The Wife's Lament Pages

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Robert E. Diamond's Translation of "The Wife's Lament"


(1) I am reciting this poem about myself, very sad (lit. about my very sad self), my own experience. I can say this, what miseries (lit. what of miseries) I lived through, after I grew up, earl or late, never more than now. Ever I have suffered the torment of my exile (lit. journeys of exile).

(6) First my lord departed hence from (his) people over the commotion of the waves; I had anxiety at dawn (as to) where my prince on earth (lit. of the land) might be. (9) Then I set out to seek service, a friendless exile, on account of my woeful need.

(11) The man's kinsmen began to plot (lit.consider) secretly (lit. through secret thought) that they might separate us two, in such a way that we two, most widely (separated) in the world lived most wretchedlyand I suffered longing. (15) My lord commanded me to take up my dwelling here; my heart is sad, since I had found the man very well suited to me (to be) ill-starred, depressed, concealing his mind, plotting a deadly sin. (21) With joyous demeanor, we two very often had vowed that nothing (lit. not anything) else but death alone would part us two; (but) this in turn is reversed, it is now * * * as if it had never been, our love. (25b) Far and near I must endure the hostility of my very dear (one).

(27) I was commanded (lit. one commanded me) to dwell in a forest grove, under an oak tree in this cave in the earth. (29) This cave-dwelling is ancient, I am utterly oppressed with longing, the valleys are dark, the hills high, sharp (the) hedges (lit. town-enclosures), grown over with briars, a joyless dwelling. (32b) Very often the departure of my lord has afflicted (lit. seized) me cruelly here. There are beloved friends (i.e. Lovers) living on earth, (who) occupy their bed, while (lit. when) I am walking alone at dawn under the oak tree through these caves in the earth. (37) There I may sit the long summer's day, there I can weep over my exile (lit. exile experiences), many hardships, for I cannot ever rest from this unhappiness (lit. heart-care) of mine nor from all the longing which has come upon (lit. seized) me in this life.

(42) Ever may a young man have to be sad of mind, grievous the thought of his heart, at the same time as (lit. likewise) he is obliged to keep a cheerful demeanor, and in addition (may he have) distress of heart, a multitude of perpetual sorrowsmay all his joy in the world be dependent on himself (alone), may he be outlawed very far (away) in a distant country, so that my beloved will sit under a rocky slope, frosted by a storm, a weary-spirited lord, drenched with water in a gloomy hall (i.e., a ruined building?). (50b) My lord is suffering great distress of soul; he remembers too often a more joyful dwelling. Woe will be to the one who must wait for a loved one in (lit. out of) longing.