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Early Indo-European Texts

Old English

Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old English with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old English Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old English language and its speakers' culture.

The Battle of Maldon

wear borda gebrc;         brimmen wdon,
ge gegremode;         gr oft urhwd
fges feorhhs.
        For ode Wstn,
rstnes sunu,         wi s secgas feaht;

h ws on gerange         hyra rora bana,
r him Wgelmes bearn         on m wle lge.

r ws st gemt:         stdon fste
wigan on gewinne;
        wgend cruncon,
wundum wrige;         wl fol on eoran.

swold and Ealdwold         ealle hwle,
bgen gebrru,         beornas trymedon,

hyra winemgas         wordon bdon
t h r t earfe         olian sceoldon,
unwclce         wpna notan.


Byrhtwold maelode,         bord hafenode,
s ws eald genat,         sc cwehte,
h ful baldlce         beornas lrde:

'Hige sceal heardra,         heorte cnre,
md sceal mre,         re mgen ltla.

Hr l re ealdor         eall forhawen,
gd on grote;
        mg gnornian
s e n fram s wgplegan         wendan ence.

Ic eom frd fores:         fram ic ne wille,
ac ic m be healfe         mnum hlforde
be sw lofan men         licgan ence.'

Sw h elgres bearn         ealle bylde
Godrc t ge:
        oft h gr forlt,
wlspere windan         on wcingas,
sw h on m folce         fyrmest ode,
how and hnde,         o t h on hilde gecranc;

ns t n se Godrc         e ge forbah.

Translation

Then there was a breaking of shields; seamen advanced, enraged by battle; often spear pierced a doomed body. Then Wistan went forth, Thurstan's son, (and) fought against the men; he was the slayer of three of them in the throng, before Wigelin's son lay among the dead. There was a brave meeting: fighters stood fast in the strife; warriors died, exhausted by wounds; the slain fell to earth. Oswold and Ealdwold all the while, both the brothers, encouraged the men, beseeched their kinsmen by words that against need they should endure there, (and) unwaveringly use their weapons.
Byrhtwold spoke, (and) raised his shield; he was an old retainer; he shook his ash spear (and) full boldly exhorted the men: "Thought must be the sterner, heart the bolder, mood must be the stouter, as our strength lessens. Here lies our lord all cut down, brave on the ground; forever may he lament who thinks now to run away from this battle. I am old in life: I will not (go) away, but I resolve to lie myself beside my lord, by the man so loved." So Aethelgar's son Godric cheered them all in battle: often he loosed spear, deadly spear to spin into the Vikings, as he went foremost into the host; he killed and injured, until he fell in battle; that was not the Godric who fled from the fight.