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.
Mæg ic be mé sylfum sóðgied wrecan,
síþas secgan, hú ic geswincdagum
earfoðhwíle oft þrówade,
bitre bréostceare gebiden hæbbe,
gecunnad in céole cearselda fela,
atol ýþa gewealc. Þær mec oft bigeat
nearo nihtwaco æt nacan stefnan,
þonne hé be clifum cnossað. Calde geþrungen
wæron fét míne forste gebunden,
caldum clommum; þær þá ceare seofedun
hát(e) ymb heortan; hungor innan slát
merewérges mód. Þæt se mon ne wát,
þe him on foldan fægrost limpeð,
hú ic earmcearig íscealdne sæ
winter wunade wræccan lástum
winemægum bidroren ...
bihongen hrímgicelum: hægl scúrum fléag.
Þær ic ne gehýrde bútan hlimman sæ,
íscaldne wæg, hwílum ylfete song:
dyde ic mé tó gomene ganetes hléoþor
and huilpan swég fore hleahtor wera,
mæw singende fore medodrince.
Stormas þær stánclifu béotan, þær him stearn oncwæð
ísigfeþera; ful oft þæt earn bigeal
úrigfeþra. Nænig hléomæga
féasceaftig ferð fréfran meahte.
For þon him gelýfeð lýt sé þe áh lífes wyn
gebiden in burgum, bealosíþa hwón,
wlonc and wíngál, hú ic wérig oft
in brimláde bídan sceolde.
Náp nihtscua, norþan sníwde,
hrím hrúsan bond; hægl féol on eorþan,
corna caldast. For þon cnyssað nú
heortan geþóhtas, þæt ic héan stréamas,
sealtýþa gelác sylf cunnige;
monað módes lust mæla gehwylce
ferð tó féran, þæt ic feor heonan
elþéodigra eard geséce.
For þon nis þæs módwlonc mon ofer eorþan,
ne his gifena þæs gód, ne in geoguþe tó þæs hwæt,
ne in his dædum tó þæs déor, ne him his dryhten tó þæs hold,
þæt hé á his sæfóre sorge næbbe,
tó hwon hine Dryhten gedón wille.
I can tell a true tale about myself, of voyages speak, how in days of toil I often endured a time of hardship, experienced bitter sadness, have known on a ship places of sorrow, much dire tossing of the waves. Where an anxious night-watch often kept me on the prow of a ship when it drives beneath the cliffs. My feet were pressed cold, bound in frigid fetters by the frost; where sorrows sighed hot around my heart; hunger gnawed within, a sea-weary mood. The man does not know, to whom everything happens most happily on earth, how wretched I spent an ice-cold winter at sea in the paths of exile bereft of kinsmen... behung with icicles: the hail flew in showers. There I heard nothing but the sea roar, ice-cold billow, sometimes the song of a swan: I made for my own amusement the gannet's song and the water-bird's call for the laughter of men, mew singing for mead-drinking. Storms there pounded stony cliffs, where sea-swallow replied to them with frosted wings; often the eagle screamed dewey-winged. No protective kinsmen might cheer the poor in spirit. Because he trusts little who has experienced life's joy in cities, with perils few, proud and intoxicated, how often I must remain exhausted in the sea lane. Night's shadow grew dark, from the north it snowed, hoar-frost bound the soil; hail fell upon earth, the coldest of grains. Therefore it strikes now the thoughts of the heart, that I the humble streams, the tumult of sea waves myself should test; the mind's desire urges at all times the spirit to travel, so that I seek far hence the land of foreigners. Because (there) is not a man on earth so proud, nor of his gifts so generous, nor in youth quite so bold, nor in his deeds quite so valiant, nor to him his lord quite so gracious, that he never has anxiety (about) his sea travel, (or) to what end the Lord will bring him.