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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

Ðā wearð borda gebræc;         brimmen wōdon,
gūðe gegremode;         gār oft þurhwōd
fǣges feorhhūs.
        Forð þā ēode Wīstān,
Þūrstānes sunu,         wið þās secgas feaht;

hē wæs on geþrange         hyra þrēora bana,
ǣr him Wīgelmes bearn         on þām wæle lǣge.

Þǣr wæs stīð gemōt:         stōdon fæste
wigan on gewinne;
        wīgend cruncon,
wundum wērige;         wæl fēol on eorþan.

Ōswold and Ealdwold         ealle hwīle,
bēgen þā gebrōþru,         beornas trymedon,

hyra winemāgas         wordon bǣdon
þæt hī þǣr æt ðearfe         þolian sceoldon,
unwāclīce         wǣpna nēotan.


Byrhtwold maþelode,         bord hafenode,
sē wæs eald genēat,         æsc ācwehte,
hē ful baldlīce         beornas lǣrde:

'Hige sceal þē heardra,         heorte þē cēnre,
mōd sceal þē māre,         þē ūre mægen lȳtlað.

Hēr līð ūre ealdor         eall forhēawen,
gōd on grēote;
        ā mæg gnornian
sē ðe nū fram þīs wīgplegan         wendan þenceð.

Ic eom frōd fēores:         fram ic ne wille,
ac ic mē be healfe         mīnum hlāforde
be swā lēofan men         licgan þence.'

Swā hī Æþelgāres bearn         ealle bylde
Godrīc tō gūþe:
        oft hē gār forlēt,
wælspere windan         on þā wīcingas,
swā hē on þām folce         fyrmest ēode,
hēow and hȳnde,         oð þæt hē on hilde gecranc;

næs þæt nā se Godrīc         þe ðā gūðe forbēah.

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.