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Oft him anhaga Often the solitary one
are gebideð, finds grace for himself
metudes miltse,the mercy of the Lord,
þeah þe he modcearig Although he, sorry-hearted,
geond lagulade must for a long time
longe sceolde move by hand [in context = row]
4a hreran mid hondum along the waterways,
hrimcealde sæ (along) the ice-cold sea,
wadan wræclastas.tread the paths of exile.
Wyrd bið ful aræd!Events always go as they must!

Swa cwæð eardstapa,So spoke the wanderer,
earfeþa gemyndig,mindful of hardships,
wraþra wælsleahta,of fierce slaughters
winemæga hryre:and the downfall of kinsmen:

8a Oft ic sceolde ana Often (or always) I had alone
uhtna gehwylce to speak of my trouble
mine ceare cwiþan. each morning before dawn.
Nis nu cwicra nanThere is none now living
þe ic him modsefan to whom I dare
minne durre clearly speak
sweotule asecgan. of my innermost thoughts.
Ic to soþe watI know it truly,
12aþæt biþ in eorlethat it is in men
indryhten þeaw,a noble custom,
þæt he his ferðlocan that one should keep secure
fæste binde, his spirit-chest (mind),
healde his hordcofan,guard his treasure-chamber (thoughts),
hycge swa he wille.think as he wishes.
Ne mæg werig modThe weary spirit cannot
wyrde wiðstondan,withstand fate (the turn of events),
16ane se hreo hygenor does a rough or sorrowful mind
helpe any good (perform anything helpful).
Forðon domgeorneThus those eager for glory
dreorigne oft often keep secure
in hyra breostcofan dreary thoughts
bindað fæste; in their breast;
swa ic modsefan So I,
minne sceolde, often wretched and sorrowful,
20a oft earmcearig, bereft of my homeland,
eðle bidæled, far from noble kinsmen,
freomægum feor have had to bind in fetters
feterum sælan, my inmost thoughts,
siþþan geara iuSince long years ago
goldwine minne I hid my lord
hrusan heolstre biwrah, in the darkness of the earth,
ond ic hean þonanand I, wretched, from there
24awod wintercearigtravelled most sorrowfully
ofer waþema gebind,over the frozen waves,
sohte seledreorigsought, sad at the lack of a hall,
sinces bryttan,a giver of treasure,
hwær ic feor oþþe neahwhere I, far or near,
findan meahtemight find
þone þe in meoduhealleone in the meadhall who
mine wisse,knew my people,
28a oþþe mec freondleasne or wished to console
frefran wolde, the friendless one, me,
wenian mid wynnum.entertain (me) with delights.
Wat se þe cunnaðHe who has tried it knows
hu sliþen biðhow cruel is
sorg to geferansorrow as a companion
þam þe him lyt hafaðto the one who has few
leofra geholena:beloved friends:
32awarað hine wræclast,the path of exile (wræclast) holds him,
nales wunden gold,not at all twisted gold,
ferðloca freorig,a frozen spirit,
nalæs foldan blæd.not the bounty of the earth.
Gemon he selesecgasHe remembers hall-warriors
ond sincþege,and the giving of treasure
hu hine on geoguðe How in youth his lord (gold-friend)
his goldwine accustomed him
36a wenede to wiste. to the feasting.
Wyn eal gedreas!All the joy has died!

Forþon wat se þe scealAnd so he knows it, he who must
his winedryhtnes forgo for a long time
leofes larcwidum the counsels
longe forþolian: of his beloved lord:
ðonne sorg ond slæðThen sorrow and sleep
somod ætgædreboth together
40a earmne anhogan often tie up
oft gebindað. the wretched solitary one.
þinceð him on modeHe thinks in his mind
þæt he his mondryhten that he embraces and kisses
clyppe ond cysse, his lord,
ond on cneo lecgeand on his (the lord's) knees lays
honda ond heafod,his hands and his head,
swa he hwilum ærJust as, at times (hwilum), before,
44ain geardagumin days gone by,
giefstolas breac.he enjoyed the gift-seat (throne).
Ðonne onwæcneð eft Then the friendless man
wineleas guma, wakes up again,
gesihð him biforanHe sees before him
fealwe wegas,fallow waves
baþian brimfuglas,Sea birds bathe,
brædan feþra,preening their feathers,
48ahreosan hrim ond snawFrost and snow fall,
hagle gemenged.mixed with hail.

Þonne beoð þy hefigranThen are the heavier
heortan benne,the wounds of the heart,
sare æfter swæsne.grievous (sare) with longing for (æfter) the lord.
Sorg bið geniwadSorrow is renewed
þonne maga gemynd when the mind (mod) surveys
mod geondhweorfeð; the memory of kinsmen;
52agreteð gliwstafum,He greets them joyfully,
georne geondsceawaðeagerly scans
secga geseldan;the companions of men;
swimmað oft on wegthey always swim away.
fleotendra ferðThe spirits of seafarers
no þær fela bringeðnever bring back there much
cuðra the way of known speech.
Cearo bið geniwadCare is renewed
56aþam þe sendan scealfor the one who must send
swiþe geneahhevery often
ofer waþema gebindover the binding of the waves
werigne sefan.a weary heart.

Forþon ic geþencan ne mægIndeed I cannot think
geond þas woruld why my spirit
for hwan modsefa does not darken
min ne gesweorce when I ponder on the whole
60a þonne ic eorla lif life of men
eal geondþence, throughout the world,
hu hi færliceHow they suddenly
flet ofgeafon,left the floor (hall),
modge maguþegnas.the proud thanes.
Swa þes middangeardSo this middle-earth,
ealra dogra gehwama bit each day,
dreoseð ond fealleð;droops and decays -
64a forþon ne mæg weorþan wis Therefore man (wer)
wer, ær he age cannot call himself wise, before he has
wintra dæl in woruldrice.a share of years in the world.
Wita sceal geþyldig,A wise man must be patient,
ne sceal no to hatheortHe must never be too impulsive
ne to hrædwyrde,nor too hasty of speech,
ne to wac wiganor too weak a warrior
ne to wanhydig,nor too reckless,
68ane to forht ne to fægen,nor too fearful, nor too cheerful,
ne to feohgifrenor too greedy for goods,
ne næfre gielpes to georn,nor ever too eager for boasts,
ær he geare cunne.before he sees clearly.
Beorn sceal gebidan,A man must wait
þonne he beot spriceð,when he speaks oaths,
oþþæt collenferðuntil the proud-hearted one
cunne gearwesees clearly
72ahwider hreþra gehygdwhither the intent of his heart
hweorfan wille.will turn.
Ongietan sceal gleaw hæleA wise hero must realize
hu gæstlic bið,how terrible it will be,
þonne ealre þisse worulde welawhen all the wealth of this world
weste stondeð,lies waste,
swa nu missenliceas now in various places
geond þisne middangeardthroughout this middle-earth
76a winde biwaune walls stand,
weallas stondaþ, blown by the wind,
hrime bihrorene,covered with frost,
hryðge þa ederas.storm-swept the buildings.
Woriað þa winsalo,The halls decay,
waldend licgaðtheir lords lie
dreame bidrorene,deprived of joy,
duguþ eal gecrong,the whole troop has fallen,
80awlonc bi wealle.the proud ones, by the wall.
Sume wig fornom,War took off some,
ferede in forðwege,carried them on their way,
sumne fugel oþbærone, the bird took off
ofer heanne holm,across the deep sea,
sumne se hara wulfone, the gray wolf
deaðe gedælde,shared one with death,
sumne dreorighleorone, the dreary-faced
84a in eorðscræfe man buried
eorl gehydde. in a grave.
Yþde swa þisne eardgeardAnd so He destroyed this city,
ælda scyppendHe, the Creator of Men,
oþþæt burgwarauntil deprived of the noise
breahtma lease of the citizens,
eald enta geweorcthe ancient work of giants
idlu stodon.stood empty.

88aSe þonne þisne wealstealHe who thought wisely
wise geþohte on this foundation,
ond þis deorce lifand pondered deeply
deope geondþenceð, on this dark life,
frod in ferðe,wise in spirit,
feor oft gemonremembered often from afar
wælsleahta worn,many conflicts,
ond þas word acwið:and spoke these words:

92aHwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago? [#]Where is the horse gone? Where the rider?
Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?Where the giver of treasure?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?Where are the seats at the feast?
Hwær sindon seledreamas?Where are the revels in the hall?
Eala beorht bune!Alas for the bright cup!
Eala byrnwiga!Alas for the mailed warrior!
Eala þeodnes þrym!Alas for the splendour of the prince!
Hu seo þrag gewat,How that time has passed away,
96agenap under nihthelm,dark under the cover of night,
swa heo no wæ if it had never been!
Stondeð nu on lasteNow there stands in the trace
leofre duguþeof the beloved troop
weal wundrum heah,a wall, wondrously high,
wyrmlicum fah.wound round with serpents.
Eorlas fornomanThe warriors taken off
asca þryþe,by the glory of spears,
100awæpen wælgifru,the weapons greedy for slaughter,
wyrd seo mære,the famous fate (turn of events),
ond þas stanhleoþuand storms beat
stormas cnyssað, these rocky cliffs,
hrið hreosendefalling frost
hrusan bindeð,fetters the earth,
wintres woma,the harbinger of winter;
þonne won cymeð,Then dark comes,
104anipeð nihtscua,nightshadows deepen,
norþan onsendeðfrom the north there comes
hreo hæglfarea rough hailstorm
hæleþum on malice against men.
Eall is earfoðlicAll is troublesome
eorþan rice,in this earthly kingdom,
onwendeð wyrda gesceaftthe turn of events changes
weoruld under heofonum.the world under the heavens.
108aHer bið feoh læne,Here money is fleeting,
her bið freond læne,here friend is fleeting,
her bið mon læne,here man is fleeting,
her bið mæg læne,here kinsman is fleeting,
eal þis eorþan gestealall the foundation of this world
idel weorþeð!turns to waste!

Swa cwæð snottor on mode,So spake the wise man in his mind,
gesæt him sundor æt rune.where he sat apart in counsel.
112aTil biþ se þe his treowe gehealdeþ,Good is he who keeps his faith,
ne sceal næfre his torn to ryceneAnd a warrior must never speak
beorn of his breostum acyþan, his grief of his breast too quickly,
nemþe he ær þa bote cunne,unless he already knows the remedy -
eorl mid elne gefremman.a hero must act with courage.
Wel bið þam þe him are seceð,It is better for the one that seeks mercy,
frofre to Fæder on heofonum,consolation from the father in the heavens,
þær us eal seo fæstnung stondeð.where, for us, all permanence rests.


line 92a: In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in chapter six of The Two Towers, Aragorn sings a song of Rohan (itself a version of Anglo-Saxon England), beginning "Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?". The song clearly comes from this section of The Wanderer. (A more strictly literal translation of "mago" would be "youth", hence "Where is the horse gone? Where the young man?" -- but since the horse and the youth appear in the same half-line, Tolkien's rendering "rider" is very hard to resist.) [ Back to text ]