Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Wanderer - Final Translation

Here is my complete translation:

Often the solitary one waits for honor for himself,
God’s compassion, although he sorrowful at heart
over the seaways stir with his hands
the frost-cold sea, for a long time
traveling paths of exile. Fate is very resolute.
So spoke the wanderer, mindful of hardships, of fierce slaughter, deaths of dear kinsmen: Often I must, alone, the hour before dawn lament my sorrow. No one is now alive to whom I dare openly reveal my soul. I know as a truth: It is in a warrior noble custom
That he firmly bind his life-enclosure,
govern his wealth-chamber, whatever he may think.
Weary heart never provides fate,
nor does troubled heart provide help;
Therefore, those who are eager for glory often bind fast
a sorrowful mind in their breast-chamber.
So must I my spirit—
often wretchedly sorrowful, separated of homeland,
far from kinsmen bound with fetters,
since long ago I covered my former lord
in darkness of earth, and I, wretched, thence,
traveled sorrowful as winter, sought over the freezing waves, hall
sorrowful, a giver of treasure
Where I far or near
I might find one in mead-hall who knew my people
or could find me, friendless, would console me, entertain me with pleasures. He who experiences understands
how cruel is sorrow, as a companion,
For him who himself has few beloved friends
The path of exile holds him, not at all twisted gold,
his soul-chamber frozen, not at all earth’s glory.
He remembers men of the hall and receiving of treasure,
how in his youth his generous lord
accustomed him to feast. Pleasure all perished!
Therefore he knows, who must do without his lord-friends
beloved teachings for a long time.
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 bathe, wings 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 Middle-Earth
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 knows well.
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 world
walls blown upon by wind stand,
frost-covered, the dwellings snow-swept.
The wine-halls decay, rulers lay
deprived of joy, army all fallen,
splendid by the wall. Some war took away,
carried into death; one a raven bore away
over the deep sea; one the grey wolf
shared with death, one a sad-faced warrior
hid in a grave.
So the Creator of men devastated this world,
until, lacking the revelry of town-dwellers,
old works of giants' stood empty.
He with a wise mind then deeply ponders this wall and this dark life,
the one wise in mind often remembers long ago
multitudes of slaughter, and says these words:
“What has become of the horse? What has become of the kinsmen?
What has become of the gift-giver?
What has become of the feast-seats? Where are all the hall-joys?
Oh, alas for the bright cup! Oh, alas armored warrior!
Alas the king's might! How that time departed,
grew dark under cover of night, as if it never were.
Now stands on track of the beloved war-band
a wondrously high wall, adorned with likenesses of serpents.
Multitudes of spears, weapons greedy for slaughter,
took away the warriors - the glorious fate –
and storms crash against these stony-cliffs;
falling frost with tumult of winter,
binds the earth, then darkness comes,
night-shadow grows dark, fierce hailstorms issue
from the north in anger toward warriors.
All earth’s kingdom is full of hardship,
fate of events overturns the world under heavens.
Here riches are transitory; here friendship is transitory, here
mankind is transitory, here kinsmen are transitory;
all this earthly-foundation becomes idle.”
So said the one wise in mind, sat himself apart at counsel.
Good is he who maintains his faith, never reveals his
suffering from his breast too quickly, unless he, warrior,
knows beforehand how to bring about
the remedy with courage. Good is he who seeks mercy for himself,
comforts from the Father in heaven, where the protection exists for us all.

This concludes "The Wanderer", who is not only crossing the earth but also traversing the metaphysical landscape of faith and fate.

It is quite possible that there are two speakers in “The Wanderer”. There is the narrator who introduces the work from lines 1-7 and who completes the elegy with lines 111-115. In its final lines the narrator tries to reaffirm his (and the readers) belief in God: “Good is he who seeks mercy for himself, comforts from the Father in heaven, where the protection exists for us all.” This is to be expected, for all elegies have in their text a search for consolation that is (re-)discovered in Christian faith.

Then there is the wanderer himself; alone on the sea, friendless, and at the mercy of nature. He laments his losses and reflects upon the ruin of mankind as he realizes that all of life – “All this earthly foundation” - is transitory. The stark images of loss and abandonment that the poem has brilliantly conjured are compelling. The snow falls and seagulls stand in for hall-companions as the wanderer rows across the frost-covered waves and cries out, “What has become of the horse? What has become of the kinsmen? What has become of the gift-giver?” The wanderer’s description of his own immediate situation is much more forceful and heartbreaking.

It is possible to believe that the wanderers religious affirmation is akin to the old adage that “There are no atheists in foxholes. However, it is also possible that the wanderer has used his time of exile for personal reflection that has reaffirmed his faith and allowed him to move beyond the pain of the transitory world to find solace in the mercy from his Father in heaven.

This is for each reader to ponder and discover for himself.


Blogger Cynthia said...

Beautiful conclusion and translation!

Reminds me of the book of Job and the book of Ecclesiastes -- pre-Christian literature, mind you.

Perhaps the wanderer consoles himself with God because it may be overwhelming to consider the existential loneliness that we all must confront at some time in our lives.

8:48 PM, November 17, 2011  
Blogger Andy said...

Cindy - "overwhelming" is a great word to describe the wanderer's loneliness and despair.

However, I also was inspired by his ability continue moving forward even though the future (both his own and for all mankind)seems so bleak.

7:44 AM, November 18, 2011  
Blogger Fox In Detox said...

Excellent job, my friend.

2:20 PM, November 21, 2011  
Blogger Cynthia said...

You've wandered away from your blog. :-(

4:55 PM, January 17, 2012  

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