecgas .... ond sincþege,
hu hine on geoguðe .... his goldwine
wenede to wiste. .... Wyn eal gedreas!
Forþon wat se þe sceal .... his winedryhtnes
leofes larcwidum .... longe forþolian.
Ðonne sorg ond slæp .... somod ætgædre
earmne anhagan .... oft gebindað,
þinceð him on mode .... þeat he his mondryhten
clyppe and cysse, .... ond on cneo lecge
honda ond heafod, .... swa he hwilum ær
in geardagum .... giefstoles breac:
....ðonne onwæcneð eft .... wineleas guma,
gesihð him beforan .... fealwe wegas,
baþian brimfuglas, .... brædan feþra,
hreosan hrim ond snaw .... hægle gemenged.
Þonne beoð þy hefigran .... heortan benne,
sare æfter swæsne .... --- sorg bið geniwad ---
þonne maga gemynd .... mod geondhweorfeð,
greteð gliwstafum, .... georne geondsceawað.
Secga geseldan .... swimmað eft on weg,
fleotendra ferð .... no þær fela bringeð
cuðra cwidegiedda .... --- cearo bið geniwad---
þam þe sendan sceal .... swiþe geneahhe
ofer waþema gebind .... werigne sefan.
............
............
"Often the solitary man asks for
God's grace, though he, heart-hurt
has long had to by hand make his way
over the waters, the ice-cold sea.
He walks the path of exile, his fate already decided."

So says the wanderer who remembers hardship
hostile slaughter and the loss of lords.
Often I have had to keen for my cares
alone each morning; now there's no one alive
to whom I dare divulge my heart openly,
or out loud; and I know it in truth
that in men it is an honorable habit
that they in their bodies bind fast
hold in their thoughts, whatever their cares may be.
A heavy heart, though, cannot hold off fate,
nor fierce thoughts repair damage done.
So often the glory-goers, the do-gooders,
Keep their dreary thoughts to themselves.

So I, hard-hearted and lost to my country,
far from my friends have often
had to shackle my sad spirit in chains,
since that time long ago when I lowered my lord's remains
into the shadowy dark soil, and then sadly
set out, senseless, into the winter sea
and suffering, sought the hall of a new lord
not sure I would find another anywhere,
in whose home my host might come to know me. Or who might console me when cheerless,
or might cheer me with pleasures.

He knows who has lived it,
how cruel the sorrow is to the one
who dearly lacks loved ones;
his is the path of exile, not of golden decoration.
His is the hard heart, not the happy earth.
He remembers his retainers and receiving treasure,
remembers how in his youth his retainer
loved a good feast. Now all that joy has gone.

He who has lost his beloved lord's counsel
also knows thÝs: that when
sorrow and sleep converge,
they often bind him, the poor wretch,
while in his mind it seems
that he kisses and clasps his lord,
and on his knee lays his own head and hand,
just as he used to approach the throne, so long ago.

Then, the sad wanderer wakes,
and sees before him bright yellow waves
sea-birds bathing, feathers outstretched,
and all the while frost, snow, and hail falling together.

All this makes his heart wounds seem heavier,
greater grief for what's long gone. Sorrow is renewed,
when memories of his kinsmen fill his mind.
He greets them gladly, gauges them with care,
his old wine-friends, but they often swim away,
skim off like the sea-birds. They bring along too few
of the well-known songs with them. Care is renewed,
for him who must forever send
his weary heart out over the ice-waves.

............
............

Copyright © Rachel Becker 2002


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