The Wanderer

1                      Often the lonely one     mercy awaits,

the creator’s favor,     although, mind-anxious,

he through sea-ways     long must

stir with his hands     the rime-cold sea,

5          travel a path of exile.     Fate is full resolute!             

            So spoke the wanderer,     mindful of hardship,

of cruel slaughter,     beloved kinsmen’s fall:

“Oft I must lonely     each dawn

my cares lament.     There is now living none

10        to whom I might     my heart dare

to clearly tell.     I for truth know

that it is in a man     a very noble practice

that he his mind-stronghold       binds fast,

holds his heart-coffer,     think as he will.

15        Nor may the weary heart     Fate withstand,

nor the troubled heart     help provide.

So, doom-eager,     sorrow he often

in his breast-coffer     binds full fast;

so I my spirit     also must bind,

20        oft wretched and troubled,     of homeland deprived,

from noble kinsmen far,      with fetters bound,

since years ago     my gold-friend

the earth in darkness covered,                 and I wretched thence

traveled winter-grieved     over waves’ binding,

25        sought, loss-wearied,     treasure’s bestower,

where I far or near     might find

he that in mead-hall     of me knows,

or me, friendless,     would comfort,

treat me with kindness.     Knows he who has seen it

30        how cruel is     sorrow to meet with

when he few     beloved friends has:

the path of exile held him,     not at all wound gold;

a frozen heart,     not at all this world’s glory.

Remembers he hall-warriors     and receipt of treasure,

35        how he in his youth     his gold-friend

used to know.     Joy is all perished!

Therefore understands he who must     his beloved lord’s

dear counsel     long do without:

when sorrow and sleep     together

40        the wretched exile     oft hold fast,

thinks he in his mind     that he his liege lord

embraces and kisses     and on his knee lays

hands and head,     as he sometimes before

in days gone by     the throne had enjoyed.

45        Then wakes again     the friendless man,

sees before him     dark paths,

bathing seabirds,     spreading feathers,

frost and snow falling,     in hail mingled.

            Then is the heavier     the heart-wound,

50        grieving after the beloved.     Sorrow is renewed.

When remembrance of kin     passes through mind,

he greets it joyfully,     eagerly looks upon

the companions of men;     they again float away.

The seafarer’s spirit     cannot bring there

55        a familiar song.     Care is renewed

when he often     must send

over waves’ fetter     his weary heart.

                        And so I cannot think     throughout this world

why my spirit     does not grow dark

60        when I a warrior’s life     meditate upon,

how he suddenly     the hall abandoned,

the bold young thane.     So this middle-earth           

through each of all days     fails and falls;

therefore a man cannot become wise,     ere he have

65        his portion of winters in this world-kingdom.   

 A wise man shall be patient,

nor by no means too impulsive,     nor too hasty of speech,

nor too weak a warrior,     nor too reckless,

nor too afraid nor too happy,     nor too greedy,

nor never boasting too eagerly,     ere he clearly knows.

70        A man shall wait,     when he speaks boastfully,

until, stout-hearted,     he fully knows

whither his heart’s thought     will turn.

The wise man shall see     how ghastly it is,

when all this world’s riches     deserted stand,

75        as now in many places     throughout this middle-earth

walls stand,     blown by the wind,

rime-covered,     the snow-swept buildings.

Moldered is the wine-hall,     rulers lie dead,

of delight deprived,     troops all perished,

80        proud by the wall.  One war took,

brought into the forth-way,     one a bird bore off

over the wretched sea;     one the hoary wolf

brought to death;     one a dreary-faced warrior

in the earth-cave     that nobleman hid.

85       And so destroyed the hearth-place of men    man’s creator,

until devoid of the noise     of the city-dwellers

the old works of giants     empty stand idle.

            He then this ruin,     this way considers,

and this dark life     deeply ponders,

90        wise in spirit,     remembers

the slaughter of many,     and this word speaks:

“Where now the horse? Where now the man? Where now the giver of treasure?

Where now the throne? And where now the hall-joys?

O for the bright cup, for the mailed warrior!

95        O for the glory of the prince!     How that time has now passed away,

darkened under night’s helm,     as though it had never been.

Instead of beloved troops,     there now stands a wall,

wondrously high,     with worm-likeness stained.

Men were lost     through force of the ash-spear,

100      that weapon greedy for slaughter --     a noble fate.

And now this stone cliff     by storms is battered;

snowstorms fall,     binding earth

in winter’s tumult     when darkness comes,  

when looms the night-shadow,     hail-storms fierce,

105      sent from the North     with malice towards men.”

All is fraught with hardship     in this world-kingdom,

and Fate unbinds all     this world under heaven.

Here wealth is fleeting,     here friends are fleeting,

here man is fleeing,     here woman is fleeting,

110      and all this world’s joys     soon become desolate!”

            So spoke the wise man in his heart,     sitting apart at secret counsel.

Good is he that holds to his faith,     nor shall he grieve too quickly,

make his heart known to men,     unless he first knows the remedy,

the courageous nobleman.     And well be it for him who mercy seeks,

115     consolation from the Father in heaven,     where all our fastness lies.