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Translation Two

The Wanderer

As translated by Benjamin Thorpe.

Thorpe's translation attempts to render the poem one half-line at a time.  I have not changed his translation at all, except that I have re-instituted the whole lines with half line pauses.

Below you will find his entire translation, but you may also consult the translation in segments which correspond to the manuscript segments featured in this program.

Here are links to the individual pages of Translation Two.

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The Wanderer

Translated by Benjamin Thorpe

‘Oft the lonely one         experiences compassion,

the Creator's kindness;         though he with sorrowing mind,

o'er the watery way,         must long

agitate with his hands            the rime-cold sea,

go in exile tracks;         his fate is full decreed.'--         (5)

So said a wanderer,         of his hardships mindful,

of hostile slaughters,         his dear friends' fall.--

' Oft I must alone,         each morn,

my care bewail:         there is now none living,

to whom my thoughts         I dare         (10)

tell openly.         I in sooth know,

that it is in man         a noble quality,

that he his soul's coffer         fast bind,

hold his treasure.         Strive as he will,

the weary-minded cannot         fate withstand,         (15)

nor the rugged soul'd         help effect;

even the ambitious         a sad one oft

in their breast's coffer         fast bind.

So I my         thoughts must,

oft miserable,         from country separated,         (20)

far from my friends,         in fetters bind,

since that long ago         my bounteous patron

earth's cavern cover'd,         and I abject thence

went, stricken with years,         over the billowy mass;

sad sought the hall         of some munificent lord,         (25)

where I far or near         might find

one who in the mead-hall         my ** might know,

or me friendless         would comfort,

allure with pleasure.         He knows who tries,

how hapless is         care as a comrade         (30)

to him who little has         of faithful friends;

him an exile's track awaits,         not twisted gold;

a trembling body,         not earth's riches:

he remembers the hall-retainers,         and receipt of treasure;

how him in youth         his bounteous patron         (35)

train'd to the feast;         but pleasure all has fall'n;

for he knows who must         his dear lord's,

his lov'd master's lessons         long be depriv'd of,

when sorrow and sleep         at once together

a poor solitary         often bind,         (40)

that seems to him in mind,         that he his lord

embraces and kisses,         and on his knee lays

hands and head,         as when he ere at times,

in former days,         his gifts enjoy'd;

then wakes again         the friendless mortal,         (45)

sees before him         fallow ways,

ocean fowls bathing,         spreading their wings,

rime and snow descending         with hail mingled;

then are the heavier         his wounds of heart,

painful after dreaming;         sorrow is renew’d,         (50)

when his friends' remembrance         through his mind passes;

when he greets with songs,         earnestly surveys

the seats of men,         swims again away.

The spirit of seafarers,         brings there not many

known songs:         but care is renew'd         (55)

to him who must send         very abundantly

over the billowy mass         his weary spirit;

therefore I cannot think,         throughout this world,

why my mind         it saddens,

when I the chieftains' life         all consider;         (60)

how they suddenly         their halls resign'd,

the proud kinsmen.         So this mid-earth

every day         declines and falls;

therefore may not become wise         a man, ere he has pass'd

his share of winters in the world.         The sagacious must be patient,

must not be too ardent,         nor too hurrying of fortune,

nor too faint a soldier,         nor too reckless,         (67)

nor too fearful, nor too elate,         nor too greedy of money,

nor ever too vaunting,         ere he be well experienced.

a man must wait,         when he a promise utters,

till that he, bold of spirit,         well know         (71)

to what his breast's thoughts         shall lead.

The prudent man should understand,         how ghastly it will be,

when all this world's wealth         shall stand waste,

as now divers,         over this mid-earth,         (75)

with wind shaken         walls stand,

with rime bedeck'd:         tottering the chambers,

disturb'd are the joyous halls,         the powerful lie

of joy bereft,         the noble all have fall'n,

the proud ones by the wall.         Some hath war destroy'd,

borne on their journey hence;         one the fowl hath borne away

o'er the deep ocean;         one the hoar wolf         (82)

by death hath separated;         one with gory countenance,

in an earth-grave         a man hath hidden.

So o'erwhelm'd this world         the Creator of men,

till that of the inhabitants,         in the briefest moment,

the old works of giants         stood desolate.         (87)

But he who this wall'd place         wisely devis'd,

and this dark life         profoundly contemplates,

wise in spirit,         afar oft remembers         (90)

his many battles,         and these words utters:

Where is horse, where is man?         where is the treasure-giver ?

where are the festive sittings ?         where are the joys of the hall?

Alas bright cup !         alas mail'd warrior !         (94)

alas chieftain's splendour !         how the time has pass'd,

has darken'd under veil of night,         as if it had not been.

Stands now behind         the beloved warriors

the wall of wonderous height,         with worm carcases foul.

The men has swept away         the spearmen's band,         (99)

the slaughter-greedy weapon,         and fate omnipotent

and these stone shelters         storms dash,

fierce-rushing;         binds the earth

the winter's violence;         then comes dusky,

darkens, the shade of night,         from the north sends

the rough hail-shower,         to men's grievance.         (105)

Irksome is all         the realm of earth,

the fates' decrees change         the world under heaven:

here is wealth transient,         here is a friend transient,

here is man transient,         here is a kinsman transient;

all this place of earth         hall become desolate.'--         (110)

so spake a sage in mind,         sat apart in meditation.

Good is he who holds his faith.         Never his affliction too quickly should

a man from his breast make known,         unless he ere the remedy can

vigorously forward.         Well it is for him who seeketh mercy,

comfort, at the Father in heaven,         where all our fastness standeth.

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