Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Wanderer - 2nd Assignment

The Wanderer continues his journey of exile. Here are lines 39-80a in the original Old English:

ðonne sorg ond slæp somod ætgædre
earmne anhogan oft gebindað.
þinceð him on mode þæt he his mondryhten
clyppe ond cysse, ond on cneo lecge
honda ond heafod, swa he hwilum ær
in geardagum giefstolas breac.
ðonne onwæcneð eft wineleas guma,
gesihð him biforan fealwe wegas,
baþian brimfuglas, brædan feþra,
hreosan hrim ond snaw, hagle gemenged.
þonne beoð þy hefigran heortan benne,
sare æfter swæsne. Sorg bið geniwad,
þonne maga gemynd mod geondhweorfeð;
greteð gliwstafum, georne geondsceawað
secga geseldan. Swimmað eft on weg!
Fleotendra ferð no þær fela bringeð
cuðra cwidegiedda. Cearo bið geniwad
þam þe sendan sceal swiþe geneahhe
ofer waþema gebind werigne sefan.
Forþon ic geþencan ne mæg geond þas woruld
for hwan modsefa min ne gesweorce,
þonne ic eorla lif eal geondþence,
hu hi færlice flet ofgeafon,
modge maguþegnas. Swa þes middangeard
ealra dogra gehwam dreoseð ond fealleþ,
forþon ne mæg weorþan wis wer, ær he age
wintra dæl in woruldrice. Wita sceal geþyldig,
ne sceal no to hatheort ne to hrædwyrde,
ne to wac wiga ne to wanhydig,
ne to forht ne to fægen, ne to feohgifre
ne næfre gielpes to georn, ær he geare cunne.
Beorn sceal gebidan, þonne he beot spriceð,
oþþæt collenferð cunne gearwe
hwider hreþra gehygd hweorfan wille.
Ongietan sceal gleaw hæle hu gæstlic bið,
þonne ealre þisse worulde wela weste stondeð,
swa nu missenlice geond þisne middangeard
winde biwaune weallas stondaþ,
hrime bihrorene, hryðge þa ederas.
Woriað þa winsalo, waldend licgað
dreame bidrorene, duguþ eal gecrong,
wlonc bi wealle.

Here is my translation:

When sorrow and sleep simultaneously together
often bind a wretched solitary thinker,
it seems in his mind that he embraces and kisses

his lord of men, and he lays hands and head
on his knee, as sometimes before
he benefited from the gift-seat in days of yore.

When the friendless man awakes again,
sees before him tawny waves,
sea-birds bathing, wing spread,
frost and snow fall, mingled with hail.
Then are the heart's wounds more grievous,

sore for the sake of beloved. Sorrow is renewed
when the mind reviews memory of kinsmen;
he greets with melodies, eagerly examines
hall-companions of men. Again they swim away.
Floating spirits there seldom bring

familiar speeches. Care is renewed
to him who very often must send his weary spirit over the freezing waves.
Therefore, I cannot imagine, throughout this world,
for what reason my spirit does not become dark,

when I entirely ponder the lives of warriors,
how they suddenly abandoned the hall,
brave noble kinsmen. So this world
of all days everyone perishes and falls.
Therefore a man may not become wise before he has

his share of winters in kingdom of the world. The wise man should be patient,
not too angry, nor too hasty of speech,
nor too weak a warrior, nor too reckless,
neither too fearful nor too glad, nor too greedy for wealth,
nor never too eager to boast, before he well knows.

A warrior should wait when he speaks a vow,
until, stout-hearted, he knows well
whither thought of the mind wish to turn.
A wise warrior understands how spiritual it will be
when all this world's riches stands ruined,

as now here and there throughout this Middle-Earth
walls blown upon by wind stand,
frost-covered, the dwellings snow-swept.
The wine-halls decay, rulers lay deprived of joy, a fallen army,

splendid by the wall. /

And here is the translation by award-winning poet Greg Delanty:

Whenever sorrow and sleep combine
the wretched recluse often dreams
that he is with his loyal lord.
He clasps and kisses him, lays
his hands and head on those knees, loves
the liberal ruler as in whilom days.
As soon as the sober man wakes
he sees nothing but fallow furrows;
seabirds paddle and preen feathers;
snow and frost combine forces.
Then his heart weighs heavier, sore
for the loved lord, sorrow renewed.
He recalls friends from the past,
gladly greets them, feasts his eyes.
His mates swim in waves of memory.
Those fellows float away in his mind,
barely utter a word. Down again
the man knows he must cast
his harrowed heart over frigid waves.
It’s not hard to guess why in the world
my spirit’s in such a stark state
as I consider the lives of those lords,
how they abruptly quit the halls,
the bold youth. In this way the world,
day after day, fails and falls.
For sure, no man’s wise without his share
of winters in this world. He must be patient,
not too keen, not hot tongued,
not easily led, not foolhardy,
not timid, not all gusto, not greedy
no too cocky till he knows life.
A man should take stock before a vow,
brace for action, be mindful
of the mind’s twists and turns.
The wise man knows how ghostly it will be
when all the world’s wealth is wasted
as in many regions on Earth today,
the still-standing walls wind-wracked,
ice-bound; each edifice under snow.
The halls fall, the lords lie low,
no more revels, troops of gallant veterans
valiant by the wall.

The Wanderer takes on new levels of despair as he falls into a fitful sleep. In his dreams he is once again with his lord, showing him fealty (as he should) and remembering the many times he knelt before the “gift-seat” (a throne) from where his lord favored him with gifts. For a moment, the wanderer knows happiness once more.

Then he awakes suddenly to “frost and snow fall, mingled with hail.”

However, he – either in his delirium or futile hopes - believes that he is still in the company of his hall-companions. He remembers their songs and their fellowship. But, in the end, it is just a gathering of gulls that float nearby, preening their wings. Cold reality sets in once more. The gulls swim away from him leaving him alone on the water. The spirit of the wanderer longs to travel with them over the frozen waves. He is grief-stricken once more.

The wanderer uses the bitter cold as an analogy for wisdom when he says, “Therefore a man may not become wise before he has his share of winters in kingdom of the world.” As he travels through this particular winter the wanderer is gaining wisdom that he also shares with the reader. However, it is doubtful that the wanderer will actually survive through many more winters.

The wanderer reflects on the notion that all of human existence is transient. After all, he knows from bitter experience that he once had lord, who provided him with a home that was shared with people he loved. But, in the blink of an eye, all that disappeared. When he combines this sense of loss with his knowledge that men will die, he cannot help but reflect on how all of creation will eventually fall into ruin, too. Here the poem expresses this notion of transience with the image of a fallen army in front of a wall that is covered with frost, buffered and battered by the winds that slowly but surely wear it into a state of decay and, finally, into nothingness. One day the earth (middangeard – “Middle-earth”), too, will suffer the same fate.

And the wanderer rows on…


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

"A wise warrior understands how spiritual it will be
when all this world's riches stands ruined".... Word!

All I can say is, you better get an "A" in this class...if you don't, your Prof needs a severe beating.

7:13 PM, November 12, 2011  

Post a Comment

<< Home