from "THE SEAFARER"from the EXETER BOOK
Anon.trans. Louis J. Rodrigues (from Anglo-Saxon)
Mæg ic be me sylfum .... soðgied wrecan,
siþas secgan, .... hu ic geswincdagum
earfoðhwile .... oft þrowade,
bitre breostceare .... gebiden hæbbe,
gecunnad in ceole .... cearselda fela,
atol yþa gewealc, .... dær mec oft bigeat
nearo nihtwaco .... æt nacan stefnan,
þonne he be clifum cnossað. .... Calde geþrungen
wæron fet mine, .... forste gebunden
caldum clommum ....pær þa ceare seofedun
hate ymb heortan; .... hungor innan slat
merewerges mod. .... Þæt se mon ne wat
þe him on foldan .... fægrost limpeð,
hu ic earmcearig .... iscealdne sæ
winter wunade .... wræccan lastum,
winemægum bidroren, .... * * *
bihongen hrimgecelum; .... hæglscurum fleag.
Þær ic ne gehyrde .... butan hlimman sæ,
iscaldne wæg. .... Hwilum ylfete song
dyde ic me to gomene, .... ganetes hleoþor
ond huilpan sweg .... fore hleahtor wera,
mæw singende .... fore medodrince.
Stormas þær stanclifu beotan, ... þær him stearn oncwæð

isigfeþera; .... ful oft þæt earn bigeal,
urigfeþra. .... Nænig hleomæga
feasceaftig ferð .... frefran meahte.
.... Forþon him gelyfeð lyt .... se þe ah lifes wyn
gebiden in burgum, .... bealosiþa hwon,
wlonc and wingal, .... hu ic werig oft
in brimlade .... bidan sceolde.
Nap nihtscua, .... norþan sniwde,
hrim hrusan bond, .... hægl feol on eorþan,
corna caldast..... Forþon cnyssað nu
heortan geþohtas, .... þæt ic hean streamas,
sealtyþa gelac .... sylf cunnige ---
monað modes lust .... mæla gehwylkce
ferð to feran, .... þæt ic feor heonan
elþeodigra .... eard gesece ---
forþon nis þæs modwlonc .... mon ofer eorþan,
ne his gifena þæs god, .... ne in geoguþe to þæs hwæt,
ne in his dædum to pæs deor, .... ne him his dryhten to
............................................................þæs hold,
þæt he a his sæfore .... sorge næbbe,
to hwon hine Dryhten .... gedon wille.
Ne biþ him to hearpan hyge .... ne to hringþege ---
ne to wife wyn .... ne to worulde hyht ---
ne ymbe owiht elles .... nefne ymb yða gewealc;
ac a hafað longunge .... se þe on lagu fundað.
Bearwas blostmum nimað, .... byrig fægriað,
wongas wlitigað, .... woruld onetteð
ealle þa gemoniað .... modes fusne
sefan to siþe .... þam þe swa þenceð
on flodwegas .... feor gewitan.
............
............
About myself a true song I can sing,
tell of my travels, how in toilsome days
I oft endured hardship for a while,
bore bitter cares within my breast,
tried many sorrowful abodes on ships;
terrible the tossing waves, where I kept oft
the narrow night-watch at the vessel's prow,
when by the cliffs it bolts. With cold
were my feet numbed, by frost's
chill fetters bound, where sorrows sighed
hot round my heart; there hunger inly rent
the ocean-weary spirit. He, who fares
most happily on land, knows little how,
careworn, I upon that ice-cold sea
a winter spent on exile-tracks,
cut off from kinsmen, * * *
icicle engirt; in showers flew hail.
There I heard naught except the roaring sea;
the ice-cold wave. Whilom the wild swan's song
I had for cheer, the gannet's cry
and curlew’s music stead of merriment of men,
the seagull's singing stead of drinking mead.
Storms there struck stone cliffs, there the tern echoed
....................them
icy-feathered, oft the eagle screamed around,
dewy-feathered; no protecting lord
the wretched heart could there console.
.... Yet little he believes, who has life's bliss
in cities relished, from misfortune free,
inspirited and flushed with wine, how ofttimes weary I
have had to bide the ocean-path.
The shades of night grew dark, and northerly it snowed,
frost fettered earth, hail fell upon the ground,
coldest of grain. Yet still my heart's
thoughts stir that I the towering seas,
the salt waves' tumult must myself explore ---
the heart's desire exhorts each time
the thought to fare, that I far hence
should seek an alien land ---
and yet, there is no man so proud on earth,
nor of his gifts so generous, nor in his youth so bold,
nor in his deeds so brave, nor with a lord so kind to him

that has not always sorrow for his sea-voyaging,
touching what the Lord will render him.
His thought is not of harp nor taking rings ---
nor happiness in wife nor joy in worldly things ---
nor aught else save the surging waves;
but he ever feels a yearning who sets out on the sea.
Groves bear blossoms, towns grow fair,
fields are comely, the world hastens;
all these urge the eager heart
and mind of him who thinks to fare
afar, upon the sea-ways to depart.
............
............

Copyright © Louis J. Rodrigues - publ. Llanerch Publishers


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