Manuscript TypeSet PoeticTS Trans.1 Trans.2 Trans.3 Glossary Home

Translation One

The Wanderer

As translated by Robert E Diamond.

Robert E. Diamond includes a clear and accurate translation of The Wanderer in his Old English Grammar and Reader.  Maybe I like it because it was the book I learned Old English on.  I find it easy to follow and Diamond translates the piece into prose making helpful comments in parentheses to clarify possible problem spots.

Below you will find Diamond's entire translation of the Wander, but you may also consult the translation in segments which correspond to the manuscript segments in this program.  Because Diamond translates the Old English into a fluid prose form, I will use the nearest sensible break for the individual pages, hence there may be the beginning or conclusion of a sentence included on the individuals pages that would have appeared on the previous or subsequent manuscript image.

Here are links to the individual pages of Translation One.

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The Wanderer

Translated by Robert E. Diamond

Often the solitary dweller awaits favor for himself, the mercy

of the Lord, although he, anxious in spirit, has long been

obliged to stir with his hands (i.e., row?) the ice-cold (lit.

frost-cold) sea over the path of the waters, to travel the paths

of exile. (5b) Fate is utterly inexorable (lit. resolute).

(6) So spoke the wanderer, mindful of hardships, of cruel

slaughters, of the death of beloved kinsmen: Often alone each

dawn I have had to bewail my sorrows; there is not now any

one living (lit. none of the living) to whom I dare speak my

mind openly. (11b) In truth I know that (it) is a very noble

custom in a man that he should bind fast his mind, guard the

treasury of his heart, let him think as he will. (15) (One)

weary in spirit cannot resist fate nor (can) the troubled

thought afford consolation ( lit. perform help ); therefore

(those) eager for glorious reputation often bind fast in their

hearts a gloomy (thought). (19) So I, often wretched, de-

prived of my native land, far from my noble kinsmen, have

had to bind my mind with fetters, since (the time) years ago

(when I) hid in the concealment of the earth (i.e., buried) my

gold-friend (i.e., generous lord), and I, abject, winter-griev-

ing (i.e., in a mood as dreary as winter? oppressed by ad-

vancing years?) went from there over the surface (lit. bind-

ing) of the waves, wretched, I sought the dwelling of a dis-

penser of treasure (i.e., generous lord), (sought) where I

might be able to find far or near some one who, in a mead-hall,

might know of my (people) or might be willing to console me,

friendless, comfort (me) with pleasures. (29b) He who ex-

periences (it) knows how cruel is sorrow as a companion to

him who has few friendly protectors for himself. (32) The

path of exile attends him, not twisted gold, a mournful spirit,

not earthly prosperity. He remembers the warriors in the hall

(lit. hall-warriors) and the receiving of treasure, (remem-

bers) how in his youth his gold-friend (i.e., generous lord)

entertained him at feasting. Joy has all disappeared !

(37) Therefore he who must knows (how to) do without

the instructive speeches of his beloved friendly lord for a long

time, when sorrow and sleep together often bind the wretched

solitary (one). (41) It seems to him in his mind that he is

embracing and kissing his lord and laying his hands and head

on his knee, as he sometimes formerly in the days of yore

enjoyed the gift-throne (i.e., the throne where his lord sat

dispensing gifts). (45) Then the friendless (lordless?) man

awakens again, sees before him the dark waves, (sees) sea-

birds bathe (and) spread their feathers, (sees) hoar-frost and

snow fall mingled with hail.

(49) Then the wounds of the heart are the more severe,

painful (with longing) for a loved one. Sorrow is renewed

when the memory of kinsmen passes through his mind; (he)

greets (them) joyfully, eagerly regards (his) comrades in

arms (lit. companions of warriors). (53b) They float away

again. The spirit of the floating ones (i.e., phantoms) does not

bring there many familiar songs. Care is renewed for him who

must very often send forth his weary spirit over the surface

(lit. binding) of the waves.

(58) Therefore I cannot imagine why throughout this

world my mind will not grow gloomy when I consider all the

life of men, how they suddenly left the hall (lit. floor of the

hall), the courageous young retainers. (62b) So this world

every day (lit. each of all days) is crumbling and falling;

therefore a man cannot become wise before he has his portion

of years in the world. (65b) A wise man must (be) patient,

nor must he (be) at all too irascible nor too hasty of speech

nor too weak a warrior nor too reckless nor too fearful nor

too elated nor too avaricious nor ever (lit. never) too eager

for glory before he really knows--a man must wait, when he

makes a vow, until, bold-spirited, (he) really knows whither

the thought of his heart will turn.

(73) A clever man ought to realize how terrible (it) will

be when all the wealth of this world stands waste, as now

variously (i.e., here and there) throughout this world walls

stand wind-blown, covered with hoar-frost, the dwellings

storm-beaten. (78) The wine-halls are crumbling, the rulers

lie dead, deprived of revelry, all the band of warriors has

fallen proud by the wall. (80b) War destroyed some, carried

(them) away; a bird carried one off over the high sea; the

gray wolf shared one with death; a sad-faced man hid (i.e.,

buried) one in a grave.

(85) Thus the Creator of men laid waste this dwelling-

place, until the old works of giants (i.e., buildings) stood

vacant, without the noise of the inhabitants. (88) He then

thoughtfully (lit. wisely) reflected upon this place of ruins

(lit. wall-place) and profoundly meditates upon this sad life,

wise in heart, (he) often remembers many slaughters in battle

far (back in time) and speaks these words: (92) Where has

the horse gone ? Where has the warrior gone ? Where has the

giver of treasure gone? Where have (lit. has) the banquet

seats gone? Where are the revelries in the hall? Alas, bright

cup ! Alas, armored warrior ! Alas, princely splendor (lit.

splendor of a prince) ! How that time has passed away, grown

dark under cover of night, as (if) it had never been! (97)

Now the wall, wondrously high, decorated with serpent de-

signs, outlasts the beloved band of warriors. (99) The force

(lit. forces) of ash-wood spears destroyed the warriors,

weapons greedy for slaughter, (and) fate, that famed (one),

and storms beat upon these stone slopes (walls?), a driving

(lit. falling) snowstorm binds the earth, the howling of

winter, when (it) comes, (all) dark, the shadow of night

grows dark, sends from the north a fierce hailstorm, to the

vexation of men. (106) All the kingdom of the earth is full of

hardships, the decree of the fates changes the world under

the heavens. (108) Here wealth is transitory, here friend is

transitory, here man is transitory, here kinsman is transitory,

this whole foundation of the earth is becoming empty.

(111) So spoke the (man) wise in spirit, sat apart in secret

meditation. Good is he who keeps his pledges, nor ought a

man ever (lit. never) make known the grief from out of his

breast too quickly, unless he, the man, should know beforehand

how to bring about a remedy with fortitude. (114b) It will be

well for him who seeks grace for himself, comfort from the

Father in heaven, where for us is (lit. stands) all security.


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