Translations from the Anglo-Saxon

Eleanor Simmons, Society Lembas Rep (as well as Secretary 2009-10 and Publicity Officer 2013-15, and Society Hero), uses her linguistic skills to bring us her renderings of two Old English poems.

As anyone familiar with the original poems will note, these are neither wholly literal translations and nor do they pretend to more Anglo-Saxon than fairly loose alliteration – but this too shall pass.


Noble Weyland knew pain and exile
Beset by snakes and beleaguered with hardship
Sorrow and longing and the winds of winter
These were his sole companions,
After Niðhad set the hero in cruel bonds.
But that has passed. This too shall pass.

It was her own fate, not the fall of her brothers
That deepened Beadohild’s despair.
She knew without a doubt she was pregnant
And there was no escape
This too shall pass.

Who has not heard of Mæðhilde’s mourning?
The long grief of the lady of the Geats
So sorrowful a love that robbed her of sleep
But that has passed.

For thirty winters Theodric ruled
The men of the Maerings, as many can tell
But that has passed.

Eormanric’s wolfish thoughts were revealed
As he ruled the Goths, a savage king.
How many warriors sat, mired in misery
Wishing only that the kingdom be overthrown?
But that has passed.

A man sits bleakly, bereft of song
His mind shadowed, he see too well
His enduring lot, his oppression unending.
He may think that throughout this world
The wise Lord wishes change
He gives great glory to many men
True honour, and to some a deal of harm

For my own self I will speak.
I was for a time the poet of the Heodings
And dear to my lord. Deor I was named.
I had a good position and a gracious lord,
For many years, yet Heorenda,
Skilled in songmaking, received the rights
That my loving lord had once gifted me.
But that has passed. This too shall pass!

The Cuckoo Riddle

Before I was born my parents fled,
Unmourned and unliving, they left me for dead.
But a kindly cousin came to my rescue
She wrapped in me in rich garments
She sheltered and cherished me
As a guest among strangers, my spirit grew great
And under her wing, I thrived.
It was my nature.
My dear protector fended for me until I could fly free.
And travel further than she could dream.
She lost her own sons and daughters for her kindness.

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