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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anglo-Saxon Translation: The Battle of Finnsburg

I'm learning Old English! And what better place to preserve my translations than Pretzel Lectern? This particular piece is an intense epic battle poem, but sadly only this fragment survives.


                     hornas     byrnað nǣfre.'
  Hlēoþrode ðā     heaþoġeong cyning:
  'Ne ðis ne dagað ēastan     ne hēr draca ne flēogeð
  ne hēr ðisse healle     hornas ne byrnað,
ac hēr forþ berað,     fugelas singað,
  ġylleð grǣġhama,     gūðwudu hlynneð,
  scyld scefte oncwyð.     Nū scȳneð þes mōna
  wāðol under wolcnum;     nū ārīsað wēadǣda
  ðe ðisne folces nīð     fremman willað.
 Ac onwacniġeað nū,     wīgend mīne,
  habbað ēowre linda,     hicgeaþ on ellen,
  winnað on orde,     wesað ānmōde!'
  Ðā ārās mæniġ goldhladen ðeġn,     ġyrde hine his swurde.
  Ðā tō dura ēodon     drihtliċe cempan,
 Siġeferð and Ēaha,     hyra sword ġetugon,
  and æt ōþrum durum     Ordlāf and Gūþlāf,
  and Henġest sylf     hwearf him on lāste.
  Ðā ġȳt Gārulf     Gūðere styrode
  ðæt hē swā frēolic feorh     forman sīþe
 tō ðǣre healle durum     hyrsta ne bǣre
  nū hyt nīþa heard     ānyman wolde,
  ac hē fræġn ofer eal     undearninga,
  dēormōd hæleþ,     hwā ðā duru hēolde.
  'Siġeferþ is mīn nama', cweþ hē,     'iċ eom Secgena lēod,
 wreċċea wīde cūð;     fæla iċ wēana ġebād
 heardra hilda.     Ðē is ġȳt hēr witod
 swæþer ðū sylf tō mē     sēċean wylle.'
  Ðā wæs on healle     wælslihta ġehlyn;
  sceolde cellod bord     cēnum on handa,
bānhelm berstan     (buruhðelu dynede)
  oð æt ðǣre gūðe     Gārulf ġecrang
  ealra ǣrest     eorðbūendra
  Gūðlāfes sunu,     ymbe hyne gōdra fæla,
  hwearflicra hrǣw.     Hræfen wandrode
sweart and sealobrūn.     Swurdlēoma stōd
  swylċe eal Finnsburuh     fȳrenu wǣre.
  Ne ġefræġn iċ nǣfre wurþlicor     æt wera hilde
  sixtiġ siġebeorna     sēl ġebǣran,
  ne nēfre swētne medo     sēl forġyldan
ðonne Hnæfe guldan     his hæġstealdas.
  Hiġ fuhton fīf dagas     swā hyra nān ne fēol
  drihtġesīða,     ac hiġ ðā duru hēoldon.
  Ðā ġewāt him wund hæleð     onwæġ gangan,
  sǣde þæt his byrne     ābrocen wǣre,
 heresceorp unhrōr,     and ēac wæs his helm ðyrel.
  Ðā hine sōna fræġn     folces hyrde
  hū ðā wīgend hyra     wunda genǣson,
  oððe hwæþer ðǣra hyssa
                       The gables never burn,”
Said then the     battle-young king:
“It is not the dawning east     nor doth a dragon fly here,
Nor doth this hall's      gables burn,
But here they (the Frisians) bear forth,        birds sing,
grey-coated ones howl,     spears shout
shields answer the shafts.     The moon shines now
wandering under clouds;     now evil deeds arise
that will bring about     the people's strife.
But now awaken,      my warriors,
have your shields,      think on zeal,
fight in the vanguard,     be one of mind!”
Then many a gold-laden thane arose,     girding himself with his sword.
Then to the doors     went the noble warriors,
Sigferth and Eaga,     drawing their swords,
and at the other doors,     Ordlaf and Guthlaf,
and Hengest himself     went on behind.
Then yet Guther     exhorted Garulf
That he not bear     the equipment
on that first undertaking     to the doors of the hall.
For the warlike foe     would take it away.
But over all he      openly asked
the brave-minded warrior     who held the door.
“Sigeferth is my name,” he said.     “I am leader of the Segiens,
widely known exile;     many misfortunes
and hard battles have I experienced.     Then is
Whatever you yourself     seek of me yet decreed to you.”
Then the noise of slaughters     was in the hall;
The shield, the bone-helm,      had to burst in
The warrior’s hand     (the hall-floor resounded)
Till after the battle      Garulf was
The first     of the earth-dwellers to fall
Guthlaf’s son,     of which much good is spoken,
(mortal body).      A raven wandered
Black and brown.     Swords gleamed
As if all of Finnsburg     was on fire.
It was never heard of     in any battle of men
For sixty brave warriors     to bear themselves so well,
Nor never Hnaefe’s     unwed warriors
To pay so well for     their sweet mead.
They fought five days     so that not one of the vassals
Fell,     but they held the door.
Then departed him,     the wounded warrior [Garulf] went away,
They say that his armor     was broken,
Battle equipment worn down, and each had his helm pierced through.
Then he the guardian of the army     asked
The warriors how     they had avoided injury,
Or whether of the young men…

Maybe I'll record myself reading it in Anglo-Saxon. Should I?

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