Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday poetry blogging: Wulf

Continuing (discontinuously) the medieval theme, this week's Friday offering is my favourite Old English poem: Wulf. (Sometimes called Wulf and Eadwacer, depending on whether the editor thinks that Eadwacer is a proper name or a word meaning "protector of wealth". People have also interpreted that line as: "Do you hear me? Eadwacer, our wretched whelp," etc).

I'm afraid I left out long vowel markings and the caesura, because I couldn't be bothered putting in the html codes for the former and couldn't work out how to do the latter (you can see why companies employ me to spiffy up their websites, can't you?)

Scroll down for the translation.


Leodum is minum swylce him mon lac gife;
willað hy hine aþecgan, gif he on þreat cymeð.
Ungelic is us.

Wulf is on iege, ic on oþerre.
Fæst is þæt eglond, fenne biworpen.
Sindon wælreowe weras þær on ige;
willað hy hine aþecgan, gif he on þreat cymeð.
Ungelice is us.

Wulfes ic mines widlastum wenum dogode;
þonne hit wæs renig weder ond ic reotugu sæt,
þonne mec se beaducafa bogum bilegde,
wæs me wyn to þon, wæs me hwæþre eac lað.

Wulf, min Wulf, wena me þine
seoce gedydon, þine seldcymas,
murnende mod, nales meteliste.

Gehyrest þu, Eadwacer? Uncerne earne hwelp
bireð Wulf to wuda.
þæt mon eaþe tosliteð þætte næfre gesomnad wæs,
uncer giedd geador.

Wulf (my translation)

To my people it is as if someone is giving them a gift.
They will kill him, if he comes up against their violence.
It is different for us.

Wulf is on one island, I on another.
Isolated is that island, surrounded by marshes.
There are bloodthirsty men there on that isle.
They will kill him, if he comes up against their violence.
It is different for us.

I thought of my Wulf's distant travels with hope
when it was rainy weather and I sat weeping,
when the strong warrior held me in his arms,
there was joy for me in that, but there was also pain.

Wulf, my Wulf, my hopes for you
have caused my sickness, your seldom-coming,
my anxious mind, not lack of food.

Do you hear me, Eadwacer?
Our wretched whelp
Wulf carries to the woods.

It is easy to tear apart that which never was united;
Our tale together.

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enn said...

This is my favourite OE poem of all, even beating the Wanderer. The novel I am (cough; supposed to be) writing is based on Wulf. What else_

turtlebella said...

Am feeling a bit shy as I don't have a favorite Old English poem (Old English never have I studied or read), but I thought this was way cool.

turtlebella said...

oh, and reading down further I see that I missed ~your birthday! Happy Belated! Way styley gifts you got.

StyleyGeek said...

Then you can borrow this to be your favourite OE poem until you find another one, Turtlebella :) And thank you.

Enn -- have you come up with a better translation for the first three lines? I had a look around some "real" translations, and no one seems to have made much sense of it.

kermitthefrog said...

hey, have I actually posted here yet? In any case, this is an awesome poem. Sorry I didn't see it last week when it was first posted!