THE EXETER BOOK - RIDDLE 5SHIELD
Anon.trans. Graham Holderness
(from 10c. English)




Ic eom anhaga......iserne wund,

bille gebennad,...... beadoweorca sæd,

ecgum werig.......Oft ic wig seo,

frecne feohtan.......Frofre ne wene,

þæt me geoc cyme ......guðgewinnes,

ær ic mid ældum ...... eal forwurðe,

ac mec hnossiað ......homera lafe,

heardecg heoroscearp,......hondweorc smiþa,

bitað in burgum;......ic abidan sceal

laþran gemotes....... Næfre læcecynn

on folcstede ......findan meahte,

þara þe mid wyrtum ...... wunde gehælde,

ac me ecga dolg ......eacen weorðað

þurh deaðslege ......dagum ond nihtum.

Look at me, love-lorn,
Lost in my loneliness,
A blade-bitten sword-slashed
Iron-etched
Battle-brassed-off
Victim of violence!

Wars I've witnessed:
Caught in the carnage
Of many a massacre
I've hopelessly howled out
And hollered for help,
But round none to nab me
Out of harm's way,
Or snatch me to safety
Before I fell. All too soon
I'm struck to my centre
By the flame-forged sharp-honed
Shaped-on-an-anvil hard-edged
Blacksmith's handiwork,
The shining sword.

No rest, no respite;
Always another war.

I've never found
A fine physician
Who'd heal all my hurts
With health-giving herbs,
So you see no improvement
But increase of injury,
Long days and nights
Of death-dealing illness.
Most fatal of all
Mankind's infirmities
Bites at my being -
The sword's sharp edge.

Transl. copyright Graham Holderness 2002 - publ. Shoestring Press


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