The Wonderer 10th Century

Often the solitary one finds grace for himself the mercy of the Lord. Although he, sorry-hearted, must for a long time move by hand (in row) along the waterways, along the ice-cold sea, tread the paths of exile. Events always go as they must! So spoke the wanderer, mindful of hardships, of fierce slaughters and the downfall of kinsmen (comrades): Often I had alone to speak of my trouble each morning before dawn. There is none now living to whom I dare clearly speak of my innermost thoughts.

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I know it truly, that it is in men a noble custom, that one should keep secure his spirit-chest (mind), guard his treasure-chamber (thoughts), think as he wishes. The weary spirit cannot withstand fate (the turn of events), nor does a rough or sorrowful mind do any good. Thus those eager for glory often keep secure dreary thoughts in their breast; So I, often wretched and sorrowful, bereft of my homeland, far from noble kinsmen, have had to bind in fetters my inmost thoughts.

Since long years ago I hid my lord in the darkness of the earth, and I, wretched, from there travelled most sorrowfully over the frozen waves, sought, sad at the lack of a hall, a giver of treasure, where I, far or near, might find one in the meadhall who knew my people, or wished to console the friendless one, me, entertain (me) with delights. He who has tried it knows how cruel is sorrow as a companion to the one who has few beloved friends: the path of exile (wr? last) holds him not at all twisted gold, a frozen spirit, not the bounty of the earth He remembers hall-warriors and the giving of treasure How in youth his lord (gold-friend) accustomed him to the feasting. All the joy has died! And so he knows it, he who must forgo for a long time the counsels of his beloved lord: Then sorrow and sleep both together often tie up the wretched solitary one he thinks in his mind that he embraces and kisses his lord, and on his (the lord’s) knees lays his hands and his head, Just as, at times (hwilum), before, in days gone by, he enjoyed the gift-seat (throne).

Then the friendless man wakes up again, he sees before him fallow waves sea birds bathe. Preening their feathers, frost and snow fall. Mixed with hail. Then are the heavier the wounds of the heart, grievous (sare) with longing for the lord. Sorrow is renewed when the mind (mod) surveys the memory of kinsmen He greets them joyfully, eagerly scans the companions of men; they always swim away. The spirits of seafarers never bring back there much in the way of known speech. Care is renewed for the one who must send very often over the binding of the waves a weary heart.

Indeed I cannot think why my spirit does not darken when I ponder on the whole life of men throughout the world, How they suddenly left the floor (hall), the proud thanes. So this middle-earth, a bit each day, droops and decays – Therefore man (wer) cannot call himself wise, before he has a share of years in the world. A wise man must be patient, He must never be too impulsive nor too hasty of speech, nor too weak a warrior nor too reckless, nor too fearful, nor too cheerful, nor too greedy for goods, nor ever too eager for boasts, before he sees clearly.

A man must wait when he speaks oaths, until the proud-hearted one sees clearly whither the intent of his heart will turn. A wise hero must realize how terrible it will be, when all the wealth of this world lies waste, as now in various places throughout this middle-earth walls stand, blown by the wind, covered with frost, storm-swept the buildings The halls decay, their lords lie deprived of joy, the whole troop has fallen, the proud ones, by the wall. War took off some, carried them on their way, one, the bird took off across the deep sea, one, the gray wolf shared one with death, one, the dreary-faced man buried in a grave.

And so He destroyed this city He, the Creator of Men, until deprived of the noise of the citizens, the ancient work of giants stood empty. He who thought wisely on this foundation, and pondered deeply on this dark life, wise in spirit, remembered often from afar many conflicts, and spoke these words: Where is the horse gone? Where is the rider? Where is the giver of treasure? Where are the seats at the feast? Where are the revels in the hall? Alas for the bright cup! Alas for the mailed warrior! Alas for the splendour of the prince!

How that time has passed away, dark under the cover of night, as if it had never been! Now there stands in the trace of the beloved troop a wall, wondrously high, wound round with serpents. The warriors taken off by the glory of spears, the weapons greedy for slaughter, the famous fate (turn of events), and storms beat these rocky cliffs, falling frost fetters the earth the harbinger of winter; Then dark comes, nightshadows deepen, from the north there comes a rough hailstorm in malice against men.

All is troublesome in this earthly kingdom, the turn of events changes the world under the heavens. Here money is fleeting, here friend is fleeting, here man is fleeting, here kinsman is fleeting, all the foundation of this world turns to waste! So spake the wise man in his mind, where he sat apart in counsel. Good is he who keeps his faith, And a warrior must never speak his grief of his breast too quickly, unless he already knows the remedy – a hero must act with courage. It is better for the one that seeks mercy, consolation from the father in the heavens, where, for us, all permanence rests.

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