“How often the lone-dweller anticipates
some sign, this Measurer’s mercy
— must always must—
mind-caring, along the ocean’s windings,
stirring rime-chill seas, hands as oars
many long whiles, treading the tracks of exile—
the way of the world an open book always.” (1–5)

So spoke the earth-stepper, a memorial of miseries
slaughter of the wrathful, crumbling of kinsmen:

“Often, every daybreak, alone I must
bewail my cares. There’s now no one living
to whom I dare mumble my mind’s understanding.
I know as truth that it’s seen suitable
for anyone to bind fast their spirit’s closet,
hold onto the hoards, think whatever — (8–14)

“Can a weary mind weather the shitstorm?
I think not.
Can a roiling heart set itself free?
I don’t think so.
So often those hustling for the win must
clamp down grim mindings in their coffer,
just as I ought fetter my inborn conceit,
often wounded, wanting where I know,
kindred pulled away, how many winters now?
I shrouded my giver in dark earth
and wended away worrisome,
weather-watching the wrapful waves,
hall-wretched, seeking a center,
far or near, where they might be found,
in some mead-hall, who knows of my kind,
willing to adopt a friendless me,
though they be joyful enough. (15–29a)

“The well-travelled know how slicing
sorrow can be by one’s side,
short a struggle-friend, however dear.
The ways of wandering wind him round
not even a wire of wound gold—
a frigid fastness, hardly any fruits of the fold.
This one lists the hall-lads swilling rings,
giver-drenched in youngsome days,
in both furnishing and feasting.
Joys all flown, vanished all away! (29b-36)

“Therefore one knows who long forgoes
the friendly words of their first,
when sleep and sorrow stand together
clutching at the crestfallen alone.
Somehow seems that somewhere inside
this one enwraps his lord and kisses his lord,
and laps both hands and head
on his knee, when, once upon a year
blurry in time now, one thrived by the throne —
too soon rousing, a friendless singular
seeing all around a fallowness of waves,
sea-birds bathing, fanning their feathers,
ice and snow hurtling, heaved up with hail. (37-48)

“So heavy and heavier the hurt in heart
harrowing for the lost. Sorrow made new
whenever recalling pervades the mind,
greeting kindred joyfully, drinking in the look of them
fellowable and fathoming—
                                              they always swim away.
Gulls ghost-call — I don’t know their tongue too well,
much of their comfort weird. Worrying made new
to that one who must send more and more, every day,
a bleary soul back across the binding of waves. (49-57)

“Therefore I cannot wonder across this world
why my mind does not muster in the murk
when I ponder pervading all the lives of humans,
how suddenly they abandon their halls,
proud princes and young. Right here in the middle
it fumbles and falls every day — (58-63)

“No one can be wise before earning their lot of winters
in this world. The wise one, they stay patient:
not too heart-heated, not so hasty to harp,
not too weak-armed, nor too wan-headed,
nor too fearful nor too fey nor too fee-felching,
and never tripping the tongue too much, before it trips them. (64-9)

“That one bides their moment to make brag,
until the inner fire seizes its moment clearly,
to where their secret self veers them.

Who’s wise must fore-ken how ghostly it has been
when the world and its things stand wasted —
like you find, here and there, in this middle space now —
there walls totter, wailed around by winds,
gnashed by frost, the buildings snow-lapt.
The winehalls molder, their wielder lies
washed clean of joys, his peerage all perished,
proud by the wall. War ravaged a bunch
ferried along the forth-way, others a raptor ravished
over lofty seas, this one the hoary wolf
broke in its banes, the last a brother
graveled in the ground, tears as war-mask. (70-84)

“That’s the way it goes—
the Shaper mills middle-earth to waste
until they stand empty, the giants’ work and ancient,
drained of the dreams and joys of its dwellers.” (85-7)

Then one wisely regards this wall-stead,
deliberates a darkened existence,
aged in spirit, often remembering from afar
many war-slaughterings, and speaks these words: (88-91)

“Where has the horse gone?
Where are my kindred?
Where is the giver of treasure?
Where are the benches to bear us?
Joys of the hall to bring us together?
No more, the bright goblet!
All gone, the mailed warrior!
Lost for good, the pride of princes!

“How the space of years has spread —
growing gloomy beneath the night-helm,
as if it never was! (92-6)

“Tracks of the beloved multitude, all that remains
walls wondrous tall, serpents seething—
thanes stolen, pillaged by ashen foes
gear glutting for slaughter — we know this world’s way,
and the storms still batter these stony cliffs.
The tumbling snows stumble up the earth,
the clash of winter, when darkness descends.
Night-shadows benighten, sent down from the north,
raw showers of ice, who doesn’t hate humanity? (97-105)

All shot through in misery in earthly realms,
fortune’s turn turns the world under sky.
Here the cash was a loan.
Your friends were a loan.
Anyone at all, a loan.
Your family only ever a loan—
And this whole foundation of the earth wastes away!” (106-10)

So says the wise one, you don’t hear him at all,
sitting apart reading their own runes. (111)
It’s better to clutch at your counsel,
you ought never manifest your miseries
not too quickly where they well,
unless the balm is clear beforehand, 
keep whittling at your courage. (112-14a)

It will be well for those who seek the favor,
the comfort from our father in heaven,
where a battlement bulwarks us all. (114b-5)



  • Hi! Dr. Hostetter, I seriously commend your effort in trying to communicate to some of these other commenters on the academic side of this poem. Looks like they’re just frustrated for receiving criticism. Anyways, I really like this translation, especially the lines, “So spoke the earth-stepper, memorial of miseries”, and “All shot through in misery in earthly realms, fortune’s turn turns the world under sky”. Love the term “earth-stepper”. It’s just so cool.

  • Thank you so much for sharing these translations. I was assigned a few for a class and have enjoyed exploring other parts of your site. I find the language so lovely and lithe.

    I do have one quick question (please forgive my ignorance if this has been addressed already or is too obvious to merit inquiry). In the stanza for lines 15-29a, you mention the “wrapful waves”. Is that meant to be synonymous with “wrathful waves” or is it intended to convey the image of being wrapped (and dragged under) by waves?

    • Hi, thanks for your question: I wanted to suggest “wrathful waves” for sure. The line reads “ofer waþema gebind” (24b), which literally means “the binding of waves” so you last thought is right on point.

  • I did leave a comment on The Battle of Maldon and was a bit disappointed not to see it in print But I have to say that with this and The Battle of Maldon I find the comments totally confusing What I will say is that as a newcomer to Anglo Saxon literature I find your translations by far the most satisfying of those that I have seen and I thank you for making them public

  • I\\\’ve always really loved this piece ever since I first read it long ago in an English Lit class in college. It\\\’s so enigmatic and mysterious because of its age and the difficulty of fully understanding it because of this fact. Reading your translation and the various comments about it in this thread made me curious about the Exeter Book as I don\\\’t know much about it. My understanding of it is that it is a very early book of largely secular poetry and riddles written/scribed by Benedictine monks in the tenth century just prior to the Norman Conquest. This was a period of relative calm, though England was split between Anglo-Saxon and Danish (Viking) rulers.

    My primary question is this: given that writing was a tedious, laborious grueling task for the monks, do we have any idea why would they spend their time writing this stuff down given that the book was generally not a religious text? Did they do it to bring pleasure to themselves or others through reading? That doesn\\\’t make sense to me since exerting so much effort on such a \\\”worldly\\\” thing doesn\\\’t seem in line with monastic life. Did they do it as sort of a demonstration project, a teaching tool, a state of the art example of writing for other monks? Since The Wanderer was sort of jumbled up with the rest of the writings and riddles in the rest of the book and some of other writings touch on many of the same themes as the Wanderer (primarily bemoaning the loss of a way of life), would it make sense that they wrote it as sort of a historical document of particularly English/Anglo-Saxon culture, a culture that had been diminished due to Danish influence throughout the land? Also, there is the question of actual authorship. Were the monks actually creating this stuff or were they just writing down verse that they had learned/heard from the non-literate English folk (perhaps the wealthier segments of the ruling classes), who were bitching, in very clever and thoughtful ways, about their loss of agency and influence? Or maybe a bit of both?

    Sorry for the long-winded questions…I\\\’m not a scholar. Just curious if we have any idea about this stuff, though my guess is that anything we do think is perhaps just speculation given the age of the Book.

    • Thanks for your question, per — there’s a few misprisions here that I’m happy to help with. First of all, the Exeter Book has tons of religious content — though modern audiences tend to prefer the other things. The first 8 items in the book (all longer poems) are Christ 1 (Advent), 2 (Ascension), 3 (Judgment), then Guthlac A (Life), Guthlac B (death), Azarias (about the Fiery Furnace episode in Daniel), The Phoenix (an allegorized beast legend about Christ), and Juliana (a saint’s life), THEN the “Wanderer” [you can find all 8 among my translations here].

      Second, the Exeter Book is a miscellany of both religious & more secular contents — and while the book was produced in a monastic milieu, its very existence attests to the complex reading tastes of a certain audience [It is far from a sure thing to say it was a product of Benedictine monks, however].

      Also, it’s probably not at all accurate to say that the English felt their culture was “diminished” by the presence of the Danes [This is a presumption of more modern nationalist ideas of identity]. There’s even a pretty intriguing line of inquiry that posits Old Norse & skaldic poetry were more responsible for what we figure is “Old English” poetry — thereby “enriching” and “enhancing” what seems to me a pretty dreary & monotonal poetic medium of OE.

      As for authorship, in some ways the question is moot: if she’s an oral poem, then no one can & everyone can claim authorship. The tradition is renewed & remade with each new telling. But she is also a literate adaptation & redaction of that traditional statement, so that moment freeze the poem in time & sets it down into concrete form. By an anonymous person, maybe the scribe, maybe someone else. At any rate that author is lost to time.

      Thanks again for your questions. I hope I could be helpful in our explorations!

  • I’m going through an English Lit course for Dual Credit, thus reading some of these entries, and reading discussion to answer a few tests.
    I won’t lie, Dr. Hostetter, you’re hilarious, and I thoroughly enjoy your interpretations and willingness to help everyone with questions, and you’re enthusiasm to standing up for your beliefs.
    Sorry if this is out of date, just had the urge to express this!
    Thank you!!

  • Stumbled on this translation from a reddit thread. It\’s really powerful, especially as translated. The only thing I find a tiny bit jarring is the occasional bit that sounds very modern (\”I don’t think so.\” as opposed to all the OE phrases throughout the rest. That said, I appreciate it may be the *best* translation of the original, which I can absolutely appreciate. Maybe because of that, the three lines at the bottom don\’t bother me as much. It really seems to my admittedly uneducated ear (I read this out loud to myself) that the last three lines could just as easily be a part of the whole as every other part. It seems to flow just as easily as any other part to my ear, which is to say it doesn\’t flow at all and none of it did.

    Sorry for rambling, but I just wanted to chime in with my appreciation.

    • Thank you so much for your support! I strive to avoid a complacency in translation that encourages simplistic & uncritical readings, so you’ll see stuff that jars you. Completely intentional.

      Thank you also for veering towards my point in responding to several of these previous commentors (this is not directed at you, of course): It doesn’t flipping matter if one doesn’t think the final lines of the “Wanderer” belong. Plain fact is that they’re there, in the only known copy of the poem. Any other version is a phantasm.

  • As the American empire slips away this poem is alive and prescient for 2021. It informs us of the transient nature of middle earth, mankind has been here before. We are all just wandering warriors, aliens in this land, just passing through until we reach that heavenly battlement that bulwarks us all.

    Thank you for the translation. Marvelous.

  • This translation is so good. It keeps the “weird” syntax of Old English poem.
    I had done a poor translation of this poem in my Old English class and was touched when I figured out the story, feeling the power of every image and the emotion inside the poem. I found it quite strangely that when I read a translation of the poem which puts all the verses into correct modern English grammar, the power of the poem was completely gone.
    In reading this translation I feel the power of this wonderful poem again. Thank you.

  • Is it just me or do the last three lines about seeking mercy and consolation from the father in heaven seem so out of place? The whole tenor of the poem is full of arresting, earthy imagery relating to the stoic “anhaga”, the loner, in a hostile world. Nothing very Christian about any of it. Perhaps the monk/scribe felt obliged to tack it on at the end.

    • Hello, I mean possibly? But there is absolutely no evidence of trasnsmission or provenance or date of this poem. Even less for its origins in “pagan” or Christian. First of all, the binary distinction between was absolutely not the experience of the Early English. Practices termed “syncretic” were far more common (as can be attested from grave goods, the exchange of letters in Bede’s Historia at the end of Book One, and the survival of the so-called “Metrical Charms” [which you can see here]) — even modern Xtnty maintains many syncretic practices. Also the need to view OE poetry as “very old” and therefore “pagan” arises out of the nationalist needs of early scholars (Xtnty was Mediterranean, of Jewish origin, and therefore not Volkisch). So that’s a problematic area to get into. One off-shoot of this misconception is that Christian monks somehow “spoiled” the “native spirit” of Germanic poetry. Scholars just don’t view scribes, monks, and poets in such stark & needlessly binary terms.

      Even the so-called “stoic” spirit of the main speaker is pretty just the product of Germanic nationalistic fanstasies originating in Tacitus. My latest attempts to complicate the poem’s voice suggest a broad range of strong emotions in this character (emotions which research is being to suggest were quite common for even the toughest warrior). I mean, come on — homeslice loses their lord and is so wrought over it they project the actual end of the world. That’s some drama there!

      • So I’m taking a Brit Lit class at my local community college, and I was trying to gain some information about this poem, and found this discussion. I have no credibility of my own, but my professor’s lecture (that shows a significantly shorter and slightly differently worded version of this poem) says that there were two authors. Here’s that section of it ” The main speaker in “The Wanderer” (there are actually two speakers: the unknown monk [probably, since it was the monks who were literate] who composes the poem; then the Wanderer himself; then the monk comes back in at the end (those frames seem layered on by the monk-writer—a justification for the pain that The Wanderer would not make)” I hope this is useful.

        • Hi there, as I’ve said in other comments here, this view is old school & quite outdated, based in “necessary” fissures between “pagan, Germanic” culture & Christian culture. The dichotomy has been totally overstated, & is not necessary to understand the poem in the only version we have available. No disrespect to your professor, of course.

    • I’m not sure if this helps, but I’m a student majoring in English and we did this poem as a part of our English Lit curriculum. The professor walked us through the possible interpretations and the common analyses of it. Generally, the poem is regarded as having four parts: the beginning and the end we added by the monk who recorded it, while the middle could be divided into two to show what the bard is talking about (reason for his exile and an almost instructive part of the poem). Hence, if we take this kind of division into consideration, the middle part of the poem was sung before the monk ever added his verses (the first and last three lines are speculated additions) which are clearly out of place, not just historical period wise, but also in regards to context.
      I hope this helps!

      • Hello — thanks for coming by! I do not mean to be disrespectful to either you or your instructor, but the model of monastic “interference” in “pure” Germanic poetry is WAAAAAAAY out of date. Literally no one seriously argues that any longer. That was Ezra Pound’s view of the “Seafarer” and though it was based in the scholarship of the time, that paradigm is not helpful at all (& based in some ugly narratives). Also, there is no reason to take the narrator(s)’ situation literally or biographically at all. This is fiction: authors are not the same as narrators. That’s basic literary interpretation.

        • You are so annoying. Glad you are the expert and can put any one with a different opinion or interpretation in their place. Thanks for providing the last word on everything. You are full of yourself in the way only young little geniuses can be. Far too few winters for you. Enlighten me more with the use of more words spelled like “WAAAAAAAY”.

          • The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

            (H. P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu”)

            All shade, all T: it seems that some have reached that point sooner than others…

            Ya drag yourself to an academic’s website & you’re going to be exposed to their scholarly opinion. In a teacherly & collegial manner when warranted. If you don’t like that, you can go piss in someone else’s houseplants. The Interwebs are big like that.

          • Opinions may vary, even (especially) amongst the experts.

            The key issue here is that the tone doesn’t match to _US_, readers a thousand years estranged from the cultural conditions that produced this text, at that particular moment, for a particular audience. We judge this text according to theories & models scholars have applied according to their needs & desires & agendas (like all science). We judge these poems by our standards of propriety or decorum or poetics — none of them necessarily accord with what produced the text or why.

            Some people like to say “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” but here they are precious few facts. So all we have are feelings. To be tested on the language of the text & what models & paradigms we set up.

        • Ah. I was skimming the comments when I came upon the interesting controversy in the comments.

          “the model of monastic “interference” in “pure” Germanic poetry is WAAAAAAAY out of date.”

          Even reading your comments, I’m confused as to what grounds you say this. I don’t know anyone who would use the word “pure” to describe Germanic tales and poetry, but my Classics professor said the same thing as Jovana’s prof.

          In my granted limited experience, it seems ubiquitous that anytime a religious sect transcribes for the prior Pagan community, the text is changed, integrated, or destroyed to suit the religious predisposition of the transcriber. In the Classics world, there’s a pagan continuity hypothesis with the very origin of Christianity, and many overt references to Greek plays in the Gospel of John.

          When there’s a clear tonal distinction, and an existing precedent for Christian modification to Pagan works, I don’t see why you’re resistant to the idea, and I’m curious for why you say this.

          Also. I have called myself Stigandr, ‘Wanderer’, as my online name for 16 years, and I’m only just finding this poem! lol. This is really cool.

          • The key term is “pagan” — quite simply, there is no such thing. There are pre-Xtn cultures or beliefs, but “paganos” is a Xtn slur against non-believers. Also, the concept of pre-Xtn beliefs are derived (esp. for thse outside the Greco-Roman sphere) totally from a Xtn perspective, hardly unbiased or impartial, and often involve forcing a Xtn metaphysical model on anything that they didn’t understand, that didn’t translate neatly.

            Everything else in your reply is either a case of apples & oranges or what smacks of sealioning, so I’ll leave it at that. Also, I said what I said in my previous post. That’s how I understand the issue & what informs my research. You asking the same question again doesn’t invalidate anything: it usually means you didn’t read it. You are free to disagree with any of it.

        • I agree honestly, in my university research at the moment we tend strongly away from the fallacy of ‘pagan reflex’ vs. Christian writing. It sets up binaries that really didn’t exist!

    • I see the the poem as one where the the wanderer who loses his people and place among men finally turns to his Father in Heaven as the unchanging rock in a changing world.

      • That’s cool — but consider this: that god themself has changed so much in two thousand years of Xtn history. Not for nothing, rocks change too.

      • Look, I know y’all seem pressed by the apparent change in the poem — and given the timing of this repetitive chatter, pressed by the change in my translation. The plain fact is that this is the Wanderer we have now, no other version exists, nothing at all. Anyone one of us can like it or not, but to say “no depth of thought” is just presumptious & actually not a critically supportable idea. Who are any of us to judge the poetic expression of a culture we actually dont have that many clear ideas about? We have literally no idea about what aesthetic principles guide this culture’s lyric expression at this moment (a moment we cannot really date beyond its appearance in the Exeter Book).

        Ezra Pound once advised giving little credence to the poetic rules & expectations & systems set down by people who haven’t written a poem. If you’ve written a poem that has survived at least a thousand years, then maybe we can talk — but the biggest challenge to understanding OE poetry as such is forgetting all the decades of seriously unhelpful ideas about that archive.

        Future time-wasting on this topic will be trashed unread.

        • You seem very immature. From all of your comments, you seem rather unlikable, and I suggest you realise that and change for the better (That is to say you might be likable in reality, but you fail to converse online in an appropriate manner).

          The main topic at hand was about the sudden change in tone from the beginning and middle in comparison to the end. The replies are all giving their thoughts and opinions on why this might be, going from “An added extra as generations passed on”, to “an originally added on part due to the scribe”, and others thinking “it was the author’s fault”. Yet, you are insistent in shutting down any conversation, saying that is unnecessary and a waste of time. In fact, it is the opposite; knowing the history and setting of the literature is incredibly important in understanding the literature.

          • Hello whoever you are. Great start to your comments. Tone-policing is always going to get you far in a critical conversation. I’m grown, don’t tell me how to talk on my own page. If it vexes, go somewhere else. Many of my respondents have mistaken my natural informality as disrespect. It’s common, especially if one is pretentious themselves or are still traumatized by their own education. And so you’ll likely really hate what I’m about to say. Also, if you can’t challenge the facts, focus on the language or style of the response. Awesome strategy!

            Rule number one of Internets: no one owes you a debate. I have responded in generosity & fairness to every _polite_ commenter & presented alternatives to these musty old critical commonplaces about Old English literature. Instead of making a claim or providing evidence to assrt why I’m wrong, the next commenter makes the exact same statement, in almost the exact same words. That’s not a conversation, that’s a concatenation — and I simply do not have time for it. I give the same response, and I have been given no reason to mediate my response. But I am no longer going to do so. Repeated comments will be moderated out of existence.

            The traditionla & superannuated paradigms for OE literature are themselves “unnecessary and a waste of time” — they’ve been proven to be. They do not lead to new insights into the literature, they dont help us understand that world. You’d really have to search to find a working scholar that makes this claim any longer (not that there are none). It goes against every bit of codicological evidence we have & really emanates out of mythology & fabulation. I’ve said why, repeatedly — I’m not repeating it for you now. Scroll up.

            The first “Anglo-Saxonist” to make those claims about the “Wanderer” had no real evidence to flesh out their speculation. At best it was correlation without cause. They made it up, iow — because the poem is highly enigmatic, riddling even. And these scholars had their needs. Nobody knows _exactly_ what the poem is about. So why be so sure they’re right & I’m wrong? Why get so offended when someone suggests an alternative that might respond more naurally to what we know now, in the Year of Our Guinea Pig Lord 2021?

            Why get so offended when a scholar gets tired of answering the same question?

            Hope that’s helpful! Have a wonderful day!

          • You might want to attend to your own posting tone!
            –from the Tone Fairy

            I find the tone comments rather tone-deaf.

  • A lovely translation for these times. “Where has the horse gone? Where is the man? Where is the giver of treasure?
    Where are the seats at the feast? Where are the joys of the hall?“ really sang to me. Found the reference to thus poem in Alexandra Harris book Weatherland.

    • Tolkien was deeply involved with The Wanderer and elements of it were put to good use by The King of Rohan in his monologue.

  • Half past eleven at night in Budapest I marvel and am grateful that people think it is important to try out translations and to take up positions around this poem.

    Its weather makes me grateful for my warm bed.

  • I thought you all might be interested in this excerpt from an essay by Ezra Pound, published in Poetry (Chicago) Magazine, VI. Oct-March 1915-1916:

    The Wanderer, is like to this, a broken man speaking:

    Ne maeg werigmod wryde withstondan
    ne se hreo hyge helpe gef remman :
    for thon domgeorne dreorigne oft
    in hrya breostcofan bindath faeste.

    “For the doom-eager bindeth fast his blood-bedraggled heart
    in his breast” — an apology for speaking at all, and speech
    only pardoned because his captain and all the sea-faring
    men and companions are dead ; some slain of wolves, some
    torn from the cliffs by sea-birds whom they had plundered.

    • I appreciate your enthusiasm, but it’s important to remember that the “Wanderer” is not autobiographical at all. Pound is indulging in a bit of nativist fantasy, imagining some sort of ancient purity of culture based in paganism and the warrior ethos. If that sounds a bit fascist to you, it’s because that sort of mythology is at the root of fascism (and Ezra Pound certainly did end up GOING THERE).

      The roots of the poem might be as old pagan warrior days, but the version we have definitely derives from monks. The conditions described in the poem, vivid as they are, are resonant references to older days in order to express a contemplative message through the remnants of the culture. It’s a contrived artifact, in other words, like all poetry.

      • Exceedingly artificial and inauthentic flow in parts and you’re extremely insufferable in the comments.Passing off potential theories, that are no where near accepted and widespread, as fact whilst fully dismissing other theories and going on about fascism in the comments in a rambling incoherent word vomit as a thinly veiled attempt at devaluing differing opinions and pushing an American-centric ,oddly political in parts view, on early medieval England.The arrogance, wilful ignorance, unprofessional demeanour, condescension and lack of understanding about how your own culture has clearly skewed your perceptions is shocking, and if this is acceptable conduct and standards in American academic spaces on the old English period then I’ll happily stick to British academic spaces.

        • Well, aren’t you adorable? Thanks for stopping in & leaving such constructive, specific, & useful criticism.

          I have no time for fossils, bruh — and neither does early English studies. So bye, I guess. Chuffed to meet you.

    • Dear Professor Baldwin, are you sure this citation is correct? Can you offer the number of the issue and page no? I cannot find it in Poetry (Chicago) Vol VI Warwick Gould (warwick.gould@sas.ac.uk)

  • I wondered whether this version of the end of the poem might be of interest

    Anglo Saxon The Wanderer (ln 95….)
    ………….. Hwær sindon seledreamas?
    eala beorht bune, eala bymnwiga,
    eaha <eodnes <rym! Hu seo prag gewãt,
    genäp under nihthelm, swä heo no waere!
    Stondeð nu on laste leofre dugu<e
    weal wundrum heah, wyrmlicum fah:
    eorlas fornomon æsca <ry<e
    wæpen wælgifru, wyrd seo mære,
    and <as stanhleo<u stormas cnyssað;
    hrid hreosende hrusan bindeð,
    wintres woma, <onne won cymeð,
    niped nihtscua, nor<an onsendeð
    hreo hæglfare hæle<um on andan.
    Eall is earfodlic eoran rice,
    onwendeð wyrda gesceaft weoruld under heofonum.
    Horse and valiant man have vanished; all
    our mighty bronze-decked warriors rest in clay,
    feasting joys have fled the princes’ halls,
    kings, glory, battle-triumphs passed away.

    Time reaches Shadow as Day enters Night.
    Guided by ashen spears, called by the cry
    of weapons hot for blood with edges bright,
    where soldiers stood stand worm-worked walls grave high.

    Hail from the North beats back my narrow hopes,
    darkness sheds shadow, shadows deck the gloom,
    cold storms of rain drive down on stony slopes;
    all Earth is warped in Heaven’s fateful loom.

    My transient friends are gone, their souls have fled,
    my shield alone holds back the turning page.
    Hardship is here; my rosy world is dead,
    Bitter winter snows my hair with age.

    This is by no means a literal translation of the lines towards the end of this poem, Rather it is an attempt to convey the melancholy mood of the old soldier who has outlived both his comrades-in-arms and the social superiors he respected and who valued his prowess in battle. Younger men probably see an old bore who is always scrounging a drink, a bite to eat, or a warm corner where he can to sit and bend the ear of anyone foolish enough to greet him.
    NB wyrml?cum: serpentine, serpent-like, worm-like? It is often suggested this refers to the encircling ditches characteristic of multivalate Iron Age hillforts. However in the context of the implications of the poem, I have chosen to ‘read’it, as worm-worked – an image of the sides of a grave that already holds each of his contemporaries and awaits him before too long he hopes because his world is long-vanished into the mist of Time..

    • Dr Blake, your version of the poem\’s ending is heart-melting and under your pen-wand \”the space of years\” between us and the original poet appears to evanesce, \”as if it never was\”. Thank you!

  • Here are two more parts:

    For what should he do – when his warden’s
    man lore-lessons – are long lacking?
    When sorrow and sloth – settle together
    he anguish-enclosed – oft bindeth.
    Thinketh he in mood – that his master-king
    clasps and kisses, – and on knee lays
    hands and head, – as he betimes did
    in years-done – gift-stools delight.
    Then awakeneth – again friendless groom,
    far sees before him – fallow waves,
    bathing brim-fowls – broadening feathers
    falling hoarfrost and snow – hail be-mingled.

    Then be-it that heavy – heart burns,
    sorely after his own-kind. – Sorrow be magnified
    when man-clan reminds – mood yonder-bends
    greets-he gleefully – yearningly yonder-sees
    sword clan-mates; – swim oft away
    floating forth – no fellow brings
    known call-songs. – Cares be magnified
    when he shall send – strongly enough
    over waves bound – a weary spirit.

    I am just the scrivener here–working through word-roots wherever possible to restore this masterpiece to something of its original glory. It’s a truly remarkable piece of literature. The more I work with it the more I appreciate the Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse form. Iambic pentameter it is not–nor free verse. It’s a form unto itself. The possible word choices are heavily constrained by the alliteration requirement. The requirement for balanced couplets is equally constraining but also liberating. It’s no wonder there was so much compounding and word-coining.

  • Dr. Hostetter, I would like to know what you think of this rendering of lines 1-36. This rendering preserves or otherwise restores the Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse form but using words that have intuitively approachable meanings to modern readers. It reads almost word-for-word on the Anglo-Saxon. The meter is authentic Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse as near as I can tell.

    Oft him enclosed – is afforded,
    Maker mercies – though he be mood-caring
    beyond lake-lode – long should
    he-row with hands – hoarfrost-cold sea
    wading wretch-paths. – Weird-fate be fully fixed!
    So quoth earth-stepper, – earth-footman mindful,
    wrathful wound-slaughter – worshiped-kinfolks ruined:

    Oft I must alone – aurora-morns when
    my cares moan. – Now quick are none
    that I him dare – my heart-spirit share,
    surely speak. – I to sooth know
    that be in earls – ennobled habit
    that he his heart-fort – fast binds
    holds his hoard-cave – to consider as he will.

    No weary-mood kinsman – weird-fate can withstand
    Nor rough heart – can help perform.
    Thus the doom-prone – drearyness oft
    in his breast-cave – bindeth fast;
    So my mood-spirit – mine I must,
    oft anguish-caring – earth-home deprived
    free-kinfolks far – fetters fasten
    since years gone – gold-friend mine
    earthen hole-spot draped – and I humble thence
    waded winter-caring – over waves bound
    sought hall dreary – zinc bestower
    where I far or near – find might
    one in mead-hall who – my kinfolks knew,
    or me, friendless – comfort would,
    wean with delight. What thou knowest
    how joyless it-be to journey with sorrow
    when he little has – a loved protector:
    wretch-paths weary him, – not wound gold,
    heart-fort freezes him, – not folded earth-hoard.
    Recalls he kin-clans – and coin-clench,
    how he in younghood – his gold-friend
    weaned to feast. – Wonders all be-fallen!

    • Hi Bret, Still owe you comments on your Beowulf lines, but thank you for sharing these. I really like your work here, & totally get you’re trying to do. There are bits that REALLY work (morn moans, fort freezes folded, coin-clench, etc.) that I really covet having said. “Aurora-morn moans” for “uhtecearig” stops me a bit, though I see you are going for the similar vowel sounds in the start. I might go with, though it breaks the pattern, “Cracking-morn moans” since “uhte” is the moment before dawn. “Hole-spot” also stops me cold. But all poems require work and revision, so keep going. What you have here are amazing bones for further work!

      • Thanks for these comments. This is encouraging. My intent is to render the lines following the poetic meter and alliterative verse used by the Anglo-Saxons. In doing so there are sacrifices such as precise word meanings. However, Anglo-Saxon proper itself being a dead language, it’s apparent that all Anglo-Saxon dictionaries are to some extent or another all based on conjecture and speculation. We can never really appreciate nuanced word meanings from the time. However, we do have word roots and to the extent possible I have used them. That’s why I would stick with aurora-morns. The most important word in the line (possibly the poem) is alone–and it must alliterate with another vowel in the anglo-saxon form. The only modern word relating to the crack of dawn that starts with a vowel (that I could find) is aurora. It just so happens that the word “moan” makes a very good compound. I started with “dawn” but it works so well with “moan” that I used it. I also noted that the end of moan connects to “none” just like the end of cwiþan connects to “nan.” An alternate way to render the line is to use “call” for “moan” so the alliteration is preserved, but then the connection with “none” is lost. Word choices….

        If you don’t mind let me post the whole thing when I am done. It’s taking some time since I haven’t really formally studied Anglo-Saxon so I am learning it as I go.

        • Thank you Brett Randal for your stirring and heart-felt translations–this one and the one above. How I would love to see your translation of the complete poem. Hope you will publish it here. Amazing that you have not formally studied Anglo-Saxon.You must be a poet.

        • So, 5 years after the fact. Couldn’t you go with “Oft I must alone – afore morns when…”

          That preserves the vowel sounds and serves the original meaning.

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