The University of Texas at Austin; College of Liberal Arts
Hans C. Boas, Director :: PCL 5.556, 1 University Station S5490 :: Austin, TX 78712 :: 512-471-4566
LRC Links: Home | About | Books Online | EIEOL | IE Doc. Center | IE Lexicon | IE Maps | IE Texts | Pub. Indices | SiteMap

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 ānhaga         āre gebīdeð,
Metudes miltse,         þēah þe hē mōdcearig
geond lagulāde         longe sceolde
hrēran mid hondum         hrīmcealde sǣ,
wadan wræclāstas:         wyrd bið ful ārǣd.

  • oft -- adverb <oft> often, frequently -- often
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- ...
  • ānhaga -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <ānhaga> recluse, wanderer -- the wanderer
  • āre -- strong noun, feminine; genitive singular of <ār> honor, favor -- favor
  • gebīdeð -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person singular present of <gebīdan, gebād, 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
  • þēah þe -- conjunction <ðēah ðe> although, even if -- although
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • mōdcearig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <mōd-cearig> anxious, sorrowful, lit. mood-caring -- sorrowful
  • geond -- preposition <geond> over, through(out) -- across
  • lagulāde -- strong noun, feminine; accusative singular of <lagu-lād> 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
  • hrēran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <hrēran, hrērde, hrēred> move, stir -- stir
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • hondum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <hond> hand -- (his) hands # hrēran mid hondum = 'to row'
  • hrīmcealde -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <hrīm-ceald> ice-cold, frosty -- the frosty
  • -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <> sea, lake -- sea
  • wadan -- strong verb, class VI; infinitive of <wadan, wōd, wōdon, waden> wade, stride over -- travel
  • wræclāstas -- strong noun, masculine; accusative plural of <wræc-lāst> path of exile, lit. misery track -- paths of exile
  • wyrd -- strong noun, feminine; nominative singular of <wyrd> fate, destiny -- fate
  • bið -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- is
  • ful -- adverb <ful> fully, completely -- utterly
  • ārǣd -- adjective <ārǣd> arranged, inexorable -- inexorable # past ptc. of weak I ārǣdan 'read'

Swā cwæð eardstapa         earfeþa gemyndig,
wrāþra wælsleahta,         winemǣga hryre:

  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- thus
  • cwæð -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <cweðan, cwæð, cwǣdon, cweden> say, speak -- said
  • eardstapa -- weak noun, masculine; nominative singular of <eard-stapa> wanderer, lit. earth-stepper -- the wanderer
  • earfeþa -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <earfeðe> hardship, suffering -- of hardships
  • gemyndig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <gemyndig> mindful -- mindful
  • wrāþra -- adjective; genitive plural of <wrāð> wroth, angry -- cruel
  • wælsleahta -- strong noun, masculine; genitive plural of <wælsleaht> slaughter, carnage -- of... carnage
  • winemǣga -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <wine-mǣg> dear-, lit. friend-kinsman -- of dear kinsmen
  • hryre -- strong noun, masculine; genitive plural of <hryre> death, fall, ruin -- of (the) deaths

"Oft ic sceolde āna         ūhtna gehwylce
mīne ceare cwīþan:

  • 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
  • āna -- adjective <ān> alone, single -- alone
  • ūhtna -- weak noun, masculine; genitive plural of <ūhta> dawn, twilight -- morning
  • gehwylce -- indefinite pronoun; instrumental singular masculine of <gehwylc> each, every one -- every
  • mīne -- 1st person pronoun; used as adjective; accusative singular feminine of <ic> I -- my
  • ceare -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <cear> care, sorrow -- sorrows
  • cwīþan -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <cwīðan, cwīðe, cwīðed> accuse; bewail, lament -- bewail

        nis nū cwicra nān,
þe ic him mōdsefan         mīnne durre
sweotule āsecgan.

  • nis -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <is> be, become, exist -- is (not)
  • -- adverb <> now -- now
  • cwicra -- adjective; genitive plural of <cwic> quick, alive -- alive
  • nān -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + indefinite article <ān> a, an, one -- none # double negative for emphasis
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- ...
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- to whom
  • mōdsefan -- weak noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mōd-sefa> mind, spirit -- mind
  • mīnne -- 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
  • āsecgan -- weak verb, class III; infinitive of <āsecgan, āsægde, āsægd> say, relate -- speak

        Ic tō sōþe wāt
þæt biþ in eorle         indryhten þēaw,

  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • -- preposition <> (in)to -- in
  • sōþe -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <sōð> truth -- truth # tō sōþe: as a fact, "in sooth"
  • wāt -- preterite-present verb, class I; 3rd person singular present indicative of <witan, wāt, witon, wiste> know, observe -- know
  • þæt -- subordinating conjunction <þæt> that -- that
  • biþ -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> 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
  • þēaw -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <ðēaw> habit, custom -- custom

þæt hē his ferðlocan         fæste binde,
healde his hordcofan,         hycge swā hē wille.

  • þæt -- subordinating conjunction <þæt> that -- that
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- his
  • ferðlocan -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <ferð-loca> breast, heart, lit. spirit enclosure -- heart
  • fæste -- adverb <fæste> 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, hēold, hēoldon, lealden> hold, retain, preserve -- reserve
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hē, hēo, 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
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • wille -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive of <willan> wish, be willing -- will

Ne mæg wērigmōd         wyrde wiðstondan
ne se hrēo hyge         helpe gefremman:

  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- not
  • mæg -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person singular present indicative of <magan, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- may
  • wērigmōd -- adjective <wērig> weary, exhausted + noun, neuter; nominative singular of <mōd> mood, mind -- the spirit-weary
  • wyrde -- strong noun, feminine; dative singular of <wyrd> fate, destiny -- destiny
  • wiðstondan -- strong verb, class VI; infinitive of <wiðstandan, wiðstōd, wiðstōdon, wiðstanden> withstand, resist -- avoid
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- nor
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • hrēo -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hrēo> 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 ðon dōmgeorne         drēorigne oft
in hyra brēostcofan         bindað fæste.

  • for ðon -- conjunction <for þon> because, therefore -- therefore
  • dōmgeorne -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <dōm-georn> lit. glory-desirous -- eager for renown # substantive
  • drēorigne -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <drēorig> dreary, sad -- sad(ness) # substantive
  • oft -- adverb <oft> often, frequently -- often
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • hyra -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- their
  • brēostcofan -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <brēost-cofa> heart, affections -- heart(s)
  • bindað -- strong verb, class III; 3rd person plural present of <bindan, bond, bundon, bunden> bind, tie -- bury
  • fæste -- adverb <fæste> fast, firmly, securely -- deep

Swā ic mōdsefan         mīnne sceolde
oft earmcearig         ēðle bidǣled,
frēomǣgum feor         feterum sǣlan,
siþþan geāra iū         goldwine mīnne
hrūsan heolstre biwrāh

  • swā -- adverbial conjunction <swā> so, thus -- so
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • mōdsefan -- weak noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mōd-sefa> mind, spirit -- spirit
  • mīnne -- 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
  • ēðle -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <ēðel> home, native land -- of home
  • bidǣled -- weak verb, class I; past participle of <bedǣlan, bidǣlde, bidǣled> deprive, release -- deprived
  • frēomǣgum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <frēo-mǣg> noble (lit. free) kinsman -- kinsmen
  • feor -- preposition <feor> far (from) -- far from
  • feterum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <fetor> fetter, shackle -- in shackles
  • sǣlan -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <sǣlan, sǣlde, sǣled> bind -- bind
  • siþþan -- adverb <siððan> since, when, afterwards -- since
  • geāra -- adverb <geāra> yore, long since -- years # gen. pl. of gēar 'year'
  • -- adverb <gīo> before, of old -- ago
  • goldwine -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <gold-wine> lit. gold-friend -- lord
  • mīnne -- 1st person pronoun; used as adjective; accusative singular masculine of <ic> I -- my
  • hrūsan -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <hrūse> 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 biwrāh?
  • biwrāh -- strong verb, class I; 1st person singular preterite of <bewrēon, biwrāh, biwrigon, biwrigen> cover, conceal -- (I) covered # (subject not specified)

        and ic hēan þonan
wōd wintercearig         ofer waþema gebind,
sōhte sele drēorig         sinces bryttan,
hwǣr ic feor oþþe nēah         findan meahte
þone þe in meoduhealle         (mīn) mine wisse,
oþþe mec frēondlēasne         frēfran wolde,
wēman mid wynnum.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • hēan -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hēan> abject, depressed, miserable -- wretched
  • þonan -- adverb <ðonan> thence, from there -- away
  • wōd -- strong verb, class VI; 1st person singular preterite of <wadan, wōd, wōdon, waden> wade, stride over -- went
  • wintercearig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <winter-cearig> sorrowful, lit. winter-caring -- sorrowful
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- over
  • waþema -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <waðum> wave, sea -- of the waves
  • gebind -- noun, neuter <gebind> band, binding, fastening -- the band # freezing? waþema gebind = 'ice'?
  • sōhte -- weak verb, class I; 1st person singular preterite of <sēcan, sōhte, sōht> seek, desire -- sought
  • sele -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <sele> hall, house -- (a) hall
  • drēorig -- adverb <drēorig> 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
  • hwǣr -- adverbial conjunction <hwǣr> where -- where
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • feor -- adverb <feor> far (from) -- far
  • oþþe -- correlative conjunction <oððe> or -- or
  • nēah -- adverb <nēah> 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, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might
  • þone -- demonstrative used as personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- him
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- who
  • in -- preposition <in> in, into -- in
  • meoduhealle -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <medu-heall> mead-hall -- the mead hall
  • mīn -- 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, wāt, witon, wiste> know, observe -- knew
  • oþþe -- correlative conjunction <oððe> or -- or
  • mec -- 1st person pronoun; accusative singular of <ic> I -- me
  • frēondlēasne -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <frēond-lēas> friend-less -- friendless
  • frēfran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <frēfran, frēfrede, frēfred> cheer, comfort -- comfort
  • wolde -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <willan> wish, be willing -- would
  • wēman -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <wēman, wēmde, wēmed> attract, entice, treat -- treat
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • wynnum -- strong noun, feminine; dative plural of <wynn> joy, delight -- kindness # plural in form

        Wāt sē þe cunnað
hū slīþen bið         sorg tō gefēran
þām þe him lȳt hafað         lēofra geholena:

  • wāt -- preterite-present verb, class I; 3rd person singular present indicative of <witan, wāt, witon, wiste> know, observe -- knows
  • -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- he
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- who
  • cunnað -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular present of <cunnian, cunnode, cunnod> seek, explore, experience -- seeks
  • -- adverbial conjunction <> how -- how
  • slīþen -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <slīðen> cruel, dire, evil -- cruel
  • bið -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular present indicative of <bēon> be, become, exist -- is
  • sorg -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <sorg> sorrow, grief, distress -- grief
  • -- preposition <> (in)to -- as a
  • gefēran -- weak noun, masculine; nominative plural of <gefēra> companion, comrade -- comrade
  • þām -- demonstrative used as relative pronoun; dative singular masculine of <sē, sēo, ðæt> who, which, that -- to him
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- who
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- himself
  • lȳt -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lȳt> little, small number -- (a) small number # few
  • hafað -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular present of <habban, hæfde, hæfd> have, possess -- has
  • lēofra -- adjective; comparative; genitive plural of <lēof> lief, dear, beloved -- (of) dear
  • geholena -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <gehola> friend, confidant, protector -- friends

warað hine wræclāst,         nāles wunden gold,
ferðloca frēorig,        nālæs foldan blǣd;

  • warað -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular present of <warian, warode, warod> guard, protect, occupy -- preoccupies
  • hine -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- him
  • wræclāst -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <wræc-lāst> path of exile, lit. misery track -- the path of exile
  • nāles -- adverb <nālæs> 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
  • ferðloca -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <ferð-loca> breast, heart, lit. spirit enclosure -- body
  • frēorig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <frēorig> chill, cold, freezing -- (a) cold
  • nālæs -- adverb <nālæs> not at all -- not
  • foldan -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <folde> earth, ground -- of earth
  • blǣd -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <blǣd> breath, spirit, life -- the life

gemon hē selesecgas         and sincþege,
hū hine on geoguðe         his goldwine
wenede tō wiste:         wyn eal gedrēas. ..."

  • gemon -- preterite-present verb, class IV; 3rd person singular present indicative of <gemunan, geman, gemunon, gemunde> remember, be mindful of -- thinks of
  • -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • selesecgas -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <sele-secg> retainer, lit. hall hero -- retainers
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • sincþege -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <sinc-þegu> lit. treasure receipt -- receipt of treasure
  • -- adverbial conjunction <> how -- how
  • hine -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- him
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • geoguðe -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <geogoð> youth, youngster -- youth
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular masculine of <hē, hēo, 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
  • -- preposition <> (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
  • gedrēas -- strong verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <gedrēosan, gedrēas, gedruron, gedroren> fall, fail -- perished

Lesson Text

Oft him ānhaga         āre gebīdeð,
Metudes miltse,         þēah þe hē mōdcearig
geond lagulāde         longe sceolde
hrēran mid hondum         hrīmcealde sǣ,
wadan wræclāstas:         wyrd bið ful ārǣd.

Swā cwæð eardstapa         earfeþa gemyndig,
wrāþra wælsleahta,         winemǣga hryre:


"Oft ic sceolde āna         ūhtna gehwylce
mīne ceare cwīþan:
        nis nū cwicra nān,
þe ic him mōdsefan         mīnne durre
sweotule āsecgan.
        Ic tō sōþe wāt
þæt biþ in eorle         indryhten þēaw,

þæt hē his ferðlocan         fæste binde,
healde his hordcofan,         hycge swā hē wille.

Ne mæg wērigmōd         wyrde wiðstondan
ne se hrēo hyge         helpe gefremman:

for ðon dōmgeorne         drēorigne oft
in hyra brēostcofan         bindað fæste.

Swā ic mōdsefan         mīnne sceolde
oft earmcearig         ēðle bidǣled,
frēomǣgum feor         feterum sǣlan,
siþþan geāra iū         goldwine mīnne
hrūsan heolstre biwrāh
        and ic hēan þonan
wōd wintercearig         ofer waþema gebind,
sōhte sele drēorig         sinces bryttan,
hwǣr ic feor oþþe nēah         findan meahte
þone þe in meoduhealle         (mīn) mine wisse,
oþþe mec frēondlēasne         frēfran wolde,
wēman mid wynnum.
        Wāt sē þe cunnað
hū slīþen bið         sorg tō gefēran
þām þe him lȳt hafað         lēofra geholena:

warað hine wræclāst,         nāles wunden gold,
ferðloca frēorig,        nālæs foldan blǣd;

gemon hē selesecgas         and sincþege,
hū hine on geoguðe         his goldwine
wenede tō wiste:         wyn eal gedrēas. ..."

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 frēa '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'   ēage 'eye'   frēa 'lord'
Gen.Sg.   naman   sunnan   ēagan   frēan
Dat.Sg.   naman   sunnan   ēagan   frēan
Acc.Sg.   naman   sunnan   ēage   frēan
Nom.Pl.   naman   sunnan   ēagan   frēan
Gen.Pl.   namena   sunnena   ēagena   frēana
Dat.Pl.   namum   sunnum   ēagum   frēaum
Acc.Pl.   naman   sunnan   ēagan   frēan

Spelling Notes

The forms of nam- are also spelled nom-. The dative plural frēaum is also spelled frēam. 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   strengð
Gen.Sg.   wlenco   strenge
Dat.Sg.   wlence   strengu
Acc.Sg.   wlenco   strengðo
Nom.Pl.   wlenca   strengðe
Gen.Pl.   wlencea   strenga
Dat.Pl.   wlencum   strengðum
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.   fæder 'father'   mōdor 'mother'   brōðor 'brother'   sweostor 'sister'   dohtor 'daughter'
Gen.Sg.   fæder   mōdor   brōðor   sweostor   dohtor
Dat.Sg.   fæder   mēder   brēðer   sweostor   dohtor
Acc.Sg.   fæder   mōdor   brōðor   sweostor   dohtor
Nom.Pl.   fæderas   mōdru   brōðor   sweostor   dohtor
Gen.Pl.   fædera   mōdra   brōðra   sweostra   dohtra
Dat.Pl.   fæderum   mōdrum   brōðrum   sweostrum   dohtrum
Acc.Pl.   fæderas   mōdru   brōðor   sweostor   dohtor

Spelling Notes

The genitive singular fæder may be spelled fæderes or fædres; the -e- in the plural forms of fæder 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 mōdor to yield mēder; the nominative/accusative plurals mōdru may be spelled mōdra. The nominative/accusative plurals brōðor may be spelled brōðru. 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 brōðor, sweostor have a prefix ge- (e.g. gebrōðor, 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 wīgend 'warrior' and scieppend 'creator', which are declined like nergend and wealdend.

nd-stems   Masc.   Masc.   Masc.
Nom.Sg.   frēond 'friend'   nergend 'savior'   wealdend 'ruler'
Gen.Sg.   frēondes   nergendes   wealdendes
Dat.Sg.   frēonde   nergende   wealdende
Acc.Sg.   frēond   nergend   wealdend
Nom.Pl.   frēondas   nergendas   wealdendas
Gen.Pl.   frēonda   nergendra   wealdendra
Dat.Pl.   frēondum   nergendum   wealdendum
Acc.Pl.   frēondas   nergendas   wealdendas

Spelling Notes

The dative singular frēonde may be spelled frīend; the nominative/accusative plurals frēondas may be spelled frīend or frēond. 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.   ǣg 'egg'   cealf 'calf'   lomb 'lamb'
Gen.Sg.   ǣges   cealfes   lombes
Dat.Sg.   ǣge   cealfe   lombe
Acc.Sg.   ǣg   cealf   lomb
Nom.Pl.   ǣgru   cealfru   lombru
Gen.Pl.   ǣgra   cealfra   lombra
Dat.Pl.   ǣgrum   cealfrum   lombrum
Acc.Pl.   ǣgru   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.