“…should it become broken.” (1)

Then Byrhtnoth ordered each of his warriors
to release their horses, to hurry them far away,
and to go forwards, mindful of their hands and their stout courage. (2-4)

When Offa’s kinsman first understood
that the earl would not suffer cowardice,
he let his beloved hawk fly from his hands
away into the woods and then he advanced to the battle—
that was a gesture one could recognize:
the young warrior did not wish to waver at war,
when he took up his weapons. (5-10)

 Also Eadric wanted to support his lord,
his master in battle so he bore his spear
forth to the fight. He had good intentions
so long as he could hold with his hands
a shield and broad sword—he would validate his vow
when the time came to fight before his lord. (11-6)

Then Byrhtnoth encouraged his warriors there,
riding and ruling, directing his soldiers
how they must stand and keep that place, and gave them
instruction as to how they should hold their shields
correctly, fast with their hands—that they should fear nothing.
When he had fortified his fyrd-men graciously,
then he alighted amid the ranks, where it most pleased him,
in the place where he knew his most loyal hearth-guard to be. (17-24)

Then one stood on the shore, sternly calling out,
a Viking herald, conversing in many words,
he delivered in a vaunt the message of the brim-sailors
to that nobleman where he stood on the riverbank: (25-8)

“They have sent me to you, the hardy sea-men—
they bid you be informed that you must quickly send
rings in exchange for protection, and it would be better
for you to buy off with tribute this storm of spears,
otherwise we should deal in such a hard battle.
We needn’t destroy ourselves if you are sufficiently rich—
we wish to establish a safeguard in exchange for gold.
If you decide this, you who are most powerful here,
and you wish to ransom your people
and give to the sea-men, according to their own discretion,
money in exchange for peace, and take a truce at our hands,
we will go back to our ships with our payment,
and sail away, holding the peace with you.” (29-41)

Byrhtnoth spoke back, raising up his shield,
waving his slender spear, speaking in words,
angry and resolute, giving them answer: (42-4)

“Have you heard, sailor, what these people say?
They wish to give you spears as tribute,
the poisonous points and ancient swords,
this tackle of war that will do you no good in battle.
Herald of the brim-men, deliver this again,
say unto your people a more unpleasant report:
here stands with his troops a renowned earl
who wishes to defend this homeland,
the country of Æthelred, my own lord,
and his citizens and territory. The heathens
shall perish in battle. It seems a humiliation
to let you go to your ships with our treasures
unfought—now you have come thus far
into our country. You must not get our gold
so softly. Points and edges must reconcile us first,
a grim war-playing, before we give you any tribute.” (45-61)

Then, bearing his shield, he ordered his warriors to advance,
all those who stood on the riverbank.
Nor could that army go unto the other because of the water;
where the flood came flowing after the ebb-tide.
The watery streams separated them. It seemed to them too long
before they could muster their spears together.
There they stood in press alongside Pante’s stream,
the greatest of the East-Saxons and the spear-hordes.
Nor could any of them afflict the other side,
except those who were felled by the showering of arrows.
The tide went out—the float-men stood ready,
the many Vikings, eager warriors. (62-73)

Then the shelter of heroes ordered his war-hardened warriors
to keep the bridge. One was named Wulfstan,
keen amongst his kin, he was the son of Ceola,
who with his spear shot down the first man
who was boldest and stepped onto the bridge.
There stood with Wulfstan warriors unafraid,
Ælfhere and Maccus, two proud men,
they did not wish to flee from the ford,
yet they fixedly defended it against their foes,
as long as they were allowed to wield their weapons. (74-83)

When they perceived this and keenly observed
that they had encountered bitter bridge-wardens there,
then the Vikings began to use guile, the hated guests,
asking that they be allowed to have free passage,
faring across the ford, leading their foot-soldiers. (84-8)

This the nobleman allowed, due to his overweening pride—
he gave up too much land to those hated people.
He shouted across the cold water then,
Byrhthelm’s son, while his warriors listened:
“Now is passage granted to you, come quickly to us,
as men to the fight: God alone knows
who will be allowed to control the field of slaughter.” (89-95)

Then the slaughter-wolves waded—caring not for the water—
the Viking army, westward across the Pante,
across the bright waters, carrying their board-shields,
sailing-men to the shore, bearing yellow linden.
There they stood ready against the ferocious one,
Byrhtnoth and his warriors. He ordered them
to form a shield-wall with their shields and for the army
to hold fast against their foes. Then was the fighting near,
glory in battle. The time was coming
that fated men must fall there. (96-105)

There was shouting heaved up, and ravens circling,
eagles eager for carrion—an uproar was on the earth.
Then they let fly from their hands spears file-hardened,
the spears grimly ground down, bows were busy—
shields were peppered with points. (106-10)

Bitter was the onslaught, warriors fell
on either side, the young men lying down.
Wulfmær was wounded, choosing a slaughter-rest,
Byrhtnoth’s kinsman—he was mightily cut down
with a sword, his sister-son.
There requital was given back to the Vikings—
as I heard it—Eadweard struck down one
mightily with his sword, not withholding his blow,
so that a fated champion fell down at his feet.
For this Byrhtnoth gave his thanks to him,
lord to chamberlain, when he had the chance. (111-21)

They all stood so firmly stiff-minded,
the young warriors in the battle, thinking eagerly
who they could soonest conquer
with their swords, the life of fated men,
the warriors with their weapons. Slaughter fell upon the earth.
They stood steadfast: Byrhtnoth exhorted them,
ordering every warrior to think upon the scrum,
who wished for glory in fighting the Danes. (122-9)

Then one stern in war waded forth, heaving up his weapon,
sheltered by his shield, stepped up against Byrhtnoth.
The earl went just as resolutely to the churl,
either of them intending evil to the other.
Then the sea-warrior sent a southern spear,
that wounded the lord of warriors.
Byrhtnoth shoved it with his shield, so that the shaft burst,
and that spear-head broke so that it sprang out again.
The fighting-warrior became infuriated; he stabbed with his spear
the proud Viking, who had given him that wound.
Aged was the army-warrior; he let his spear go forth
through the neck of the younger warrior, guided by his hand
so that he reached the life of that sudden attacker. (130-42)

Then he swiftly pierced another Viking,
so that the mail-shirt burst—that one was wounded in the breast
through the ring-locks, the poisonous point
stood at his heart. The earl was the happier,
then he laughed, the mindful man, said thanks to the Measurer
for the day’s work which the Lord had given him. (143-8)

Then some Viking warrior let go a spear from his hand,
flying from his fist so that it went too deeply
through the noble thane of Æthelred.
One stood by his side, a young warrior not fully grown,
a boy in the battle, who very bravely
pulled the bloody spear out of the warrior,
the son of Wulfstan, Wulfmær the young,
let go the exceedingly hard spear go back again;
the point travelled in, so that he who had laid his lord
previously onto the earth was wounded sorely. (149-58)

Then an armored man came up to the earl—
he wished to carry off the rings of the warrior,
the armor and the accoutrements and the ornamented blade.
Then Byrhtnoth drew out his sword from its sheath,
broad and brown-edged, and struck him in the byrnie.
Too quickly some sail-man hindered him,
when he wounded the arm of that earl.
The golden-hilted sword fell to the ground—
neither could he hold the stern blade,
or wield his weapon. Nevertheless the hoary battle-warrior
spoke a word, emboldening his fighters,
ordered them to go forth as good comrades;
then he could not stand fast on his feet for long. (159-71)

Byrhtnoth looked to heaven:
“I thank you, Wielder of peoples,
for all these joys that I have experienced in the world.
Now I have, mild Measurer, the greatest need
that you should grant my spirit the good
that my soul may be allowed to venture unto you
into your keeping, Prince of Angels
ferrying with peace. I am a suppliant to you
that these hell-harmers shall not be allowed to injure it.” (172-80)

Then the heathen warriors cut him down
and both of the men who stood beside him,
Ælfnoth and Wulfmær, both lay there,
when they gave up their lives beside their lord. (181-4)

Then they retreated from the battle spineless in the fray.
There the son of Odda was first to flight,
Godric from the fight, and abandoned the good man
who many times often given him a horse;
he leapt on the steed which his lord owned,
in those trappings which he had no right to take,
and his brothers were with him, both running away,
Godwine and Godwig, caring not for the fight,
but they turned from the war and sought the forest,
flying into the fastness and protecting their lives,
and more men as well, more than was proper,
if they had remembered all their favors
that Byrhtnoth had done for them to their glory. (185-97)

So Offa had told him earlier in the day
in the meeting-place when he held a moot,
that there were many speaking proudly
who would not endure the tough going. (198-201)

Then the leader of the people was felled,
Æthelred’s earl; all saw him,
his hearth-retainers, that their lord lay down.
Then there the proud thanes went forth
uncowardly men hastened eagerly;
they all wished one of two things—
to give up their lives or revenge their dear lord. (202-8)

So the son of Ælfric encouraged them forwards,
a warrior young in winters, speaking in words,
Ælfwine then spoke, saying valiantly:
“I remember the occasions when we often spoke at mead,
when we heaved up boasts on the benches,
heroes in the hall, about the dire struggle;
now one can find out who is brave.
I am willing to reveal my lineage to all,
that I was from a great family in Mercia;
my old father was called Ealhelm,
a wise alderman, blessed with worldly things.
The thanes among that people must not reproach me,
that I wished to go from this army,
seeking my country, now my lord lies
cut down in the battle. To me that is the greatest harm—
he was both my kinsman and my lord.” (209-24)

Then he went forwards, mindful of the feud,
so that with his spear he wounded one float-man
among his people, so that he lay upon the earth,
killed by his weapon. Then he urged on his comrades,
his friends and allies, to go forwards. (225-9)

Offa spoke, shaking his spear-haft:
“So, Ælfwine, you have urged us all,
thanes at the need, now that our lord lies,
an earl upon the earth. There is a need
for all of us to exhort the other,
warriors into warfare, so long as he can
hold and keep his weapons: the stern sword,
the spear and the good blade. Godric,
the cowardly son of Odda, has betrayed us all.
Too many men believed, when he rode away on a horse,
upon that proud steed, that it was our lord.
Because of that our people are broken up here in the field,
the shield-wall is shattered. Damn his deeds,
which encouraged so many a man to flee!” (230-43)

Leofsunu spoke next and heaved his shield up,
his shield as shelter; he said to the warrior:
“I promise that I will not flee from here
one step of the foot, but I will go further,
avenging in this struggle my friendly lord.
The steadfast men of Sturmere will not need
reproach me with words, now my friend has fallen,
that I should travel lordless home,
turned from the war, but I shall take up my weapon,
both point and iron.” He went forth full angry,
fought steadfastly, despising to flee. (244-54)

Dunnere then spoke, brandishing his spear,
a humble churl, calling out over all,
asking that every warrior avenge Byrhtnoth:
“Nor can he flinch back at all who intends to avenge
his lord in these folk, nor mourn for his life.” (255-9)

Then they went forth, reckoning not of their lives.
These retainers fought sternly, fierce spear-bearers,
and they asked God that they be allowed to avenge
their friendly lord and work downfall among their foes. (260-4)

Then their hostage helped eagerly:
he was of sturdy stock from Northumbria,
Ecglaf’s son, he was named Æscferth.
He did not flinch back at all at the war-play,
but he sent forth arrows very frequently;
sometimes he shot into a shield, sometimes he skewered a warrior,
more than once in awhile he gave someone a wound,
so long as he was allowed to wield weapons. (265-72)

Still at the van stood Eadweard the tall,
ready and eager, speaking boastful words
that he would not flee a foot of land,
or bend backwards while his superior lay dead.
He broke the Viking shield-wall and with their warriors fought.
until he had worthily avenged his treasure-giver
upon the sea-men, before he too lay dead among the slain. (273-79)

So did Ætheric, a noble comrade,
quick and eager to go forth and earnestly fight.
Sibyrht’s brother and very many others
clove the curved shields, the fierce men defended themselves—
they burst the rims of shields, and the byrnie sang out
a certain terror-song. Then in the battle
Offa struck a Viking, so that he fell to the earth,
and there the kinsman of Gad sought the ground.
Offa was rapidly hewn down in the battle—
though he had accomplished what he had promised his lord,
as he earlier vowed to his ring-giver
that they should both ride to the city,
healthy to home, or in the battle perish,
in the place of slaughter, killed by wounds:
he lay like a true thane close to his lord. (280-94)

There was a crashing of shields. Seafarers came forth
enraged in the fight; the spear often went right through
the life-houses of the fated. Then Wystan went forth,
Thurstan’s son, he fought against the warriors—
he was in the press, the killer of three of them,
before Wigelin’s son lay dead among the slain.
There was a stern moot there. They stood fast,
warriors in the warfare, warriors perishing,
warriors wearied by wounds.
                                    The slain fell to the earth. (296-303)

Oswold and Eadwold all the while
both of them brothers, encouraged the warriors,
their friendly companions they urged with their words
that they must endure there in their need,
not weakly, using their weapons. (304-8)

Bryhtwold spoke out, heaving his shield
(he was an old comrade), brandishing his spear;
very boldly he advised the warriors:
“Resolution should be the tougher, keener the heart,
the mind should be greater when our power diminishes.
Here lies our lord, all chopped up,
a good man on the gravel. He will always regret it,
he who thinks to turn away from this war-play.
I am old in life—I don’t wish to wander away,
but I’m going to lie down by the side of my lord,
beside these beloved men.” (309-19)

So Æthelgar’s son emboldened them all,
Godric to the fight. Often he let go of his spear,
the slaughtering spear flying into the Vikings,
so he went forth, first in that crowd,
hewing and maiming, until he perished in the battle.
This certainly was not the Godric who flew from the fight… (320-5)

[End missing]



  • The translation of this poem that I have at home has “Byrhtnoth” spelled “Beorhtnoth”. Is there a difference between the names, or are they just different spellings? When I first read it, I drew up a family tree of the characters. I love genealogy, but I especially love working on late Anglo-Saxon nobility. (“Work, in my case, as a 13-year-old eighth grader, means look at them, and make conjectures/guesses about them.) Where did we find this scrap of the poem?
    Also, I like the version in “The Earliest English Poems,” by Michael J. Alexander. You’ve probably read it, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in, well,OE poetry. (I suppose the majority of the people reading this comment are interested in OE poetry anyway.)

    • Hi Silas, great question! The “y” to “eo” substitution is not uncommon, & often seems to be a dialect variation.

      The manuscript of Battle of Maldon is no longer extant. It was found in the Cotton Library & transcribed by a librarian there. That transcription formed the base of the first printed version (in the late 1700s) but itself was lost until like 1923. That trascription is now part of the Rawlinson collection in the Bodley Library at Oxford.

      I dig Alexander — he’s a poet before a scholar & I think that kind does better translations of medieval texts.

  • [akh: Instead of just annihilating this comment to the dustbin, I am going to take a moment to make yet another example out of it — or, I mean, educate its writer. My comments are in brackets.]

    The difference with the Saxon invasion of England is that from the first they came to stay and to build up this land, unlike the Romans who only came to exploit it.

    [akh: All settler-colonists exploit their new land as well as settle & build, Romans just as much as the Saxons. To say the Romans did not also “stay and to build up” Albion is just non-historical buffoonery. Also to imply that the Danes were not also settlers & builders is also nonsense: the Danes occupied almost more of the island than the English at certain points & contributed heavily to its culture. All those English towns with “-by” in their name? Danish settlements. Also please read Havelok the Dane, a thirteenth-century proto-national romance that acknowledges the complex cultural identity of England.]

    The language we speak now is Old English, not Latin and not a Celtic language.

    [akh: Do I really need to correct this? The Anglophone world now speaks some form of Modern English. Also Old English is shot through with Celtic, Latin, and most importantly Old Norse influences. It could be argued even that Middle English was a “creole” — a language of intercultural contact zones. English also is seriously agglutinative if not outright approriative, drawing words & phrases from every language it contacts, including from immigrants.]

    Our customs and laws are largely AS in spite of the Norman invasion. They are the builders and founders of England. They defended it heroically with their blood, right up to the time of the NormN invasion and after with many rebellions against the new tyranny.

    [akh: “Common Law maybe? But not even then. Everything English is in some way a blend of influences. Yes, there were rebellions against the conquering Normans, as there are with every conquest. These shifts in power were for most citizens a change in the name of who to write to write the tax bill to. Aristocrats are good at making their grievances seem like our problem.]

    The Saxons were known throughout Europe for the fairness of their laws and they made England what it has been and still is, a beacon of human rights to the world.

    [akh: Wulfstan of York, in his famous Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, worries that English slaves (yes, you read that right those fair & just Saxons kept slaves) were abandoning their captors to join the Danish side. We have to surmise because they were treated better over there, or were free. English writers also lamented that English women found the Danes more attractive & desirable, becuase they wore nicer clothes & actually combed their hair & washed themselves.]

    [akh: But let’s get to the big whopper of a claim. The British Empire may have killed at least 500 million human souls in its 400-year existence. 23 million Bengalis starved to death due to Churchill’s genocidal wartime polices in WW2. A million Irish people died of starvation in the Great Famine of 1845-9 (this is while ships continued to take Irish crops back to England). These are just two examples of mass casualty events. England fostered & expanded the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and continued to profit off enslaved labor long after slavery was “abolished” in the British Isles. They invented concentration camps to detain & punish rebellious peoples. They engaged in torture & mutilation to terrorize colonized populations. They destroyed native cultures & languages in ways still causing suffering among postcolonial & indigenous peoples. They share some slice of the around 100 million indigenous people killed in the Americas. They tried to outright eradicate the Aboriginal peoples of Australia & New Zealand, murdering 40,000 between 1788 & 1934.]

    [Blah blah anti-immigrant dumbassery blah blah] There is a tendency now to try to undermine English pride by attacking the foundations of our history but we are Anglo Saxons and are as entitled to be proud of our history as any other county claims the right to be.

    [akh: Okay, hard truth here — if your sense of pride in yourself cannot handle historical facts about that identity, it is because your sense of pride is based in myths & fabrications & deliberate misconceptions – in the weaponized devaluation of other’s humanity. I hear ya though, friend — the US is going through the same thing. Teaching truth about the structural racism & violence at the heart of the American project makes some very angry because it challenges their worldview & self-justification. No one’s telling you or these people to be ashamed — just to do better & accept changes that may the world a more equitable place for all humans.

    Also, polls of public opinion in the British Isles asking their favorite food almost all reveal that curry is their favorite. Clearly England has lost yet another battle to immigration…

  • Good evening Dr. Hostetter,

    I just wanted to say how much I admire your work and the translations that you’ve made. I’m currently working on an end of Semester essay trying to discuss attitudes to OEP as a manifestation of Hauntology culture. I hope I can do it justice. Anyways, love the poems, fascinating work.
    Kindest Regards

  • Professor Hostetter, I’m a public school teacher in the United States. I love your translations, and I’d like to be able to direct my students to your site. However, some of my students are as young as twelve . . . the language and nastiness in your comments section is simply inappropriate for the classroom. Your work speaks for itself, though. Have you considered simply turning the comments off?

  • Thanks for coming by, & for the reference. It’s all good about the comments: ya run a blog, & haters always stop by

  • Thank you so much for providing a publicly available translation of this poem. I grew up in Maldon and having visited the site many times this was absolutely fascinating to me. Incredibly cool to have such a detailed history of something so long ago that happened so close by; it really brings history to life for me.

    • Hi there, I’m so happy to hear you have found interest in my work. I’d love someday to see this part of Essex. An interesting angle of the poem is that there is actually very little of it that is history in the same way we would see it. Based on a recorded event, & involving real people. But not at all written concurrently near the “battle” (which went down in 991), and subject lots of the same narrative embroidery that occurs in other OE heroic poems (mostly the focus on speeches rather than graphic action. Beowulf is much the same). Probably more propaganda than anything else. Happy holidays!

  • Wes þu hal, freond! Thanks for posting this translation. I’m using it for some ‘read-along’ sessions in the University Göttingen Old English Reading Group, in conjunction with the SAJ Bradley and an OE edition. Curious to see what our group members will have to say about the poem; my focus on it has generally been on religious elements like Byrhtnoþs prayer (I’m hot for early medieval Xtianity, so this always attracts me…) or on how weapons and gear function in the poem as social status markers. Ic þance þe!

    Side note: You’re absolutely right to moderate this page to be rid of xenophobic and racist horseshit, and I thank you for the effort.

  • It’s a story about two families\clans from different lands fighting to the death over land and the wealth derivative of it. Appears that some here, crying “xenophobia” are fucking ignorant SJW’S

    • Ummm, no? Not at all. What family? What clan? As a teacher of literature & the practice of close reading, I insist that my students support any claim they make by pointing to the specific language of the text we are studying. So “warriorpoet222,” where in the text do you find this interpretation of rival clans? I mean I don’t see it, but maybe this one has some insight into the text I am overlooking.

      The xenophobia decried in the comments takes its impetus from the poem itself, but mostly accrues in the scholarly tradition and then is openly expressed by several of the commenters here. That doesn’t seem controversial or difficult to ascertain.

      I think it seems a good moment to point out that when RW “white fantasist” LARPers are stung to defending the Middle Ages as their “safe space” they often seem to object more to a label of a belief than to the belief itself. They usually freely admit the belief in their indignation. The xenophobia is there, this one acknowledges its there even in their objection. But oh no, we’re “SJWs” because we ave enough insight to call a turd a turd.

      Also, not for nothing, dood — the opposite of “SJW” is “completely fucking smugly satisfied with injustice & inequity”. I dunno, you do you, sweetie. But I’ll stay on the side of change & human dignity. With a whole lot of other people.

  • I came looking for help re-reading the battle of Maldon. And the translation was helpful, and I struggled through my battered Sweet’s reader. But I reread it for the power of the words( ‘Hige sceal the heardra, heorte the cenre, mod sceal the mare, the ure maegen lytlath’. ) not for some weird political reason.

  • I guess I’m resigning myself to the sad, utterly tragic fact that as the Tories become more ludicrous in their desperate attempts to hold power, that more chuds will come fluttering beneath my eaves to shit in my comments section. Dudes, curry is the best food you can get in the UK because of immigration. White people did not build that. “Western Civ” is largely imported from the rest of the world. Get over it — it doesn’t make you less of anything. Acting like a racist child, that makes you less of a lot of things.

  • Sir, I cannot believe your lack of understanding as to what it means to be English and your misquoting of xenophobia. To be xenophobic is not essentially to be racist.
    The Englisc conquered that part of Britain that latere became England and promptly labellled the inhabitants as foreigners – or Wealas. To be Englisc one is naturally xenophobic. Northerners areen’t keen on Southerners, come to that, the people in the next County can be pretty odd. Townies think we rural folk are thick, we think they are stuck up. Come to that, we’re none too keen on the people in the next village. As for our neighbours! They are all ‘foreigners!
    This has nothing to do with racism. It is irrelevant to us what colour, race or creed or any other specific division and all to do with generalities. Witness Englands stand against Napoleon/The Kaiser/Hitler and many other despots over the years. Our absorption of Jews/Asians/Huguenots/Flemish and many other refugees over 1000 years of English history. And yet, we are called racist! Perhaps the world could do with more such as us.
    Of course, being xenophobic, I deliberately used England and English in the paragraph above. But, long have the Welsh stood by our side and never forget the contribution of the Irish in many Wars.

    • Thank you so much for providing an understanding that I can understand. I came looking for a transition for my British literature class and this helped so much.

    • “To be Englisc one is naturally xenophobic” (sez Charles)

      In denying the charge, this one makes the case on a far larger scale than ever asserted by me or anyone else.

      One more thing: if you look at English history & see that they “absorbed” Jewish people at any given period happily or without scads of ugly ugly anti-semitism, then wow I do not know what to tell you.

    • What an utter load of toss! I’m English and have some understanding of history. You are xenophobic Charley, not the English.

  • My thanks to the moderator of this useful site. The stoicism that animates much of the Exeter Book’s contents, and the elegiac poems in particular, makes encouraging reading in any era. The comments posted in August and September 2018 do offer a lucid, well grounded account of what we might refer to as the ethnohistorical context, sufficient in any event to illuminate the utter folly of facile analogies to our own circumstances. The site may draw scant traffic, but the Miltonic precept found in the seventh book of Pradise Lost plainly applies: fit audience find, though few.

    Thanks again!

  • The comments to this page are becoming a cesspool of pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant bullshit. Your nasty xenophobic comments are being deleted in moderation and I couldn’t give a fuck if I’m denying you your platform to be ugly. I can delete all day. It makes me happy.

  • Further xenophobic comments to this page will be trashed. Go somewhere else to peddle your ethnocentric garbage

  • As a young man circa 1970 I visited the site, poem in hand, H. Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Reader 1898 printing which I have by me now as I write. I had the pleasure of establishing the main landmarks and then reading aloud in the best accent I could muster the entire poem in Anglo-Saxon. What a beautiful work it is. And frighteningly relevant for today. Byrthnoth, I have to say, was a complete idiot. Overweening pride! Lack of forethought! Makes me think about our current leadership, for they too have let the enemy onto and in to our dear land. An enemy just as malicious and false smiling as the saemanna. God help us.

    • Sir, it was highly possible that if Byrthnoth had not permitted the vikings to land they would have sailed further up the river blackwater and harassed other areas. Adding to the point, even though he made a fatal mistake in allowing the danes to move in, he exhorted his men remarkably well and proved himself a heroic and courageous leader evermore overshadowing his lack of foresight, his effect on his men is proved by the multitude of men willing to enjoin him in his fate

    • “Makes me think about our current leadership, for they too have let the enemy onto and in to our dear land. An enemy just as malicious and false smiling as the saemanna. God help us.”

      Are you seriously equating immigrants and refugees with armed Viking raiders? The Anglo-Saxons themselves migrated abroad, as did the Celts before them. Surely that would be the more apt comparison. Add in the people from Africa and Asia who have been found in ancient cemeteries in what is now England. The British Isles have been home to a mix of peoples for millennia.

      • Is it possible that Dr. Carlyon didn’t mean anything about immigrants?

        It sounds to me like he was referring to Trump’s encouraging Putin’s political influence on our soil. Whatever you think of America’s political sins. I hope you agree Putin’s are worse.

        Because Trump is trying to STOP immigration to the US, I’m not sure Nicole Discenza’s complaint even makes sense.

        Poor Dr. Carlyon may be guilty of indulging in too much nostalgia, but I intend on doing the same some day soon. I think we owe him an apology.

        • No, because he was quite clear about what he said. And I believe in taking xenophobic speech at face value. You are stretching for allegory, and it’s really unnecessary. And the rest of the what you are saying makes no sense. Nostalgia for an early English past that never existed is the central impetus of white supremacy. And her name is Dr. Discenza.

    • Dr. Carlyon, I have to echo Dr. Discenza’s objection to your final statement. That last phrase sounds pretty ugly and xenophobic, & I’m sorry I didn’t notice it earlier. I don’t know where you come in all of this, but current refugee crises have little to do Viking aggression, whether the white supremacists of today would agree.

      Although Maldon is a poem of warfare, and celebrates to some degree a proto-nationalism, OE literature as a whole reveals that the world of these people was highly cosmopolitan and folks of many origins were in circulation everywhere. Vikings were indeed sometimes aggressors and raiders, but they were also settlers and their cultural presence enriched the English language. Beowulf for instance suggests cultural & economic continuities with these same Danish Vikings, especially by the time it gets scribed in its sole manuscript around 1025.

      Immigration is not an evil, sir — and you can not make it so. The history of the world is one of the movement of people that creates changes. I do not share your view that migration to the US or Europe is an existential threat to anybody, and I take great pleasure in “white culture” (if that is even a thing) becoming cross-pollinated and modified by the presence of new people and new cultures. Cultural exchange has only improved human existence ultimately, and that has been so since before the Greeks.

      In the future, do not come here with your anti-refugee, xenophobic garbage. I’m not interested in spreading that kind of hatred any further than it is already. Further comments from you will be rejected, and I promise to do better to keep the gates tidy for the other users of this website.

      I’ve said it before, but this site is not assembled out of any sense of English, or Anglo-Saxon, or white exceptionalism. The more we actually know about these people and their culture, the more we know that white supremacists that fetishize the Middle Ages are trading in lies & errors, fantasizing about a Europe that never existed.

        • How so? How is thinking past whiteness any sort of betrayal of European anything? Unless you’re really talking about white supremacy?

    • Dear Dr. The last part of your reply shows a nasty and ill founded nationalist streak. If you know anything about the Saxons who were fighting the Viking invaders, they themselves were immigrants. As were the Romans and many of the Briton inhabitants before them. This implied pure native of Britain hasn’t existed ever existed. We are all immigrants at some stage of the island’s history. The Saxons were here for a few hundred years before this battle.

      • Well said id19, Dr. Dispensary, Aaron and Steve. I am proud to be a citizen of the world who happens to have been born in the UK. I’m pleased to see Dr. C’s views have no following.
        I found this site by a link from new a publication by John Sutherland – A good brexitier’s guide to English Lit.

  • A wonderful book, The Last Apocalypse by James Reston, Jr. details this battle and it’s significance. He visits this location and describes what it must have been like. The book is about Europe in the year 1000 AD. Reading the chapter on the battle made me want to read the whole poem.

    • I also read the book by Reston and wanted to know more. I didn’t expect to find this repository though. Much appreciation goes to Dr. Hostetter and anyone else who has helped to make this material easily accessible.

    • I translated this poem, badly, in grad school. I haven’t revisited it in years, but I appreciate your recommending this book I will be purchasing soon. Thank you.

  • Fantastic, heroic an epic that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Homers Illiad, sad but uplifting, but we don\’t know who the author is……a tribute to a warrior and a nameless poet

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *