07 October 2008

Thaneless, excerpted from Beowulf

In Old English:
Þā wæs gesȳne, þæt se sīð ne þāh
þām þe unrihte inne gehȳdde
wrǣte under wealle. Ƿeard ǣr ofslōh
fēara sumne; þā sīo fǣhð gewearð
gewrecen wrāðlīce. Ƿundur hwār, þonne
eorl ellen‐rōf ende gefēre
līf‐gesceafta, þonne leng ne mæg
mon mid his māgum medu‐seld būan.
Swā wæs Bīowulfe, þā hē biorges weard
sōhte, searo‐nīðas: seolfa ne cūðe,
þurh hwæt his worulde gedāl weorðan sceolde;
swā hit oð dōmes dæg dīope benemdon
þēodnas mǣre, þā þæt þǣr dydon,
þæt se secg wǣre synnum scildig,
hergum geheaðerod, hell‐bendum fæst,
wommum gewītnad, sē þone wong strāde.
Næs hē gold‐hwæt: gearwor hæfde
āgendes ēst ǣr gescēawod.
Ƿīglāf maðelode, Ƿīhstānes sunu:
"Oft sceall eorl monig ānes willan
wrǣc ādrēogan, swā ūs geworden is.
Ne meahton wē gelǣran lēofne þēoden,
rīces hyrde rǣd ǣnigne,
þæt hē ne grētte gold‐weard þone,
lēte hyne licgean, þǣr hē longe wæs,
wīcum wunian oð woruld‐ende.
Gummere trans.:
A perilous path, it proved, he trod who heinously hid,
that hall within, wealth under wall!
Its watcher had killed one of a few,
and the feud was avenged in woful fashion. 
Wondrous seems it,
what manner a man of might and valor oft ends his life,
when the earl no longer in mead-hall
may live with loving friends.
So Beowulf, when that barrow’s warden he sought,
and the struggle; himself knew not
in what wise he should wend from the world at last.
For princes potent, who placed the gold,
with a curse to doomsday covered it deep,
so that marked with sin the man should be,
hedged with horrors, in hell-bonds fast,
racked with plagues, who should rob their hoard.
Yet no greed for gold, but the grace of heaven,
ever the king had kept in view.
Wiglaf spake, the son of Weohstan:
“At the mandate of one,
oft warriors many sorrow must suffer;
and so must we.
The people’s-shepherd showed not
aught of care for our counsel, king beloved!
That guardian of gold he should grapple not,
urged we, but let him lie
where he long had been in his earth-hall
waiting the end of the world,
the hest of heaven.

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