The Seafarer

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Mæg ic be me sylfum soðgied wrecan, [I can utter a true tale about myself,]siþas secgan, hu ic geswincdagum [tell of my travels, how in laboursome days]earfoðhwile oft þrowade, [a time of hardship I often suffered,]bitre breostceare gebiden hæbbe, [how bitter sorrow in my breast I have borne,]gecunnad in ceole cearselda fela, [made trial on shipboard of many sorrowful abodes; ]atol yþa gewealc, þær mec oft bigeat [dread was the rolling of the waves; there my task was often]nearo nihtwaco æt nacan stefnan, [the hard night-watch at the boat's prow,]þonne he be clifum cnossað. Calde geþrungen [when it tosses by the cliffs. Afflicted with cold,]wæron mine fet, forste gebunden, [my feet were fettered by frost,]caldum clommum, þær þa ceare seofedun [by chilling bonds. There my sorrows sighed forth,]hat ymb heortan; hungor innan slat [intensely round my heart; within, hunger rent]merewerges mod. Þæt se mon ne wat [the mind of the sea-weary man. The man knows not ]þe him on foldan fægrost limpeð, [who on land fares most prosperously]hu ic earmcearig iscealdne sæ [how I, sad and wretched, on the ice-cold sea]winter wunade wræccan lastum, [have spent a winter as an exile,]winemægum bidroren, [cut off from kinsmen,]bihongen hrimgicelum; hægl scurum fleag. [hung round with icicles. The hail flew in showers.]Þær ic ne gehyrde butan hlimman sæ, [I heard nothing there but the sea booming,]iscaldne wæg. Hwilum ylfete song [the ice-cold wave, at times the cry of the whooper swan.]dyde ic me to gomene, ganetes hleoþor [I took my joy in the cry of the gannet]ond huilpan sweg fore hleahtor wera, [and the sound of the curlew instead of men's laughter,]mæw singende fore medodrince. [the screaming gull instead of mead-drink.]Stormas þær stanclifu beotan, þær him stearn oncwæð [Storms beat there on the stone-cliffs, where the tern answered them]isigfeþera; ful oft þæt earn bigeal, [with icy feathers; very often the eagle screamed,]urigfeþra; ne ænig hleomæga [dewy-feathered; no protector]feasceaftig ferð frefran meahte. [could comfort the desolate heart.]Forþon him gelyfeð lyt, se þe ah lifes wyn [Yet little he believes who has joy in life,]gebiden in burgum, bealosiþa hwon, [who stays at home, seldom painfully voyaging,]wlonc ond wingal, hu ic werig oft [proud and flushed with wine, how often I weary ]in brimlade bidan sceolde. [endured on the ocean-way.]Nap nihtscua, norþan sniwde, [The shadow of night darkened, it snowed from the north,]hrim hrusan bond, hægl feol on eorþan, [frost bound the earth, hail fell on the earth,]corna caldast. Forþon cnyssað nu [coldest of grain. Yet now stir]heortan geþohtas, þæt ic hean streamas, [the thoughts of my heart that I the towering seas,]sealtyþa gelac sylf cunnige; [the tossing salt-waves, alone venture;]monað modes lust mæla gehwylce [the heart's desire urges at all times ]ferð to feran, þæt ic feor heonan [to fare onwards so that I far hence]elþeodigra eard gesece. [seek out the land of the alien.]Forþon nis þæs modwlonc mon ofer eorþan, [Yet there is no man on earth so proud ]ne his gifena þæs god, ne in geoguþe to þæs hwæt, [nor so good in gift-giving, so bold in youth,]ne in his dædum to þæs deor, ne him his dryhten to þæs hold, [so daring in his deeds, with a lord so gracious to him,]þæt he a his sæfore sorge næbbe, [that he has no anxiety in sea-faring]to hwon hine dryhten gedon wille. [as to what the lord will bring him.]Ne biþ him to hearpan hyge ne to hringþege, [He thinks not of the harp, the receiving of rings,]ne to wife wyn ne to worulde hyht, [the delight of a woman, the joy of the world,]ne ymbe owiht elles, nefne ymb yða gewealc, [nor anything else save the welter of waves,]ac a hafað longunge se þe on lagu fundað. [he always lacks peace of mind who sets out on the sea.]Bearwas blostmum nimað, byrig fægriað, [The woods put forth blossoms, the towns are fair,]wongas wlitigiað, woruld onetteð; [the meadows shine, the world quickens;]ealle þa gemoniað modes fusne [all these incite the eager-minded]sefan to siþe, þam þe swa þenceð [heart to a journey, he who so intends]on flodwegas feor gewitan. [travelling far on the flood-ways.]Swylce geac monað geomran reorde, [Even so the cuckoo urges with sad voice,]singeð sumeres weard, sorge beodeð [summer's warder sings, bodes sorrow]bitter in breosthord. Þæt se beorn ne wat, [bitter in the breast-hoard. The man does not know,]esteadig secg, hwæt þa sume dreogað [the prosperous man, what they suffer]þe þa wræclastas widost lecgað. [who most widely set on the tracks of exile.]Forþon nu min hyge hweorfeð ofer hreþerlocan, [That's why my thought turns in my breast,]min modsefa mid mereflode [my mind amid the sea-flood]ofer hwæles eþel hweorfeð wide, [across the whale's home turns widely,]eorþan sceatas, cymeð eft to me [the earth's expanse, comes again to me]gifre ond grædig, gielleð anfloga, [eager and greedy, the lone-flyer screams,]hweteð on hwælweg hreþer unwearnum [urges on the whale-way the heart relentlessly]ofer holma gelagu. Forþon me hatran sind [over the ocean's expanse. That's why warm me]dryhtnes dreamas þonne þis deade lif, [more the joys of the lord than this dead life,]læne on londe. Ic gelyfe no [brief on earth. I do not believe]þæt him eorðwelan ece stondað. [that earthly wealth will stand eternal.]Simle þreora sum þinga gehwylce, [Always one of three things,]ær his tid aga, to tweon weorþeð; [before its time comes, proves uncertain;]adl oþþe yldo oþþe ecghete [sickness or age or sword-hatred]fægum fromweardum feorh oðþringeð. [from the fated, about-to-die wrests away life.]Forþon þæt bið eorla gehwam æftercweþendra [Therefore will those speaking of a warrior,]lof lifgendra lastworda betst, [praise by the living, best final words]þæt he gewyrce, ær he on weg scyle, [that he work for, before he goes away,]fremum on foldan wið feonda niþ, [good acts on earth against the malice of fiends,]deorum dædum deofle togeanes, [brave deeds against the devil,]þæt hine ælda bearn æfter hergen, [so that the children of men after praise him]ond his lof siþþan lifge mid englum [and his fame afterwards lives with the angels]awa to ealdre, ecan lifes blæd, [for ever and ever, eternal life's glory, ]dream mid dugeþum. Dagas sind gewitene, [joy among the hosts. The days are gone,]ealle onmedlan eorþan rices; [all the magnificence of earthly kingdoms;]næron nu cyningas ne caseras [now neither kings nor kaisers]ne goldgiefan swylce iu wæron, [nor gold-givers are what they were,]þonne hi mæst mid him mærþa gefremedon [when they performed greatest deeds between them,]ond on dryhtlicestum dome lifdon. [and lived in lordly renown.]Gedroren is þeos duguð eal, dreamas sind gewitene, [All this host is fallen, joys have gone,]wuniað þa wacran ond þas woruld healdaþ, [the weak remain and keep the world,]brucað þurh bisgo. Blæd is gehnæged, [possess it in trouble. Glory is brought low,]eorþan indryhto ealdað ond searað, [the nobleness of the world ages and withers,]swa nu monna gehwylc geond middangeard. [as now does each man through middle-earth.]Yldo him on fareð, onsyn blacað, [Old age comes to him, his face pales,]gomelfeax gnornað, wat his iuwine, [gray-haired he mourns, knows that his former friends,]æþelinga bearn, eorþan forgiefene. [the sons of nobles, are given over to the earth.]Ne mæg him þonne se flæschoma, þonne him þæt feorg losað, [Nor can his flesh-home, when his life fails,]ne swete forswelgan ne sar gefelan, [eat sweet things, nor feel pain,]ne hond onhreran ne mid hyge þencan. [nor move his hand, nor think with his mind.]Þeah þe græf wille golde stregan [Although he strew the grave with gold,]broþor his geborenum, byrgan be deadum, [bury his blood-brother among the dead]maþmum mislicum þæt hine mid wille, [with various treasures that will go with him,]ne mæg þære sawle þe biþ synna ful [the soul that's full of sin cannot]gold to geoce for godes egsan, [avail itself of gold against God's terror,]þonne he hit ær hydeð þenden he her leofað. [when he before hides it while he lives here.]Micel biþ se meotudes egsa, forþon hi seo molde oncyrreð; [Great is the Almighty's power before which the earth will blench;]se gestaþelade stiþe grundas, [he established the firm land,]eorþan sceatas ond uprodor. [the earth's expanse, the heavens above.]Dol biþ se þe him his dryhten ne ondrædeþ; cymeð him se deað unþinged. [Foolish is he who fears not his lord; death comes to him unexpectedly.]Eadig bið se þe eaþmod leofaþ; cymeð him seo ar of heofonum, [Blessed is he who lives humbly; grace comes to him from heaven,]meotod him þæt mod gestaþelað, forþon he in his meahte gelyfeð. [God establishes that spirit in him because he believes in his might.]Stieran mon sceal strongum mode, ond þæt on staþelum healdan, [Man must control a headstrong spirit, and keep it in place, ]ond gewis werum, wisum clæne, [and true to men, pure in way of life,]scyle monna gehwylc mid gemete healdan [every man must moderate]wiþ leofne ond wið laþne bealo, [his evil intent towards the loved and the hated,]þeah þe he hine wille fyres fulne [although he wishes engulfed in fire]oþþe on bæle forbærnedne [or in conflagration consumed]his geworhtne wine. Wyrd biþ swiþre, [the friend he has made. Fate is stronger,]meotud meahtigra þonne ænges monnes gehygd. [God more mighty, than any man's thought.]Uton we hycgan hwær we ham agen, [Let is remember where we have our home, ]ond þonne geþencan hu we þider cumen, [and then think how we come thither,]ond we þonne eac tilien, þæt we to moten [and then also that we labour insofar as we are allowed]in þa ecan eadignesse, [in eternal blessedness,]þær is lif gelong in lufan dryhtnes, [where the source of life is in loving the lord,]hyht in heofonum. Þæs sy þam halgan þonc, [joy in heaven. Thanks be to the holy one]þæt he usic geweorþade, wuldres ealdor, [for honouring us, the prince of glory,]ece dryhten, in ealle tid. Amen. [the eternal lord, in all time. Amen.]

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