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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 Wanderer

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. ..."


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. ..."