Friday, May 16, 2008

Anglo Saxon Deor poem

Uffington Castle

Welund him be wurman/ wræces cunnade,
anhydig eorl/ earfoþa dreag,
hæfde him to gesiþþe/ sorge ond longaþ,
wintercealde wræce; /wean oft onfond,
siþþan hine Niðhad on/ nede legde,
swoncre seonobende/ on syllan monn.
þæs ofereode,/ þisses swa mæg!
Beadohilde ne wæs/ hyre broþra deaþ
on sefan swa sar/ swa hyre sylfre þing,
þæt heo gearolice/ ongieten hæfde
þæt heo eacen wæs/ æfre ne meahte
þriste geþencan,/ hu ymb þæt sceolde.
þæs ofereode,/ þisses swa mæg!
We þæt Mæðhilde/ monge gefrugnon
wurdon grundlease/ Geates frige,
þæt hi seo sorglufu/ slæp ealle binom.
þæs ofereode,/ þisses swa mæg!
ðeodric ahte/ þritig wintra
Mæringa burg;/ þæt wæs monegum cuþ.
þæs ofereode,/ þisses swa mæg!
We geascodan/ Eormanrices
wylfenne geþoht;/ ahte wide folc
Gotena rices./ þæt wæs grim cyning.
Sæt secg monig/ sorgum gebunden,
wean on wenan,/ wyscte geneahhe
þæt þæs cynerices/ ofercumen wære.
þæs ofereode,/ þisses swa mæg!
Siteð sorgcearig,/ sælum bidæled,
on sefan sweorceð,/ sylfum þinceð
þæt sy endeleas/ earfoða dæl.
Mæg þonne geþencan,/ þæt geond þas woruld
witig dryhten/ wendeþ geneahhe,
eorle monegum/ are gesceawað,
wislicne blæd,/ sumum weana dæl.
þæt ic bi me sylfum/ secgan wille,
þæt ic hwile wæs/ Heodeninga scop,
dryhtne dyre./ Me wæs Deor noma.
Ahte ic fela wintra/ folgað tilne,
holdne hlaford,/ oþþæt Heorrenda nu,
leoðcræftig monn/ londryht geþah,
þæt me eorla hleo/ ær gesealde.
þæs ofereode,/ þisses swa mæg!

Wayland's Smithy


Weland experienced /misery among snakes;
The resolute earl /endured hardship;
As a companion he / had sorrow and grief to himself,
Wintry-cold exile;/ wean oft onfond,
Since Nithan laid on him,/ the better man,
Constraints,/ supple sinew-bonds.
That has passed away;/ so too may this.
Her brothers’ death/ was not as painful
As her own case / to the heart of Beadohild,
That she had /clearly perceived
That she was with child; /nor could she ever
Consider confidently/ how it would be about that.
þæs ofereode,/ so too may this.
Many of us have heard/ about Mathild;
The embraces of Geat/ were so bottomless
That the troubled love /deprived them of all sleep.
That has passed away; /so too may this be
Theodric possessed/ thirty winters
The city of the Ostrogoths./ That was known to many.
That has passed away;/ so too may this
We heard of the savage /thought of Ermanaric;
He possessed /far and wide the nation
of the kingdom of the Goths./ That was a grim king..
Many a warrior/ sat bound in sorrows,
Expecting woes,/ often wishing
That there might be an end of that rule.
That has passed away;/ so too may this.
The man filled with cares,/ sits deprived of happy times;
He grows dark in mind; /it seems (to him)
that his portion of hardship /will be endless
May one then consider/ that around this world
The wise Lord/ changes things often,
Shows mercy /to many a noble,
A secure glory; /to some a portion of woes
I will say this/ about myself,
That for a while /I was the scop of the Heodenings,
Dear to the lord./ Deor was my name.
I had a good position /for many winters,
A loyal lord, /until now Heorrenda,
A man skilled in songs, /received the rights to the land
That the protector of earls /had given to me before.
That has passed away;/ so too may this!

Back view of this large barrow



Taken from the Anglo Saxon Project; translated by Jack Watson
http://www.aspp.ca/index.html
Compare this with Michael Alexander's translation....
Welund him be wurman/ wræces cunnade,
anhydig eorl/ earfoþa dreag,
(Alexander)
Wayland knew the wanderer's fate;
that single willed earl suffered agonies
(Watson)
Weland experienced /misery among snakes;
The resolute earl /endured hardship
-------------------------------------
We geascodan/ Eormanrices
wylfenne geþoht;/ ahte wide folc
(Alexander)
We all know that Eormanric
Had a wolf's wit. Wide Gothland
(Watson)
We heard of the savage /thought of Ermanaric;
He possessed /far and wide the nation
-------------------------------------
þæs ofereode,/ þisses swa mæg!
(this phrase is used several times to space the poem)

Alexander
That went by; this may too
Watson
That has passed away, so to may this


Mixing poetry, myth, words, and pictures is what the human mind is all about, the saxon poem is miserably, beautifully sad, the photos of hillfort and longbarrow capture the myths that fall through history, and may hold grains of truth, but I'm not sure that Wayland did shoe horses at the longbarrow; as for the dog sitting amongst autumn leaves - he seems happy.....

When I started out this morning to examine something, it was about the three hooded figures on the 'Franks' Casket, an Anglo-Saxon casket probably made in the 7th/8th century. The stories in the panels on this box reflect old Germanic myths and christian myths, also Roman legend. Romulus and Remus with two wolves are depicted, and Granni, Sigurd's horse is featured on another panel, lamenting the death of his master in buried in a barrow. So we have 'The Adoration of the Magi' contrasted sharply with the 'Revenge of Weland'. A magical retelling of stories melded together for a Saxon audience. Such a rich tapestry of storytelling is lost to us today, but its mythmaking is reflected in the stories that surround such places as Wayland Smithy, and Uffington Castle, with its Celtic horse galloping happily across the downs and with its 'Manger' in the valley below....

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