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Old English Online

Lesson 8

Jonathan Slocum

The Wanderer, with other poems including The Seafarer in lesson 9, falls into a category of poetry referred to as "elegies," which describe attitudes toward life on earth and its inevitable changes; generally the attitudes are of melancholy, if not outright lamentation for the passing of better times as in this poem.

The author is unknown, and indeed different parts of the poem might possibly have different authors (see below); therefore the time-frame is uncertain. However, the poem has come to us as part of the Exeter Book, a latter 10th century volume of Anglo-Saxon poetry, and it very probably originated in an even earlier oral tradition.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The text of The Wanderer presents problems to anyone who would analyze and interpret it in detail -- so much so, that some scholars detect additions to and alterations of the original while others just as strongly maintain that the poem as it has come down to us is greatly or entirely intact. We leave such arguments to the scholars, and present the text as we see it. A thoughtful reader will easily perceive the moving portrayal of profound emotion that has merited centuries of literary attention.

Our selection includes lines 1-36, found on pp. 148-149 in: Charles T. Onions, ed. (1959), Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse, 14th edition, Oxford: Clarendon. The speaker whose words begin in line 8 has lost his lord and is adrift in a culture that, except for the thinnest veneer of Christianity, seems to provide no guidance to living one's life and finding one's way in a world without kindred.

Oft him nhaga         re gebde,
Metudes miltse,         ah e h mdcearig
geond lagulde         longe sceolde
hrran mid hondum         hrmcealde s,
wadan wrclstas:         wyrd bi ful rd.

  • oft -- adverb <oft> often, frequently -- often
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- ...
  • nhaga -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <nhaga> recluse, wanderer -- the wanderer
  • re -- strong noun, feminine; genitive singular of <r> honor, favor -- favor
  • gebde -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person singular present of <gebdan, gebd, gebidon, gebiden> remain; await; experience; attain -- prays for
  • metudes -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <metod> creator -- God's
  • miltse -- strong noun, feminine; genitive singular of <milts> mercy, favor, kindness -- mercy
  • ah e -- conjunction <ah e> although, even if -- although
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • mdcearig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <md-cearig> anxious, sorrowful, lit. mood-caring -- sorrowful
  • geond -- preposition <geond> over, through(out) -- across
  • lagulde -- strong noun, feminine; accusative singular of <lagu-ld> water-way, ocean journey -- the water-way
  • longe -- adverb <longe> for long (time) -- long
  • sceolde -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class IV; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <sculan, sceal, sculon, scolde> shall, ought to -- had to
  • hrran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <hrran, hrrde, hrred> move, stir -- stir
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • hondum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <hond> hand -- (his) hands # hrran mid hondum = 'to row'
  • hrmcealde -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <hrm-ceald> ice-cold, frosty -- the frosty
  • s -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <s> sea, lake -- sea
  • wadan -- strong verb, class VI; infinitive of <wadan, wd, wdon, waden> wade, stride over -- travel
  • wrclstas -- strong noun, masculine; accusative plural of <wrc-lst> path of exile, lit. misery track -- paths of exile
  • wyrd -- strong noun, feminine; nominative singular of <wyrd> fate, destiny -- fate
  • bi -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • ful -- adverb <ful> fully, completely -- utterly
  • rd -- adjective <rd> arranged, inexorable -- inexorable # past ptc. of weak I rdan 'read'

Sw cw eardstapa         earfea gemyndig,
wrra wlsleahta,         winemga hryre:

  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- thus
  • cw -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cwean, cw, cwdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • eardstapa -- weak noun, masculine; nominative singular of <eard-stapa> wanderer, lit. earth-stepper -- the wanderer
  • earfea -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <earfee> hardship, suffering -- of hardships
  • gemyndig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <gemyndig> mindful -- mindful
  • wrra -- adjective; genitive plural of <wr> wroth, angry -- cruel
  • wlsleahta -- strong noun, masculine; genitive plural of <wlsleaht> slaughter, carnage -- of... carnage
  • winemga -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <wine-mg> dear-, lit. friend-kinsman -- of dear kinsmen
  • hryre -- strong noun, masculine; genitive plural of <hryre> death, fall, ruin -- of (the) deaths

"Oft ic sceolde na         htna gehwylce
mne ceare cwan:

  • oft -- adverb <oft> often, frequently -- often
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • sceolde -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class IV; 1st person singular preterite indicative of <sculan, sceal, sculon, scolde> shall, ought to -- must
  • na -- adjective <n> alone, single -- alone
  • htna -- weak noun, masculine; genitive plural of <hta> dawn, twilight -- morning
  • gehwylce -- indefinite pronoun; instrumental singular masculine of <gehwylc> each, every one -- every
  • mne -- 1st person pronoun; used as adjective; accusative singular feminine of <ic> I -- my
  • ceare -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <cear> care, sorrow -- sorrows
  • cwan -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <cwan, cwe, cwed> accuse; bewail, lament -- bewail

        nis n cwicra nn,
e ic him mdsefan         mnne durre
sweotule secgan.

  • nis -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <is> be, become, exist -- is (not)
  • n -- adverb <n> now -- now
  • cwicra -- adjective; genitive plural of <cwic> quick, alive -- alive
  • nn -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + indefinite article <n> a, an, one -- none # double negative for emphasis
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- ...
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- to whom
  • mdsefan -- weak noun, masculine; accusative singular of <md-sefa> mind, spirit -- mind
  • mnne -- 1st person pronoun; used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <ic> I -- my
  • durre -- preterite-present verb, class III; 1st person singular present optative of <durran, dearr, durron, dorste> dare -- dare
  • sweotule -- adverb <sweotole> clearly, plainly -- plainly
  • secgan -- weak verb, class III; infinitive of <secgan, sgde, sgd> say, relate -- speak

        Ic t se wt
t bi in eorle         indryhten aw,

  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- in
  • se -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <s> truth -- truth # t se: as a fact, "in sooth"
  • wt -- preterite-present verb, class I; 3rd person singular present indicative of <witan, wt, witon, wiste> know, observe -- know
  • t -- subordinating conjunction <t> that -- that
  • bi -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- (it) is
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • eorle -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <eorl> earl, nobleman, warrior -- (a) warrior
  • indryhten -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <indrihten> (very) noble -- (a) noble
  • aw -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <aw> habit, custom -- custom

t h his ferlocan         fste binde,
healde his hordcofan,         hycge sw h wille.

  • t -- subordinating conjunction <t> that -- that
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- his
  • ferlocan -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <fer-loca> breast, heart, lit. spirit enclosure -- heart
  • fste -- adverb <fste> fast, firmly, securely -- fast
  • binde -- strong verb, class III; 3rd person singular present subjunctive of <bindan, bond, bundon, bunden> bind, tie -- bind
  • healde -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular present subjunctive of <healdan, hold, holdon, lealden> hold, retain, preserve -- reserve
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- his
  • hordcofan -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <hord-cofa> treasure chamber, lit. hoard cove -- inner thought(s)
  • hycge -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular present subjunctive of <hycgan, hogode, hogod> think, resolve -- think
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- as
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • wille -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive of <willan> wish, be willing -- will

Ne mg wrigmd         wyrde wistondan
ne se hro hyge         helpe gefremman:

  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- not
  • mg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- may
  • wrigmd -- adjective <wrig> weary, exhausted + noun, neuter; nominative singular of <md> mood, mind -- the spirit-weary
  • wyrde -- strong noun, feminine; dative singular of <wyrd> fate, destiny -- destiny
  • wistondan -- strong verb, class VI; infinitive of <wistandan, wistd, wistdon, wistanden> withstand, resist -- avoid
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- nor
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • hro -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hro> fierce, wild, savage -- troubled
  • hyge -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <hyge> heart, mind, soul -- mind
  • helpe -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <helpe> help, aid -- aid
  • gefremman -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <gefremman, gefremede, gefremed> advance, further -- offer

for on dmgeorne         drorigne oft
in hyra brostcofan         binda fste.

  • for on -- conjunction <for on> because, therefore -- therefore
  • dmgeorne -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <dm-georn> lit. glory-desirous -- eager for renown # substantive
  • drorigne -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <drorig> dreary, sad -- sad(ness) # substantive
  • oft -- adverb <oft> often, frequently -- often
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • hyra -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- their
  • brostcofan -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <brost-cofa> heart, affections -- heart(s)
  • binda -- strong verb, class III; 3rd person plural present of <bindan, bond, bundon, bunden> bind, tie -- bury
  • fste -- adverb <fste> fast, firmly, securely -- deep

Sw ic mdsefan         mnne sceolde
oft earmcearig         le bidled,
fromgum feor         feterum slan,
sian gera i         goldwine mnne
hrsan heolstre biwrh

  • sw -- adverbial conjunction <sw> so, thus -- so
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • mdsefan -- weak noun, masculine; accusative singular of <md-sefa> mind, spirit -- spirit
  • mnne -- 1st person pronoun; used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <ic> I -- my
  • sceolde -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class IV; 1st person singular preterite indicative of <sculan, sceal, sculon, scolde> shall, ought to -- had to
  • oft -- adverb <oft> often, frequently -- often
  • earmcearig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <earm-cearig> miserable, lit. wretched-caring -- miserable
  • le -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <el> home, native land -- of home
  • bidled -- weak verb, class I; past participle of <bedlan, bidlde, bidled> deprive, release -- deprived
  • fromgum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <fro-mg> noble (lit. free) kinsman -- kinsmen
  • feor -- preposition <feor> far (from) -- far from
  • feterum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <fetor> fetter, shackle -- in shackles
  • slan -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <slan, slde, sled> bind -- bind
  • sian -- adverb <sian> since, when, afterwards -- since
  • gera -- adverb <gera> yore, long since -- years # gen. pl. of gar 'year'
  • i -- adverb <go> before, of old -- ago
  • goldwine -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <gold-wine> lit. gold-friend -- lord
  • mnne -- 1st person pronoun; used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <ic> I -- my
  • hrsan -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <hrse> earth, ground -- of the earth
  • heolstre -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <heolstor> cover, concealment -- in the darkness # or should this be heolstor, nom.sg., subj. of biwrh?
  • biwrh -- strong verb, class I; 1st person singular preterite of <bewron, biwrh, biwrigon, biwrigen> cover, conceal -- (I) covered # (subject not specified)

        and ic han onan
wd wintercearig         ofer waema gebind,
shte sele drorig         sinces bryttan,
hwr ic feor oe nah         findan meahte
one e in meoduhealle         (mn) mine wisse,
oe mec frondlasne         frfran wolde,
wman mid wynnum.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • han -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <han> abject, depressed, miserable -- wretched
  • onan -- adverb <onan> thence, from there -- away
  • wd -- strong verb, class VI; 1st person singular preterite of <wadan, wd, wdon, waden> wade, stride over -- went
  • wintercearig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <winter-cearig> sorrowful, lit. winter-caring -- sorrowful
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- over
  • waema -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <waum> wave, sea -- of the waves
  • gebind -- noun, neuter <gebind> band, binding, fastening -- the band # freezing? waema gebind = 'ice'?
  • shte -- weak verb, class I; 1st person singular preterite of <scan, shte, sht> seek, desire -- sought
  • sele -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <sele> hall, house -- (a) hall
  • drorig -- adverb <drorig> drearily, sadly -- sadly
  • sinces -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <sinc> jewels, riches, treasure -- of riches
  • bryttan -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <brytta> giver, distributor -- (a) giver
  • hwr -- adverbial conjunction <hwr> where -- where
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • feor -- adverb <feor> far (from) -- far
  • oe -- correlative conjunction <oe> or -- or
  • nah -- adverb <nah> near -- near
  • findan -- strong verb, class III; infinitive of <findan, fond, fundon, funden> find -- find
  • meahte -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 1st person singular preterite indicative of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might
  • one -- demonstrative used as personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <s, so, t> he, she, it -- him
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- who
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • meoduhealle -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <medu-heall> mead-hall -- the mead hall
  • mn -- 1st person pronoun; genitive singular of <ic> I -- my
  • mine -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mine> mind, affection -- mind
  • wisse -- preterite-present verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <witan, wt, witon, wiste> know, observe -- knew
  • oe -- correlative conjunction <oe> or -- or
  • mec -- 1st person pronoun; accusative singular of <ic> I -- me
  • frondlasne -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <frond-las> friend-less -- friendless
  • frfran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <frfran, frfrede, frfred> cheer, comfort -- comfort
  • wolde -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <willan> wish, be willing -- would
  • wman -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <wman, wmde, wmed> attract, entice, treat -- treat
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • wynnum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <wynn> joy, delight -- kindness # plural in form

        Wt s e cunna
h slen bi         sorg t gefran
m e him lt hafa         lofra geholena:

  • wt -- preterite-present verb, class I; 3rd person singular present indicative of <witan, wt, witon, wiste> know, observe -- knows
  • s -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <s, so, t> he, she, it -- he
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- who
  • cunna -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular present of <cunnian, cunnode, cunnod> seek, explore, experience -- seeks
  • h -- adverbial conjunction <h> how -- how
  • slen -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <slen> cruel, dire, evil -- cruel
  • bi -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bon> be, become, exist -- is
  • sorg -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <sorg> sorrow, grief, distress -- grief
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- as a
  • gefran -- weak noun, masculine; nominative plural of <gefra> companion, comrade -- comrade
  • m -- demonstrative used as relative pronoun; dative singular masculine of <s, so, t> who, which, that -- to him
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- who
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- himself
  • lt -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lt> little, small number -- (a) small number # few
  • hafa -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular present of <habban, hfde, hfd> have, possess -- has
  • lofra -- adjective; comparative; genitive plural of <lof> lief, dear, beloved -- (of) dear
  • geholena -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <gehola> friend, confidant, protector -- friends

wara hine wrclst,         nles wunden gold,
ferloca frorig,        nls foldan bld;

  • wara -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular present of <warian, warode, warod> guard, protect, occupy -- preoccupies
  • hine -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- him
  • wrclst -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <wrc-lst> path of exile, lit. misery track -- the path of exile
  • nles -- adverb <nls> not at all -- not
  • wunden -- strong verb, class III; past participle of <windan, wond, wundon, wunden> wind, twist, turn -- twisted
  • gold -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <gold> gold -- gold
  • ferloca -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <fer-loca> breast, heart, lit. spirit enclosure -- body
  • frorig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <frorig> chill, cold, freezing -- (a) cold
  • nls -- adverb <nls> not at all -- not
  • foldan -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <folde> earth, ground -- of earth
  • bld -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <bld> breath, spirit, life -- the life

gemon h selesecgas         and sincege,
h hine on geogue         his goldwine
wenede t wiste:         wyn eal gedras. ..."

  • gemon -- preterite-present verb, class IV; 3rd person singular present indicative of <gemunan, geman, gemunon, gemunde> remember, be mindful of -- thinks of
  • h -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • selesecgas -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <sele-secg> retainer, lit. hall hero -- retainers
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • sincege -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <sinc-egu> lit. treasure receipt -- receipt of treasure
  • h -- adverbial conjunction <h> how -- how
  • hine -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- him
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • geogue -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <geogo> youth, youngster -- youth
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- his
  • goldwine -- noun, masculine; nominative singular <gold-wine> lit. gold-friend -- lord
  • wenede -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <wennan, wenede, wened> accustom; entertain (joyfully) -- entertained
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- at
  • wiste -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <wist> feast, food, provision -- feast
  • wyn -- strong noun, feminine; nominative singular of <wynn> joy, delight -- joy
  • eal -- adverb <eall> all, entirely -- utterly
  • gedras -- strong verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <gedrosan, gedras, gedruron, gedroren> fall, fail -- perished

Lesson Text

Oft him nhaga         re gebde,
Metudes miltse,         ah e h mdcearig
geond lagulde         longe sceolde
hrran mid hondum         hrmcealde s,
wadan wrclstas:         wyrd bi ful rd.

Sw cw eardstapa         earfea gemyndig,
wrra wlsleahta,         winemga hryre:


"Oft ic sceolde na         htna gehwylce
mne ceare cwan:
        nis n cwicra nn,
e ic him mdsefan         mnne durre
sweotule secgan.
        Ic t se wt
t bi in eorle         indryhten aw,

t h his ferlocan         fste binde,
healde his hordcofan,         hycge sw h wille.

Ne mg wrigmd         wyrde wistondan
ne se hro hyge         helpe gefremman:

for on dmgeorne         drorigne oft
in hyra brostcofan         binda fste.

Sw ic mdsefan         mnne sceolde
oft earmcearig         le bidled,
fromgum feor         feterum slan,
sian gera i         goldwine mnne
hrsan heolstre biwrh
        and ic han onan
wd wintercearig         ofer waema gebind,
shte sele drorig         sinces bryttan,
hwr ic feor oe nah         findan meahte
one e in meoduhealle         (mn) mine wisse,
oe mec frondlasne         frfran wolde,
wman mid wynnum.
        Wt s e cunna
h slen bi         sorg t gefran
m e him lt hafa         lofra geholena:

wara hine wrclst,         nles wunden gold,
ferloca frorig,        nls foldan bld;

gemon h selesecgas         and sincege,
h hine on geogue         his goldwine
wenede t wiste:         wyn eal gedras. ..."

Translation

Often the wanderer prays for favor, God's mercy, although sorrowful he long had to stir with his hands the frosty sea across the water-way, travel paths of exile: fate is utterly inexorable. Thus said the wanderer mindful of hardships, of cruel carnage, of the deaths of dear kinsmen:
"Often I must bewail my sorrows alone every morning: none is now alive to whom I dare plainly speak my mind. I in truth know that it is a noble custom in a warrior, that he bind his heart fast, reserve his inner thoughts, think as he will. The spirit-weary may not avoid destiny nor the troubled mind offer aid: therefore (those) eager for renown often bury sadness deep in their hearts. So often, miserable, deprived of home, far from kinsmen, I had to bind my spirit in shackles, since years ago (I) covered my lord in the darkness of the earth and I, wretched, went away sorrowful over the band of the waves, sadly sought a hall, a giver of riches, where far or near I might find him who knew my mind in the mead hall, or would comfort me, friendless, treat (me) with kindness. He knows who seeks how cruel is grief as a comrade to him who himself has a small number of dear friends: the path of exile preoccupies him, not twisted gold, a cold body, not the life of earth; he thinks of retainers and receipt of treasure, how in youth his lord entertained him at feast: joy utterly perished. ..."

Grammar

36. The n-stem Weak Nouns

Only a handful of nouns behave like the masculine fra 'lord' in the table below; none of the others appear in our lesson texts.

n-stems   Masc.   Fem.   Neut.   Masc.
Nom.Sg.   nama 'name'   sunne 'sun'   age 'eye'   fra 'lord'
Gen.Sg.   naman   sunnan   agan   fran
Dat.Sg.   naman   sunnan   agan   fran
Acc.Sg.   naman   sunnan   age   fran
Nom.Pl.   naman   sunnan   agan   fran
Gen.Pl.   namena   sunnena   agena   frana
Dat.Pl.   namum   sunnum   agum   fraum
Acc.Pl.   naman   sunnan   agan   fran

Spelling Notes

The forms of nam- are also spelled nom-. The dative plural fraum is also spelled fram. The genitive plural ending -ena may also be spelled -ana, -ona, or -una, or it may be reduced to -na or -a; the endings -an may be spelled -on.

37. Feminine Abstract Nouns in -u, -o

Few nouns belong to this class, and their forms are so variable that they may be classified as "indeclinable" in dictionaries. Frequently, a single form is used for all cases except the genitive/dative plurals, which end in -a and -um respectively; that other form, however, may end in -u in some sources, or -o in others; sometimes the nominative/accusative plural ends in -e or -a. The following table serves only as a partial sketch, as the term indeclinable cannot be ignored: forms are selected to illustrate variability rather than suggest a non-existent "inflectional pattern," and spelling notes are accordingly irrelevant.

Fem. Abstracts   'pride'   'strength'
Nom.Sg.   wlencu   streng
Gen.Sg.   wlenco   strenge
Dat.Sg.   wlence   strengu
Acc.Sg.   wlenco   strengo
Nom.Pl.   wlenca   strenge
Gen.Pl.   wlencea   strenga
Dat.Pl.   wlencum   strengum
Acc.Pl.   wlencu   strengu
38. The r-stem Nouns

These nouns indicate relationships (father, mother, brother, sister, daughter).

r-stems   Masc.   Fem.   Masc.   Fem.   Fem.
Nom.Sg.   fder 'father'   mdor 'mother'   bror 'brother'   sweostor 'sister'   dohtor 'daughter'
Gen.Sg.   fder   mdor   bror   sweostor   dohtor
Dat.Sg.   fder   mder   brer   sweostor   dohtor
Acc.Sg.   fder   mdor   bror   sweostor   dohtor
Nom.Pl.   fderas   mdru   bror   sweostor   dohtor
Gen.Pl.   fdera   mdra   brra   sweostra   dohtra
Dat.Pl.   fderum   mdrum   brrum   sweostrum   dohtrum
Acc.Pl.   fderas   mdru   bror   sweostor   dohtor

Spelling Notes

The genitive singular fder may be spelled fderes or fdres; the -e- in the plural forms of fder is optional. All nominative singular forms ending in -or may be spelled with the ending -ur or -er instead. Umlaut may be applied to the genitive singular mdor to yield mder; the nominative/accusative plurals mdru may be spelled mdra. The nominative/accusative plurals bror may be spelled brru. The nominative/accusative plurals sweostor, dohtor may be spelled sweostru or sweostra, dohtru or dohtra. The genitive/dative singulars dohtor may be spelled dehter. Collective plurals of bror, sweostor have a prefix ge- (e.g. gebror, gesweostor).

39. The nd-stem Nouns

These masculine nouns are derived from present participle forms of verbs. In addition to forms shown below, our lesson texts include forms of wgend 'warrior' and scieppend 'creator', which are declined like nergend and wealdend.

nd-stems   Masc.   Masc.   Masc.
Nom.Sg.   frond 'friend'   nergend 'savior'   wealdend 'ruler'
Gen.Sg.   frondes   nergendes   wealdendes
Dat.Sg.   fronde   nergende   wealdende
Acc.Sg.   frond   nergend   wealdend
Nom.Pl.   frondas   nergendas   wealdendas
Gen.Pl.   fronda   nergendra   wealdendra
Dat.Pl.   frondum   nergendum   wealdendum
Acc.Pl.   frondas   nergendas   wealdendas

Spelling Notes

The dative singular fronde may be spelled frend; the nominative/accusative plurals frondas may be spelled frend or frond. The nominative/accusative plurals nergendas, wealdendas may be spelled nergend or nergende, wealdend or wealdende. Forms of wealdend- may be spelled waldend-. (And forms of scieppend- may be spelled scyppend-.)

40. The er-stem Nouns

The nouns in this declension are all neuter; however, by OE times most of the er-stems had migrated to other declensions, even if this required a change of gender. Few remained, and none of them appear in our lesson texts.

er-stems   Neut.   Neut.   Neut.
Nom.Sg.   g 'egg'   cealf 'calf'   lomb 'lamb'
Gen.Sg.   ges   cealfes   lombes
Dat.Sg.   ge   cealfe   lombe
Acc.Sg.   g   cealf   lomb
Nom.Pl.   gru   cealfru   lombru
Gen.Pl.   gra   cealfra   lombra
Dat.Pl.   grum   cealfrum   lombrum
Acc.Pl.   gru   cealfru   lombru

Spelling Notes

The forms of lomb- can also be spelled lamb-. The nominative/accusative plurals lombru may be spelled lomber or lomb; in accordance with the last the genitive plural may be spelled lomba, and the dative plural, lombum.