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.