There are many gifts of the youthful apparent
across the earth, those that the soul-bearing carry
in their brains, just as the God of Armies here,
the Measurer so powerfully, has doled out unto humanity
given as a unique present, sending them wide afield,
his own privileges, and every one of them
may be taken up by some of those living among the people. (ll. 1-7)
There are no men upon the earth so blessed with misery,
nor so moderate of prosperity, so craven of spirit,
nor so delayed of courage, that the granter of grace
should deprive them of every skill of the mind,
or mighty deed, wise in wit or in wordy statements,
lest they be hopeless in all matters—
those which God wrought in this worldly life,
all these gracious gifts—God would never deem
that any should become so wretched. (ll 8-17)
There are none so powerful in the craft of wisdom
in the multitude of nations in this world
mounting forth, so that the Warden of Folk
through his holy gifts would send forth to him
hither wise thoughts and worldly skills,
granted to all under a single power,
lest he, for pride, filled with earthly gifts,
should turn away from moderation, a man mighty of mind,
and then depise the poor and humble—
yet he should share, who has the power of discernment,
the various hand-skills of the people,
with those living on land throughout middle-earth. (ll. 18-29)
Here across the earth is illuminated by certain goods,
worldly treasures. One may be destitute,
a hard-fortuned man, who is nevertheless
wise in the mind’s crafts. One takes up a burden
greatly strong besides. One is handsome,
comely in his form. One is a bearer of verses,
gifted in song. One is glib in his speaking.
One is skillful in the chase, a hunter
of glorious beasts. One is well-esteemed
by a world-powerful man. One is hardened by war,
a battle-crafty warrior, where the shields resound. (ll. 30-40)
One can meditate pointedly in the moot
of mind-thoughtful men, advisers of the people,
where a gathering of counselors are together.
One can devise a wonderful contrivance,
something timbered tall—his hand is well-taught,
skillful and steady, just as is proper for the wright,
establishing the hall, he knows how to conjoin
the broad house firmly against its sudden fall. (ll. 41-48)
One can address the harp with his hands,
he has the art of swift striking the joyful wood.
One is skillful at counsel, another steady in aim,
another perceptive in poetry, another swift on land,
quick on his feet. One steers the till on the fallow wave,
knowing the streaming road, the course of armies,
over the broad ocean, when the sea-eager are shaken
with swift power of the oars, near to the wave-board. (ll. 49-57)
One is a good swimmer. Another crafty in artifice,
of gold and gemstones, when the warden of men
commands him to adorn them as glorious treasures.
One can make warlike tackle, useful to warriors,
a mind-crafty smith, when he creates a helmet
or a dagger or a warlike jacket for the battles of men;
a shining sword or the boss of a shield,
brought together surely against the flying of spears. (ll. 58-66)
One is pious and eager to give alms,
virtuous in his habits. Another is an active thane
in the mead-hall. One is well-versed in steeds,
wise in horsemanship. Another, self-possessed,
endures in patience so that he must be.
One knows the judgments, where the warrior
deliberates his counsel. Another is fast with the dice.
One is sagacious at the wine-pouring,
a good beer-keeper. Another is a good builder
to have a home. One is a good general,
a bold director of armies. Another is a folk-adviser. (ll. 67-77)
One is a bold-minded thane at need
with his prince. Another has patience,
a steady spirit. One is a killer of birds,
crafty with a hawk. Another is bold upon a horse.
One is very agile, having ingenious sports,
a gift for mirthful deeds before the retinue,
light and loose in the limbs. Another is loving,
having concord among men at heart and word. (ll. 78-85)
One eagerly enfolds his soul’s need
in his mind and chooses the grace of the Measurer
for himself above all other earthly goods.
One is fierce-minded in the devil’s struggle,
he is always ready to fight against felonies.
One has skill in many churchly offices,
and can in praiseful songs celebrate loudly
the Sovereign of Life, having a lofty
and bright voice. Another is wise in books,
limb-strong in learning. Still another is
hand-ready in the writing of wordy mysteries. (ll. 86-96)
There is not now any man upon the earth
with a mind so crafty, nor so grown in power,
that any one should ever become endued
with all of them, lest boasting should harm him,
or his heart mount up due to his glory,
if he keeps his talent for himself among all other men,
beauty or wisdom or the profit of his works.
Yet God, rousing his glory, dispenses his gifts
to various humans, to this one for his virtue,
to that one for his skill, to one for his beauty,
to another for his warfare, to yet another man
he gives a mild heart, virtuous thought—
another is loyal to the Prince. (ll. 97-109)
So worthily the Lord scatters his glory wide.
Always thus let him possess our dignity,
our light-bearing praise, he who gives us
this life and reveals to men his mild heart. (ll. 110-13)
I had only heard of this poem today (at 73!) and find your translation impressive and evocative.
… And good to see you bear bravely your shield against brick-throwers abiding in barrenness!
Just doesn’t hit the nail on the head. A wishy-washy translation due to the insecurity of the translator.
I prefer specific and constructive criticism, but thanks anyway!
Its a solid translation, I’ve gone through it line by line and compared and its completely legit